Wanderer's Muse-The land of high passes, Ladakh!

Himadri sen

Day6 : Snow fall at Pangyong and star gazing at Hanley
The itinerary for the day was : Tangste- Spagmik - Man - Merak - Chulsul - Tsaga La - Tsaga - Loma – Hanley ( Stay Hanle)

As usual , I woke up early and peeped through the curtains of the room . There was the golden light falling on the far mountains , creating an orange glow, beautiful sunrise it is. I stood there for a while , still undecided whether to get the camera or not . Finally , decided against it , often it is better to appreciate the Nature’s beauty through own eyes rather than looking through a lens . We had our breakfast packed and set off. The sky suddenly turned gloomy with clouds hovering over it. Mr. Changla exclaimed “ Bombay ka fashion or Ladakh ka mausam dono badal te rahte hai”- which translates roughly to Mumbai’s fashion and Ladakh’s climate both are unpredictable. In fact, we have got sunny days so far in Ladakh , so little depressed by the cloudy sky in this all important day.

The drive was beautiful , Sonam pointed towards Eagles hovering above in the sky . We also came to point where Marmots cross the road. I was hopeful of seeing a marmot , they are so cute , looks out of the fairy tales. But unluckily , that was not the season of marmots , they might be hibernating in their burrows deep inside. Few Kms before reaching Pangyong, we saw a beautiful frozen lake . As we moved towards Pangyong , we had this view.

Sonam also pointed us towards a fence which guarded possible landmines , legacy of the 62 war. As we moved towards Pangyong takind a right turn, there was a dirt track which leads to Marsimek-La , the actual Highest motorable pass, mentioned in Limca book of records.

Finally , we had the magnificent view of Pangyong lake before us , the play of sun and cloud continued unabated. For a while , I stood there confused with my camera in hand, where to begin. This is humanly not possible to capture the beauty of this lake. The colours of the lake changed in hue every few metres. By then , snow flakes started to fall . Un mindful of the climate , I simply stared just to capture the heavenly beauty that was on display in my heart.
I was also bit unlucky as the sky was not clear , the blue color of the lake was not reflected.Nonetheless, it was a magnificent lake and i was awestruck.







Slowly , we moved towards Man- Merak , negotiating the dirt tracks , leaving behind all the guest houses and hotels . In this season , there was hardly any tourist or local, the whole lake side was open for us.

Goodbye , Panyong.

As we left pangyong behind , went towards Tsaga la , the sky became clear. Soon , we caught sight of Indus river once again. Wide open valleys and semi frozen Indus was a sight to behold. The valley also changed color , Ladakh seems to me the God’s canvass , HE was so undecided with the color to give, threw in all the colors. We entered the most beautiful landscape of ladakh and most vivid.

I might have gone a little overboard in uploading no of photos , infact ,while uploading i realized ,most of the photos i have seen after many years.:)











In between we paid our respect at Rezang La , the memorial of 1962 war martyrs. Being born in Assam, tales of India’s ill-fated 1962 war always affected me as a child. These were the words inscribed for the Brave Hearts :

“How can a Man die Better than facing Fearful Odds,
For the Ashes of His Fathers and the Temples of His Gods,
To the sacred memory of the Heroes of Rezang La,
114 Martyrs of 13 Kumaon who fought to the Last Man,
Last Round, Against Hordes of Chinese on 18 November 1962.
Built by All Ranks 13th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment

From here on our discussion with Sonam , who himself is a Tibetan refugee, centered around Tibet , India –china relationship, Arunachal Pradesh & Dalai Lama. We were listening to a speech made by Dalai Lama on compassion and happiness. His words spoken was befitting to the landscape we were driving through. His words made me melancholy and engrossed in deep thought of self-realization.




Our papers and permits were checked at Loma. The road was exceedingly scenic , the sun was setting, so the mountains were all painted in deep orange and yellowish tinge. There were Kiangs everywhere on the road. But they are very shy animal , it was not easy to approach them .









When we reached Hanley, we drove straight to the observatory. Mr. Sonam Dorjey, whose Guest House we booked works at the Observatory. The observatory is set up on a Hill and it was very windy and terribly cold. Mr. Sonam showed us the telescope and the way it works. The observatory is the 2nd highest one in the world and spending time inside the observatory was great fun.

We reached Hanley at 6 PM and it was quite dark . The rooms were clean and had traditional Bhukari for heating. Toilets were outside the room and very clean. The Bhukari works very well , better than any heater so far in Ladakh , within minutes we felt warm.

After freshening up , I stepped outside on Sonam’s insistence. The sky was full of stars , such a beautiful night it was. Sonam wanted to know how to shoot star trail but unluckily my remote timer was not working. I tried few shots in bulb mode but was not happy with the results. I was getting terribly cold outside, so I had given up and taken shelter close to Bhukari.
Last edited: