9. Return to Leh via Tso-Kar
Trip Start Jun 12, 2009
11Trip End Jun 28, 2009
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I am awake, get out of my bed and out of the tent. No one is out there. It is incredibly peaceful. Air is crisp, Icy cool and biting. The lake looks dark and resting peacefuly. Gradually first soft rays of light peep through the fading darkness. The sun is nowhere in sight but sunrays have touched the bald-hill peaks. The misty air and fog rise from the surface of the lake and the golden sunrays stream through them, I am fascinated and overwhelmed by its beauty and transfixed by its magic. I savour with joy the nature's hand work as the new day breaks.
Soon all come out one by one. Almost every one seems anxious to relate the stories of the night - that was, in a tent at 5ooo m above sea level on the shores of the serene lake of mystic grandeur. The camp is alive with activities now as a glorious new day is born and we begin preparation for our return journey to Leh via lake - Tso-Kar
We have good hot breakfast and steaming hot tea. After the breakfast some of us choose to have a warm-up trek along the edge of the lake for over a kilometer. It is delightful to see the simmering waves gently knocking the shores, the geese and the brahmani ducks wading in the ripples and creating whirl of more ripples. It was a pleasant morning walk until others in wagon catch up with us and we drive on. Before we leave the lake we get down to have a last look at the amazing blue lake, as the beautiful birds show their skills and thrill us by their graceful glide in the water. We touch the waters of the lake, say goodbye and thank it for the wondrous time we have had just by being near the charming lake where many birds which include bareheaded goose, the great-crested grede, brahmini duck and the brown-headed gull, make their summer home.
We trace back the route through profound wilderness and deep silence, pass through the rolling pastures, and a nameless small lake of ethereal beauty until we are at Puga. Here we divert in to a slender and narrow road under repairs, mantling and painting. We had rough and tough time negotiating this section. At about 12 noon, we enter into an expansive valley where Tso-Kar is nestled under snow capped mountains. It was once a huge lake but is fast receding now and looks as if it may vanish in time altogether. Herbaceous growth has invaded and already swamped large portion of the lake.
Kyang, the Tibetan wild ass and the snow leopard enjoy their undisturbed habitatate in Changthang plateau. The Kyang is generally found grazing near Tso-kar pastures and mostly move in a herd. Rare and exotic birds like the Bar Headed Goose, the rare migratory Black Necked Cranes and the Tibetan Cranes are also found here in the lake.
Near the water front of the lake far away we sight a lone kyang and a flock of geese. It was surprising to see a lone kyang because they are mostly in a herd. The kyang took a flight as I tried to close in, so did the geese. They seem to have very sharp eyes as to observe my movement from such a long distance. After about a kilometer of drive we saw a flock of six black-necked cranes. There is a lot of human activity like excavation construction, in progress towards the upper edge of the lake sounding its death knell. It may hasten demise of the lake. Another small lake in the neighbourhood has completely dried. Here too a lot of activity by men and machine is in progress.
Traveling through an expansive valley where these lakes are, we ascend through a breathtaking panorama, into a pass at a height of 17500 ft, covered with snow all around us. We descend from the pass and join Leh-Manali main highway at Rumtse, 96 km from Leh, in the afternoon. We have our lunch here and relax.
We have driven several kilometers many of them off the beaten path. We were the only travelers for too long on the lonely road, with no habitation in sight for a long drive. From time to time we pull off the road to take pictures of interesting landscape cloudscape or snow-scape, birds and animals we encounter. Every landscape bears the signatures of the Creator. A deep wilderness of beautiful valleys in the shadows of stark rugged hills of rainbow colours, at places glittering with snow, clean blue sky and encompassing icy cool air in the grip of harsh landscape, is thrilling and chilling. All through we encountered nature at its awe inspiring stillness. It is unique. The hills patiently sculpted by heavenly hand stand aloof and dominate the landscape. Mighty mountains watch you all the while. You can’t hide yourself from their stare. They stare with severe intensity. They are there like sentinels, like Buddha in deep meditation. And I carry on and on ... hungry to see more. I am fascinated, have come to love the charm of the severe but serene ruggedness.
We resume our journey, pass through a beautiful green village Lato and finally we meet Indus River at Upashi and by evening reach Leh. An apso-dog, a small fluffy creature, comes playfully bouncing to greet us in the guest house. It is a great joy to be thus received and welcomed.