Quest Leh & Ladakh – Phase TWO (Local sightseeing – Blending In)

Day Two started with a lazy breakfast, complimented by hot tea with spices at our restaurant in Hotel Omasila

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It was a thoroughly splendid morning or so we thought, until our driver Mr. Sonam took us to Shanti Stupa, which was about 300 meters higher from our present altitude above sea level. He fortunately remembered his gracious offer for our sim card, and we got the same for contacting him during emergencies. The sun shone strong, but the chill winds however paid no respect to it. The magnificence of the stupa surrounded by the stillness created an awesome aura.

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We paused for a minute at the worship room, before making our way slowly upward.

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We were feeling slightly more acclimatized compared to the previous day, but we decided to take no chances, and so, there we were, making our way in baby – like steps up a steep slope, toward the top – though this didn’t stop us from taking our share of poses.

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These are more photos around the dome of the monastery, including a sign about Leh Palace and its location, relative to Shanti Stupa.

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sanchi stupa

Our next stop was Phyang Gompa, a monastery 10 km from town. The road was narrow and adventurous. Temperature remained cold, and we were greeted by a beautiful mix of white and red, when we arrived at the scene.

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Since this was slightly higher than the stupa we visited previously, we again took a little time to catch our breaths before climbing even higher to appreciate the view. Unfortunately, and to our dismay, none of the monks were present since they had all gone to town to offer prayers for those affected by the floods at Jammu.

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Though I could have sat at this isolated place for hours just drowning myself in its serenity, I decided to move, and we headed back toward the car, and then to our next destination: Leh Palace.

On hearing the name, we were excited, expecting to see grand architecture and posh furnishing, but instead were greeted by a sight very much like Phyang Gompa which we had seen before, but on a far huger level. There were a few displays of art & pottery – again, though not on a magnificent level, I still liked, for their simplicity, mirroring the life of the royal people who had once lived there.

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The building had TEN STORIES, and most of the people who came stopped by the seventh level. The ‘Royal Apartment’ was also nothing else other than another shabby room devoid of furniture, but on the ninth level (the ascent was done by wooden steps up to the eighth level, then by a ladder, to the ninth.)

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I kept climbing up till the ninth, till I found that a proper passage had not yet been constructed to take me to the tenth level (Dang)

The local tour would not be complete without a visit to the marketplace (and also using the ATM!), and so, away we went. The market was neither too big nor too small, and for a person who doesn’t prefer too much shopping such as myself, it was indeed a freaking delight.

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After this much roaming around, we rushed back to the Hotel for the usual tea and dinner routine. We had booked our driver for the next two days, one day for the journey to Lake Pangong, and the other for the local marathon. Lake Pangong, being closer to the Indo – China border required a minimum of five hours travel. I figured this tough journey to extreme heights will help me to get acclimatized fully for the marathon – and indeed, what a journey THAT was! Onward to PHASE THREE!

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