To get to the magical Zanskar valley one must travel through a part of Jammu and Kashmir state that is far from what we knew from Ladakh. After we got closer to the town of Kargil suddenly we entered a Muslim territory. White stupas and Buddhist temples gave place to mosques and pictures of Shia leaders that we remembered from our time spent in Iran.
Kargil was supposed to be just a stopover on the way to Padum in Zanskar, but it quickly turned out, that we would had to spend more time there than we planned. Due to a major landslide our road ( the only road leading to Zanskar) was blocked for a couple of days, so we got stuck in the Muslim town.
Kargil is definitely on the no-go list of many travellers we had a chance to meet. The day of our arrival was also a day of an anti – American demonstration…
It was the first time for us, that we felt unwelcomed in a Muslim place, we could feel a tension in the air and the faces of the local people were sad. Also, for the first time, we saw little girls (even 3 years old) being completely covered in black chadors!
One of the only nice things was the taste of a bread that we know from Central Asia and Iran.
We travelled through an amazing landscape, full of small villages and rough mountains.
Every 40 – 60 kilometres we had to register at the police check posts:
Constantly, during our travel through Surru valley we were surrounded by swarms of begging children (and adults). Instead of a friendly “hello”, we used to be struck by “one pen”, “ten rupees” or “chocolate”.
Although in some villages the vibe was nice, the children playful and curious of us and not the content of our pockets.
Tough life they have…
The beauty of the nature there is just spectacular! It simply takes your breath away! For the first time we saw huge glaciers!
But getting there was not easy – over 450 kilometres from Leh, more than 200 kilometres of an unpaved, sometimes flooded road.
Marmots – thousands of them, always shy, but some curious enough to pose for a picture.
And horses. Just like in Kyrgyzstan.
…and Us in the middle of all that!