ultramarinus – beyond the sea

India

Day 7 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi, India

We had an evening flight back home. Before catching the airport train, we decided to have our last Indian meal at New Delhi. We took the metro to Connaught Place in New Delhi, the commercial and business heart of the Indian capital.  Formerly the headquarters of the British Raj, the circular hub has become a busy business and entertainment centre.  We exited the metro at one of the exits at the inner circle, and began to walk around the circus in clockwise direction.  Many old Georgian buildings were now occupied by retail shops like Nike or Levi’s, electronic and jewellery shops.  We attempted to find a place for dinner, saw a few restaurants near a movie cinema, but ended up picking a Indian restaurant with an old school charm judging from its entrance.  The restaurant was called United Coffee House, which had been around since 1942.  The high ceiling, chandelier dining hall expressed a traditional character of the British Raj. Designed by an American architect who lived in England, the place carried a Victorian and neo-Renaissance feel.  Every details such as tapestries and furniture were well attended to.  Judging from the first glance it seemed we had traveled back in time.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere was magnificent.  After a long day of heat and exhaustion, the United Coffee House came as a safe haven for us to rejuvenate ourselves before flying he night flight home.  After a satisfying meal and relaxing time at the restaurant, we walked out into the Connaught Place under the glittering neon lights and hype music.  We crossed the street and walked down the closest metro entry, swam through the waves of people heading to our opposite direction.  The music from the street was getting fainter as we went.  It was time for us to bid farewell to India.

dsc_6912Lamb leg marinated with spices in herbs sauce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMixed vegetable in creamy saffron sauce.

dsc_6913Upper seating area at the United Coffee House.

dsc_6914Connaught Place at night.

* * *

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


DAY 7 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi, India

We walked down the grand staircase of Jama Mosjid that led to a busy street intersection adjacent to the mosque. We hopped on a tuk-tuk and asked the driver to take us to Chandni Chowk metro station.  After a brief visit of Old Delhi, it was time for us to return to New Delhi, where we would find a place for dinner and then take the express train back to the airport.  It was late afternoon and the traffic at Old Delhi was quite congested, allowing us a little more time than expected to witness the street scenery of the old city one more time.

Before our Indian trip, we came across a book by Japanese author and stage designer Kappa Senoo (妹尾河童).  The book was called Kappa’s Peek at India, in which Kappa used hand sketches and diary text to record the people, buildings, street scenes and sites that he saw and experienced during his trips to India back in 1980s.  The Indian street scenes that he depicted with his pencil sketches: the shops, the vehicles, and most important of all, the myriad different people doing various things for living echoed vividly to what we were seeing outside the tuk-tuk.  For us, the half hour tuk-tuk ride through the narrow and chaotic streets of Old Delhi was a remarkable journey allowing us to understand another facet of this complex and visually fascinating nation.

dsc_6871Small streets in Old Delhi were swamped with vehicles of all sort, all of which were moving slowly.

dsc_6868Motorcycles were pretty common in Delhi.

dsc_6870Vendors selling samosa-like snacks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABicycle rickshaws were still pretty common.

dsc_6876Given the traffic and sometimes poor conditions of the sidewalk, it wasn’t the easiest city for pedestrians.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rickshaws revealed the difference of social status of different local people.

dsc_6875A bicycle rickshaw driver resting.

dsc_6879Streets were full of vendors selling different merchandises.

dsc_6880Public water sourse for washing and cooling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe banana vendor.

dsc_6888Water drinking was essential under the hot temperature.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStreet vendors doing all sorts of trading and bargaining.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEach person on the street looked as if there was an interesting story behind.

dsc_6890Bicycle rickshaws were very common on Delhi streets

dsc_6901Coconut vendor.

dsc_6908Under extensive globalization, international brands such as canon and Sony appeared everywhere.

* * *

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


DAY 7 -JAMA MASJID, Delhi, India

After having a quick  lunch, we hopped on a tuk-tuk to reach our next destination, Jama Masjid.  The driver dropped us off on Esplanade Road at the east entrance, one of three gateways into the complex.  We climbed up a long flight of stair to reach the level of the main courtyard and east gate.  At the entrance gate, we took off our shoes and paid a “camera fee”.  It was late afternoon and the sun was behind the mosque and its 40m minarets, casting long shadows onto the ground of the main courtyard.  It was not the best time of the day for photo shooting but we still found this red sandstone & marble building magnificent despite signs of deterioration.

