Serenity with Nightmare in Suru Valley | Zanskar 2012

40

The Journey so far…

Day 2 | Kargil – Sankoo (Suru Valley) – Parkachik – Rangdum

I could not sleep much whole night after initial dreams of the Suru and Zanskar wonderlands and woke up by 4.30 AM to stick to my phone over ever slow GPRS. It was hard to share few updates on blog’s Facebook Page but good enough to kill some time as I fell asleep in between. At 5.30 AM, Sudhir wake up and asked both Gaurav and Punit to get up. I was the last one to wake up then but did not let us get late. Sharp 6.30 AM we were out with bags stuffed into taxi as Hasan (taxi guy) was also on time. First target was to reach Sankoo, some 40 KMs ahead of Kargil and have breakfast there. It was very refreshing morning with air soothing the nerves, the vistas started becoming magical as the valley started turning wide with Suru River just flowing beside us 🙂 … The first stop was there, Trespone village. Hasan, promised us to help us explore all the nice places and this one turned real green beauty. There is a mosque on the road itself aside which there are some stairs going towards a rest house above. Well, I did not like the idea of climbing so many stairs that early in the trip at above 10000 feet but gasping for the breath we finally reached at the top and as usual I was the last one to reach it with the loaded camera bag all over the place… Gosh, when will I get fit 😉 …

Early Morning Fresh Colors of Suru Valley…
Early Morning Fresh Colors of Suru Valley
Gateway to God at Trespone Village in Suru Valley…
Gateway to God at Trespone Village in Suru Valley

After getting the breath and senses back, I looked around just to have my mouth wide open – The mist running into the greenland of Tresponse Village made it purely pristine and heavenly and climbing to this Vantage point was all seemed worth now for few of these clicks. We all enjoyed there for a while as we clicked few pictures and I also tried some of them with the long lens to capture the peaks. So, do try out if you are OK with the idea of climbing those long steps to the top. We walked down and started Sankoo and as the roads were smooth black tarmac, we cruised towards it and were there at 8.00 AM. Hunt for breakfast begun as many of the shops did not have eggs but finally we got one. He cooked really good omelette with local bread and I was a bit relieved by the quality or taste this time. But, still I decided to buy some peers and other fruits for the journey. The peer was extremely juicy and delicious and I was thanking god that he created fruits 😉 … Well, after strolling a bit in not much exciting market of Sankoo we were again on the move towards Khartse Khar Village, a bit detour left of Sankoo, from Kargil – Zanskar road. As you take left from Sankoo and cross the bridge a road goes all the way upto Khartse Khar Village which is known for its Rock Carved Statue of Maitrey. There were children in the villages and that gave a chance to distribute some candies among them as they exchanged local raw wheat with us 🙂 … The statue is just 5 minutes’ walk from the  entrance of the village. Looked quite tall and lovely but I rarely have interest in man made things 😉 … Clicked few pictures and off to explore the natural beauty by backtracking all the way back to Sankoo and then heading back towards Panikhar.

A Panoramic Early Morning View of Trespone Village in Suru Valley…
A Panoramic Early Morning View of Trespone Village in Suru Valley
Pristine Whiteness, Standing Tall…
Glaciers viewed from Suru Valley
And the Clouds Bring Magic…
Beautiful views in Suru Valley
Suru River at Sankoo Village…
Suru River at Sankoo Village
Eagles – Flying High at Sankoo Village…
Eagles - Flying High at Sankoo Village in Suru Valley
Eagles – Flying High at Sankoo Village…
Eagles - Flying High at Sankoo Village in Suru Valley
A Carved Statue of Lord Buddha (Maitrey) at Kharchay Khar Village in Suru Valley…
A Carved Statue of Lord Buddha (Maitrey) at Kharchay Khar Village in Suru Valley

Thanks to the encyclopaedic Bollywood knowledge of  Gaurav and Punit, especially Gaurav that narrated so many gossips of the old stars even before I was born or I got the senses. Hats off to him for entertaining us throughout the trip with such gup-shups 😆 … We were back on the natural beauty route and must tell you that every inch we moved inside the Suru Valley or towards Zanskar Valley, the beauty just kept increasing. Though we still did not see any Stupa or Chorten to make us feel we are nearing any Buddhist town which actually we weren’t as the Buddhist towns starts on the other side of Penzi La Pass… It was time to move towards Parkachik and witness the glorified views of Nun – Kun Sister Peaks, thanks to the clear skies. We moved through the green toned villages of Panikhar plus some others and it was just refreshing. The Snow Clad peaks looked beautiful all around with huge ice blocks appearing as slices of cake or vanilla ice cream 🙂 … Some places on the way towards Parkachik were just breath taking and we could not resist ourselves to get down off the car again and again. Thank god Hasan was good lad in such terms and did not get frustrated. There are two roads as you move out of Panikhar, one goes above it not through the village offering great vantage views while other one runs through the village boasting the green coloured landscapes. We decided to take the upper road and left the other one for return.

