I do not believe in the concept of must see places, for every place casts its magic on me - be it an unknown or an offbeat location , a known city or a tourist destination. But Ladakh was an exception.
It was a dream destination , something that had always seemed unattainable . It did not matter to me that I had not yet seen the Taj Mahal, but it irked me that I had not visited Ladakh. It was a destination that had given me sleepless nights. But when I woke up on a sunny morning in the capital town of this land of high passes, after spending a dizzy first night , it seemed like a dream still.
It was extremely hot and all the giddiness had vanished. We feasted on some aalu paratha with some garden vegetables freshly plucked from the garden and started our monastery trail.
In ladakh as in any where else, the dilemma is always the same. So many places to see and yet so little time. Earlier, I wanted to see almost everything possible and my eyes used to greedily devour every possible sight . But now, I decided to pick and choose. Its not so much about the choice of these sights , but its more to do about how much you want to soak in them.
If you just need a picture against every Buddha statue that was built in Ladakh, then you could cover as many places as you want. Also there is something called stamina when it comes to Ladakh. Even if you are acclimatised to the heights, most monasteries are atop hills and you need climb several steps to get there . They are breathtaking alright, but chances are with less oxygen, you would feel breathless climbing them.
Nevertheless, we started our day rather early. We skipped Leh and decided to do the monastery circuit outside the town.We planned on four monasteries, which in retrospect was quite a bit for a day. However, as they were rather close, we managed to spend quite some time at each place, absorbing the sights and sounds. We went to Stakna, followed by Hemis and then Thiksey and Shey before returning to Leh with a quick trip to Sindhu darshan..more on each of them in a while.
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Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
There is always a special moment when you land in a new city . A new wave of excitement seizes me..its something that Ive never been able to explain .
I took a deep breath and felt the pulse of the city inside me the moment I landed in Leh . The mountains crowded me and they formed the entire cityscape of Ladakh. Subconsciously I touched my head to wonder if I felt giddy, but I could only feel the slight shiver of excitement running through my bones. Ladakh was waiting for me .
The journey from airport to the hotel was over within minutes. We passed crowded market of Leh and entered Chubi where my guest house was located. The mountains gave us company and as I climbed the first step, I felt breathless. And then the dizziness hit me. The windows of my large room opened into a beautiful garden of flowers and vegetables and that probably was the only source of oxygen to us out there..and then it hit me as I fell into a deep slumber just before dinner.
The twilight hour had come and gone and we were slowly acclimatising to the heights.The weather had already changed from foggy to sunny to being cold . We walked down the steps to join the other guests in the garden for an early dinner. There was an Italian at the table next to ours and he was waiting for his friends. We politely opened the conversation to realize that he could speak only Italian. Sharath and he hit it off and the conversation was purely through signs and images. The dinner arrived and with it another round of deep slumber and all our headaches and dizziness vanished with the end of day 1.