From Srinagar over Kargil to Padum and than to Phutkal

2014/09/01 at 13:16

Part two of our Road Trip from Srinagar to Kargil and finally to Padum from where we started to trek to Phutkal or Phugtal Monastery. The last post did end with a Yak baby so i start that one with another picture from the same Yak baby.

Kargil, India

Kargil, India
Good bye sweety!

Kargil, India
Where is the next frame?

Kargil, India
The driver was still sleepy so Jathin did drive almost all the way to Padum

Kargil, India

Kargil, India

Kargil, India

Kargil, India

Went to a Guesthouse and scored the room of the two daughters. There rooms had only 2 beds and we where 5 people so it was the only one for us. Nice decoration on the walls and a night later we where off to Phuktal.

Kargil, India
The gang in the early morning – sleeping sound and save.

Kargil, India

Kargil, India

Kargil, India
We did take the path on the left side of the river. Most of the supplies do reach the monastery on horses

Kargil, India
My team – Jutin called Frodo, The Professional – hiding behind his dust cover, Miky from Poland and Helena from Spain

Kargil, India
The locals do use every possible patch of land to cultivate some food

Kargil, India

Kargil, India
One of the many prayer walls we passed that day

Kargil, India

Kargil, India

Kargil, India
Did stop at a village for a tea. Did find this tool in a corner.

Kargil, India
They do collect wood for winter and use the dried dung to cook.

Kargil, India

Kargil, India

Kargil, India

Kargil, India
Phuktal Gompa is one of the most isolated monasteries in Zanskar. The monastery was built in the 12th century. The name Phutkal means a cave in the local language.

It was founded by Gangsem Sherap Sampo, a Tibetan Buddhist guru. The monastery is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists.

Kargil, India
The main prayer hall on the top right of the picture. There is a smaller one on top of it but you can not see it on that picture.

Kargil, India
Detail of the door

Kargil, India
The little monks in Phuktal had a lot of fun with us

Kargil, India
Thanks to French director Marianne Chaud and his documentary on the life of monks in Phuktal Monastery the hostel was full with french people. I found it on Vimeo: ‘Himalaya, a Path to the Sky’ So we went to the school under the monastery. The head monk did gave us a class room which was quite expensive and full of bugs. Since there was no water and i was all sweaty from the walk in the hot sun it was a terrible night. Bugs all over me and to hot in the sleeping bag so i could only use it as a blanket. And we could not open the door or the window as the porch was full of bugs of all sizes and big spiders. A night to remember!

From Srinagar to Kargil to Padum Part 1

2014/08/31 at 12:40

After i did catch up with my team in Srinagar we walked up to a hill and down again – that was all i did see from over there. I took a few pictures with the iPhone on the way to an internet café.

Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar
Be careful when you prebook – you might end up on a house boat like that. I rather have a room that does not move if you ask me!

Srinagar
Breakfast at our homestay in the morning

From Kargil to Padum
Landslide blocked the road for over 4 hours. It was hot, dusty and very very boooring!

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Srinagar
At last with a view when there was not too much dust for a few minutes

Srinagar
So you sit in the car – a girl from Ireland did watch Rambo somewhere in Vietnam till her batteries went dry. Than more waiting. When the dust comes you have to close the window so you can breathe. But than the sun is heating up the car. Catch 22!

Srinagar
Our cruiser

From Kargil to Padum

From Kargil to Padum

Srinagar
Work Work!

Finally we did reach Kargil – at the same time as the bus which took the “longer” road. Great! Called Mikey to meet us at the corner and went with him to our Guesthouse. Big room with a few blankets on the floor. Since we only had a few hours to sleep – it did the trick.

Srinagar
Waiting for the next jeep in the early hours.

From Kargil to Padum
Perfect time for the sun to come up

From Kargil to Padum
Helena from Spain

From Kargil to Padum

From Kargil to Padum
Miky from Poland

From Kargil to Padum

From Kargil to Padum

From Kargil to Padum
The good old Tata jeep – hard to kill!

From Kargil to Padum

From Kargil to Padum

From Kargil to Padum

From Kargil to Padum

From Kargil to Padum

From Kargil to Padum
Since our driver was so tired and crashed the jeep – lucky for us towards the hill-side of the road – Jutin took over the wheel. One of his dreams – drive a jeep in the Himalayas. There you go boy!

From Kargil to Padum
At the pass

Srinagar
Little Yak baby – took me about 10 minutes to gain trust and stop it for a cuddle

Pictures from the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan

2014/08/28 at 12:12

A visit to Amritsar is not complete without a visit to the Wagah Border. The Flag Ceremony in the evening draws 1000nds of spectators every evening. Amritsar in the end of July is very hot and humid. Our host at the Eco Hostel in Amritsar organized two Tuk Tuk’s and off we went to the border. About 40 km to go – that equals to over 1.5 hours in the Tuk Tuk on bad roads. We where lucky as there was a big strike in the city so almost all the shops were closed and there was very little traffic. Still it was very hot and humid – even in the moving Tuk Tuk.

