Himalayan Desert – Hunder

I wake up early in the morning and think about what’s going to be today. I prefer to go back to Leh after visiting Diskit monastery and Hunder desert. The toilet is eco-friendly version and different. I went to the dinning hall to have my breakfast and had interesting conversation with Suraj & Nepalese guy. It’s interesting to know that Nepalese work from May to September in Ladakh, October in Nepal for Diwali and November to April in Goa. It’s good money as they get tips from foreigners and some sell drugs and drinks to foreigner. Some also end up having sex with foreigners. The Nepali guy had a short term relationship with a girl from Liverpool before when she stayed with her mom in the guest house a year before. She was 19 and told him that he is his 8th boy friend. He is still thinking her as his girl friend and i guess she doesn’t share the same view having returned to Liverpool. Poor guy. The Nepalese guy is up to date with western music and copying western culture literally without knowing what it means.

The next pit stop is Diskit monastery which is on the other side of the river bank. So have to cross the bridge and drive through a panoramic view of dry and barren land of the valley in the foreground and beautiful stretch of snow capped mountain. The driver is interested to show me a small waterfall on the way. The water is flowing from the ice melted from the top of the mountains. The temperature is raising gradually over a period of time in the valley. The average temp is 25 degree in July. The water is freezing but fresh. On the way to monastery, we went pass a herd of double humped camel grazing wildly in the mountains. The herd has the very old, male, female and young ones. I start to climb the rocks to get close to them and at the same time not to scare them. A military vehicle arrives and a bunch of soldiers start to climb the rocks and eventually succeeded in scaring the herds to my benefit. The herd started to walk towards me and had fantastic snaps taken by my guide/driver.

There is a new monastery built parallel to the old Diskit monastery. The new one has a large golden Buddha statue in the top on a podium. I preferred old one than the new one as the old is very authentic and contain fabulous wall paintings depicting Buddha & his life journey.

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Diskit Monastery also known as Deskit Gompa or Diskit Gompa is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery (gompa) in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh, northern India. It belongs to the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo, a disciple of Tsong Khapa, founder of Gelugpa, in the 14th century. It is a sub-gompa of the Thikse gompa. Old monasteries have same resemblance except for size. Diskit monastery is different as it’s huge and old and most of the wall paintings are invisible. It’s a normal monastry visit & nothing special except I bump into many Israelite again. More Israelite are visiting this part of the world but cant establish a reason yet.

The next stop is Hunder which is famous for high altitude sand dunes. The valley is beautiful with pleasant surprises of green villages, sand dunes, river, waterfall, hot springs, huge blocks of white rocks, small streams, etc.

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The driver drop me near a small stream which has a wooden bridge. The water is flowing swiftly. On the other side of the bridge, there are several tents and camels sat outside the tents. This is my first time in a desert and certainly want to try camel ride. After negotiation and price settlement, i am shown a camel which will take me through the dune and back. The camel looks old and am told that it’s the appropriate one for my weight. The amazing view is when it stood up. The jerk during the camel ride is pleasant. I expect otherwise.

After few yards walking in the desert, the camel came to a stop. The rider then pushed it hard but it didn’t move an inch. He called another man for help who then kicked it from the back. Its clear animal cruelty and am worried about the animal as well its reaction to whats happening. It moves a few yards and stops again. This time the keeper ask the other man to give a real good smack in the back. The camel didn’t expect it and started running fast after a hard smack. There are no fasteners for me to hold and am not expecting it to sprint. I lost balance and landed in the sand. I hurt my back but it’s worryingly lower back. The camel guides or the owner is ill equipped to handle these cases and pointed that the ticket clearly says its on my own risk. This is how it works in tourist spots with less equipped and money oriented. There is no point in arguing with these guys and came back to my jeep.

We head back to Leh. I am sitting calm and in one fixed position. I maintain the still position through out the journey. But unfortunately the ice started we saw in the forward journey is melting and the roads are flooded and patchy. I manage my pain and spray pain killers. I am now horrified if this is going to impact my Stok Kangri climb. I took pain killers upon return and rest in the bed. I was fast asleep due to tiredness.

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