Day 5 Panikhar to Penjila and Back to Rangdum -31 May 2012

To read this travelogue click HERE

Woke up at 4.45 am to a very refreshing morning in Suru valley.Came out to find the tall mountains bathed in the golden colour of early morning sun.Spend some quite moments and enjoyed the surroundings.Felt the calmness of Panikhar village.Stillness,silence of the village was in the stark contrast of my fast paced Delhi’s morning life.
Smokes from chimney was proof that villages were awake inside their house but due to cold no one was outside.Filled the petrol in scooter from plastic Container ,loade all the luggage and started towards my today’s destination.The destintion was Rangdum village and Hopefully Penji La.
The culmination point of ride.

Landscape of Suru was so breathtaking,I had to stop the scooter frequently to capture the beauty of Suru valley.Lush green fields,white snowy mountains,clear sky and river flowing down,whole enviorn was rewarding.Time stands still at this place.

Early morning in Suru valley means no shop is open.I was craving for a cup of tea,actually two cups of tea.But tea was a distant dream,yeah distant dream literally.Tea was available only at Rangdum 80 kms away.Biscuits and Slice were pressed into service to recharge my starved body.Remember,I didnt have dinner last night.
I kept riding and shooting remembering and reliving my last year family trip.I was missing my family enormously after seeing all the places again,the place where we had a picnic and prepared maggi,the place where we prepared tea.Lost in those thoughts I reached Rangdum,totally tired due to bad road.

Penji La awaits me at the distance of 30 kms.

Enjoy the photos until Penji la comes……….

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I am currently at Rangdum village and time is around Noon.Feeling tired and hungry after a bumpy and slow ride in typical Zanskar valley roads,i mean no road.
Few taxis are parked in fron of the small dhaba and passengers are busy chatting and eating.Rangdum is exactly halfway between Kargil-Padum.It is also the place where police register the details of travlers,so almost all vehicles halt here and sometime this tiny silent hemlet becomes a buzzing place full of people,vehicles.
I lied down over a rock after removing my helmet and instantly went into a deep sleep and kept sleeping for few minutes lying on the rocks.Got out of my slumber and orderd a maggi and tea and regain my stamina to another tough haul ahead me.
Penji la… 30 kms away.
Time is around 1 Pm and mountain passes are always unpredictable and volatile around afternoon.I was little worried and could see dark clouds hovering over the penji la side.
Somehow gathered my strength and rode towards Penji La.My dream to see my scooter parked on Penji la was just 30 kms away.Lets go,what the hell are you waiting for,Isaid to myself.
My scooter was running towards Penji La and within few minutes when I was near Rangdum Gompa,sky was full of dark dense clouds and tiny snow flakes started falling.
Crossed Rangdum gompa,crossed a village and found myself totally alone in those wilderness.No human soul was seen.An overcast sky with a terrible weather,broken road with lots of waterholes and slow scooter and remote Zanskar valley.Not an ideal scenerio.These are moments when you pray to god,your hands tremble,your knees become weak,your throat dries and you recall your ill deeds.
Suddenly appeared a big water streams bang in the middle of the road,instantly recognized this particular water stream.The same stream where a Tata pik up was stuck last year and I had to face a tough time taking my Swift to lower off road driving my poor car on those pumpkin sized boulders.

फोटो तो बनता है एक यहाँ……..

Ascent to Penji La starts after few kilometers and Scooter showed a sign of power loss.Heart beat got faster.
Somehow reached labour hut enacted near penji la but my destination was Penji La top where prayer flags flutter and a blue board says”Penji La,highest point on Kargil-Padum Road.
Kept driving to Penji La top and reached flat surface,a sigh that top is very near but I was still few kms short of Penji La and unthinkable happened….Nightmare became reality.
Guess what???????????????

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No,nooooo,no.It was not puncture,it was not breakdown…..nothing sort of this.
This nightmare was made of flesh and blood……
This horrible nightmare braked my scooter,almost made me take an U Turn.
My dream destination of Penji La had turned into a hell for me.
All alone,badly tired,a slow powerless scooter,no sign of any human help fro miles,could not run on such high altitude and cold bad weather.

साँस अटकी हुई थी गले में
हनुमान चालीसा भी याद नहीं था

And three pairs of Jaws and Claws were staring at me few hundreds meters away right at the top of Penji La,the Penji La,the so called parking lot for my Scooter..
Snow wolves…a pack of three snow wolves,very social animal,which hunt in a group,in a very syncronized style…..gray white colored and must be looking for a prey…
I braked and stayed put and waited for few moments for their reactions,one of them moved upwards and other two followed,leader of the pack again halted and stared towards me and disappeared in the white snow leaving behind me totally sweated with goose bumps.
A soliloquy was on my lips,”Should I move ahead or back track????
Same soliloquy replied,”Move ahead whatever the consequences.
Jo hoga dekha jayega.
Fully frightened,reached at the top of Penji La and scooter stopped.My heart also stopped.
What happened to scooter.Tried to start it but in vain.Suddenly came a lightning thought,why not check the petrol????
Hurriedly opened the tank lid…voila……It was empty.Thank god.Refilled and pull the choke and pressed the kick,scooter was alive again.
Took some self shots and sped towards another parking lot for my Scooter ..hehehehe.

Drang Drung Glacier doston…..

Parked my scooter,placed the camera on nearby rock and posed for few(3-4) different angels and swiftly retreated back towards Rangdum village.
After a while reached Rangdum Gompa and made a call to home from STD phone in Gompa and made final dash towards Rangdum village.
As soon as I entered in the village,I saw that ground was covered with fresh snow.Entered in a dhaba and instantly ordered a tea,then another tea.After gulping down two cups of tea,regained my composure.
A young lady was also inside the dhaba and she asked me about my night stay.I replied I will be staying in JK bUNGALOW if caretaker allows me.She said,I am the caretaker.
I was surprised to hear that.She further said that actual caretaker is her uncle and he is off to Kargil and currently she is in charge of the GH.
We came to GH and she opened a room for me and asked me about dinner.I replied,I will have my dinner in the dhaba.She said she is also the owner of the dhaba.
During dinner ,we chatted for some time and after settling the bill I came to GH and dozed off….But before sleep,a big thank to God…..

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Day 5 Panikhar to Penjila and Back to Rangdum

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