A Scenary to Die for in Suru Valley…
A Scenary to Die for in Suru Valley
A Panoramic Landscape before Panikhar Village in Suru Valley…
A Panoramic Landscape before Panikhar Village in Suru Valley

Finally, we reached a place nearing Parkachik, our mouth was just wide open seeing the Nun – Kun Sister peaks right in front, as if wanting us to touch them. Just a treat to eyes. We spent 10-15minutes just sitting there ogling at those majestic peaks and doing nothing. Time has gone stand still for us but Hasan asked to us to move ahead and see them closer 🙂 … We moved as the road further deteriorated towards Parkachik and reached the Parkachik glacier. Well, the black ice towards the backend did not pleased us but still watching a glacier just hands away was an experience in itself. As we moved ahead towards Rangdum, the blasting was going on and in between we had to wait for the clearance. The road had gone almost non-existent and huge rocks made it really difficult to move on. Slowly, slowly we moved ahead as the valley opened up widely with snow clad peaks just aside the valley in touching distance. I had never seen such magical views in my whole life 😀 … We were almost lost in this wonderland of extreme serenity and solitude.

First Views of Breathtaking Nun – Kun Sister Peaks from Suru Valley…
First Views of Breathtaking Nun - Kun Sister Peaks from Suru Valley
A Close Up View of Nun – Kun Sister Peaks from Suru Valley…
A Close Up View of Nun - Kun sister Peaks from Suru Valley
A Green Colored Village in Suru Valley…
A Green Colored Village in Suru Valley
The High Views of Parkachik Village in Suru Valley…
The High Views of Parkachik Village in Suru Valley
The High Views of Parkachik Village in Suru Valley…
The High Views of Parkachik Village in Suru Valley
Looks Like an Ice Cream Cake though Glacier in Suru Valley ;)…
Looks Like an Ice Cream Cake though Glacier in Suru Valley
Parkachik Glacier…
Parkachik Glacier in Suru Valley
Shooting the Parkachik Glacier…
Shooting the Parkachik Glacier in Suru Valley
A Lovely Landscape in Suru Valley…
A Lovely Landscape in Suru Valley
A Lovely Landscape in Suru Valley…
A Lovely Landscape in Suru Valley
The Rough Roads in Suru Valley…
The Rough Roads in Suru Valley
The Rough Roads in Suru Valley…
The Rough Roads in Suru Valley
A Stupa, A Glacier and Prayer Flags… What a Treat…
A Stupa, A Glacier and Prayer Flags... What a Treat in Suru Valley
A Lonely Stupa in Suru Valley…
A Lonely Stupa in Suru Valley

Rangdum is about 40 KMs from Parkachik and steadily with numerous breaks in between, we managed to reach Rangdum. Hasan, told us that we have reached Rangdum as we were having fun in a water stream but I still could not see it. After couple of KMs down, the beautiful small hamlet appeared with its almost symmetrically separated small houses giving it an artistic look. As soon as we stepped out of the car, wow, it was icey cold winds hitting us from all over 🙂 … We found the caretaker of the Guest House was not in but rooms were open, so we just dumped our bags in there and went to have some tea at a dhabha nearby. The benches were made of metal and they were freezing as we could not sit at them. The icy winds were getting all the chill from the snow clad peaks all the way round Rangdum Village. It was really cold and frankly I was really feeling the chill because of un-expected chill or ill-prepared clothing. We checked out couple of more dhabhas in search of egg as the tea and Maggie served was really pathetic on the first one. I hadn’t eaten well since long now and desperately wanted to have some good food. One of them finally had egg with him and we asked him to prepare some omelette but he was also over with quantity  and asked us to wait for some time as he get more eggs plus oil from home. Thankfully the majestic vistas on offer kept the motivation high and handsome…

As It Lead Us Into the Rangdum Village…
As It Lead Us Into the Rangdum Village...
As It Lead Us Into the Rangdum Village…
As It Lead Us Into the Rangdum Village
I Walk a Lonely Road… In Heaven, Towards Rangdum Village…
I Walk a Lonely Road... In Heaven, Towards Rangdum Village...
Colors of Suru Valley from Rangdum Village…
Colors of Suru Valley from Rangdum Village
Picture Perfect at Rangdum Village in Suru Valley…
Picture Perfect at Rangdum Village in Suru Valley