Built between 1644 to 1658, Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India.  The Mughal architecture was built out of marble and red sandstone, with two minarets, three domes, a prayer hall, three sides of covered colonnade, and an open courtyard that can accommodate 25,000 worshipers for prayers.  Because of the afternoon heat, there were not many people staying in the vast open ground in front of the prayer hall.  Most people took shelter under the covered colonnade surrounding the courtyard.  There was a large rectangular fountain in the courtyard outside of the prayer hall for ablution.  Without our shoes on, we could feel the burning heat from the stones under our feet.  We followed the path made out of a fabric to reach the semi-opened prayer hall.  Without interrupting other people, we picked a quiet corner and sat down on one of the 899 bordered marble slabs (marked for worshipers) to absorb the atmosphere.  Sitting by an open bay facing the courtyard, we saw a group of enthusiastic young children helping a senior staff to wash the courtyard floor.  Under the scorching sun, the children seemed to be the most energetic people in the courtyard.  They ran around the courtyard, chasing each other and the pigeons.  It was their laughter and giggling that made us feel more at ease in this unbearable heat.

dsc_6743The magnificent architecture of the east gate, flanked by the covered colonnades.

dsc_6745The south gate and one of the two 40m minarets.

dsc_6750The prayer hall with its three domes and two minarets.

dsc_6757There are 899 marble floor slabs inside the prayer hall defined for worshipers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the worshipers at the prayer hall with the courtyard beyond.

dsc_6764The east gate, fountain and the main courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeople sat around the fountain for ablution.

dsc_6770Worshipers inside the semi-opened prayer hall.

dsc_6775The ground was constantly washed with water by staff.

dsc_6795Visitors with shorts and sleeveless tops had to cover up their bodies with fabrics provided at the entrance gate.

dsc_6783The path paved with cloths leads to the east gate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPigeons gathered at the main courtyard where a large patch of yellow grains were scattered.  The birds were constantly scared away by children.

dsc_6807We could hear the kids’ laughter as they successfully chased off the pigeons.

dsc_6829A boy running across the courtyard in front of the prayer hall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClose up of the running boy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother boy running in the main courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe defensive wall and watch towers of the Red Fort didn’t seem to be far away from Jama Masjid.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were many people gathered around the east gate where we entered the building. When we entered the mosque, there were people offered to safe guard our shoes for a little money.

dsc_6840View of the payer hall from the cover colonnade.

dsc_6863We exited the mosque through the west gate.  The grandeur of the steps with the domes and minarets beyond was breathtaking.

* * *

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

 


DAY 7 – RED FORT, Delhi, India

Before returning home, we had one last day of exploration in the Indian capital, Delhi.  It wasn’t the best time to visit Delhi because of the pre-monsoon heat, we did manage to check out a little bit of Old Delhi to get a taste of what many travelers described as a bustling city full of chaotic streetscapes, persistent touts, crazy traffic, tourist scams, conditions of poor hygiene, etc.  Due to the fact that it was our first time to Delhi, we selected two of the most popular attractions in Old Delhi: Red Fort and Jama Masjid.

Red Fort was the former royal palace of the Moghal Empire from the 17th to 19th century.  In the 103 hectare of land many former buildings survive inside its extensive walls.  Because of the red sandstone used for the defensive enclosure,  there comes the name of Red Fort.  Despite the noontime heat, we took our time to wander around the former royal courts and the splendid architecture from the late Mughal Empire.  We entered the complex through the famous Lahori Gate, walked through the covered bazaar Chhatta Chowk, visited the small Indian War Memorial Museum at Naubat Khana (Drum House), admired the former audience hall Diwan-i-Aam among tourist crowds, and lastly checked out the marble buildings at the inner court, including the Diwan-i-Khas, Khas Mahal, Rang Mahal, and Mumtaz Mahal (Red Fort Archaeological Museum).  The surviving buildings of Red Fort introduced us the concept of beauty and design ornaments commonly found in traditional Indian architecture.

dsc_6569Heading into the Red Fort through the Lahori Gate.

dsc_6573Local visitors at the Lahori Gate.

dsc_6564The Chhatta Chowk, which literally means the “covered bazaar”, is a unique covered market with 32 arches dated back to the 17th century.

dsc_6735The Naubat Khana (Drum House) was a common feature in an Indian palace.  Music was played several times a day at the Naubat Khana in the old days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA local visitor walking through Naubat Khana.

dsc_6605Inner facade of the Naubat Khana (Drum House).

dsc_6602The Diwan-i-Aam (Audience Hall) was the building where the Mughal royal members received guests and the public.

dsc_6609The Diwan-i-Aam was consisted of 27 square bays of arches made of red sandstone.

dsc_6620The throne covered by a marble canopy (jharokha) is the focus of Diwan-i-Aam.

dsc_6631Beyond the Diwan-i-Aam stand the inner court and residence buildings of the Mughal royal family.

dsc_6662The Khas Mahal serves as the royal residence of the Mughal emperor.

dsc_6665Local visitors walking by the Khas Mahal.

dsc_6674Beautiful details made of marble and gemstones at Khas Mahal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocal visitors dressed in vivid colours.

dsc_6677Local visitors at Khas Mahal.

dsc_6682Magnificent window screen at Khas Mahal.

dsc_6688Door handle at Khas Mahal.

dsc_6699Khas Mahal

dsc_6707Exterior view of Khas Mahal.

dsc_6711Much of the Red Fort was covered with green lawns.

