The trek has proceeded wonderfully well. Although due to extremely unavoidable circumstances, I and the French guy need to be in Leh this evening , we will not be able to continue to walk the rest of the way. We are being hitched onto Alchi by a car (it seems like a luxury). We are in Nurla right now and Alchi is an hour’s drive away. The drive is beautiful, as I might have said so many times about the earlier ones in Ladakh. But the landscapes are awesome. Someone remarked that India is boring for landscapes. I strongly suspect that he/she had not visited Ladakh. I must however agree that the scene is totally mesmerizing, so much so that it is almost impossible to get any sense of perspective on distances or heights of the ranges that surround you. It is easy to keep walking miles and miles to reach a place that seems a stone’s throw away. And still it is not any nearer.
Alchi is one of the oldest monastery complexes in Ladakh, dating back to about 1000 AD. It consists of 3 temples and 2 other sites. The early Indian influence can be easily seen in the paintings and decor around the monastery. The carvings on the main door are as old as the monastery itself and can still be seen in pristine conditions. We move out of Alchi after satisfying ourselves that there is nothing to see. The gurudwara Pathar Sahib is on our way back, and I decide to give the Frenchman a quick tour. He seems very impressed with the atmosphere and is particularly taken aback at not finding anyone pestering him to offer donations or buy anything. He remarks ” I feel very safe in here and this place is very peaceful”. I give him a quick briefing about the Sikh religion and we have chai at the gurudwara before returning to Leh.
Back in Leh, I hunt for a hotel for the night. Its not easy to find a decent one. I bargain hard for a good room. The initial price is Rs. 1000, but I get it for Rs. 600, including breakfast, a TV set and the best thing of all – 24 hours of hot shower! There is also a promise that the price will be honored 3 days later after my return from Nubra Valley.
After a shower, I am off to hunt for a trip to Nubra Valley for tomorrow. I don’t want to make the same mistake as with Pangong Tso of not having enough time when I get there. I am determined to go for 2 nights and 3 days, come what may. I bumped into a good Indian fella who directed me to K2 adventures. He is going to Nubra tomorrow as well and I may be able to tag along. I arrive at K2, the guy is a little pissed off at I don’t know what, makes me wait for about half an hour, doesn’t bargain and puts me on a tour to Nubra for tomorrow. I am pleased. I catch a good shot of the setting sun flashing some rays on the mountains.
Next I hunt for my other friends in Leh. I bump into one of them and we agree to meet at the La Pizzeria at around 8:30 PM. I find myself a set of new friends (Canadian, British, Italians) and at La Pizzeria and we have a good time. Most of them are leaving tomorrow for Agra and Varanasi. There’s an Italian guy who is going to Nubra as well, maybe I will bump into him tomorrow!