This year’s tiny window in which Ladakh is open to tourists is fast shutting. Have you ticked off Ladakh from your bucket list yet? Visiting Ladakh is indeed a life-altering experience (my first published article for a major publication came after my Ladakh trip). The sheer wilderness of its landscapes, the endearing people and the way life is lived in that cold desert, its gompas, its animals and many more aspects of Ladakh will leave you asking for more.
Suru Valley is one of the less explored regions in Ladakh. If your plan includes a road trip from Leh to Srinagar (which I insist you should do), pop Suru in your plans. Do not forget to visit the Rangdum monastery while you are there.
Pristine blue waters fed by melting glaciers and set against the stark mountain landscape of Ladakh, the high altitude lakes are a treat to watch. A few of them, other than the famed Pangong Tso, exist in Ladakh. Tso Morriri and Tso Kar are prominent among them.
Clouds played kiss and tell with the snow capped peaks of greater Himalayas when we arrived at Tso Moriri. With its bright blue, emerald waters the lake forms a picture postcard view as you approach it. When the water catches sunlight, it shimmers in the sun as if someone threw a jar of glitter all over its surface. Red algae spread out in the shore where the water has drained. An inner layer of peaks with vegetation border the lake.
The road to Tso Moriri from Sumdo, although picturesque, with peaks and mountain streams is a nightmare to any driver. The terrain is filled with boulders and BRO’s road building infrastructure hasn’t reached this part yet. There is an Indo-tibetan border police outpost by the banks of Tso Moriri in the Korzok village, where you will get accommodation and food for as less as Rs.2000 per day.
Many small streams fed by Himalayan glaciers form Tso Moriri. On a sunny morning, the lake is a photographer’s paradise with its fenced fertile fields on the banks dazzling in the morning sun. Furry mountain dogs run about. Tso Moriri is a Ramsar site and is visited by migratory birds including black necked crane and bar headed geese.
Perhaps the smallest of the popular lakes of Ladakh, Tso Khar is located in the Changtang plains. Most of this salt water lake is frozen even in summer months and the lake is rendered inaccessible by a vast expanse of marsh land. This means, the black necked cranes wobble in its waters and make merry without human intervention – something Tso Moriri couldn’t afford to be despite the arrangements made by government for bird nesting. If you are lucky, you can even spot Himalayan wild asses in the endless plains.
Parting shot: A rainbow over the Ladakh roads.
Is Ladakh in your bucket list? Or have you been there already? Leave a comment.