In this part of Ladakh Diaries we shall try and focus on Leh sights on the outskirts of the city.
When we planned the trip to Ladakh, we were to come back via Kargil – Drass – Srinagar to New Delhi with a overnight stay in Kargil. The plan was to catch the flight from Srinagar to Bangalore after a day’s stay in the houseboat in Srinagar. But a deteriorating security situation Srinagar deteriorating that we had to fly back from Leh itself. Thus, there was no chance for us to experience the drive through Kargil. We wanted to drive for some distance on the road to see the landscape on this highway.
On the last day of our stay in Ladakh, we planned to drive on Kargil Road. There was also magnetic hill to be seen and experienced. Then there was Basgo monastery which is a listed UNESCO Heritage endangered sites list which many do not visit but we did not want to miss.
As usual, we left after breakfast and the plan was to return for lunch in the afternoon. After lunch we had planned to do some shopping for masks and other handicrafts on the streets of Leh.
The road from Leh to Kargil pass through Army camps along Indus. Our first stop was a well known Gurudwara named Gurudwara Patthar sahib. This is a cute little place maintained by Indian army.
Indus river giving us company
Fields in Indus valley providing lovely contrast
The legend is that on one morning when the Guru was sitting in meditation, the demon pushed a large pathar (boulder), down from the hilltop, with the intention of killing the Guru. The boulder gained speed as it rumbled down the hillside, but when it touched the Guru’s body, it softened like warm wax and came to a halt against Guru Nanak’s back. The Guru kept on meditating unhurt and undisturbed. Thinking that the Guru had been killed, the demon came down and was taken aback to see the Guru deep in meditation. In a fit of anger, he tried to push the boulder with his right foot, but as the pathar still had the softness of warm wax, his foot got embedded in it. Pulling his foot from the boulder the demon was dumbfounded to see the impression his foot had just left in the stone
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib
The sanctum sanctorum. Notice the boulder
This is serene place and worth spending few moments of peace.
We continue the drive and drive past army settlements along Indus river. Behind the army barracks, i am intrigued to see the sand formations. They looked like sand walls weathered by harsh and cold winds creating Burroughs.
The sand wall formations behind army lines
The drive till Basgo is just lovely. The weather was fantastic. The clear blue skies with few clouds added to the beauty of the landscape. We drive along Indus on one side and mountains on the other. Zigmet stops the car and show us the confluence point of Zanskar and Indus. The difference in colour is obvious and Zanskar is a fast flowing river famous for river rafting.
Leh – Srinagar highway
Beautiful vistas as we drive towards Basgo
The green board is the place known as Magnetic Hill
The Indus valley
Confluence of Indus and Zanskar. Indus is darker.
Lovely landscape on the way
We turn left and drive for few KMs to Basgo village. The place is an example in isolation in Zanskar valley. Weather beaten sand walls welcome us. Small ravine like valleys give this place a beauty in itself. The famous Basgo monastery is not as big as Tiksey. There was a lone Japanese tourist exploring the place apart from us. The place is desolate. The interiors are dark. All the monks in the monastery had gone to see Dalai Lama who had camped in Nubra for the last one month. The lone monk in the monastery conducted us and explained the outstanding murals in the monastery. To our bad luck, there was no power and the monk was gracious enough to explain to us in torch light.
On the way back, i ask Zigmet if we can get me Chaang – the famed rice beer locally brewed by Ladakhis. Yes, why not comes reply and we stop at a small road side restaurant. Zigmet talks to the lady owner who obviously know him and she comes with a bottle of Chaang freshly brewed. She says that they brew the beer fresh and don’t sell old stock. Zigmet confirms. The beer is chilled and taste excellent. It is slightly tangy and less bitter but refreshing.
A typical Ladakhi house
We return back and on the way Zigmet stops at Magnetic hill. This is a “Anti gravity hill” and the magnetic forces are to here are to work opposite and pull vehicles uphill even when they are standing on a slope. Interesting indeed. We experience it and drive back to the hotel for lunch.
a) Basgo and Gurudwara can be covered as a half day excursion. Alternately if one is driving back via Srinagar, they can visit these placs on the way.
b) The tour of Basgo village and monastery will require atleast an hour.
c) We could see some boats on the banks Indus at the confluence point. We did not check about it. Some agencies in Leh may be organisisng either river rafting or boating in these rivers.
This is the Sixth post in “Ladakh Diaries” series of nine posts in this blog. If you want to explore earlier/later posts – click on the link in this series, please click this link below. Clicking “older posts” at the end of the page will take you to previous posts in the series.