Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!

Let There be light of Hope
Let there be Light of Hope

Let there be Light of Hope

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Ladakh Day 4 – 5: Tso Moriri

Tso Moriri is about 225 Km from Leh. We took route from Leh – Karu – Upshi – Kumdok – Kere – Chumthang – Mahe – Kiagar Tso – Tso Moriri. Our plan was, on 15th we’ll reach Tso Moriri at 4:00 or 5:00 PM.  Stay one night there and next day we’ll leave for Leh. Sameer’s health was improved. He joined us today. 15th August is Independence Day of India. It was a good feeling to be at Leh, watching Soldiers, base camp. We can just imagine how hard life of a Soldier, being away from family for many days, protecting our motherland. We heartily saluted them. We stopped at Karu, ate Aloo paratha and drank tea, this time at different Dhaba. Though that didn’t change taste.  But you can’t complain, at this place if you get Indian-Morning-Breakfast-Like and hot-water-powder-milk-tea. We decided to take a detour at Hamis Monastery. This Monastery has a museum of old things like carpets, clothes, books, paintings, jewelry, weapons etc. Kabir and I went to visit. Sid, Raju and Sameer stayed outside. We took 30-40 mins and when we came back, Sid gave us dirty look. I know, we took little bit more time. We checked on internet about road. It seems good compare to Pangong Lake. There should not be much hilly-Up-down road. We headed towards Tso Moriri.

I thought the route would not excite me much as most of Landscapes, mountains I had seen yesterday. Initially I was not interested to see it. We were passing through Indus River.  The route is very beautiful, river Indus never leaves for moment. On the way there was a very beautiful thought written “We all need time to be alone, To Think, To Dream, To Wonder”. I was looking outside window and saw a marvelous mountain. It was light purple color, I saw first time in my life. Later on I saw few more. We took break for lunch and ate Maggie.  We saw a small lake and thought it was Tso-Moriri, but it was not. It was Kiagar Tso. This landscape was picture perfect. The color of the water was sky blue, surrounded by desert Color Mountains. In the background, snow Mountains. It was marvelous.

We reached Tso-Moriri at 5:30 PM. Our first task was to find Tent. We inquire at the main entry of the village. It was expensive. We decided to look in the village. There were couples of Tent areas. But it was out of our budget. I decided to check in village for cheap hotels/guest house. I went into village. This village was not much different than any other village of Ladakh. I saw one group of men gambling. One can see in most of the villages of India, playing some sort of gambling game. One tourist was taking picture of them. I saw this village was not as clean as Leh. I went to very narrow lane in search of guest house. I saw few, they were average. I negotiated with one of guest house; he was telling me, many people are not coming after giving confirmation. I was going back and saw Raju. He was also searching for guest house. We came back to our car and Sid told me he has booked Tent within our budget. I felt sorry for that man. We had some time to visit Lake(Tso)-Moriri. Again, Sameer was feeling uneasiness and we asked him to take some rest. Sid, Kabir and Raju went straight to lake; I spend some time on landscape photography. I went to the Lake. Again I have no words to describe this Picture-Perfect place.

It was very peaceful. One can hear voice of his heartbeat. The sun was hiding in the mountain, converted whole lake into gold. Wind was flowing very slowly. There were not many tourists. I saw couple of tourist capturing this beautiful place through their expensive equipments. We did some group photography. We tried many photographs to capture jumping-we. After few attempts finally we got couple of good photos. It was getting dark. We headed back to our Tent. We took our dinner. There were not much people at Tent area. I saw one couple and one group of 3 Punjabis. We went to our Tent. The wind started to flow heavily. Kabir, Raju and Sid were tired. They took not much time to go into sleep. I read couple of pages from the book and went to sleep.

Next morning I woke up at 7:00. I saw everybody were already awake. I came out of Tent. I saw sun started to come up behind the mountains. It was very bright.  I saw Sid was standing with Panjabi Kudi. She was kinda Tom-boy. I said hello to her. We spoke for 2 mins. I really wanted a good breakfast. Yesterday dinner was good but not good enough for me. I was missing the Indian cuisine. We ate cornflakes, bread butter and drank milk and tea. We spoke to Punjabi group and came to know that one of the guys came here for seventh time. Yes this place has some magic. One should not have any excuse to not visit this place. We didn’t take much time to get ready. It was time for some morning photography and visits other part of the Lake.

