Spice of life | Humbled by the majesty of mountains
We just sank to our knees at the sight of such splendour, drank in the beauteous panorama and gazed at it in complete silence, tears pricking our eyelids at such grace and our good fortunepunjab Updated: Jun 06, 2017 14:43 IST
Life is full of surprises, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For some time, I was feeling jaded and world weary. The routine was bearing me down with its monotony and I was going through the motions of duty and familial responsibility when friends suggested a trip to Ladakh.
With my nose pressed against the window of the plane, I caught the first, breathtaking sight of the majestic snow-clad Karakoram range as daylight was breaking. All of a sudden, poking imperiously through the thick clouds, I caught a glimpse of the mysterious mountains standing silent, slightly sinister but endowed with an immense dignity.
It was as if a clumsy hand had run amok and stained the pristine, white peaks, with rich, dark chocolate. The brown of the stone and sand competed with the dazzling snow, and the sun, not in any way modest, beat down harshly, threatening to play spoiler to the magnificent, frozen landscape.
The barren slopes, festooned naturally with silver and the numerous rivulets of the mighty Indus, frozen in motion, made a riveting contrast of nature.
The low temperature and lack of oxygen hit us as we landed and it took a day to get used to the changed environment. Wonders never cease, because when we reached Pathar Sahib Gurdwara, it was Sangrand, the first day of the full moon, and we witnessed the completion of the akhand path (uninterrupted recital of Guru Granth Sahib).
The serene atmosphere and soothing voice of the head priest left us spellbound. We could sense the hand of God blessing us with His love and benefaction.
Thereon, for five days we experienced one miracle after another. The terrifying Chang La and Khardung La passes at the dizzying height of 18,000 feet, covered with slush and snow, were conquered by our group with relative ease though we had our share of scares with the road non-existent at places. The sight of adorable, dark-eyed marmots, camouflaged in their golden fur against the dry, sparse tufts of grass and the doublehumped camels, shedding their wool in clumps, the sangam (confluence) of the Indus and the Zanskar rivers, where the icy waters made treacherous whirlpools, and the breathtaking sight of the Pangong Tso as we manoeuvered the last steep curve on the narrow road, will remain etched in our minds and hearts forever.
Nothing could have prepared us for the incredible view of the massive lake, made famous by actor Aamir Khan in his movie The 3 Idiots. Three-fourths of the lake falls in China but for miles we could see its placid, pure waters change colours, from inky blue to deep purple to a hazy aquamarine, the waters so clear and icy cold that we were unable to paddle in it for more than a few minutes.
We just sank to our knees at the sight of such splendour, drank in the beauteous panorama and gazed at it in complete silence, tears pricking our eyelids at such grace and our good fortune.
As the Ladakhi guide told us, bowing his head in reverence, “These mountains provide us our bread and butter, so we respect and worship them. They are all encompassing and benevolent but can be cruel and merciless too, so take a moment to close your eyes and pay obeisance to this largesse of the Almighty.” And so we did.
(The writer is a Jalandhar-based freelance contributor)