Leaving the sound of Azan in Kargil, driving slowly on a poorly conditioned yet a memorable road, you will get the first sight of some Buddhist flags after about 100 kms and that’s when you will know you are close to Rangdum. You will be surprised when you will see Rangdum for the first time. Imagine a huge field of 10km diameter with may be around 25-30 houses and surrounded by the gigantic peaks and glaciers. Rangdum at 3,657 m (11,998 ft) above the sea level makes it all the more special.
The past 3 days in Ladakh region of India were treacherous in both a good way and a bad way. The landscapes and people were way more beautiful than what we had expected and the journey was way more difficult than what we had imagined. The previous night in Rangdum was extremely cold, the tents were able to do little in keeping us warm. Thankfully the camp site could provide us with hot water in the morning. We tried to wash away the chills and headaches with it. We soon left Rangdum for another adventurous journey to Padum, the largest town of Zanskar. We soon reached the mountain pass called as Penzila Pass (also called Pensi La) on the way. Penzila pass is the highest motorable point of this area at 14000 feet.
We reached Rangdum late in the afternoon and charged ourselves with one of the best Dal-Chawal servings at the only restaurant located in the vast plains of the area of Rangdum. The poor road condition has preserved the virgin beauty of this place as not many tourists care or rather dare to visit Rangdum. We reached our place of stay for the night which was a lovely campsite located amidst the barren mountains on all the sides. Some of us were still very energetic after a long day travel to visit Rangdum monastery nearby while others were dead tired after an extremely bumpy ride. In the night, we were served a sumptuous dinner which was to our surprise very delicious and fulfilling.
As I sat in a dhaba in Rangdum, a village in the middle of nowhere, drinking Cognac with a bunch of strangers, talking about nothing in particluar, happy and at peace with myself, I couldn’t help thank God for bringing me to Zanskar. Ever since our trip to Ladakh last year, we had every intention to return to the land of high passes. The beauty of the vast Changthang plateau haunted us, and we’d planned to visit it again this year. However, as this year’s trip came closer, a doubt crept into our minds - although there was no questioning our love for Changthang, visiting it again this year might make our trip too similar to the last one. Chanthang was not going anywhere, and we could always go back to it later. We decided that this year we would explore another part of Ladakh - the wild wild west. The plan was to restrict ourselves to everything west of Leh - explore under-construction roads, trekking routes with motorable/ jeepable tracks, and most importantly, the remote Zanskar. The travellers: Aarti & HarshThe machine: Our very own wild ass - Tata Safari 4x4 - affectionately called KiyangTotal distance covered: 3850 kms. A taste of things to come:Day 1 (9th July): Delhi - Manali (580 kms, 12 hrs)Day 2 (10th July): Manali - Jam - 10m ahead - Jam - 10m ahead - Rohtang - Jispa (140 kms, 14 hrs)Day 3 (11th July): Jispa - Darcha - Detour - Darcha - Sarchu - Moreh Plains - Panginagu (260 kms, 13 hrs)Day 4 (12th July): Panginagu - Tso Kar basin - Debring - Leh (220 kms, 9 hrs)Day 5 (13th July): Leh, friends, dinners & permits. (20 kms)Day 6 (14th July): Leh, hospital, medicines, rest (50 kms)Day 7 (15th July): Leh - Nimmu - Chilling - Nimmu - Sham Valley - Part 1 of 2Day 8 (16th July): Lamayuru - Fotu La - Khangral - Chitkan - Dha - Batalik - Hamboting La - Kargil (150 kms, 6 hrs)Day 9 (17th July): Kargil - Rangdum Gompa - Juldo (150 kms, 10 hrs)Day 10 (18th July): Juldo - Padum - Karsha Gompa - Padum (140 kms, 8 hrs)Day 11 (19th July): Around Padum - End of Road-Zangla and Stongde (130 kms, 7 hours)Day 12 (20th July): Around Padum - Dzonkhul, End of road beyond Reru (135 kms)Day 13 (21st July): Padum - Kargil (230 kms, 11 hrs)Day 14 (22nd July): Kargil - Srinagar (230 kms, 10 hrs)Day 15: Around Srinagar - Wular lake & GulmargDay 16 (24th July): Srinagar - Jalandhar (475 kms)Day 17 (25th July): Jalandhar - Delhi (400 kms)
A very beautiul hamlet in Zanskar valley,100 kms apprx from Kargil.