I woke up with a start at 6 AM on Day 5 as Raja excitedly punched me and pointed outside the window. What I saw, took my breath away. The morning light was falling on the snow peaks alone, making it glow. Today's plan was to trek to Kardang gompa(monastery). Its a monastery facing the Keylong village and guards over it from the opposite hill. So, first we had to go down all the way from the first hill, cross the river and then begin the uphill journey. After losing way at first, we found ourselves in some beautiful fields cultivating green peas. We saw houses with cow dung pasted like cakes on the walls to dry.
Soon, we were on our way. A long flight of stairs took us downhill. The bridge was tied with Buddhist prayer flags, as is the tradition here. The path up was adorned with wild flowers. We were soon found gasping for breath, not because of the beauty of the flowers but because of the steep climb and lack of oxygen. The packs of chocolate that we stocked helped us out at this time. We saw the skull and bones of an unknown animal near a stream. We reached an agreement that its the skull of a goat. The climbing went on for more than 3 hours. And the funny part is, there's a road which can take your vehicle straight to the gates of the monastery. But, minus the excitement.
Its a long long journeyKardang a 900 year old monastery. The old one was destroyed in rains in the 90s and then they rebuilt it. Its a simple one. We had to ring a bell for a monk to come and open the gompa for us. Thankfully, only four of us were there at that time and it was tranquil. We walked around the gompa turning the prayer wheels. They say turning the wheel gives the effect of reciting the mantra. So it helps if you dont know sanskrit. The view of Keylong village from top was splendid, though it was much below compared to where we were standing.
the long winding road leading up to kardang monastery. we preferred walking straight up. we were dead tired by the end of it is another matter :D
The trek down went faster through an easier route. We ran down through cabbage plantations and beautiful gardens. Our driver was waiting for us, half way down the road. The road back to Keylong was a long one spanning 20 Kms. We had a second sighting of the last petrol pump before Leh(almost 350 Kms away). Back at room and a good rest before the roadtrip resumes the next day!
your crusader Praveen