We continue our journey in Ladakh.
After first few days of exploring breathtaking Tso Kar ( Check this post for details - Ladakh diaries 8 - Tso Kar, white lake at 15,000 feet!
) and driving through stunning Nubra Valley (Check out this post for more details Ladakh Diaries 9 - Stunning Nubra Valley!
), our next stop was Diskit and Hunder. We turn left from the highway and are immediately greeted by a fantastic landscape. Similar to the one you see in Rajasthan. Miles and miles of sand dunes! With lovely mountains with snow covered peaks as backdrop, these dunes are prettier. Driving through the road bisecting the desert sands of Hunder in itself is a treat to behold.
We will take you through a a journey of heavenly Hunder......please click on the pictures to see them in original size.
|The start of drive through dunes. Notice the sand dunes on either side of the road |
|Can you please tell us where the road is?? It is all spectacular dunes around. The marks left by melting snow on the mountain gives it a weird look.|
|Few bushes add contrast....|
|Undulating pattern of dunes......|
|The road winds through the sandy landscape!|
|View of the road and landscape left behind as we climb to Diskit|
A winding road ascending gradually brings us to the Diskit village which has one of largest monastery in Ladakh. We can see the silhouette of statue of Maitreya Buddha from distance. The first stop for any visitor to Diskit is the mighty statue of Maitreya Buddha. The installation of the statue on a small hillock overlooking the Shyok valley on one side and the mountains as the backdrop is picture perfect. This must be the tallest Maitreya statue in the world at 106 feet - imposing and beautiful. The future Buddha is in a seated posture. Seated on a colourful pedestal decorated with Buddhist motifs, the statue is well sculpted with excellent craftsmanship. Looking at the soft and benevolent face of Lord Maitreya is a reassuring experience. The small hillock on which the statue is installed gives us a panoramic view of the mountains and the Shyok valley. We spend sometime enjoying the vistas of the Shyok valley.
|Seated on a colourful pedestal decorated by Tibetan motifs, the statue is beautiful example of artistic excellence|
|The lovely face of the Lord with decorative headgear|
|The panoramic view of shyok valley from the hillock|
|The three chortems with a beautiful backdrop of Shyok valley|
|Another vista of sand dunes|
|Finally, the panoramic view of the Shyok valley and beyond as seen from the statue|
A quick drive brings us to Diskit monastery. One of the largest in Ladakh. The setting of this monastery is stunning. When seen at dusk and dawn, monastery looks spectacular. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple has another beautiful statue of Buddha. A large hall of the temple accommodates monks during morning and evening prayers. The monastery runs many institutions in the village. Apart from regular features of gompas, the monastery has some excellent frescoes which are well preserved.
|Panoramic view of Diskit Monastery as seen from the statue.|
|Entrance to the monastery. Notice the colourful windows....|
|The Buddha in the sanctum sanctorum of the monastery|
|Colourful murals in the Monastery|
The most exciting part of the drive was to come now. We climb down from the monastery and start driving towards Hunder and its famed sand dunes. The drive is spectacular. On the one side you have mighty mountains and on the other you have beautiful sand dunes changing shape every few minutes. We reach Hunder village which seems to be bigger than Diskit. Apart from the presence of Indian Army - the base hospital taking care of Siachen is here - we see sign boards of many guest houses and home stays. We now reach the spot to go for a Camel ride. Parking the car at the parking area, we walk few meters crossing a lovely stream. We come to the place where you can hire the Bactrian or twin humped camel for a ride on the sand dunes. We had to wait for our turn as there is a heavy rush.
|A lovely stream separates the parking area and the place where we took the camel ride. The Green tent seen in the picture is where one can enjoy a cultural show by locals.|
We get our chance to ride a camel. Bactrian or twin humped camels are slightly smaller in size compared to normal camels. These camels must be one of the most docile animals we have seen. These twin humps are useful for the rider as the cushion is placed between the humps. Moving slowly, the camels bring us to the edge of the sand dune for a panoramic view of the Hunder dunes. And we turn back. The round trip is not more than 20 minutes. It is still worth the trouble. We get down, pay the handler and walk around the dunes. The evening is pleasant. The sun has vanished behind the mountains. The long dark shadow of the mountains has spread itself on the sands.
|This is the scene you see when you get down from your car and walk towards the boarding area. The scene looks spectacular.|
|One behind the other.......|
|We finish our ride.......our friend Sachin is in the middle|
|We captured this when another team started. The shadow play on the mountains can be seen here....|
|The changing contours of sand dunes.......|
After few quick photo sessions, we walk back to the parking area where Nowang, our driver is waiting to take us to the Army officers' mess in Patarpur which is at distance of 10 KMs.
We are all charged up for the next day's drive to Siachen base camp. That should be an exciting drive to see the soldiers training for the highest battlefield in the world. More about it in next post.
Travel Tips @ Hunder
a) The drive to Diskit and Hunder from Leh will take full day. This means one has to stay in Hunder. There are many choices for stay here.
b) The charges for a ride on camels is Rs 100 per person. There is no proper system of queue for getting on the camel. You need to spot the handler and catch hold of him as soon as he arrives from the ride bringing back people.
c) If you are able to get up on a chilly morning, it is worth going for a camel safari from Hunder to Diskit. It is an amazing experience to travel on the camel early in the morning when there is no crowd and mountains glowing in early morning sun.
d) Hunder can be made as a base for a drive to Turtuk or Siachen base camp. For going to Saichen base camp, one has to obtain permission from Army authorities in Leh.
e) Hunder is also a place for walks. Go for your morning and evening walks. It is refreshing.
If you want to know more about our wanderings in Ladakh, please check out our other stories in Ladakh Diaries here.
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