Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Ladakh Day 8 - The Grand Finale - Pangong
YOU HAVE TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT.
By the time we had reached there, it was a few hours past noon. This post or station beside the lake is called Lukung. A few Pukka buildings, a few tents. That’s all to this place. This place exists because tourists exist.
There were a very few people around. I was happy, averse to crowd as I am.
I and Fee settled in one room, Tim and Nicholas took another.
We hurriedly left our bags in our rooms, locked it and sprinted towards the lake.
It was one of the most beautiful places I had seen in my life.
It was quiet. I stood still and took in the panorama, looking at the incredible picture before me until I could believe that it was true.
The water was blue; the kind of blue that I have never seen on a water body before. Not mere reflection of the sky above but of the water, real, deep and rich.
Different shades of blue at different parts of the lake. Like someone had just poured ink into it and left without stirring. The ink was gradually diffusing.
The browns of the surrounding enclosing mountains were equally varied. It was as though the blues and browns were competing for diversity. In addition to colour the mountains had texture.
There were water birds. Swimming and flying.
We took a walk on the shore, along the lake. We must have walked a little over a kilometer where we stopped for a few pictures and then returned.
It was cold, and breathing started to hurt.
As we returned I noticed that the water had changed its colour. I looked forward to the next day. I had just tasted the exotic. I would have some more of it if not my complete fill, the next day.
On our way back we saw in the distance, a cylinder of mud in the air thinning as it went up – apparently common to these regions, this was a storm or a whirlwind.
The cold was hurting but we walked to the other shore of the lake, climbed to a slightly elevated point and saw more of the lake and more shades of blue.
Reluctantly, we walked back to our room, turning around again and again to make sure that it was real, that it was still there, to see what new colour the lake had taken on.
The building adjacent to ours was a restaurant - a large hall with mattresses and small wooden tables and a kitchen. For a place as remote as that, the cuisine was too good to be true; from Italian to Indian to English to Chinese to continental… And there were two or more such restaurants!
They have a generator here and there is electricity between 7 and 11 PM.
I charged my camera battery for a few hours. All the rooms had bulbs dangling from a wire at the centre and a switch attached.
Of all the places that I have toured in my life (in India), I think Ladakh and its people score the highest in customer service.
I asked for dinner to be served to my room.
I and Fee chatted for a while before we turned the lights off.
The thick heavy blankets given to us might as well have been mattresses and despite the cold, I started feeling hot after a few minutes of covering myself.
“Pangong is a long and relatively narrow sheet of water over 130 km in length and not exceeding 7 km in width. It extends into Tibet. 6o% of its length lies within China. The lake's water is at 13915 ft. Pangong translates roughly to hollow.”
“The lake freezes in winter but in summer its a breeding ground of migratory birds
We were lucky to sight large beautiful orange brown birds called Brahmini Duck better known elsewhere as Ruddy Shelduck as also the bar headed geese here. The lake's water is somewhat saline but very clear and normally calm.”