The Journey so far…
Day 5 | Padum – Drang Drung Glacier – Penzi La Pass – Rangdum – Kargil
We slept well but had some un easy feelings all night. The trip had fallen apart badly but if I look at the other end of the tail then it meant another trip to Zanskar Valley in coming future would be certain 😉 … It was 4 AM when all of us woke up, got ourselves ready, freshening up and out in biting cold conditions. Hasan (cook) had prepared and packed our food for the long journey to Kargil from Padum and other Hasan (taxi guy) was ready for us downstairs. Stars were studded in the sky all over and were blinking as if to bid us adieus from the Zanskar Valley in that cold night.
As we left, we saw similar police dominance on the road and one of the group stopped us and asked for vehicle checking but then one senior came in and asked us about whereabouts and native places. Then, they realized we were tourists and let us go without much trouble. Feeling wasn’t that good leaving the town after seeing the police force and we knew in our heart that something was wrong but not exactly what!! Nevertheless, it was biting cold out there and we were completely packed up. None of us dared to get out for the golden glowing colours of sunshine as we get past the Zanskar Villages and perhaps we wanted to reach Drang Drung Glacier and Penzi La Pass as soon as possible to take some lovely pictures and spend some good time there. In between, there was a bus parked right in the middle of the road and since the thinking was pretty negative we were a bit scared that it might not have something related to some kind of protest or anything!! But, thankfully nothing like that and as the sun came out beyond the tall mountains, we almost reached that lovely spot offering the breath taking view right through the elongated Drang Drung Glacier. Earlier, we had missed everything on the way owing to precisely my bad health but now it was fun as we had almost full day to explore the raw nature up on the way to Kargil.
The massive Drang Drung was in full glory and the feeling was really out of the world. There was no soul around us and it was a feeling that everything there was only available for us. We moved ahead towards Penzi La pass and this time we were in no hurry. There are two lakes just before the Penzi La pass (from Kargil side) namely Stat Tso Lake and Lam Tso Lake. We did not want to waste the opportunity of capturing the reflections in these lakes and as we reached near there shore it was PRISTINE and HEAVENLY… There are always some feelings in the trip which you do not forget in lifetime and this one was just that but hard to describe in words, with no crowd or disturbances around. We spent almost 2 Hrs from Drang Drung Glacier to Penzi La Pass and at the shores of twin lakes – Stat Tso and Lam Tso, it was most fun filled moments of the trip 🙂
It was time to descend the Penzi La pass towards Rangdum and break the journey for the breakfast. On the way towards Rangdum monastery, we met many children who were going to school housed at Rangdum Monastery only, distributes some candies and chocolates. The innocence on their faces and the harshness of their lives would any sufferer believe that his sufferings are nothing as compared to the tough lives in this part of trans Himalayan region. Walking so many miles just for the school in harshest of conditions for attending school and get to learn those little things, just hats off to the spirit of life here. This is one of the reason I love traveling as it helps you understand and realize what things are there in my life which does require some respect and studies is just one thing, which was hard earned in the past!! Thanks to the lovely parents who helped me with it in whatever circumstances in life they were… Anyways, coming back to story as we passed by the Rangdum monastery, we saw army guys playing volleyball. The tiny hamlet of Rangdum looked lovely and so symmetrical from this end of the valley. We reached Rangdum and asked for some tea at that very dhabha aside the PWD Rest House because none of us wanted to take any chance with food there 😉 and moreover, we had packed food with us – paranthas with butter and jam… After spending about half an hour, we moved ahead towards Parkachik.
The sky was clear and now the sunshine was so fierce that it was almost burning the skin. Now, the section where the road widening work and blasting was going on started. It was damn slow progress now with so many break in between due to blasting in progress. There were sections on the road where it was not possible to avoid the underbelly hit and couple of times the body scratched from below though nothing worrying as such. After crossing the stretch just in front of Parkachik glacier, Hasan told us that we are almost out of fuel and may not be able to even reach Parkachik Village 😯 … God, there was 95 odd KMs left to reach Kargil from there and we were like – what an adventure it would be to have a such a long walk 😉 … Thankfully, after persuading and requesting one truck driver, who was a nice chap from Jammu, for a while, he agreed to sell about 10 Litres of diesel. He was indeed God Sent!! 😀 … Thanking him, we moved ahead and it was almost about 8 Hrs now in the journey.
This time we took the route through the villages instead of the upper route which by passes these villages en-route. It was a pretty nice experience going through those villages seeing the greenery around, children coming back from schools, playing in the meadows, some studying in those green meadows where cattle were grazing and a jaw dropping landscape in the background and all that looked like a dream or a fairy tale story/movie… We clicked few pictures here and there and continued to move ahead and after about 11 Hrs of journey we were at Kargil.
It was about 4.40 PM at that time when we reached Kargil. We settled the bill with Hasan after check-in at the same hotel Greenland at the same Rs 800 bucks. Then, we decided to have a stroll on the roads of Kargil in search of river side location but that was very far so opted against it in the end. We searched for some food but chapatis were not available anywhere at that time and only rice was available. Even eggs were out of stock and was not available anywhere 😥 … Finally, decided to go with some mix. veg and dahi/curd with juices at the Shangri La hotel!! Took the print outs of the airline tickets for day after tomorrow from Srinagar as Kargil was the last point where we would be able to get them. Never wanted to take risk with Srinagar as we came to know there was also a two day bandh there at that time. Went back to hotel, called up Feroz and lucking he was there in Kargil only and available for tomorrow to take us back to Srinagar. Rested for a while, had some gupshups and again at about 9.30 PM went out for dinner at the same hotel. This time went to Las Vegas restaurant but there as well no rotis/chapatis available. Had some rice and finally went back to hotel and called off the VERY long day 🙂
The Journey ahead…