Trekking | Lamayuru to Alchi


I am taking a trek from Lamayuru to Alchi for the next 5 days.

Lamayuru to Alchi trek route
Lamayuru to Alchi trek route

I signed up through a local travel guy who runs RIGO Adventures, right in the center of the Leh city. I have heard it is a great trek, climbing over multiple passes, the highest being the TarLa at 5250m above sea level. There is another trek for the Stok Kangri, which is well above 6000m in altitude, but knowledgeable people say that the Lamayuru Alchi trek is more physically demanding. We will find out the truth.

A ceremonial pestle and mortar kept at the Lamayuru gompa
A ceremonial pestle and mortar kept at the Lamayuru gompa

On the trek I am joined by a German, a Dutch, a Frenchman and a Spanish couple. We start off the day early in Leh around 8 AM and head out towards Lamayuru, west of Leh along the Leh-Kargil-Srinarar route. Lamayuru is the oldest gompa in the entire Ladakh region, having been founded in the 11th century. It is amazing to see the architecture survive even after a 1000 years of construction, most of it accomplished by very basic building materials. The monastery houses more than 150 residential monks of the red-hat sect. The picture above shows a ceremonial pestle and mortar at the monastery. The colors just caught my eye and I thought it was a good shot!

As we moved from Lamayuru, it was not the breathtaking landscapes that caught my attention, but a large coal deposit by the side of the mountains. I am not sure if it had any calorific value, but I had never expected to see fuel on our way.

Coal deposits - high up in the Zanskar mountains
Coal deposits – high up in the Zanskar mountains

After a few hours of walk and we decided to camp at the Wanla camps, by the banks of the Wanla river. As with other small towns, there is a monastery, which we plan to visit tomorrow early morning before proceeding further. In the meanwhile, after a tired day’s walk up through a not so high mountain pass, we are at Wanla. The camps are set up and it seems like a surreal experience. It is not cold, and the only sounds I hear are from the river dashing itself against the rocks and the mountains.

The village of Wanla is nestled on the banks of a stream
The village of Wanla is nestled on the banks of a stream

There are other fellow campers around, but we do not make much contact. There is a small restaurant nearby and a chotu comes up to me with some chai. I relish the chai and settle down with a book to read. The Dutch guy gives me Gita Mehta’s Karma Cola to read. It is a fascinating read. Although, I am sure that if I had read it anywhere else, I would have had a relatively tough time understanding it. Out here in Ladakh, where most of my fellow travelers are non-Indians, it suddenly begins to make sense. I recount my last nights conversation with a Canadian, who said that she was disillusioned with the west and was searching for something to help her find some meaning to her life. I guess, in India you can only get lost!! (pun intended). On a related note, I also found how compartmentalized the west’s view on India is and how easy it is for us (Indians) to give them that impression. Mind you, it is not misleading, but Indian customs, traditions, not to mention religion, are not always logical and in step narrative. It is tough to transcend from logic to to arbitrary faith within a small time span.

Anyway, its been a good read, and I am all excited to resume the trek tomorrow again!

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