We journeyed some more through a beautiful world of sand and then, at the next turn of the bus, a valley appeared.
And then, the valley appeared again. From high above I saw narrow muddy streams of water forking, joining and crossing one another. I imagine that during the peak of rainy season the sandy bed is not visible and the water swells up to become a mighty river. What a sight it must be!
We stopped at a village for a while where we had lunch. That’s where I took this picture. Colourful stones.
We drove on for a while and then, we descended until we were level with the valley. There I was. With a group of innocent Ladakhi folks in a bus, with the entire valley to myself. For as far as eyes could see, there wasn’t another soul. And I could see very far. There were endless stretches of desert and out of them loomed purple and mauve coloured mountains in the distant horizon.
Quoting from the travel guide, “The road approaches the Shyok river valley and suddenly down below, you can see the river, a silver streak snaking through the canyon. The canyon soon broadens. The vast sandy confluence of the Shyok and the Nubra rivers appears shortly. Both rivers are split here into several channels and the many streams as they intermingle in the desert-like expanse bordered by bare mountains, present, from the elevation of the road a truly amazing sight. The road then drops into the river bed and as your vehicle speeds through the empty wastes, the sudden change in landscape, from mountains to flat desert cannot but enthrall you. After a short distance, the road forks; take left for the Shyok valley, for Diskit and Hundar. The other branch leads up the Nubra river, to Panamik.”
I had wanted to get down at Diskit, since it was the capital of Nubra. But in the last minute, I changed my mind to go further to Hundar, a small hamlet. I thanked my good luck for the right decision I had taken, for every minute of the ride from Diskit to Hundar was beautiful. The scenery around was charming. It looked a painting on a huge canvas, still moist with colours that hadn’t completely dried yet. Blow gently wind, said I, once again.
The bus stopped for me to get down. I got down and saw no one around. A hundred white chortens lining the road ahead, a lone prayer wheel in red and blue design behind where I stood, and mountains looming over me…. Where am I, I worried for a second. I had no plan, no room booking…and there was no human dwelling in sight…
And then I spotted a man on the other side of the road in military uniform (if I remember correctly), signaling me to follow him. I followed him.
And then, it was Alice and her Wonderland. I was walking on a muddy trail. There were bushes as tall as me covered with feather like flowers here and there. There was a stupa, the size of a small hut in blue, orange and white, some distance away. There was a brook over which a small bridge was built. The gushing foaming water made a small roar. It was a baby brook.
This was the most charming village ever, hidden from all the world. The mountains loomed over it all the time, wherever you went. The trail opened into a wider square. I asked the man if he could suggest a good guest house. He took me to this place called Goba guest house. I called at the entrance. A woman opened the gate and with a smile, greeted me and assured me there were rooms available. Her smile was so warm, so reassuring. It laid all my worries to rest.
The rooms on the first floor, to my surprise were furnished luxuriously and were no lesser than a room in a star hotel. After a brief inspection, I chose a room on the ground floor, separate from the house, one among a line of small rooms, across the garden with apple and apricot trees in it, slightly taller than me, and neatly laid out tables and chairs in their midst.
in this picture, theere is the house in view, I am facing my room...