JUST the other working day, likely as a result of memorabilia gathered during travels and accrued in my cache about the many years, I arrived upon a bramble stick introduced to me by the headman of Turtuk, a hamlet of about 300 households on the southern (still left) lender of the Shyok river in Ladakh. Distinct it was, with a grip hewn out of the horn of a mountain goat, the shaft a thick wild rose stalk, and a ferrule fashioned out of brass recovered by melting invested rifle ammunition. By no means utilised as a walking stick, it experienced remained among my prized possessions, only to be rediscovered now right after approximately 4 decades.
No worthwhile dialogue was attainable with the worthy, superior in decades, as he knew only Balti. He made the next present — a packet of dried apricots. Turtuk, with its lush buckwheat fields dotted with orange canopies of trees laden with apricots and bisected by a drinking water program managing together tough stony paths right up until a picket bridge linking the two sections of this habitat, was quite picturesque. The surroundings dominated by stark and lofty peaks capped with snow designed for pretty a sight. Turtuk, alongside with nearby Thang, Tyakshi and Chalunka, experienced been seized by our Military in December 1971. This quaint village had remained culturally and ethnically a aspect of neighbouring Baltistan and, like Kargil, solely Shia. The absence then of a motorable hyperlink to other parts of Nubra valley contributed to preservation of its exclusive character. Weaving, woodcraft, and fabrication of stone cooking vessels (doltoks), other than agriculture, ended up the avocations of the inhabitants.
Traveling again at mid-day alongside the Shyok, its crystal very clear aquamarine waters unveiled rocks of different types and colors on its mattress. In that benign state, this river belied its longstanding epithet “the river of death”. It was challenging to visualize that it experienced been in spate on 5 events in the 19th and 20th hundreds of years, causing specially large harm in 1835 and 1926, approximately destroying the village of Deskit. Downstream, in the slender valley close to Biagdando by which we flew, the raging flood waters have been reported to have been 70 feet higher than the typical amount.
With the valley broadening out, we flew practically 40 km prior to coming around Hunder. An elongated verdant enclave caressing the Shyok, Hunder was at the time the capital of the Nubra kingdom. The ruins of the Elephant Palace and a fort above it testify to its connection with the Namgyal dynasty that held sway in Ladakh for approximately 400 a long time until the mid-19th century. Betwixt the habitation and the dim grey mountains that dominate it in the south lay nearly 5 km of dunes of silvery sand. The sight of double-humped camels lounging amidst the dunes in the mid-day solar was quite unusual. Regarded as Bactrian camels, these animals are native to the steppes of Central Asia and the Gobi desert and are not discovered somewhere else in India there is no clarification as to how they arrived to be in Nubra. Shorter and heavier than regular camels, their dual humps help a higher storage of extra fat that converts to strength when needed. Not much too much lay Deskit, the administrative headquarters of Nubra, presiding in excess of the confluence of the somewhat quick Nubra river with the Shyok the latter acquiring coursed through 300-moreover km from its origin. With allotted helicopter time jogging out, we headed back to Leh.
A year afterwards, an invitation for witnessing a conventional cultural pageant in Partapur arrived our way. Realising that this may possibly be the only chance for the spouse and children to go to Nubra valley, we opted for a highway journey. The 6,500-foot climb from Leh to Khardung La over 40 km was uneventful it was only when we emerged from the vehicle that we realised that our unbroken keep of 14 months at 11,000 toes at Leh was not enough to get ready our bodies for that altitude and breathlessness experienced to be endured. Descent from the watershed on a northerly course proved to be tricky as major trucks making the ascent to Khardung La experienced remaining deep ruts in the slush resulting in our vehicle to careen typically, raising the likelihood of plunging to the valley ground 1000’s of feet under. The terrain calm only once we obtained to the Shyok mattress.
In close proximity to Deskit, we ended up handled to the spectacle of a myriad well-formed and small bushes of wild rose, all covered with pink blooms, regionally called “Sia”. That sight, with the pink and eco-friendly of the bushes contrasting sharply with the sand about, remains etched in all its splendour in our reminiscences even right now. No surprise Nubra valley is variously explained as the “garden of Ladakh”, “valley of colours” and “valley of flowers”. The Deskit monastery established in the 14th century and linked with the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, 700 feet earlier mentioned the village, dominates the Nubra-Shyok confluence and the flat expanse all over it.
At Partapur, more than a pair of times, Cham and Shondol dances were being staged. The previous were being performed by Tibetan monks with masks and brightly patterned apparel to tunes played on regular devices. Ladakhi men and women of all ages of the laity performed versions of the latter. A day was established apart for a go to to the warm springs at Panamik on the banking companies of the Nubra river. In contrast to Puga, the waters below have been distinctly sulphurous, and are believed to have medicinal properties. With the emphysema of our escort enjoying up, we had to abandon visits to Ensa Gompa and Yarab Tso, and head home. In spite of our transient sojourn, the contrast in between the bucolic character of Nubra tehsil and the nomadic pastoralists of other areas of Leh district came forth in sharp aid.