He left us there out in those freezing winds but thank god that sun was out so it did not felt too much. I was somehow not feeling well by then as it took almost an hour outside and still no sign of that man. We decided to checkout more dhabhas and found egg on one more. He cooked OK omelettes but all that oil used was somehow worsening the taste as even I cooked one half fry for myself and it even tasted bad. I never thought I can go wrong with a half fry ever 😉 … By the evening, I was almost started to loose on health and it started to become bad for me. I tried my level best to concentrate and neglect the uneasiness but could not somehow. The chill was getting chillier and chillier and that caretaker did not even gave us blankets. Gaurav and Punit went in to the village to call that idiot get us some blankets. He was just totally out of thought and never even said a word rather always looked frustrated that we had come for a stay. Finally, they were able to find him in the village but it took good 1-1.30 hrs in the evening.

Rangdum proved to be a horrible place for stay, in fact the MOST HORRIBLE place I had ever stayed. There was no tap water, one has to get water in a bucket from the hand-pump outside the PWD guest house. It was the shabbiest places one can stay but at least OK to save you from those icy cold winds. Dinner was all set with a dhabha next to guest house and the evening temperatures must have been close to sub-zero. It is NOT RECOMMENDED to stay at Rangdum. It lacks decent accommodation as well as good food and plus the icy winds won’t let you feel comfortable rather stay at Parkachik. It was just destiny or our bad luck that we changed our minds to stay at Rangdum instead of planned night halt at Parkachik – Again the tip goes “Believe what locals suggest but VERY wisely” 😉 …

Pumping the Water Manually in Such Cold…
Guest House at Rangdum Village

Well, the agony was not over yet. It was too difficult to first step out of those blankets and get to shop in such cold weather and secondly to eat that pathetic food again. I think it was not the mistake of cook rather it was the crooked oil that was being used by majority of them. So, far out of 5 meals we had, only the Rajma – rice at Drass was more than satisfactory. The lack of food/nutrients topped with that un-tasty oil exaggerated the illness inside me. Sometimes I never felt I was in control of my senses as we went back and started talking to each other, most likely to divert my mind from the illness. I knew inside that I was stuck with AMS as nausea, loss of appetite, throw up feeling all count for early stages. Finally, we decided to call up for the day and went for sleep. It was even unimaginable to use washroom at night with such cold out there. I tried my level best to sleep but could not. The head started aching and body was shivering a lot. I went to put on one more jacket and one more lower warmer plus a pair of woollen socks to get some warmth inside two blankets 😉 … But, this time I was badly stuck and though the shivering settled but there were no signs of sleep. The throat almost went dry every other 30 minutes or so, requiring a sip of water. There was massive dehydration that was running into the body. I was feeling as if it was a nightmare, I pinched to feel it true and it was true. I never thought I could get hit with AMS after traveling so many times to trans Himalayan region and at greater heights than Rangdum but that is how AMS is, it hits you when you least expect it to.

Every other moment I take out my watch to look at the time but time was such that it was not at all passing. Tried my best to ignore the bad feeling generating inside and overcoming the emotions but I was too low to overcome them. It was one nightmare of a night and I just wanted it to pass alive praying for the rest of the night every now and then 😀 … As the night goes past 3 AM, sleep came and gone in between but never in entirety as either the head started to ache or throat went dry for crying for water… I was cursing myself to go with such a decision of sleeping at Rangdum but who knows I believed in one fact – “Everything happens with you for a good reason…” but was not sure what exactly good was with such whole night of suffering, a night to forget completely…

The Journey ahead…

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40 Comments

  1. Dear dheeraj,
    I am planning to visit leh with my family and friends (may be 3 couples and 2 kids below 5 yrs) my question for you is it worth to visit sankoo,rangdum,panikhar,padum or we can skip it ?
    if yes please mention the road condition and time duration to cover all these places.

    thanks,
    PRATIK

    • Pratik, it depends upon how many days you have in hand. If you have 4-5 days in hand from Kargil spared from Ladakh trip then you can surely plan to visit Suru and Zanskar Valley as well.

      • Dheeraj, Thanks for your reply. I have 8-9 days for this trip.
        suru valley trip not included so please suggest your opinion.
        here is the short itinerary.
        1.srinager-kargil
        2.kargil-leh
        3.leh
        4.leh-nubra
        5.nubra-leh
        6.leh-pangong
        7.pangong-leh

  2. Hi, mr dheeraj, do you p/s tell me about parakachik jktdc guest house regarding its water ( hot or cold) supply, rooms & toilet type. Actually we are programming to travel suru valley in 2 nd week of june16 and we have 3 ladies.

