Markha valley and ascent of Stok Kangri - August 2006


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Day 12 -A visit to Hemis and Matho monasteries

The road to Hemis was the only one open today (with the reopening of the main road to Manali) so we decided to go and visit Hemis Gompa, 40 km from Leh. Built in 1630, it is the biggest monastery in Ladakh and one of the most significant in all the buddhist world. It is not visible from the road as it is located in a side valley. Hemis has the largest thanka in Ladakh which is unfurled once in 12 years. Is is a major tourist destination but we got there quite late in the day so we had the place almost to ourselves (apart from the monks of course!).

On the way back we crossed the Indus again (on a bridge that was barely above water level)) to see Matho Monastery. It is located across from Thiksey and was established in the first half of the 16th century AD and has valuable collection of very old and beautiful thankhas.

The evening views and sun and clouds play on the mountains were wonderful to watch from the monastery before returning back to Leh


A group comes back from Stok Kangri. I have a chat with their climbing sherpa who tells me that they had a hard time summiting even though they were 'a very strong group' because of deep fresh snow on the summit and also difficulties making it back to Stok village (because of high water levels, what else!) but they made it so things look good for us. We decide to wait another day because another group (not quite as top fit as the group that just made it) is supposed to come back from the summit and arrive in Leh tomorrow. If they can make it through we will leave Leh the day after tomorrow and head for Stok Kangri Base Camp.




Hemis monastery


Hemis monastery



Hemis monastery



Hemis monastery



Driftwood collection is a local industry



Hitting a rapid



A dog's life in a monastery


You can still pass on foot on a metal beam that was put in place by the army



Roof structure, a mix of branches and earth



Driftwood collection is a local industry



Mountain views beyond the Indus valley from Matho monastery


Views  from Matho monastery



Views from Matho monastery



River in flood near Matho monastery



Monks coats (left sitting empty for later use?) in the gompa


Monks coats (left sitting empty for later use?) in the gompa



The Indus valley (Leh is near the middle of the picture) from Matho monastery



Day 13 - A walk on the "Silk Road"

As we had decided to wait and extra day and with our options somewhat limited we decided to drive up towards (but not all the way to) the Khardung La and walk back down to Leh. On our last excursion we had noticed nice flowers, marmots and wonderful streams and thought that it would be nice to take a closer look at them.

As it happened, even though the Khardung La had officially reopened that morning, they were still working on some landslides and the traffic was heavy and needed to stop often so we got off slightly below our intended goal and found our way down into the valley. It was interesting to think that we were walking on the old Silk Road (or at least one of its branches) which was leading to the Nubra valley, Tibet and China.

We passed back through the villages of Gansar and Gompa (where we had walked a few days ago) and got back to Leh in the early afternoon.

The group whose return we were awaiting had come back. They didn't make it to the summit of Stok Kangri (too much snow and bad weather conditions) but they made it back down the valley. This meant that the path from Stok village to Stok Kangri Base camp was feasible. We can leave tomorrow morning!


Traffic jam on the road to the Khardung La


The path visible in the middle is probably the ancient Silk Road



View towards Leh and the Indus valley


Finally back in Leh


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