Sometimes in life you feel a void inspite of everything being the way you want it to be or rather they are supposed to be. At that point, the soul begins a search for that something to bridge the void, the mind plays hide and seek while the body continues with its chores mechanically. During one such moment, I came across a picture of a blanket of snow up between the greater Himalayas in Ladakh in the northern tip of India. Popularly known as “Chadar” means Cha-Snow and Dar- Blanket in the local Ladakhi language. The blanket of snow forms on the river Zanskar which is the only pathway between Leh and Padum (capital of Zanskar district) in winter. The sub zero temperature and the rather difficult landscape was a temporary deterrent since the body beamed with excitement, the soul warmed and the mind quickly abandoned its temporary sojourn and teamed up with the body and soul !! I knew I was all set….
The test of endurance and patience began from the airport with bad weather and flight cancellations but we finally made it to Leh. As the bus rumbled down through narrow winding mountain roads in sub zero temperature, we tried to distract ourselves from our frozen toes and fingers to foot tapping music from latest Bollywood flicks. A short stop near the confluence of the rivers Indus and Zanskar in Nimu took my breath way. The mild and mellow Zanskar River (northern tributary of Indus) frozen and virgin white merged into the effervescent Indus. As I looked down from the upper reaches through the prayer flags,my heart leaped in excitement at the first glimpse of the “Chadar”. An hour away the bus stopped at Chilling from where we had to begin our trek. The steep descent to the Chadar was rough and sandy but the BRO (Border Roads Organization) staff lent a helping hand.
A short distance away is Tilat Sumdo the confluence of rivers Zanskar and Tsarap Chhu. I tried doing a quick penguin walk with my newly acquired gum boots but safety beckoned and we used micro spikes around our shoes. The first feel of Chadar under the feet, the vast expanse of snow around, the infinite horizon ahead, the quiet little Maggi Point perched in a cave atop a hill felt like a little girl’s bed time story come true !! Yes, I was on Chadar, in search of THAT unknown feeling which often warms my heart, eggs me to leave the confines of my city home and explore the undefined depths of my existence !! The next few days would surely be exciting, I had traveled thousands of miles in pursuit of Chadar.