    • Hi Som, the far yo go from Kargil towards Rangdum, the worse the conditions of these guest houses become. You will only have cold water AFAIK and hot water need to be self managed up there. Rooms will only be OK to stay nothing much comfort. Avoid Rangdum guest houses anyway, it is a nightmare there

      • Hi dheerag many thanks for your reply. Is there any other alternative better staying option than jktdc rangdum( as it was a nightmare by you) & nunkun resort camp( as it is very costly). One guest house named Nunkun guest house i saw in one traveller’s photo( may be behind jktdc guest house as per that phto), do you can tell me about this or any other better option. Thanks

        • Som ji, I have seen the guest house of Nun Kun, it is under construction as of now and then they have a home stay to live in as of now at Rangdum whichis much better. However, I personally do not feel like stay or suggest stay at Rangdum as it is quite a harsh place. Best will be you come back to Purikutchy and stay there with views of Nun Kun peaks from the guest house itself. Next day you can do Purikutchey to Lamayuru or Uley or Alchi

  3. S. Chandra on

    Hi, Dheeraj, first i must convey lot of loves & wishes to you for your fantastic writing which boosts up to travel in this type of lone paradise. We are 2 familly(3 man & 3 lady, 4 are age of 40 to 49, 2 are of 15) planed to travel on following iternity as follow. It will be very helpful if you guide us by modify ( if you think beter) the iternity. 1> 8 th june16, from srinagar to kargil. Day2> kargil to penjila & back to parakachik& stay at jktdc guest house( whats the facilyties in jkdc guest house like gyeaser, electricity, toilet as there 3 ladies, foods provision? Where do you think beter night stay option?) day 3> back to kargil and if possible goes further to mulbek/ lamayuru and night stay there. Day3> go to leh. Day4> in leh with local tour include thicksey, starngdey, 3 idiots school. Your advise needed here. Day5> to nurbra & stay at hunder after visiting sumur. Day6> visit tutuk and night stay at hunder. Your advise on nurbra tour & staying? Day 7> to pangong via agam, shyok village & night stay. Day8> to hanle via chisul, tsagla. Day 9> to tsomorri. What route is better via salsala- chumur turn or normal route? Day10> tso morri to sarchu ( as it is midle of manali) day11> sarchu to manali. Day 12> buffer day. Day 13 > extra day. Where do you think it may good to utilise? Day15> from manali to chandigarh/ delhi. This total tour is our dream for several years. P/ s guide a us with great ideas on this areas. Thanks—- som, kolkata.

    • Hello Som ji,

      Below are my suggested modifications given the days at hand:

      Day 1> 8 th june16, from srinagar to kargil.
      Day 2> kargil to penjila & back to parakachik, this will be long day and regarding Parkachik it will be a bit just OK for stay only with basic facilities.
      day 3> Parkachik – Lamayuru
      Day 4> Lamayuru – Leh
      Day 5> in leh with local tour include thicksey, starngdey, 3 idiots school. Your advise needed here.
      Day 6> to nurbra & stay at hunder after visiting sumur.
      Day 7> visit tutuk and night stay at hunder. Good to opt for Turtuk
      Day 8> Nubra – Leh
      Day 9> Leh – Pangong Tso
      Day 10> Pangong Tso – Tso Moriri via Chusul in case you get the permits for Chusul AND army allows you to pass through Chusul (about 12 Hrs drive)
      Day 11> tso morri to sarchu ( as it is midle of manali)
      day 12> sarchu to manali.
      Day 13> Better use this to go back to Leh from Pangong Tso and then Leh to Tso Moriri for normal route
      Day 14> Whenever you feel you need rest 🙂
      Day 15> from manali to chandigarh/ delhi.

      • Many thanks for your so caring reply. 1>you see that i must. Visit turtuk in my 2 nights stay in nubra valley. Then what will be my better place to nighthaults, is it better to stay 1 night( 1st night) at turtuk and then next night at hudur or at diskit/ sumur? is turtuk is costlier place for accomadation, in that case do p/s give me one good budget option in turtuk.2> is it very risky to go pangong from nubra via agham- shyok village? I read in one recent blog( travelled in 2015) that some bridge are made over main water crossings, so is it now will be good in mid june? Thanks

  4. Rupesh Choudhary on

    Hi Dheeraj,
    As usual ,anyone’s half trip gets completed by reading your wonderful articles.
    We are planning for a trip to Zanskar Valley. We will reach Srinagar on 2nd October morning and have 6 whole days . We will follow your itinerary for Zanskar (barring Phugtal) and it seems to suffice within 6 days.
    Can you please share how to book vehicles and lodges for the entire trip.Please suggest the hotel names and driver contact numbers so that we can book ASAP.
    Also please review our itinerary once.

