Ladakh: The dizzy heights -3
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Ladakh: The dizzy heights -3

October 16, 2022

By Ashvini Ranjan[Continued from yesterday]

Thiksey village and Diskit Monastery

Friends are surprised that we stayed in a tent at the Chamba Camp in Thiksey village. Surprisingly, it had all the comforts of a hotel room but in an open field. It was a unique experience. Our tent faced the Diskit Monastery on the hill at a distance.  The lamps that are lit at night in the monastery with the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains makes it an incredible sight. The camp which consists of thirteen tents is  managed professionally by a private company.

Apart from being the largest monastery of Central Ladakh, the monastery is also famous for its 49 ft tall statue of Maitreya Buddha in the lotus position, covering two floors of the monastery. It offers excellent views of the Indus Valley and nearby monasteries.  The sunrise from the monastery is supposed to be stunning.  But the effort to rise early to catch a glimpse of the ‘Bright Star’ was in vain as the skies were overcast and raining.   Come rain or come shine, to the monks who live there,  it is just another day dedicated to the service of Lord Buddha.

Ladakh: The dizzy heights -3
Diskit Monastery.

Besides the sand dunes and scenic landscapes, Nubra Valley is also famous for the unique double-humped camels called the Bactrian camels.  Only other place this rare animal is found is in the Gobi desert in China and in Mongolia.

Sonam Wangchuk

Those who have seen the movie Three Idiots will recall the character of Phunsukh Wangdu, the genius inventor with exceptional talents which the hero portrays.  Surprisingly, it is not a fictional character.  This person exists in real life under the name of Sonam Wangchuk. In fact he is believed to be the inspiration behind making of the movie and lives in Ladakh. He is a qualified engineer, inventor and an educationist.   He is the founding-director of the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh.  He has more than four hundred patents, most of which is related to solving the everyday challenges of local people.  According to Namgyal, Sonam Wangchuk is an adviser to the Governments of Bhutan and Nepal.

Ladakh: The dizzy heights -3
Double-humped camel found in Nubra Valley

Turtuk village and Chewang Rinchen

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Turtuk is a quaint village inhabited by approximately 1,200 people almost entirely belonging to the Muslim community.  It is one of the northernmost villages of India, close to the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. Turtuk is situated on the banks of the Shyok River. During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, this area was the site of the Battle of Turtuk in which India regained control of this territory for the second time.  The first being in 1948. In both the wars,  Chewang Rinchen played heroic roles and both the times he was awarded Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), the second highest military award of the country.

The first time was in 1948 when Rinchen joined the Indian Army.  He was 17 years old and studying in the 9th standard.  After a week’s training, he led 328 men with only 28 rifles and succeeded in pushing back the aggressors. His extraordinary bravery and cunning he displayed was exemplary and kept the enemy at bay for weeks.  Years later, Mohammad Yusuf Ahidi, Commander of the Pakistani raiders, noted in his book Baltistan Par Ek Nazar: “If  Chewang Rinchen had not foiled these attacks, we would have been masters of Ladakh.” He won acclaim even from the enemy. The people of Turtuk were under the rule of both Pakistan and India at different times.  When India reclaimed the territory during the 1971 war, the entire population rejoiced as they found India to be more fair and humane to its people. The Indian tricolour that flutters at the Turtuk village represents both pride and gratitude of its people to India.

Ladakh: The dizzy heights -3
Turtuk village bordering Pakistan.

Bidding adieu to Ladakh and to Namgyal

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“Lots more stories and plenty more places to see in Ladakh sir.  Do come back,” said our guide Namgyal, as we shook hands to go our ways at the Rimpochee Airport at Leh, the capital of Ladakh.

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Ladakh: The dizzy heights -3”

  1. Ajjampur Vijayakumar says:

    I cannot understand the purpose of this series of articles about Ladakh, a region left after China recently occupied yet another slice of this region in the recent Indo-ina skirmish. See:https://thewire.in/security/china-ladakh-watchtowers-lac All along the BJP minsyers claimed no territories were lost. It was a dismal failure of Narendra Modi who thought that by striking friendship with THE Chinese president XJ JIN PINmeeting him 20 times while Mo di was the CM of Gujarat, and then meeting him again in Mahabalipuram near Chennai dressed as a Tamilian, claiming that he would reverse Nehru’s failure in ceding territories to China in 1962.
    XI JINPING’s reply? A border skirmish in which his soldiers pushed Indian army back and occupied the more fertile slice of Ladakh While Nehru lost Aksai Chin , a desert slice in Ladakh region, wonderful Modi, who the SOM worships as a strong leader, lost a fertile slice of the Ladakh region. recently in the above skirmish.
    There is not much to see in Ladakh, although India encourages Indian tourists to show to the UN,, that it controls what is left of Ladakh. Another border skirmish means, what is left of Ladakh will be in the hands of the Cinese. China is a military super power, where as India is a pygmy in comparison.
    There are flights to Ladakh here in New Delhi One can hitch a ride free in the IAF flight, if one can say that the purpose is to publish about tourism in Ladakh. But there is no interest.

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