Raju, Kabir and Sid went Ahead of Me. Sameer was not 100% fit, so he took our Taxi.I was busy taking snaps of the beautiful Morning. Yes this was the one of the beautiful morning in my life. I have not checked my emails, FB account for more than 5 days. Ladakh never gave me opportunity to think about it. Everybody reached at Lake Shore and I still need to cover approx. 300 meter distance. I saw Sid was waving hands at me, signing to come fast. I wanted to take some more snaps, but I realize we didn’t have much time. We took some photos. Sameer did some video shooting. And suddenly without our notice, time had come to go back. We all wanted to spend some more time here, but we all knew this would make our return journey late.

During return journey, we saw 1 woman who was in her 70 and 1 man, who was also in his 70, were doing cycling. I was amused to see them. At this age, they are very active.

We reached at Chumthang around lunch time. Our driver took us to Hot spring water spot. While heading towards, I saw steam coming out of one place. I put a finger in that water and took it back in fraction of seconds. Raju also wanted to measure temperature of it. He put his finger and took it back. Suddenly water started to vanish. In a few seconds there was only hot steam. I saw a group of foreigner visitor coming at this place. It would be bad if they can’t see hot water spring. We were waiting if water comes back but there was no sign of it. The group stopped at some distance and his guide was explaining something. Suddenly we hear the voice of water. It came back. The visitors came and took some photographs. We went to take a lunch.

The journey from Chumthang to Leh was very relaxed. We stopped at famous Mutra Visharjan Bridge shot in movie 3-idiots. We reached at guest house around 7:00 PM. Next 2 days we’ll go to Nubra Valley.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Big

It was an ordinary evening in Stuttgart Germany. It was start of August 2011.  I was working on my laptop. There was a decent light at 8:00 PM. Sun started to vanish in clouds. It had rain little bit. That made whole surrounding very fresh. Environment was quite cold. Temperature started to go down slowly. I got up from my couch to start heater. I stare at the sky from my room window and I saw unbelievable

I saw a BIG rainbow. Trust me it was really, really BIG. I ran to get my digi-cam. The light started to reduce. I came to window, I had very little time. I took few shots but not able to capture whole Rainbow in single shot. Here I am sharing couple photos it. Hope you like it.

Taken at Digerloch, Stuttgart, Germany

Taken at Digerloch, Stuttgart, Germany

Kaas Plateau – Valley of Flowers

It was a second day I woke up at 5:30 AM. I only had 5 hrs of sleep. I said to myself, why you want to wake up early on Saturday. I went to sleep again. After 5 mins I suddenly wake up.  At 6:00 AM cab driver called. Greg and I were ready to go. We have been waiting to visit Kaas since 1 year. We have read some recent blogs and thought this is the right time to visit. We picked other friends from Aundh and Karve Road. I was still sleepy and hadn’t take breakfast. We touched Pune-Banglore highway.  The route from pune to Kaas is

We stopped at one of the restaurant on highway. I don’t remember the name of it. We ate home made Poha. We knew Kaas plateau is not commercial place so there was no possibility of having any restaurant. We packed few Vada-Pav(Indian-Burger :)). It took almost 3 hrs to reach Kaas. We have registered online for today’s visit at (http://www.kas.ind.in/).

Online registration for visit to kas pathar is not mandatory.You can pay the registration charges on the check post near kas pathar,satara. Registration charges per person for kas pathar visit is Rs. 10/-It is said that there are restrictions to 2000 visitors per day, but there is no technical feasibility and logic to determine the visitor count. And looking at the response of tourists everybody is allowed to visit kas pathar, nobody till date has been banned from entering the place.

