Travel responsibly. Take nothing but pictures. Conserve.
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Trek day 4
Trek day 6
We catch the sunrise at Hopi point and hitch a ride to the South Kaibab Trail head off Yaki Point to trek down to the Colorado river. Its a knee jerking steep descent all through and we catch some of the best views of the Grand Canyon from the inside.
We trek from the village of Dumur to the village of Lilam on the Day 1 along the Gori Ganga river on stairways cut into the cliff walls. On the second day, we trek from Lilam to Bugdiyar through the scenic Hasling forest. We then trek from Budiyar to Rilkot after a strenuous climb at Mapang.
After bidding goodbye to the friendly people at Ganghar we trek back to Rilkot. We are happy to see the friendly ITBP staff at Rilkot. From there we trek to Bugdiyar where again we meet up with the friends we made at the ITBP checkpost. It all a happy marathon trek all the way to Dumur where we'll have a jeep waiting for us to take us to Munsiyari.
Home to the worlds largest Shiva statue that sits on a hilltop sarrounded by the sea on three sides and a 20 floor modern gopura, Murudeshwar draws devout temple and beach-hopping crowds by the thousands. This is "Janata Beach" after 9am. We check into the RNS seaside hotel and are presented with splendid views of the ocean and the shoreline. The Shiva statue is amazingly beautiful and dominates the view wherever you are.
We check into the temple town of Kollur after driving through some thick forests of the Mookambika National Park.
After a 90 minute bone jarring jeep ride to the mountain top, we catch the first sunrise of 2009 on Kodachadri Peak.
Kodachadri is also where Adi Sankaracharya did meditation.
We take a ferry to the island which is geologically unique with its basalt rocks which have crystallized into whole columns and split into a horizontal mosaic.
A nice tranquil uninhabited island off Malpe beach very close to udupi town.
Spectacular views in all directions.
This is the new road to Nubra Valley.
Not as high perhaps as the Khardung La but very high none the less.
We drive through the picturesque villages of Chemrey and TakTok and climb the high road.
This is still a new road and since we had no plans on visiting Nubra valley we climb as high as there is good tarmac to 4450 metres.
On the way down we stroll a bit and spend time by a trickling little stream of melt water that would eventually feed the villages below.
Stakna may not be as famous as the Monasteries of Thicksey or Hemis.
But this monastery is right in the middle of the Indus valley along the Indus River.
From its balconies you get sweeping views of the Indus River, the valley and the mountains on both sides of the river.
At dusk, you can see the long shadow its casts on the neighbouring landscape stretching up to more than a kilometer.
Inside the monastery, things are very quiet with few visitors.
A place of great quiteness in the middle of all things yet above.
Matho Monastery is undergoing renovation.
When we visited it we could see all the effort and material that goes into making a Monastery.
Perched much higher than Thicksey or Hemis it offers fantastic views of Matho village and sarrounding landscape.
Matho village is a very pretty little place. We got to stay at a lamas parents home. The lama himself was not allowed to stay there as he had to get back to Matho monastery. We got a firsthand experience of living with a Ladakhi family in a Ladhaki village.
After visiting the Stok Palace we trek right into the Stok Kangri base camp trail.
Stok Kangri is a gentle three day climb to the mountain top and back. The season was out, the food tent at base camp closed. We pass by the owner of the food tent who was coming back down.
This is the foot road to Lamayuru which would take a week for a local if they walked it up.
And they have been doing just that since ages on much narrower goat paths hanging precariously over the mountain surface.
The road we explored is a much wider road being newly built that runs parallel to the old goat path.
We also hear that many of these goat paths go a lot higher than the more popular high motorable roads.
Many of the paths are not on the tourist trail so not much is known about them to the civilised world.
But they exist all over the Himalaya which the locals have always been using to carry out their affairs even before tarmac first came to Ladakh in the 90's.
We explore the 11th century aging Monastery of Mangyu after which we trek up to a neighbouring village.
We spend time by a stream after which we return along a water diversion which the villagers have created to channel water to the village of Mangyu.
Meera loved this walk absolutely and it was wonderful to notice the various moods in which the water flowed as we walked along.
Taklang la is a high mountain pass reaching an elevation of 5359 metres or 17582 feet.
We spend some time at the highest point getting high on the rarefied air feeling so very elated with the elevation and all.
We are also driven to such ecstatic heights by a driver whose knowledge of Buddhism surpassed that of some of the lamas we have conversed with.
He would tell us several stories from Buddhist folklore sometimes looking all the way back from the wheel as we were driving up the high twisties just to know that we understood.
But we werent afraid as this mans faith was so unshakable that we knew we were in good hands.
Supposedly the highest motorable road in the world. We set out from Leh to cross the Khardung La pass reaching an altitude of 5359 metres to reach Nubra Valley. The highest point on the pass is called KTOP. A signboard warns us not to stay more than 30 minutes high up on the pass but we are stranded on the pass for more than hour and a half thanks to a high altitude traffic jam. But we are cool and dont feel any symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). We felt a little light headed though. The drive through Khardung La gives you splendid high elevation views of the Indus valley and Nubra Valley. Dont forget to have hot Maggi and Tea at South or North Pullu.