DAY 5: SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh, India
Originally our last two full days in Ladakh was planned for a two-day tour to the Nubra Valley on the opposite side of Khardung La Pass, one of the world’s highest pass that can be reached by car at 5,359m. Unfortunately, in the evening before our departure, we were told by the manager of Ladakh Greens Hotel that out trip to the Nubra was no longer possible. In order to visit the region near the disputed border between India and China, all travelers are required to apply for a permit. Since we were born in Hong Kong, our application was rejected by the local authorities. As a result, we had no choice but to figure something else to do for the two days. The hotel manager made a few suggested alternatives, and we picked two short hikes near Leh. Trekking is big in Ladakh but we didn’t have enough time to do a decent trek. Day hikes around Leh at least gave us a brief taste of hiking in Ladakh.
In the morning, Tashi picked us up at the hotel and drove us to Phyang, a village about 15km west of Leh. The hotel manager suggested us to start our hike at a village called Dokla, but Tashi had trouble finding the way. Instead he drove us further uphill from Phyang and stopped at a village where a few houses stood and a series of farming terraces were constructed overlooking the Stok Mountain Range. Leaving Tashi behind, we get off the car, walked through a gateway of prayer flags, and headed up a small path towards the mountains behind Phyang. We were told that the path would ultimately reach Nubra Valley in a few days’ time, where we were denied access to in the first place. We hiked past a white stupa and followed a man-made irrigation channel uphill until we saw the clear running water of a mountain stream of melted water from mountain glaciers. On a rocky mount dotted with wild flowers we sat down and had some quick snacks that the hotel chef prepared for us. Across from where we sat a few tiny singing birds flew around piles of small pebbles. After a brief stop we continued to walk uphill in the highlands near Phyang until we saw a small herd of grazing cattle from a distance upstream.
On our way back to Phyang we once again passed by the point where stream water was diverted for the irrigation system downstream. Before reaching Tashi’s car, we passed by the white stupa once again. A few people were putting fresh white paint on the stupa. We exchanged some smiles and greetings with the friendly locals before heading back to Tashi’s car. After a fine morning of hiking, Tashi suggested us to take a little break in the car while he drove us downhill to Phyang, where we could walk around the village and visit Phyang Gompa. We gladly took his suggestion.
A tiny village uphill from Phyang where we started our hike. The majestic Stok Kangri and the Stok Range offered a magnificent backdrop.
Gateway of prayer flags marked the exit of the village.
Many farming fields in the area were enclosed with low stone walls.
The white stupa overlooking the village.
The Stok Range in a distance.
Local agriculture is well organized by stone walls and irrigation channels.
On the rocky mount where we had a quick snack time.
Wild highland flowers stay low near the ground to avoid strong wind.
We kept walking uphill to follow the stream.
The river valley continued winding through the mountains uphill.
We reached a point where stream water was diverted into a small channel that fed the irrigation system downhill.
Further uphill we saw a small herd of grazing cattle.
Pile of stones left by perhaps hikers or local shepherd.
Strange earth formation beyond the stone walls
Cheerful locals doing maintenance work at the white stupa.
Once again we passed by the gateway of prayer flags on our return.
Close up of a prayer flag.
On a low wall someone left a book of local text.
Not all farmlands were planted with crops, but for the ones that had they looked healthy and green despite the arid climate.
Tashi drove us downhill to Phyang and dropped us off at a bridge. We planned to wander around the village and met Tashi at the Phyang Gompa.
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Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi