The last day of my trip saw S and me getting up at 0500 hrs to see the sunrise. S was told that the sunrise from Pangong Tso was beautiful and be being the usual art-cum-nature buff; I forced myself to wake up. Sunrise was quite disappointing more due to the cloud cover than anything else.
We headed back to bed and woke up only at around 0800 hrs. A week of cold has made my body sore. True, I have lived in cold places, but it is with first world amentias like a warm hearth and good clothes. I realized that I was woefully unprepared for the cold of Ladakh which is like the winters of Europe, just worse as the altitude saps the energy out of you. Added to that, we have been staying in tents and hotels here do not have the concept of heater. Thus we have been facing one week of biting cold all the time making my body plead for some much needed warmth.
Anyway, aunty prepared a breakfast of Tibetan dish called Lomo-Momo. It looked like a cup and seems to have been made out of wheat flour. Quite tasty though equally filling.
Plan today was that I would head off to Leh from Kuru while S and P would head off to Pang and eventually Manali-Chandigarh-Mumbai. This meant that we would have to re-cross ChangtangLa. S did not sleep well last night due to his AMS (he could not breath the whole night). Naval, our driver also started feeling dizzy half way through forcing S to take over. We did not halt at ChangtangLa and headed straight to Kuru which we reached at around noon. A fond farewell later (how I miss them!), I headed to Leh in a public taxi.
A quick shower later, I headed back to Il Forni for a long lunch. My plan was to shop a bit (for what I have no idea) and then head back to hotel and finish my updates. However, as usual, I ditched the plan in favour of sight-seeing Leh. Thus I first decided to head to the Leh palace.
There are two ways to go to Leh palace, or should I say three
1. Via road which is what vehicles use
2. Via a staircase
3. Via a shorter staircase route
I decided to take the third route in the hope of getting to the palace more quickly. I knew with the altitude and my hopelessly-bad fitness, reaching the palace itself was going to be a challenge. Just did not expect this challenging.
The so-called shorter route was a literal climb though the hillrock to reach the palace. This meant that I was hiking up the stone mountain in torn shoes (yes, my shoes tore; the story for another time). This was not a joke, especially not with a broken ankle and hiking up alone. I was so wishing S and P were there. But as with all things, I did manage it in the end.
The palace was quite a disappointment. All the rooms were empty. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is restoring the interiors of the palace but for now there was nothing in there. The view of Leh from the palace was superb. ‘Kidhe Kath Diya’ (Ants started biting) as S and P would say and I decided to come back the way I climbed instead of taking the much simpler route Needless to say it took a long time tough the feeling after that was quite something.
I then spent the next 4-5 hours just walking through the city, taking in the sights and sounds of Leh. I am not sure if I will ever be back to this place and wanted to absorb as much of the place as possible. Tomorrow will see me back to Mumbai and back to the hustle and bustle of daily routine. But for now, I will enjoy the raw sensuality and physical poweress of the place that is Ladakh.