* * *

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


DAY 7 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi, India

After almost a week of Tibetan monasteries and arid Himalayan highlands, our brief Indian journey was almost coming to an end, and it was time to say goodbye to Lakadh.  It was a fine morning.  Tashi came to pick us up at around 6am.  It was only a short ride from Ladakh Greens Hotel to Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport.  At about 3200m above sea level, the airport is India’s highest commercial airport.  We waved goodbye to Tashi and entered the small highland airport.  It was chaotic at the Leh Airport.  The x-ray machine broke down for a bit and there were two long queues, one for men and the other women, at the security check.  After a bit of the hassle, at last we were off in the Ladakhi sky.  From above, Leh and its surrounding desert landscape looked spectacular.  Our plane flew south, passed over the mountains south of Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Himachal Pradesh.  After about 1.5 hour, we returned to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport once more.

We stored our big backpacks at the airport, and took the airport express train out to the city.  From the airport the train took about half an hour to reach New Delhi.  At New Delhi, we switched to the metro and rode for two more stops until we reached the stop of Chandni Chowk.  Famous for its centuries-old business as Old Delhi’s high street, Chandni Chowk is close to Red Fort, the former residence of the Mughal royalty from the 17th to 19th century.  After exiting the metro station, we were immediately overwhelmed by the people, colours, odour and sounds of the street in Old Delhi.  It was awfully hot at about 40 degrees, and extremely crowded.  We followed a crowd of people exiting the station, tried to find our way to the Red Fort, but were soon followed by two bicycle ricksaw drivers.  We asked the first driver going to the Red Fort.  He tried to trick us by saying 10.  We asked him once more before we got on whether he meant rupees or not.  He then clarified it was 10 USD.  We decided to ignore him and continued to find our way.  The second driver, a young man in his early twenties, followed us and tried to convince us to get on his ricksaw by saying it was very dangerous in Old Delhi.  We kept on walking aimlessly on the street thinking he would eventually give up, but he didn’t.  On the hot and crowded street of Old Delhi, he followed us for over 20 minutes.  At the end, we didn’t bother to find where we actually were, and jumped onto an empty tuk-tuk.  The tuk-tuk driver was more than happy to take us to the Red Fort.  After some sweat we finally reached the iconic Lahori Gate of the mighty Red Fort.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had a morning flight back to Delhi. By the time we arrived at the airport, there was a long queue outside of the airport for security check.

dsc_6516At about 3200m above sea level, the airport is India’s highest commercial airport.

dsc_6517A Jet Airway plane landed on the runway. It reminds us of our landing one week ago.

dsc_6519View from the plane to down below.

dsc_6522Our plane flew south, passed over the mountains south of Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Himachal Pradesh.

dsc_6531From above, Leh and its surrounding desert landscape looked spectacular.

dsc_6533Spectacular view over the mountain view from the plane.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was over 40 degree Celsius outside. We were overwhelmed by the heat and the crowd once we stepped out of the metro station of Chandni Chowk. Without a proper map, We found ourselves disorientated in this old city quarter. It was a great relief to have found a reliable tuk-tuk  to take us to our first destination, the Red Fort. Below are some snapshots that we took along the way to the Red Fort.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

dsc_6549

dsc_6551

dsc_6553

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dsc_6740After some sweat we finally reached the iconic Lahori Gate of the mighty Red Fort.

* * *

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

 


DAY 6: SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh, India

We told Tashi to dropped us off at the town centre of Leh where we mailed out a pile of postcards to families and friends. Then we decided to spend the last bit of our last day in Ladakh at a high point.  We took a taxi up to Shanti Stupa, one of the most popular lookout over Leh.  Built by Japanese Buddhists as part of the Peace Pagoda Mission in 1991 and enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama, Shanti Stupa remains an important monument to promote world peace.  Atop a mountain over Leh, Shanti Stupa is also a great spot to enjoy the nearby scenery, and is particularly popular around the time of sunrise or sunset.