    Day 1 | Delhi – Srinagar and then Srinagar – Sonamarg (79 KMs) – Zozi La (107 KMs) – Drass (144 KMs) – Kargil (202 KMs)
    Day 2 | Kargil – Sankoo (42 KMs) – Panikhar (67 KMs) – Parakachik (98 KMs) / Rangdum (138 KMs)
    Day 3 | Parakachik – Rangdum (40 KMs) – Penzi La (67 KMs) – Padum (157 KMs)
    Day 4 | Padum – Stongde (15 KMs) – Zang La Fort (32 KMs) – Karsha (62 KMs) – Padum (74 KMs)
    Day 5 | Padum – Penzi La (90 KMs) – Sankoo (205 KMs)
    Day 6 | Sankoo – Umba La – Drass (65 KMs) – Zozi La (102 KMs) – Sonamarg (130 KMs) – Srinagar (209 KMs)
    Day 7 | Srinagar – Delhi By Morning Flight
    Regards
    Rupesh

  5. Aijaz Rasool on

    Hey fellows, great to see such a buzz about the suru valley. It might surprise you but I’m actually from there :-). If any of you need any information on acco. and transport, i run a home-stay at panikhar

    • Karthik Shreeram on

      Hello Aijaz, as per our plan we would be reaching Panikhar on 14th, would be great if you could share your contact details,

  6. Pratik Mukherjee on

    Srinagar-Kargil-Suru Valley-Drang Drung Glacier and back to Kargil-Srinagar: What shall be the car/taxi four wheeler expenses? Four of us planning this July> Thanks

    • Pratik, for Srinagar – Kargil and back to Srinagar, consider about 10-12K. Then from Kargil – Suru Valley and back to Kargil should also be considered around 7-8K types as drop to Padum from Kargil in one day is 13-14K.

  7. Siddharth Tewari on

    You are the only person whos putting out complete information for these unseen places in india. i think you should post videos on youtube too. because everyone would love to see this beautiful valley in a video!

    • Thank you so very much Siddharth. Glad you loved the information present over DoW. I will try to shoot them soon and will start sharing them over YouTube or Vimeo channels for DoW 🙂 … Thank you so very much for the suggestion.

  8. manab lahiri on

    reading your article and see your fantastic photo must enchant me to Suru valley. plese suggest in may last weak it is possible or not
    manab lahiri

    • Hi Manab,

      Thanks alot. IN May last week, Suru Valley is very much possible but if you have plans for Zanskar Valley further ahead of Penzi La Pass then it does depend whether Penzi La pass is open to pass through or not. Generally, by late May it gets open but nothing is certain with changing weather conditions. June Mid is a safe bet for Penzi La Pass to be open and you can even go into Zanskar Valley then. Before Penzi La Pass it is all Suru Valley which remains accessible at that time of the year.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  9. Swapnil K on

    Amazing experience 🙂
    Hats off !!!!!!

    Sir if we want to cross Zozila Pass, is there any restriction on timings ? Like one way(from Srinagar to Kargil ) allowed at specified timing in a day.
    If yes can you share details here ?

    With Thanks & Regards
    Swapnil K

    • Swapnil, pleasure to see you here after long time. Yes, sometimes there are restrictions on passage of traffic at Zojila Pass but it depends upon the road conditions. If they are bad and narrow then only it does happen and usually the traffic from Sonamarg side is kept closed upto 11 AM AFAI remember. However, there timings keep on changing according to need or traffic regulations. Check for updates near the dates when you will be traveling.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

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  14. You took the trouble and hardships, and here we are enjoying those untiring scenes!

    A nice write up, not only about the beauty, but also the hardships that can be encountered. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you so much as always for showing such appreciation. Yes, it was a painful night, a night seriously to forget. But, while Traveling I have learnt that such things are bound to happen and especially to Tran Himalayan region where you pay for single mistake even as we did.

      It always feel glad to share my experience, so that others might learn from it and enjoy a better trip 🙂

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

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  16. JATDEVTA SANDEEP on

    यह घाटी मैंने नहीं देखी थी, लगता है कि अबकी बार यहाँ जरुर जाना पड़ेगा।

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