A WALK FROM TURTUK (NUBRA VALLEY) to LEH to MANALI : 1250kms
Ladakh walk Total distance walked until Now: 1250 Kms
A WALK FROM TURTUK (NUBRA VALLEY) to LEH to MANALI: 4 WEEKS 600 KMS 6 HIGH MOUNTAINS PASS GATA LOOPS MOREY PLAINS AND SO MANY OTHER THINGS
Mountains are most powerful and all the time it made me like feel negligible tiny particle.
The walk comprises of uphills, and downhills, concrete roads, sand stony roads, rainy nights, cold nights, starry nights, colorful sunsets, foggy and sunny sunrises. All these experiences I will be able to describe only in some time as for now my body hurts almost everywhere and my mind blocked from all the beautiful experiences i had lived for the past few weeks.
For many years of my life, i was dreaming about traveling to Ladakh not by walking though but i never wanted to go on a noisy Royal Enfield as well (no offence to bikers; they were super helpful all the time).
I hear people doing all kind of preparations for the Leh Manali journey whether it was a bike journey or bicycle ride. What me and Monja did for the preparation? We wanted to do something else like walking in the Tibetan Himalayas which is not possible for a million different reasons. So, we chose an alternative easier route, we thought then it was an easier route but it was not an easy walk; especially with heavy backpack worth 15+ kilo. How did we plan? We decided to reach Leh by plane, thought we will buy the map and find one of the end and start walking from there. At the right moment, one fb friend, Izhar told us to start from Turtuk which is at the Indo Pak border. Turned out to be a beautiful recommendation. 9:10 AM of August the 8th was the time when we started our walk from Turtuk. We had walked only 2 km and have already lost our way. We walked back and then on the road along the Shyok river. The tent we had bought turned out to be the worst tent ever. We walked on the road until Hunder which is a beautiful village with sand dunes around, small water streams in every street and delicious organic food from people’s own personal gardens.
From Hunder to Phyang we chose to take the trekking route where on the very first night we had the luxury of attending a Ladakhi wedding ceremony, a very simple ceremony where zero food is wasted and people take no dowry. Men and women both are allowed to drink under the same tent and later on people dance on Ladakhi and Bollywood songs. From the second day, we saw no villages except a few shepherds and wild hairy yaks and we were walking above 4,000 meters all the time. On the evening of the second day trek, we met Michael and Birgit who were doing the same trek and they have a team of superfriendly people with them. Rigzen, their guide and a 28 year old local guy of Nubra Valley now a dear friend is such an amazing guy who has done some amazing work for his village was one of many happy souls we met on this walk.
Michael and Birgit are from Germany and they keep coming to India again and again for their own reasons were such a help and conversation with them was a blessing. Thank you Michael and Birgit.
We reached Leh and then started our walk towards MANALI which is a very crazy route going through highest of passes. Hemis Monastery and our house lady (another Rigzen) parents makes me wonder and inspire to know about Buddhism.
Even though all these mountains seem to be same barren but everyday we found ourselves in a very different scenery. Most of the nights we couldn’t sleep nicely because of lack of oxygen and cold. Crossing the second highest pass Tanglang la (5328 m/17480feet) was the craziest of all. I think, both of us will never forget that day. And there were other high passes including Lachung La pass (5059 m/16600 ft), Nakila pass (4740 m), Baralacha pass (4892 m)and Rohtang la (3978 m) in the end and we had Gata loops which makes you wonder and be amused and inspired about the achievement of BRO in constructing this road. Yes, walking in Morey Plains was the most difficult specially when you have no water and are little far away from the road. Army people were super helpful. And we met many crazy people on the way and I think craziest of them all was one guy going in a rickshaw all the way from Kolkata to Siachin. We know how hard it is to push the rickshaw on altitude of this scale.
In Ladakh, everything is difficult. It is you who has to do everything and to take care of yourself. I think it is no game for people who like to brag about adventure yet i believe everyone with a healthy and positive attitude can do it with some difficulties.
I think such journeys are a great way to face all the rubbish insecurities we have accumulated in our past. Most of the insecurities i had or still have are turning out to be my own construct and when i see myself standing under the cold starry night, i feel cold and happy and the snow particles feels good to the eyes and i am a free man.
This walk took away all the words from me and made me inquire into my passions, doubts, insecurities, temptations, worries, ideas of beautiful, sadness, happiness, bad etc etc. Outside i was a tired walking man but inside i was able to inquire a little deeper than usual and yet was kind of content with whatever revelations i had.
Almost for a month, we ate similar kind of food but it didn’t matter as long as we were getting a cup of milk tea and sometimes momos to change the taste. It was a privilege to walk this road as i saw people getting only a week of vacation from their metropolitan job to finish this crazy route in 2-3 days to tick off Ladakh from their bucket list. A month of walk in Ladakh for me at least was nothing more than a basic introduction to Ladakh. I think i will keep going to Ladakh for its people, food, kindness, landscapes, and everything else. May be there is no more peaceful and clean place than Ladakh in India or rest of the world. Sabine and Thomas gave us healthy food and a really accurate & helpful map before leaving back to home.
The walk was about nothing but the real experiences, we followed no GPS but sought instructions from the hard copied map and local people giving us instructions who already have walked these paths. We did not look for recommended places on the internet as we kept getting nice recommendations from the people on the way and every day brought us to a new surprising location. Not planning gave us freedom and flexibility to stay wherever we wanted to stay but approaching winter gave wings to our feet and we walked faster than we expected. When we were walking i thought the journey was not so difficult and didn’t have much meaning as we were doing nothing but walking. But as i am sitting neat and clean after a long time in a nice cozy room, the walk means a lot and i think i have learned and unlearned a lot. We took many photos and some videos but the walk itself was more than all these memories we have collected.
The journey i am walking has no agenda in general. There are no assumptions and motives when i walk. Every story i hear or make for myself is the essence of this walk and every issue people tell me or i see with my own naked eyes are the things i want to about. This walk is not a travel tale but a tale of a human who is trying to dig into the questions of self and meaning of life. In Ladakh we saw not many trees and when we could finally see the trees when we reached Darcha and we realised how much we love the trees and green. Now i am resting in RIshikesh for a month where i have my beloved Ganga to take care of my tired body and reflect upon the walk.
#1000daysofdreaming #nowherehuman #walk