JUST the other day, likely through memorabilia gathered through travels and accumulated in my cache about the yrs, I arrived on a bramble adhere offered to me by the headman of Turtuk, a hamlet of about 300 homes on the southern (remaining) bank of the Shyok river in Ladakh. Unique 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 spent rifle ammunition. In no way applied as a going for walks stick, it experienced remained amongst my prized belongings, only to be rediscovered now immediately after approximately four a long time.
No worthwhile discussion was achievable with the deserving, superior in several years, as he realized 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 water class jogging together tough stony paths till a wooden bridge linking the two sections of this habitat, was quite picturesque. The surroundings dominated by stark and lofty peaks capped with snow produced for rather a sight. Turtuk, alongside with close by Thang, Tyakshi and Chalunka, experienced been seized by our Military in December 1971. This quaint village experienced remained culturally and ethnically a element of neighbouring Baltistan and, like Kargil, fully Shia. The absence then of a motorable hyperlink to other sections of Nubra valley contributed to preservation of its exclusive character. Weaving, woodcraft, and fabrication of stone cooking vessels (doltoks), moreover agriculture, ended up the avocations of the people.
Traveling back at mid-day together the Shyok, its crystal crystal clear aquamarine waters disclosed rocks of different sorts and colors on its bed. In that benign condition, this river belied its longstanding epithet “the river of death”. It was challenging to envision that it experienced been in spate on 5 occasions in the 19th and 20th centuries, causing especially major injury in 1835 and 1926, nearly destroying the village of Deskit. Downstream, in the narrow valley in close proximity to Biagdando as a result of which we flew, the raging flood waters were explained to have been 70 toes over the typical level.
With the valley broadening out, we flew approximately 40 km right before coming about Hunder. An elongated verdant enclave caressing the Shyok, Hunder was when the capital of the Nubra kingdom. The ruins of the Elephant Palace and a fort earlier mentioned it testify to its relationship with the Namgyal dynasty that held sway in Ladakh for just about 400 decades right up until the mid-19th century. Betwixt the habitation and the dim grey mountains that dominate it in the south lay practically 5 km of dunes of silvery sand. The sight of double-humped camels lounging amidst the dunes in the mid-day solar was pretty unusual. Recognized as Bactrian camels, these animals are native to the steppes of Central Asia and the Gobi desert and are not found in other places in India there is no explanation as to how they arrived to be in Nubra. Shorter and heavier than standard camels, their dual humps help a larger storage of fats that converts to vitality when essential. Not too considerably lay Deskit, the administrative headquarters of Nubra, presiding above the confluence of the reasonably shorter Nubra river with the Shyok the latter acquiring coursed as a result of 300-additionally km from its origin. With allotted helicopter time working out, we headed back to Leh.
A yr later on, an invitation for witnessing a conventional cultural festival in Partapur came our way. Realising that this could possibly be the only possibility for the spouse and children to pay a visit to Nubra valley, we opted for a street journey. The 6,500-foot climb from Leh to Khardung La about 40 km was uneventful it was only when we emerged from the auto that we realised that our unbroken remain of 14 months at 11,000 toes at Leh was not sufficient to get ready our bodies for that altitude and breathlessness had to be endured. Descent from the watershed on a northerly course proved to be tricky as heavy vans creating the ascent to Khardung La had left deep ruts in the slush resulting in our auto to careen frequently, raising the chance of plunging to the valley floor countless numbers of toes down below. The terrain peaceful only as soon as we acquired to the Shyok mattress.
Around Deskit, we were taken care of to the spectacle of a myriad properly-formed and brief bushes of wild rose, all coated with pink blooms, locally called “Sia”. That sight, with the pink and environmentally friendly of the bushes contrasting sharply with the sand close to, remains etched in all its splendour in our memories even today. No marvel Nubra valley is variously described as the “garden of Ladakh”, “valley of colours” and “valley of flowers”. The Deskit monastery set up in the 14th century and connected with the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, 700 feet higher than the village, dominates the Nubra-Shyok confluence and the flat expanse all-around it.
At Partapur, about a couple of days, Cham and Shondol dances have been staged. The former were carried out by Tibetan monks with masks and brightly patterned attire to songs played on regular devices. Ladakhi adult men and women of the laity done variants of the latter. A day was set apart for a go to to the hot springs at Panamik on the financial institutions of the Nubra river. In contrast to Puga, the waters right here were distinctly sulphurous, and are believed to have medicinal qualities. With the emphysema of our escort playing up, we had to abandon visits to Ensa Gompa and Yarab Tso, and head house. Despite our transient sojourn, the contrast amongst the bucolic character of Nubra tehsil and the nomadic pastoralists of other pieces of Leh district arrived forth in sharp relief.