Its been a slow start to getting Leh’d. The AMS (acute muntain sickness) has not withered away fully, though I feel much better with the aid of Dismox. A quite breakfast at the guest house with a cuppa chai ensures a slow morning. I venture out into the Moti bazar for a small walk. I like the bazaar, for the shopkeepers do not try to wrestle your attention to sell something. A couple of them advise me to rest for a while before making any ambitious plans for the trip. A short walk down the small roads leads us into the Tibetan Bazaar and into the hubris of the Bus Station. A large crowd has gathered in the vicinity.
There is a street play being enacted and the crowd is enthusiastically cheering both the director and the actor. In the good old days the director was a “madari” and the actor used to be a monkey. I guess animals have rights in Ladakh these days.
We return to the guest house for a hearty lunch and take a nap. Although the time could have been utilized much better, the nap sure did save us from some sunburns. The days are not hot, but the direct rays of the sun coupled with the thin air makes it a little uncomfortable. It is said that a person with his hands in the sun and his feet in the shade can simultaneously suffer from sunburn and frostbite in Ladakh. This may be an exaggeration, but I guess it makes the point clear. Do not mess with the weather in Ladakh.
Later in the afternoon, we decide to scale the peaks of the old palace. Locals reveal a route that passes through the alleys next to the Jama Masjid. It is a decent climb for about 25-30 minutes and provides spectacular views of the city below.
The palace is an old monument (under renovation these days). It provides a glimpse into the mountain architecture of the early 1600s. The building is made in the Tibetian style using stone, mud and wood. It stands tall at 9 stories.
What strikes me immediately is the great difficulty of hauling up tones of stone and building materials to erect the strcture in the 1600s. The alleys in the palace are dark and we just while some time away in its luxurious balconies that offer a great view of the Ladakh skyline. The sun is about to set and a myriad colors are seen over the ledge.
A portrait of the Buddha on a steep mountain slope catches my eye. It is hard to imagine artists making these giant paintings on such unforgiving surfaces. It is a beautiful sunset as seen from the Tsemu monastery. We head down after dark and get some authentic Chinese food for dinner and call it a day.