There is a single road which goes to Kaas village and on the both the side of road, little flowers makes rainbow on the ground. I saw few cars parked on both side of road. I also noticed a board “NO PARKING ZONE”. It make me angry, there are enough no of stupid people, who doesn’t care about nature. Yet come here to spoil beautiful place like this. Most of the valley is protected by fencing and people are not allowed to cross it.

I saw there are 6-7 elderly people guarding this place. They are villagers. I thought who is more literate, these elderly people who knows the importance of this beautiful place or people who came in their car, not following simple instruction written on board. We get down from the car and asked drive to park the car at paid parking.

This place is so colorful, was my first thought. It was definitely god’s own creation. The climate was really good. Sun was shining in the sky, but the wind was cold. The sun was playing hide n seek in clouds. I have not seen so many colors of flowers at the same valley. There were flowers of yellow, yellow-red, purple, blue, pink, red, white. Greg got busy taking photos with his Nikkon D-5000 and Macro Lens. Others got busy in photo session. I initially did some photography, and after some time decided to enjoy this scenic beauty. There were not much visitors which make it more enjoyable. We spend almost 2 hours at valley.

We all were hungry at this time. We headed back to parking area. After snack-Lunch we went to Kaas Lake.The Kaas Lake is again very peaceful. Water was quite clean. I took out my shoes and put foot in the water. The water was cold but after some time it felt good. I was surprised to see, this lake has not many visitors. After some time rain started to come, it wasn’t heavy but we headed back to our car. Thoseghar water fall is very famous. We thought to visit that place, but later on dropped it. We decide to get back to home early because of Ganesh Festival. On way back, I thought to visit this place in near future.

Ladakh Day 3 : Visit to Pangong Lake

14th August is Kabir’s birthday.  We all wished him. This birthday was special, because this was the first birthday after his engagement and he was not with his fiancé. As planned yesterday, Sid told Sameer to bring bouquet and gift.  Our guest house lady owner comes with smile and handed over gift to Kabir. This gift was special. This gift was not from our side, it’s from Kabir’s fiancé. She has asked Sid to make all arrangement and make this day special for him. Kabir. Sid, Raju, Kabir and Me had no idea about gift. We all were excited to see what the gift is. Kabir unwrapped and opened it and was Thermos. Sid and I looked each other and smiled. Sameer was useless. He made a huge mistake; I mean who could bring Thermos as a birthday gift.

Sid asked: “Sameer, what is this?”

Sameer: “This is the only thing I got here”.

Sid thought for some time and kept quite. It was pointless to make an argument with Sameer. He totally made a mess.

Our driver arrived at 7:00 AM. We have rented Maruti Suzuki EECO car because

1. We had comfortable ride to palace and shanti stupa and

2. Our budget was limited. Sameer wants to take video of journey and rest of us just wanted to enjoy. Sameer got front seat. Raju and I sat in middle seats. Kabir and Sid got back seats. We also ensured music player should be in working condition. We inserted our tour-default-music CD which includes Zindgi na Milegi Doobara(ZNMD), Dil Chahta hai, 3-idiots, Rang de Basanti and some mix songs. We were all set to go. We came to main road street. TSEWANG (driver’s name) stopped car and went to talk with his relative/friend or I don’t know who he was. After few minutes, he came and started car. We took left turn which connects to highway road. The distance between Leh and Pangong Tso(Pangong Lake) is about 180 km.

The song started from movie ZNMD:

“Hey hey, chalo na
Dhoondhe shehar naya
Jahaan muskurahatien hain bikhri, jahaan se gum ka mausam gaya
Jahaan meethi baatein, har ik ajnabi se ho
Bhule hum bhi jo saari fikrein
Lamha lamha khushiyan bikhrein
Idhar udhar aur yahan wahan
Jayein wahin dil kahe jahaan
Baby baby baby
Kab tak giney, hum dhadkane
Dil jaise dhadke dhadakne do
Kyun hai koi aag dabi
Shola jo bhadke bhadakne do”

We were enjoying each word of the lyrics. Let me tell you ZNMD movie was reason behind this trip. This movie has inspired people like us to explore new place.

