I remember rejoicing as the flight touched down in Kushok Bakula Airport in Leh !! 72 hours, overnight stays in the airport, uncertain weather, flight cancellations and moments of despair later we finally arrived in Leh on a rather cold February morning. The Sun was peeping through the clouds welcoming us with a smile, pleased by our tenacity to absorb all the obstacles thrown our way. My dream of trekking on the Chadar was about to become reality. We stayed in a small hotel near the city centre along with all other trekkers and hot cups of delicious soup was no less than manna from heaven. After a few hours of rest between the sheets, it was time for some last minute shopping and loaf around the market.
The sun was out after days of hibernation and everyone was making the most of it. After quickly buying a pair of gum boots for the trek, we sauntered around stopping at roadside stores for knick knacks, looking for Leh Berry juice (Seabuckthorn) and catch up with portly happy women basking around a country fire place. As I turned the bells in the monastery, chanting Om Mane Padme Hum in anticipation of a smooth trek ahead, I felt a strange sense of calm permeating through my being. Our plans of travelling around Leh did not materialize due to bad weather and delayed flights but I knew I was coming back sooner than ever to explore this magical land between high mountains where happy people reside.
Why is the earth so beautiful I wonder, one life is definitely not enough, several lives perhaps inadequate to explore the wonder on which I live. Torn between moksha to liberate myself from this cycle of birth and death and to explore the depth of the beauty of earth, I live on ……
Travel Tip: Leh is accessible by road from Manali or by flight from Delhi. Located at high altitude and an oxygen rarified area, it is advisable to acclimatize for a day before travelling around. There are many trekking routes and tourist areas around. The best time is April to September while July-August is most favourable and many festivals take place. The series of monasteries and gomphas, snow capped peaks and crystal lakes is nothing short of heaven.