Ladakh Vacation — Day 7 — Diskit, Sand Dunes
We were woken up early by the sound of strong winds howling outside. By the time we stepped out of our tent, things had calmed down but the sky was no longer the clear, blue Ladakh sky we were so used to seeing by now. Instead, it was a turbid, pale-grey.
On our way to the famous sand dunes near Diskit monastery, we came across a few domesticated horses grazing in a marshy field. Their clear reflections in water made it look like they were engaged in some form of auto-cannibalism.
Anywhere else and the sand dunes would be almost impressive, but being surrounded by close cousins of the Himalayas means that even their expanse doesn’t impress, let alone their height. The much-talked-about two-humped Bactrian camel is another let-down. All you’ll find is half-a-dozen gaudily decorated specimens of their species being used for taking people on joy rides. Given how the poor things looked, I doubt there is any joy to be had; not for the camels at any rate.
Diskit, like a lot of other monasteries in Ladakh, is a cluster of squat white structures streaked with maroon, constructed on a hill. The structures look like they grew out of the mountains naturally, like mushrooms growing under a tree.
On a hill opposite the monastery, a statue of ‘Gyalwa Chamba’ or the Future Buddha was being constructed. This is the first time I was seeing a statue of buddha depicting him sitting on a chair and not on the ground with his legs crossed. The statue was all concrete and scaffolding right now but I made a mental note to visit it again upon completion.
As we headed back to Leh, we realized how drastically the weather had changed within a day. The sky was a sullen grey all the way till Khardungla and we experienced what must’ve been the first snow of the season. It wasn’t much, but just about enough to allow me to be technically correct when I say I saw snowfall.
Leh was its usual welcoming self. Bright, sunny and even a tad warm during the day. The weather just a few kilometers ago had shown us how temporary the summer here was. On our way back, we were stuck in a small traffic jam on a mountain road and had stepped out of the car. We ran into a soldier of the Indian Army who was headed to his base somewhere near Siachin. “Fancy living here in winters” he had mentioned half-mocking, half-challenging as we parted. I should very much like to find out one day what it is like.