So, In “Unexpected Trip to Leh Ladakh with Woodland: Part 1” I remember leaving you where the two rivers met, where magnetism defies gravity and a few other interesting places. (link below) We will pick up our trip from there onwards.
6th September 2016, 9AM
The morning of the 6th, Dr Pankaj Chandan, Landscape Coordinator, Western Himalayas, WWF & Mr Pushpinder Jamwal, Field Officer, WWF came to meet. They briefed us about the operations being undertaken by the WWF(World Wide Fund) in association with woodland worldwide, in the Himalayan region. Thereon they joined us in our trip and they planned to take us to a few amazing villages and beautiful places (durr daras k ilake) in Leh Ladakh.
Visit to Mathoo-Tsokar village, Leh Ladakh to observe the initiatives taken by WWF and Woodland
We started at 10 AM, our destination was, 55KMs from Leh Ladakh, Mathoo a small village. With an altitude of 3,869meters, this place has a population of 1,165 people. We visited a few places here and interacted with the locals to learn more about their lives in the Himalayas we had some good conversation over a cup of tea.
Here I would like to share one very important thing with all of you that the villagers shared with me:
For most of the villagers, Pashmina Sheep is the only source of income. They provide the villagers with milk and wool but at high altitude, there is a dangerous enemy that kills sheep and that is endangered, Snow Leopard. The real problem isn’t just limited to the killing by snow leopards of sheep for food. But unfortunately, the problem is much larger than that.
When snow leopard attacks, it doesn’t just kill one sheep, it ends up killing the complete herd of sheep. 50, 100 Whatever be the number, it will kill them all and take one for its meal. Another dangerous reason is that when the snow leopard is spotted a lot of sheep go through extreme fear (of being killed obviously) and because of that they face heart-attacks.
Several of these attacks have motivated the villagers to protect their only source of income and raise arms with an aim to retaliate and put an end to this once in for all. But, killing is never a solution. Since the leopards are already endangered and extinction could bring an unforeseen side effect to the environment. Hence, WWF has come up with the solution to create coral housing for sheep. What this does is that it provides a safe (covered) shelter for sheep.
From Mathoo, we continued our trip, 100KMs drive towards Tsokar which was to serve our stop for that night but on the way, we stopped by Upshi for lunch (later on, this lunch gave a bad stomachache to Manisha) and resumed our drive crossing Taglang La, Leh Ladakh the world’s 2nd highest motorable road at 5,359 Meters.
Mixed feelings of motivation and goosebumps
When you are this high, you realise you’re at one of those places where very fewer people are at this moment. Fear of heights, fear of falling down. It’s like one of those moments in your life when you come across tasty spicy food, that is too spicy to eat but, you also do not want to leave it. Now coming back to the journey.
In the evening at around 5, we stopped for a while at the WWF’s highest office in the world situated at an altitude of 4685 Meter in Tsokar, Leh Ladakh where we met few more people from WWF who offered us a warm place to sit, and some wonderful tea with cookies. Without any further delay, we halted our trip for a while and started the drive towards our stay.
6PM we reached Tsokar, Leh Ladakh
I was determined to stay in a tent. I knew that this place so called hotel sported the facility of staying in a tent. So, as soon as we reached the hotel I went and enquired about the tent and hola! There was one free. Without any hesitation at all, I booked the tent for myself. I was shocked to know that I was the only one from my group to actually stay in a tent. (rest of them had settled with the cemented ones. I was always a free bird).
ha ha ha just after booking my tent and putting my stuff in it. I went to the back side of the hotel to enjoy the view of mountains, landscapes and the warmth of the sun light as it was getting cold there.
06:30PM, we all went to Tsokar Lake, Leh Ladakh where Dr.Pankaj & Mr.Pushpendra told us many interesting things about the wildlife in that region and they also helped us spot some rare bird species there. Unluckily I was unable to click any photos of the birds as they were very far away. I was also not having a dSLR that time with me (to zoom in and click images). (Next time I will bring back to you amazing photos for you for sure, and I am planning that “next time” very soon).
Rekindling my relationship with nature in Leh Ladakh.
After that, I went to Pushpendra and asked him to join me at the same place in the night for stargazing. (I asked him because he lives in Tsokar for the WWF work. He is familiar with everything around here in Leh Ladakh and also possess amazing expertise in photography. so I was sure that I will not be able to find a better partner in crime than him). Luckily he agreed to come. Shhhh.
Back at home, whenever I felt bad about something or someone saying anything wrong to me or if I had a bad day or a quarrel with anyone. I would simply go to the terrace and lay down on my back and look calmly at the sky and stars. I would then think of how big this earth is and how tiny my problems are. 🙂 There have been several instances when I’ve got the opportunity for stargazing but it’s never enough.
7:30PM, we went back to our stay. It was getting cold and dark, After having dinner, I got the confirmation from Pushpendra that we’ll be going there (stargazing) at sharp 9:30PM. But, by that time there were 5 more people willing to join us for stargazing, 3 from our team and 2 other girls that were staying in the tent next to mine. I was not really expecting this high number of participation in this activity. After all, it was 9 PM already and the place is quite dark by then. (and very very cold -9° to be precise).
But, wait what! stargazing with 6 people (are you serious?), this is not my way. I like to have the stars all to myself (irony) and stay silent. Alone mostly or just talking to myself but this…
Aaaahhh! And I also said that there were two other girls 😉 staying in the tent next to mine, Aahan !!
- So, who are these two girls ?
- What are they doing here in Leh-Ladakh ?
- What’s their story ?
- and what are they doing in my story ?
So much curiosity and anxiety at the same time. Now I leave you here with the horses of your imagination running clueless.
Wait for my next and the last article of this “Unexpected trip to Leh Ladakh Part III”. where I will introduce to you these two super-girls. I will also tell you about what happened that night to my never dying wish of stargazing 😉
This is Aakash Ranison Signing off,
Keep Travelling & Stay Curious.