The Journey so far…
Day 5 | Hanle – Loma – Tsaga – Chusul – Pangong Tso
It was a very cold last night and we were late waking up in he morning at around 7.30 AM. The extra blanket which we got from the lady proved quite useful in the end and were able to sleep nicely in such cold conditions. There was no question of bath at Hanle 🙂 … When I went out of house, it was beautiful morning at Hanle as the cold wind had settled down and there was a nice view of Observatory, clear blue skies and a picturesque pastures with horses grazing in them. I could not hold myself and as we asked Rigzin and lady to prepare the breakfast, me and Himanshu went to the pastures to capture some lovely moments. We spent about half an hour at the pastures land among the horses and after a very lovely experience amidst nature, came back for the breakfast. Again, the aaloo paranthas cooked were nice and we even took 4-5 with us. By 9.00 AM, we were on the road to Pangong Tso from Hanle.
The road to Loma from Hanle was in great shape and it did not take much time to reach Loma. Rigzin has quite a good knowledge of cars, models, make etc. and we constantly chatted with him on the subject and some fun of our dear friend Tejas who wanted to bring his Scorpio when he goes adult 🙂 … Rigzin also shared a story of a foreigner whom the travel agents and hotel guys in Kashmir almost looted by all means charging him over 250% charges for almost everything and how he cried after Rigzin dropped him to Manali. He still writes to this lovely man, Rigzin. Anyways, when we reached Loma, we were stopped by the army personally again and as I stepped out, a strict warning of not shooting bridge. I smiled and said, I need those reflections only 😉 … Chatted with the army guys over there for 10-15 minutes as Rigzin finished the formalities inside the post and again were into the unknown remoteness of barren Changthang.
The roads from excellent condition had gone to good and our aim was to reach Tsaga quickly. No one was around and we were the only one running all over the heaven. Everywhere I saw, it was beauty at its best. Sunlight playing with shadows making it a perfect picture shot but it was bad news for us as the weather ahead towards Chusul – Pangong Tso was completely overcast. Overcast weather meant no colours of beautiful Pangong Tso but with rays of hope we continued, we never had another choice… As we reached Tsaga village the tarred road ended and the arduous journey right up to Lukung (Pangong Tso) started with the dirt track. Tsaga Police post was manned and we didn’t have Tsaga written on our permit but the army guy permitted us to get through as we had Chusul permissions but with a warning that next time be sure to write Tsaga as well. Weather was dark ahead of the village giving it a dramatic landscape… I still poses that feeling remoteness which was there amidst raw and harsh nature, it was lovely. We passed the remote high village and reached Tsaga La where were were greeted by mild snowfall. You could rightly feel the presence of army around you all over this remote track of Changthang. You are neither allowed to off-road nor you are allowed to camp anywhere in Changthang for security reasons, so be careful doing so and avoid it at any cost.
We moved on towards Chusul, where we planned to have some tea or snacks. It was almost like cloud was with us right on the ground and we were running through the cloud which was pouring down as snow. We passed by Rezang La about 16000 feet, south-east of Chusul valley. It was here, our 114 out of 123 brave Ahir soldiers of C Company, led by Major Shaitan Singh sacrificed their lives to protect our country in Sino-Indian War in 1962 and on China side, casualties were reported more than 1000 Haqeeqat movie starring Dharmendra, was based on the battle of Rezang La. Going ahead, you get to see another war memorial that is Chusul War Memorial which was built to commemorate Indian Army for the victory of Sino-Indian War in 1962. A Salute to the Indian Army… Jai Hind!!!
As you approach Chusul, you can see the mountains across to the side of Tibet. When we reached Chusul, a big village, we went into the Police station to submit the permits. You need to take care that at Chusul, you need to go and submit the permits at Chusul Police Station which is right on the road itself because there is no police checkpost. So, do submit the permits at the station. We stopped over near a tea shop and had team and maggie and the packed paranthas from the breakfast. It was cold in Chusul, though the sun was shining between the dark clouds but it was very much overcast ahead towards Pangong Tso shattering the hopes of beautiful blue hues in this high altitude lake. We resumed the journey on the dirt, very much bumpy, arduous track and somehow I was imagining in my mind when I could drive my dZire here, may be at the time when I want to sell her off 😉 … If you look carefully, you can easily spot the bunkers at the Chinese side, it is so close to Indo-China border and that is why it is extremely important to respect and understand the sensitivity of the terrain and not create a nuisance.
Finally, the first blue views of beautiful Pangong Tso lake at the point where it starts to turn into China/Tibet side. The lake was melted there but lacked that shining blue pallet due to overcast conditions. It was so majestic to see how such a large piece of water body meandering its was from one country to another amidst majestic views… We kept ogling the vista for another 15-20 minutes before deciding to move ahead, run much closer with Pangong Tso to finally reach Tangste for overnight stay. But, lots of things happened in between 🙂
The Journey ahead…