Finally we did arrive at the Wagah Border. Since we where early due the low traffic we had to wait a while. Time for two Lemon Soda – no salt or sugar for me please. Hoping that the ice was not to dirty it was helping to cool down a bit.
Than they did open the gates. A flood of bodies – the Indians where running and pushing the last few hundred meters before the border. Nice for us foreigners – we had the left road for us while the Indians had to walk on the right road. Divided by a few low trees and some grass it was a few hundred meters in the sun to meet again at the first security control point. Bag control and then on to the next non working metal detector. Than waiting at the VIP and foreigner gate. Another bag control and more walking later we reached the foreigner tribune. And then there was no more escape from the sun. The steps where super hot and we where heated from both sides. I do not remember the last time when i was so wet!
Finally the “Show” did start:

Wagah Border
The usual running with the flag – loud music in the bag and thousands of Indians cheering – nice opening!

Wagah Border
Compared to last time the “running with the flags” was a lot shorter. After that it is dancing on the road between the tribunes. Than it gets serious – two Woman marched towards the closed border gate.

Indian Border Force
Than these guys came out and marched half way towards the border.

Wagah Border Guards
Angry looks and gestures toward the Pakistan side of the border

Wagah Border Soldiers
Now – who do you think invented the Funny Walk?? I think it was not Monthy Phyton!

Wagah Border
Kind of a dance performance

Wagah Border
Focusing the enemy at the gate

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border
Than the gate opens and the soldiers march one after the other down towards the now open border and a show of strength starts. This time they had a live drummer to add to the whole thing.

Wagah Border
Than the flags go down – very slow!

Wagah Border

Wagah Border
Folded the Indian flag is carried back into the safety of the guard-house.

Wagah Border

Wagah Border
Than it is a lot more funny walk.

Wagah Border
The old man is smiling – the snipers not really.

Wagah Border
He was on top of the tourist section.

Wagah Border
People – many – very happy – cheering every action. Proud to be Indian I guess. And since you see quite a lot here I did some enlargement so you can see what is going on in the next pictures.

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

Wagah Border

After the gate is closed they wait a while to let the VIP and foreigner go to the gate and take some pictures from the Pakistani side or from people in front of the gate. Than they open the road for the Indians so they can get a closer look and some pictures as well. Than everyone walked back towards transportation and a dusty, noisy and dirty convoy starts toward the city of Amritsar. I was happy to be back at the hostel and one after the other we did shower.

Pro Tip for the Wagah Border

If you go there – come late – this way you do not have to sit in the hot sun to long and you will be sitting close to the street for better pictures as well. Last time it did work out better for me as well. If you find yourself trapped high up – take a stroll to the toilet – take your time – and come back when the flag running started. That way you have a front row seat!

People Watching at the Golden Temple in Amritsar

2014/08/04 at 15:10

Loads of Indian tourists from all over as well as a hand full of international tourists make it every day to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. While waiting for night fall it is great to just sit down somewhere and do some people watching. Here are a few pictures for you:

Golden Temple Amritsar
Guards talking to a cleaner.

Golden Temple Amritsar
People watching – one of my favourite things while sitting somewhere. And here with an average of 100.000 a day it gets never boring!

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar
These guys carry big swords at all times.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar
Can you take a picture please – sure! Why not?

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar
See you again Golden Temple!

Part 1: Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 2: Evening at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 3: People Watching at the Golden Temple

Evening at the Golden Temple in Amritsar

2014/08/03 at 13:43

At this time of the year the sun is strong and it is way to hot for me to really enjoy the action at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Also everything does look much better when it is dark and the light illuminate the Harmandir Sahib Temple and the complex surrounding the pond.

Harmandir Sahib  Amritsar
The sun is about to set over the Harmandir Sahib and the surrounding complex. There are two huge screens inside the square. They do translate all the religious songs that play in the temple into English so one can understand if he does not speak the local tongue.

Golden Temple Amritsar

They are always on patrol to tell the visitors if they do something wrong.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Darbar Sahib Amritsar
Blue hour! The Golden Temple and the main entrance to the complex.

Darbar Sahib Amritsar
A devote takes a bath in the holy water of the Darbar Sahib

Golden Temple Amritsar

Best view and best time to sit here. The hot sun is gone and everything looks more majestic.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

If only the ugly water tower would not be here.

Golden Temple Amritsar

The bridge towards the Temple.

Golden Temple Amritsar

View with the bridge and the exit towards the food complex in the back.

Golden Temple Amritsar

The guard keep an eye on things.

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

View from the main entrance towards the Golden Temple.

Part 1: Harmandir Sahib or the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 2: Evening at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
Part 3: People Watching at the Golden Temple in Amritsar

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