As we were approaching the most-talked about and highlight of the trip, we seemed to prep ourselves for more magnificent sublimity, but compared to hormones produced in us while the retinal gaze deepened and softened at the same time, we felt extemporaneous!
The early dewy morning and dull nature of the weather helped distinguish rocky mountains, gushing lake and barren land as they juxtaposed against its background. Hours’ worth of almost desolate regions with spurts of greens posed a dilemma if this could in fact be the road to the renowned water body in the world. Scenes would suddenly sprout stark vegetative mountains and bright-flowing channels and these switches, accentuated the random essence of nature.
Pangong Tso (Lake)
It’s no wonder that we had to cross pinnacles and spillways to descend on a 4, 350m height to ogle at the Pangong Lake. Being the highest saltwater lake in the world would have never occurred to me had I not rolled down the windows to be gripped in dynamic high-functioning arctic-like winds. I remember while our car was approaching the lake and the view suddenly yet slowly panned on to the expansive lakes I felt a calling, a sense of belonging and gravity towards it, which didn’t create a thrill to arrive but a calm to experience it in me. This polychromatic view ranging from transparent waters, to turquoise blue and deep serene blue amidst distinct steady beige uninhabited and infertile mountains, towering into bleached clouds posing against a crystal-colored reflective Victorian blue sky, was while presumably describable, but only prima facie. The vastness of the lake was the 1st thing that caught my eye as the walk to the lake itself was a toil with strong winds gushing in ears, eyes and skin alike. The incredulously distinct color of the water was not an illusion even though it was illusory at its best! We walked on historically disintegrated rocked-turned-pebbles as we approached the core of the lake which you are not allowed to purge into. While I momentarily put my hands and feet in for a photo-op, I leapt out as chills went up my spine with the 0-degree water temperature almost creeped into my body!
Walking downhill from afar, we could see many infamous 3 Idiots movie’s popular 3-seaters where people could sit and take pictures while after that without any patrol, everyone seemed to be maintaining a high level of decorum by simply walking near the waters. No is allowed to immerse their body into the water and this unsaid rule was thoroughly followed without any supervision. Some of us decided to explore the ends of the lake by taking a long walk on both sides towards its oblivious, but in vain as it seemed unscrupulously endless. But we did some rock-shopping and found beautiful color, texture and shaped stones, especially heart-shaped stones which I proudly brought back with me as a souvenir! The mighty winds bringing in icy chills did not stop us from venturing out to either ends of the waters and we even discovered snow-capped mountains across the lake which were a stark difference from the rocky mountains affirmed in the lake.
I decided to take a long solo walk and mediated while the wind rouged my ears and my face. Regardless of the number of people around, the lake had a deeply serene vibe almost like the lake Eckhart Tolle describes within us all. I was grateful to have not only spent the day and evening there but living right across the lake, we started a bonfire at night and enjoyed staring at the galaxy stars almost all night.
The next morning, we left Pangong Tso with a heavy heart as we felt we had not had enough time exploring it and sitting by gleaming over it. Light drizzles accompanied us while we drove to Thiksey Monastery and visited it. Thiksey is the largest monastery in central Leh and its all-white appearance on the ascending steps of a hill, displays its grand yet somber visual delight. Standing tall at the altitude of 3, 600 meters, this 12-storey houses several Buddhist artworks, statues aka stupas, wall paintings and swords, historic to the Buddhists. This almost 2-hour tour of the monastery was starkly halted while witnessing the 15-meter statue of Maiterya, the largest statue in Ladakh covering 2-stories of the building. Delicate colorful designs on the statue along with the fine cuts and overtures were nothing short of a masterpiece. With bells turning and its beautiful surrounding views, Thiskey was a surprising delight that we did not expect.
Without an introduction, I can safely say that when I read this as part of the itinerary, I knew this would be one of the most fun parts of the trip and it truly was. Given the popularity of the school and of the character Racho from 3 Idiots itself, I was looking forward to the innovations and nuances of this school. However, it was closed for holidays but we were allowed to see the technologies students had developed and their upcoming projects. It was mind-blowing to see adolescence shaping our future with disruptive ideas and its successful implementations. We also took the opportunity to take pictures around the campus, sit on the 3-seater in the shape of the bum aka ass and humored each other with famous dialogues from the film and visited their quaint café to gush over their movie-themed menu.
After this long day, I decided to head to the city center at Sky Wok, have a beer and pizza to unwind while watching the snow-capped mountains across my peer and felt utterly content and satisfied with the entire trip so far especially still feeling the energy from the still yet resonant lake.
Check out the Ladakh Part 1 blog:
Check out the Ladakh Part 2 blog:
Check out the Ladakh Part 3 blog:
Take a quick glance of our entire Ladakh travels on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cq2iOgsKl_o/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y%3D
Also, check out our first YouTube short on Yogini's Ladakh adventure: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/eJIVj-7y018