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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Gurudongmar Lake

The highest point of the trip, not just by altitude- by our expectation, eagerness to do it and after return too! Lake @ 17100 feet on the Himalayas on the tibetian border!
It’s one of the highest lakes in the world, so pristine and fantastic. Only the distance, road and weather can stand in the way. The roads were absolute bad and we were warned by many regarding the weather which cud be hostile esp with severe winds. But we were lucky partly because we started from Lachen (acclimatising place -write up to follow next) very early in the morning so as to beat the weather. Apparently the weather anyway turns bad by noon we were warned. This visit also needs special permission from army and access is very strictly monitored and controlled. We even saw some tanks parked there (may be we shud not be saying that rit?).
Our driver kept saying about how tuff it cud be and how inspite of the stunning beauty people stay there only for 10-15 minutes. He also warned us most wud not talk as we reach top and esp on return. Even my friend sudha who pushed me to include this lake said so.(thanks sudha, u made my day, che life!).
But luckily we passed that with high score, we walked around for 40 minutes and only bcos we wanted to hit back before noon we moved. But we were well prepared with good warm clothing. That day was good too.. But we saw some army guys taking bath there –Man, then they walked bare foot too!what religious faith can do!! that was a sight. This is, like many mountain top lakes/rivers, considered holy, prolly to avoid messing in those days. River Teesta starts here and it’s a sight too!
Such high altitude means very scarce oxygen and ofcourse harsh cold (the lake is fully frozen in winters except a part- supposedly blessed by some saint we were informed) which causes this inhospitable atmosphere but worth all the efforts.
The route is beautiful as u get to see the Himalayan riot of colors in oct/nov (lucky here again) and as u cross the tree line, u get to see only yak, occasional yak minders (yakherd?) and the military gaadi/men. Add to these the mind boggling gorges and falls one chances up on on the way. One enjoys all this inspite of no roads and steep climbs.There is an interesting cafeteria at 15000feet run by Indian army called café 15000! Then on it’s a cold desert, really! We even got to see a house and a big compound built only from the rocks and stones available there and it was a rare and interesting sight. The similarity to Bedouin’s houses in deep deserts of Egypt was striking.
Only experienced drivers like the one we had can even spot the way. No road, just some rough and tuff path to drive on. Suddenly one gets to see snow capped majestic mountains and slowly u feel the altitude.
And serendipity! out of no where u hit on a pristine copper sulphate blue pool of water and the reflections…my life was made..thats a sight folks..pl do it..
Now, see the photos (taken with a simple old camera of the handy cam, still) here
( just in case - http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/6852263)
and u will appreciate what a place it is. yes! Foto no. 22 is edelweiss!
One shud stop at Thangu -12700 feet for breakfast! U get only Maggie but still in that cold and height u will enjoy it like we did. (normally we don’t prefer Maggie noodles). Thangu itself is a nice rustic cold place but one will appreciate the tons of hospitality poured by locals amidst the rustic comforts.
But sorry foreigners! You are not allowed beyond thangu, bcos of its proximity to China, nops Tibet. How can I ever say China, its Tibet folks!

Rating – Soooper
Will I go again- yes! Again and again…
Best time to visit – Oct / Nov. (may be after april one cud see more snow and prolly frozen lake. Lemme try next time)

A small warning:
An amazing place. A must do experience for u all. But please do it when ur body listens to ur brain..with age u might find it tuff..

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