Ladakh trip Day 6: 15th July – (Jispa – Sarchu)

Jispa is really an awesome place to spend some quality time with nature. The population of Jispa village is not more than 800 people and it is located in Lahual and Spiti district. We got up early in the morning to spend some time besides river Bhaga. We opted for little strolls as this is an important process for acclimatization. We couldn’t find time to spend in Triloknath Temple which was nearby as we had a 6 hour long drive to Sarchu. Rana (our driver) had suggested that we leave early as in between we had to cross rivers and there are chances that we might get stuck due to the flooding of the river as its summer time and the melting of ice into these rivers can quicken. We left Jispa by 9:30am. The drive from Jispa to Sarchu is really awesome. It passes through fertile villages filled with greenery to rocky mountain terrains to lonely desert mountain areas.

We are on our way to Baralach la now and in between we happen to drive through the meadows along the river near Darcha. We happen to halt at this beautiful, stunning and amazing lake called ‘Deepak Tal’ situated at 14,000 ft (4270 m). A tributary joins the Bhaga river here and the snow capped Mulkila peaks from a serene backdrop. I have never seen such crystal clear waters in my entire life and this sight drives me mad with happiness. I kept on clicking photos in various angles of this lake, but none of it could actually capture the reality I was experiencing in person. I dipped my hand in Deepak Tal and I saw a dark layer of sunscreen coming out of my wet hand. I felt like swimming in this lake but I declared myself unclean in comparison to the cleanliness of this lake. I spent some quality time in this lake… something that I will always cherish. I pray that the lake remains clean for another decades so that we could always marvel at the beauty of creation. Yes, at moments like these one tends to delve into creationism.. believe it or not! For those interested in trekking within the Zanskar valley, Darcha is just 10 kms away from here and is a well known starting point.

With a heavy heart we proceed further. Next we cross the snow clad Baralach la – a pass in the Zanskar mountain ranges outside of Lahual and Spiti. It is here that roads from Lahual, Spiti, Zanskar and Leh meet. We caught up with a few cyclists from Bangalore. They had started cycling from Manali and it will take them another 7 to 8 days (if all goes well) to reach Leh town. It is at Baralach la – both Chandra and Bhaga originates and becomes Chandra Baga at Tandi and gets renamed as Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir. It is really something to visit the origins of these rivers. We were lucky enough to touch snow here. I touched snow for the first time in my life and it was really special. The folklore about Chandra (daughter of the moon) and Bhaga (son of the Sun god) add mystical depths to this place. Real awesomeness.

We reached for lunch at Bharatpur city. Do not get fooled by the word ‘city’ as it is just used as a phrase. Bharatpur hardly has 5 tents and is a very minor halt not even mentioned in the maps. These tents serve as restaurants cum resting places for travellers. They can serve you tea, Maggi noodles, eggs, fried rice, noodles and soup. The reason a few people still address this place as city is because once this place used to be a centre point for all the villages nearby. It even used to house cinema halls and trade fairs. But due to the extreme changes in weather conditions, people have migrated to other places – thus leaving hardly any inhabitants here. The people who have set up these tents are primarily from villages near Manali. They come to these places to do business only between the months of June – October.

From Bharatpur we proceed further. We bear witness to an expanse of green valleys unfolding below us. The vastness of the mountains keeps getting bigger. We reach Sarchu by late afternoon. Here we will be staying in tents. And to our surprise sheeps are grazing besides our tents. We rub our eyes in disbelief. Sarchu is an extremely scenic place and after settling in our tents we opt to go for a walk. Sarchu is the place where acclimatization blues hits most of the travellers as it is located at an altitude of 14500 ft (4290 m) and since most of them spend a long duration (more than 10 hours) the strong bone-chilling winds makes the experience a little sour. But to our surprise, we had gotten acclimatized so well to these altitudes that we didn’t even feel the slightest of headache. It is here we realized the good part of being stuck in Rohtang Pass for nearly two days. Our bodies were now used to adjusting to the low levels of oxygen.

We spent some real quality time admiring the weird sand formations by the winds beneath the mountains. The sheeps also didn’t bother about our intrusion into their space. Everything is really quite chilled out in these places. We stayed at Golden Drop camp site and must say that the people and the site is really awesome. The tent was well lit with proper electricity and attached bathroom facilities. (At Sarchu consider yourself really lucky to get such facilities). If you manage to befriend the local helpers, they will also give you valuable insight into the lives of people in Sarchu. I always relish such pieces of information. I can never separate the people from the place. For me both form a vital aspect of a travelling experience.

Nights at Sarchu are the best. You can see the entire Milky Way at night and if you are brave enough to wither the bone-chilling cold winds at night – spending time just gazing at the stars is a must do activity. I couldn’t bear the cold inspite of wearing thermal wear (apart from under garments), a layer of jeans and t-shirts, a jacket, a thick bedsheet, a thick woollen blanket, socks and woollen gloves. It was minus four degrees at Sarchu tonight.

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~ by rb on July 26, 2010.

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