After Shey, the next destination was Stok. But before that, my driver friend had a promise to fulfill. So we drove on, as I looked around in anticipation.
And then we parked the car and walked.
This is an embankment built by the river Sindhu where the annual Sindhu festival is conducted.
Sindhu. The river that gave India its name. The fountainhead of a civilisation. A mother who has silently witnessed all that was gained and all that was lost in seven thousand years and more… I wonder how it feels to live that long …
I just stood still for a while and looked at her…as if hoping to spot a sign of familiarity, may be recognition…
It was time to get closer, to fell the caress of her waters.
As had been taught at home, before making my first contact with my feet, I bent down, nay bowed down, touched the water to my eyes and put a few drops on my head.
And then I entered her. The riverbed was made of smooth, rounded rocks and the finest soil. It was very slippery. My driver friend was holding my hand and guarding me in strange waters.
I went further, step after step, groping to find the right stone beneath my feet. And after a few feet, I found sand. I let go of my friend’s hand and stood all by myself, resisting the temptation to go further.
Now I was almost in the middle of the river with beautiful scenery all around me.
I stood for some time with folded hands, thanking her for everything. For this great civilization. For this great religion. For the greatest people in the world.
I collected the water in my cupped hands and drank it. I took out the small kingfisher water bottle that they had given me on the plane, filled it with the elixir and closed the lid tight.
The picture around was truly magical. Many pictures in one picture. The play of sunlight and clouds. The yellow and green, fresh and dry shrubs all along the opposite bank, the mountains beyond, brown and grey, brown turning grey as if put to sleep by a cloud above and grey turning brown when waking to the sun above, several of them overlapping, only their contours giving away their distinctness.
The Sindhu valley, once most fertile, turned to a desert. I wonder know how and when this must have happened.
Very reluctantly we walked back to our car and drove on…
We passed by these Stupas at one end of a huge field. Apparently, when Dalai Lama visits this place, this field is where he addresses the masses.
We arrived at the bridge. I got down and took these last pictures