We looped around the monument once.  Then we stopped by the railing, took out our tripod and did a time-lapse video of Leh under the changing afternoon light.  The stupa was popular among local visitors, offering us plenty of people watching while we patiently waited for the camera for over an hour.  Standing under the perfectly blue sky over Leh, we witnessed the shadow of the mountain slowly blanketed over the city, green poplar trees row by row disappeared in the darkness, and distant mountains turned from golden to earth brown and then to blueish grey.  We silently say goodbye to the ancient town of Leh, to the mighty Stok Kangri Mountain at the horizon, to the monastic spirit of Ladakh, and to the boundless arid mountains of Northern India.  An early morning flight the next day would take us back to the bustling Indian capital Delhi, where we would have another day of exploration before flying home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Shanti Stupa under the warm afternoon sun.  Most visitors preferred to stay in the shade.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Stok Mountain Range at a distance.

dsc_6405The view of Leh was dominated by the poplar trees.

dsc_6410The shadow of the mountain gradually expanded over the town.

dsc_6418The back of Leh Palace was fully swamped in the afternoon sun.

dsc_6419The arid landscape around Leh looked drier than ever under the afternoon sun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe steps leading down from Shanti Stupa to Changspa Road into the town centre.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sun almost disappeared behind the mountain and Shanti Stupa.

dsc_6431Visitors were still enjoying the late afternoon scenery of the Indus Valley and Stok Mountains despite evening was gradually creeping in.

dsc_6432Locals enjoying the view of Leh, with the white washed walls of Namgyal Tsemo Gompa stood out at the background.

dsc_6441Shanti Stupa was completely in shade by the time we were done with the time-lapse photography.

dsc_6445We circled the stupa for a second time before we left.

dsc_6459By the time we left, much of Leh was blanketed in mountain’s shadow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe slowly walked down the steps to the town below.

dsc_6498At the end of the stepped path, Changspa Road would lead us back to the centre of Leh, where we would have our last meal of Tibetan cuisine for the trip.

* * *

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

 

 


DAY 6: ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh, India

Before the trip, we thought of doing the Markha Valley Trek, but then gave up the idea because of the lack of time.  On our last day at Ladakh, the hotel manager suggested us to make a short hike to Zingchen Gorge, where many travelers started their Markha Valley Trek.  Tashi again was our driver of the day.  We left the hotel at around 7am.  Our car headed south, passed the Spituk Gompa and continued our journey until Tashi pulled over on a country road where a lady sat below a tree.  Tashi told us to get a ticket from the lady for the admission of Hemis National Park, where Zingchen Gorge was located.  Soon our car drove into a desert valley of the gorge.  Tashi dropped us off at the end of the road.  We then crossed a bridge and entered a natural portal flanked by majestic stone cliffs to begin our half-day hike through the Zingchen Gorge.

We had no particular destination in mind, but aiming to walk as far as we could in a few hours of time.  We walked leisurely on a stony road at the bottom of a rocky valley for about half an hour until reaching a local home where two donkeys were resting under a tree.  From then on we walked for another hour or so on a mountain trail in the Zingchen Gorge towards the Village of Rumbak.  During the hike, we crossed the river a few times via wooden bridges.  After about two hours on the trail, we finally had a glimpse of the snow-capped mountains beyond the gorge.  After we exited the gorge, we reached a small pile of stones and goat skulls that signified the gorge’s mouth.  Further down the trail at an open area we sat by a large round pile of mani stones where we had our lunch break.  After the break, we decided to head back into Zingchen Gorge to meet up with our driver Tashi.  We took our time to hike back to the entrance of the gorge, and walked further down the main road until we saw Tashi and his car at Zingchen Village.

Despite short, at the last two days of our stay we had a good taste of hiking in the mountains near Leh.  Hopefully in the future we would have an opportunity to do a multi-day trek in Ladakh to really experience the natural beauty of this region.

DSC_5983.JPGThe natural rock portal formed a perfect entrance to the Zingchen Gorge.

dsc_5993For the first half hour we were walking on a valley road.

dsc_6004The arid landscape and the greenery down at the river valley.

dsc_6013The surrounding landscape was extremely dry.

dsc_6024We met two donkey at the end of the road.

DSC_6028.JPGThe path get narrower beyond the end of road.

dsc_6058Just like the other days we experienced in Ladakh, the weather in the morning and early afternoon was always sunny.

dsc_6077White khatas, prayer flags and mani stones were common at rest stops.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter two hours of hike, we had our first glimpse of the snow-capped mountains beyond the gorge.

dsc_6137At the end of the gorge.

dsc_6141The pile of stones and goat skull.

dsc_6149The round pile of mani stones where we had our lunch break by the river.

dsc_6175Heading back into the gorge for our return journey.

dsc_6180Impressive rock formations and wild flowers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocals and their donkeys.

dsc_6278Wild flowers close to the gorge entrance.

dsc_6287We planned to stay for only half day in Hemis National Park. We walked as far as we could and then returned to the gorge entrance on the same route.  Despite the same route, the views and experience were never the same at different times of the day.  On our return, we were attracted by the rock patterns of a mountain near the gorge entrance, something that we didn’t take notice when we entered the gorge earlier in the morning.

dsc_6331We were attracted by interesting rock formations during the hike.

dsc_6342The landscape was always dry and rocky.

dsc_6357After 5 hours of hiking in Hemis National Park, we returned to the park entrance to meet up with our driver Tashi.

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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