Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ༀམཎིཔདྨེཧཱུྃ། - Om Mani Padme Hum!

After successfully acclimatising in Leh, for nearly 2 days, it was time to head to Khardung La Pass and beyond to Nubra Valley.
Leh city itself is at 11,000 ft, but Khardung La is at 18,000 ft, with even more rarefied air than Leh, with lower oxygen levels. Risk averse as we are, we decided to pick up one canister of oxygen, for nearly Rs. 350, just in case!
And then we left Leh with a prayer on our lips that we be fortunate enough to be able to get there, as Leh had been facing inclement weather for the last few days. We had heard that it had snowed quite a bit at Khardung La and the Pass had been closed for some time.
But the good Lord Buddha answered our prayers. Leh got its first sunshine in days today. The sun seemed to be coming out just for us! So we proceeded towards Khardung La!
The road from Leh to Khardung La winds along the lofty Himalayan range which offers some breathtaking sights of snow covered peaks, green valleys, everchanging cloud cover and the bluest of skies I had ever seen!
Beyond the Khardung La Pass lies the Karakorum range of mountains that stretches from Tibet to Afghanistan.
Fortunately for us, the journey was not as dreadful as many spoke about. The lack of oxygen did not hit us hard.
In a few hours after a bone wracking ride, we touched the snow covered slopes. The air turned cold, we had to close the windows of the car.
And then we reached Khardung La at about noon! The sides of the road were covered with snow. We stopped for a while and we spent some time taking photographs. Our pit stop was the canteen, where we had steaming Maggi noodles and black Ladakhi tea, its said to be the tradition have Maggi at 18,380 feet!

The soothing Ladakhi prayer chant "Om Mani Padme Hum", true music for the soul, gave me a feeling of being closer to the Heavens and the Almighty! This song is mesmerising, even though long, the chant goes on like a soothing stream! One just has to close his eyes and let go.
Where else in the world could one drive upto 18,380 ft, have a Maggi in an Army canteen and feel close to God, amidst chants of "Om Mani Padme Hum"!

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