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.

Welcome to Kargil

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.

Padum road

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…

Kargil Muslim

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!

Kargil Muslim girl

Kargil girls

One of the only nice things was the taste of a bread that we know from Central Asia and Iran.

Clay oven

Ayatollah in India

We travelled through an amazing landscape, full of small villages and rough mountains.

Towards Zanskar

Kashmir girls

Every 40 – 60 kilometres we had to register at the police check posts:

Police checkpoint

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”.

Being chased

Mountains in the fog

Village Suru

Although in some villages the vibe was nice, the children playful and curious of us and not the content of our pockets.

Children approaching

Children in Kashmir

Kashmere childhood

Kashmir boy

Girls

Tough life they have…

Suru mosque

Kun or Nun

The beauty of the nature there is just spectacular! It simply takes your breath away! For the first time we saw huge glaciers!

Clacier

Slope

Cycling Zanskar

But getting there was not easy – over 450 kilometres from Leh, more than 200 kilometres of an unpaved, sometimes flooded road.

River Zanskar

IMG_1789

Nice view

Storm comming

Peaks in clouds

Suru landscape

Suru to Zanskar

Marmots – thousands of them, always shy, but some curious enough to pose for a picture.

Marmot

Marmot burrow

And horses. Just like in Kyrgyzstan.

Zanskar horses

Zanskar by bicycle

…and Us in the middle of all that!

Zanskar lake