Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Chronicles of Ladakh - Part 11 - The Magical Tso Moriri

Previous: The Remoteness of Hanle

Day 11, 18th September, 2012
Hanle > Nyoma > Loma > Mahe > Sumdo > Namashang La > Tso Kiagar > Korzok (161 Km)

The Journey
Next morning, leaving the cosiness behind proved to be more difficult than we anticipated. We aimed to start at 8 in the morning but we could manage to set out at 9.15 am!! The room was so comfortable and the breakfast so alluring that we just couldn’t get up on time and went on stuffing ourselves shamelessly.

Anyway, Rigzin advised to skip the visit to the Hanle Monastery as the journey to Tso Moriri would take time and there would be nothing new at the Monastery. We obeyed his wisely advises and thus made up for some of the lost time.

Rigzin as usual started his humorous anecdotes and the never ending list of his stories. This is because of this quality of him, all the journeys seemed so smooth and easy – his smile never leaves his face. On top of that the day was bright and sunny which lifted our spirit. The Hanle Monastery seemed like no less than some world famous Roman or Greek architecture as it shined on top of the hillock which we visited yesterday from a distance.
Hanle Monastery at the Hilltop
Through the incredible meadows – it seemed more unearthly under broad daylight – we drove on. As I mentioned earlier we would need to backtrack till Mahe. And towards Mahe the landscapes were again fascinated us. Colourful and occasional patches of green served as a great contrast under the barren landscapes. Hordes of Kiangs were grazing on the valleys around. Nomads sometimes pitched their tents in and around these green valleys – we just were thrilled imagining how their lives could be. Perhaps we could never have so much guts to take on the adventure.

The Curious Kiang Family

We reached Mahe from where we took a diversion through a small wooden bridge towards Tso Moriri. The roads were sometimes good, sometimes ok and sometimes horrible but always remote. We reached Sumdo village at around 1.30 pm where we had our ‘luxurious’ lunch with a bowl of Maggi noodles – in my honest opinion noodles should be considered as one of the most useful inventions of mankind as you can get it anywhere and everywhere. From Sumdo another road actually bifurcated towards Tso Kar, which in turn will converge into the Manali Leh Highway.
Sumdo Village
We started from Sumdo and within no time the roads started going uphill as we were approaching another pass – Namashang La. Soon enough we were on top of it. We didn’t spend much time at the top.
Tso Kiagar
We were ecstatic to see a glimpse of a lake but Rigzin mentioned it is just a small lake called Tso Kiagar, and Tso Moriri is still around 1.5 hours from there. But the location of Tso Kiagar was fantastic. Surrounded by snow capped mountains from a couple of sides, Tso Kiagar was glittering with its part bluish – part greenish water. That was really a splendid scenery to watch. And the drive besides Tso Kiagar was an added bonus.
A Day with Tso Moriri
As soon as we left Tso Kiagar, the tarred road disappeared completely and it was all ‘make-your-own-road-or-follow-the-tyre-marks’ drive. We did both. Suddenly Rigzin stopped his car. We were inquisitive to know the reason. He pointed his finger towards the front, we followed. We now could catch the first view of Tso Moriri!
Make your own way or follow the tyre marks
Tso Moriri - the first glimpse
We drove towards the horrible roads towards our planned destination for the day and slowly, very slowly Tso Moriri appeared in front of us with all its vastness. After Pangong Tso we didn’t actually expect Tso Moriri to be this vast. It was also spread over an enormous area I guess. There were prominent shades of different blue-green colours of water. We drove past the lake towards the Korzok village after submitting our permits at the entrance check post as we had to search for an accommodation first.
Shades of Tso Moriri
Korzok village was now visible in front of us. It was like a stair, built as various steps in the mountains. The weather was chilled and the gutsy wind actually brought down the temperature even more. We were shivering – Tso Moriri was at higher altitude even than that of Pangong.
Korzok Village
Rigzin, as usual, did all the hard bargaining and got us a great room with a great view at the Nomadic Life Camp and Resort, needless to say with a great bargain again. We got freshened up quickly and devoured some Maggi once again. We felt to have regained our enthusiasm to spend some time at the shore of the lake. So we started roaming around.
Unlike Pangong, Tso Moriri is a fresh water lake and hence it houses many species of birds and flora. Though we were not fortunate enough to see any birds but we could see the shores of the lake were fully covered by various kinds of grasses and perhaps orchids, giving birth to many combination of natural colours. At one side fencing was present to prevent trespassers to enter the conserved area of the Tso Moriri Wetland Reserve. Rest of the area is open to tourists.
The lake was truly beautiful. It was surrounded by mountains from all directions, some of them covered by snow. The lake generated their reflection on its still water. Blue sky, white patches of clouds, barren yellowish mountains and blue and green water was a perfect combination for the nature lovers and photography enthusiasts. But it didn’t last very long as suddenly the cloud engulfed the whole place and we could see the mountain peaks getting whiter as snow was falling rapidly. Not good when you have a camera to protect and you have nothing to protect it. So we had to return to our resorts.
That was the pnly aviator we saw
Magical colours of Tso Moriri
Tso Moriri Weteland Reserve
Photography Enthusiasts were plenty
Within no time, dark set in. And when it was dark, there was nothing to do apart from the chitchats with the hotel staffs or fellow travellers. We did the same with occasional hot tea. Outside it was cold like hell. The hotel manager mentioned it was close to zero degree Celsius because of the wind.
Dinner was great with lots of options and quantity was enough for 3 persons. Now it was time to go under the quilts which we religiously did and prepared ourselves for another long journey the next day. As per the plan, as we were nearing the end of our journey, we would take the Leh- Manali highway via Tso Kar and reach Sarchu. But, man proposes God disposes. We shall see what happened to the plan in the next post – it was all adventure which we wished for.
To Be Continued...

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