TSEWANG showed us place where Dalai Lama would prey and stay. We were getting excited, watching every mountain, landscapes eagerly. Suddenly Sameer asked to stop the car. We looked each other face in surprise. He got out from Car and Puke. I told to my self this is not happening. Raju gave water to him. Sameer needed rest so we headed back to Guest house. We drop him and re-started our trip. Our mood was some what down, not because we have left Sameer but because we wasted our precious 30 mins J.  The hunger-python started to wrap all of us. We reached Karu(Aprx: 36 KM from Leh). Till now road was pretty good. All of us wanted to eat some spicy and buttery breakfast. Kabir asked TSEWANG “Can we get Aloo paratha ?” and he nodded. Thank god after 3 days we got some Punjabi national breakfast.

The real journey started after Karu. From Karu Leh is almost 120 km. The road was not that good. Slowly, slowly we were going towards top of Mountains. Sid and I were busy clicking landscapes pictures. We saw Snow Mountains, farms, Rock Mountains. Each turn we took, got our adrenaline high. We saw trucks, 4-wheelers, 2-wheelers slowly disappearing in mighty mountains. The snow near Changla Pass was nearest we saw, yet we cannot go and touch it. We reached Himank, world’s third highest road. We took little break, drank lemon tea. We still need to cover long distance. During our second half of trip, we saw some amazing landscapes and also Marmots. It was nice to watch them. I tried to take some pictures of them, but they are very shy, I only got couple of clicks of them.

At each turn we saw mind-blowing landscapes, and wonder how on earth this could be possible. After some time we saw a small blue color between mighty mountains and it was Pangong Lake. We screamed. The first view of Pangong Lake was totally out of this world.  After some time we reached there. We came out of the car and ran towards the lake. Pangong Tso is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). It is 134 km long and extends from India to Tibet. 60% of the length of the lake lies in China. The lake is 5 km wide at its broadest point. During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water. There were not many visitors.

I don’t have words to describe this scenic place. We have not seen such clean blue water till date. We spent almost 2-3 hrs. We took our lunch at the small-snacks stall.

It was time to leave this beautiful place.  I remember the poetry from ZNMD.

The moment seems to flow like a molten sapphire and there’s deep blue silence,
Neither there is earth below, nor sky above,
The rustling branches, leaves are saying that only you are here,
Only me, my breath and my heartbeat,

Such deepness, such loneliness and me…only me,
It all makes me believe in my existence.

The return journey was full of adventures. We all want to take some rest. I tried to get power nap in car. It was barely 10-15 mins, a sudden bump on road woke me up and I thought to sacrifice my sleep. I saw everybody was going through same problem. Our roller coaster ride just stared. We were near to reach Hamnik and show a car was stuck. TSEWANG tried to get passed this car, but could not. We were on the sloppy road. Raju and I get down reducing the weight of car. I saw one person trying to push the stuck car. I helped him and car was running again. I saw Raju sitting at corner of road and he puke. The thin air started to make its effect. Our energy was totally down. After some time we reached Hamnik. I saw Kabir and Raju were not well. We took 15-20 mins break, drank Lemon tea. The breeze was quite cold. We get back into car. After some time, everyone except driver fall to sleep. The journey was not exhausted but tiring. We reached at Guest house round 7:30 PM. We decided to take dinner at Guest House. We saw Sameer and he looked fine, but Raju’s was not looking good.  I hoped, he should be ready for tomorrow’s trip.

All Photos

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

Where is border which stops sun’s ray?

Open your wings and fly,

In my eyes I see only sky sky sky…

 

Ladakh Day 2 : Visit to Thikshey Monastrey

The sweet voices of birds wake me up at 6:00 AM. I am a guy who doesn’t want to come out of bed until 9:00 AM. Yes I am Lazy soul :). I came out of my room and saw bright sun light rays falling over red flowers make it even more beautiful. The sky was clear and blue, seems like god has decided to make ocean over my head. The clouds were passing top of mountains created a view one should remember for long time, might be saying we cannot stay together forever, but can be remembered as unforgettable memories. Like in our life, we meet different people, we cannot stay forever with all of them, but we always remember them as sweet memories.  I felt fresh and want to enjoy this climate.

We decided to go to river rifting at either Indus or Zanskar River. Sid and Raju were not 100% fit. Our wish to start our trip put on hold. We had read some blogs, got advice from people who already been in Leh, to get some rest for acclimatization. But we did not listen and went to Ladakh palace and Shanti Stupa yesterday.

First and most important thing to keep in mind when you are going a place like Leh, take rest for at least 1 day for acclimatization, drink as much water as you can, avoid smoking and alcohol. Even though you feel confident about going out, please take rest.

We ordered breakfast and tea. We need to complete few things before our trip.

First thing we need to take permission to visit Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri and Nubra Valley. Secondly we need to rent a car for whole trip. We decided to go in the evening to finalize cab. Raju and I went with Guest house owner to submit documents and get permission. We went through single road street which connects to main market road.

Main market road was full of Kashmir shops, local souvenir shops, Internet café, Tibetans refugee market and lots of snacks shops and restaurants.

On the way we saw children from different age group practicing for Independence Day on open ground. Some of them wore traditional dress and were practicing folk dance. I show this place was surrounded by high and Rock steady mountains.

We reached office. This place was same as any other Indian government office. Office was not much big. There were not much visitors and I thought this should not take much time unlike other government office. We submitted our forms and waiting for officer to stamp it. But as usual, some Indian doesn’t want to stay in queue, came from behind, pushing others put their form on the desk. The officer didn’t bother to look or control this mismanagement. Uncle (Guest house owner), shouted in Ladakhi and was fighting to get the stamp. Raju and I were standing calmly that the least thing we can do.

Finally we got permission. Uncle wanted to go for some shopping. We headed back to guest house and I suddenly remember Sid’s instruction. He told me to arrange bouquet for Kabir as tomorrow is his birthday. I tried to search in the main market but could not find it. I told to Sid if he can ask Sameer to bring bouquet. BTW Sameer was silent guest in our journey. He was there but was not there.

We were hungry. We ate Mix Vegetables, Rice and Moong daal. Sid and Raju needed some rest. Kabir and I decided to roam around Leh market and to decide Cab in the evening. We went to our room. I started to read book and don’t know when I fall to sleep.

After almost 3 hrs of power nap I wake up. I went to Sid’s room. Kabir and Raju were also there.

I asked to all : “What’s the plan? “

Kabir told : “We can go some near place around Leh”

I asked : “Sid, Raju are guys joining ?”

They nodded.

Before going, we need to fix our plan and book a cab.

After 30-40 mins of brain storming we decided that,

Day 1: We’ll go to Pangong Lake and we’ll be return by evening.

Day 2: We’ll go to Tso Moriri Lake stay night over there and we’ll be bake to Leh Next day.

Day 4: We’ll go to Nubra valley(Khardungla Highest Motorable bike in world, Diskit and Hunder) stay night either in Diskit or Hunder and we’ll be back to Leh Next day.

Day 6: We’ll leave for Kargil.

Day 7: We’ll leave for Srinagar.

Day 8: We’ll leave for Mumbai.

We called driver who took us to Ladakh palace and Shanti Stupa. We negotiated on car rent and finally booked for 5 days, he also promise us to arrange a cab from Leh to Srinagar via Kargil on 6th day.

We asked uncle if we can any near place around Leh, he suggested Thikshey Monastery. It is around 19 km from Leh.

We reached main market; we saw few shops who gave bike on rent. It was 4:00 PM and we could get bike on rent for half day. I got Pulsar 180 CC and Kabir got Royal Enfield classic.

We started our small journey. We touched the highway. Highway is surrounded by mountains, open fields, farms. It took us 20-25 minutes to reach Thikshey. The wind was flowing very heavily. We did some photography and reached at top of monastery. We saw a quiet amazing view. A road which is connecting to Leh, on left it is totally green having farms, river and few homes and on right it is totally deserted. After spending almost 2-3 hrs we left. We have to get up early for tomorrow Pangong Lake trip.