Friday, September 01, 2017
Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 9 - Padum and Pibiting
At last, after a long drive through a bleak desolate plain, we reached Padum.
I was as tired as the two others I was traveling with - my parents. The onus of finding a hotel room was upon me without anyone having to mention I and I would have done it anyway but the angry looks, the frustration over the delay caused made me want to cry. The absence of the keeper of the place seemed more serious a delinquency than it ought to have.
Unfortunately, I did not note the name of the hotel, but it was a nice hotel that we found a room in. The town of Padum, the administrative capital of Zanskar was grubby and completely lacking in charm. This is not what I had expected. All I could do was to keep looking up at a mountain top that had a really smooth covering of snow on its rounded top - I remember my dad likening it to butter. One side of it was washed in the setting sun and the evening passed, the white turned to yellow and then to pink.
There wasn’t much to see, except a except a nearby hillock crowned with a little Gompa. Mother and I started walking towards it.
From the roof of the Gompa, we saw a river in the valley below. This was either the Zanskar river or one of the two tributeries which came together to form the Zanskar.
The mountain tops were washed with the yellow of the setting sun while they remained grey-brown below their shoulders.
We met villagers on the way. Children, women, cattle.
Very importantly, we met two men, absolutely God send. One was a Tamil christian and the other, a Hindu from Jammu. Or that’s what I remember… they inquired about who we were, where we were from; having told them, we found out that the Tamil Christian had his posting here. The person from Jammu, upon learning that we were headed to Kashmir, Srinagar in two days, warned us saying, ‘Wahan ke log bade kaminey hote hain, sambhalke rehna’… upon learning that I wished to visit Karsha and Stongde monasteries the next day, they offered to take me there in their personal vehicle and also be our tour guides. They were going to save us a few thousand rupees.
We thanked them, gave them our hotel address and returned to our room.