From Srinagar I need to get to Kargyak where is a Czech Sun School where I promised to help – teach, help around, find out the situation and report back.
Our great houseboat owner/big businessman Usuf (owned everything around and tried to sell it too) organized a shared taxi for me and few people who also decided to go direction Kargil. We are still in a Muslim part of the state Jammu & Kasmir, Kargyak lies in a Buddhist part so it will be a change in elevation as well as in culture.
Kargil didn’t seem as a big city at first, we walked around the bus station in the evening looking for a connecting shared taxi to Padum. It seems that now at the end of the season there is not many people going there. It has also no point to run and ask different taxi drivers, there is some kind of an union so they know exactly who’s turn it is to go. We are negotiating price 1500Rs per head on the back seat, start at 5am and then we return back to the hotel. I need to charge all the devices and repack the backpack.
Kargil (2.676 masl)
At the 2001 census, the population of Kargil was 9944 people.
People in Kargil are of mixed Dard and Tibetan descent. Most are Baltis. The inhabitants of Kargil were adherents of Tibetan Buddhism until the 8th-9th centuries when most inhabitants converted to Islam. Today, 98% of Kargil’s population are Muslim and 2% Tibetan Buddhist. The architecture of older mosques in Kargil combines Tibetan and Mughal styles.
At 4:45 there is a car stopping Bellow the hotel but apparently not ours… Some Indians from the floor bellow are telling us that they are joining our ride and agreement with the driver to start at 6. We have some extra time to sleep, even though we already got up.
The back seats are less comfortable, you cannot open the windows for air not to take photos, we will know better next time. The road goes over a pass called Pensi La. There are very nice views on disappearing glacier, mountains Kun & Nun and much more. (You can read about this road much more details here http://vargiskhan.com/log/kargil-to-padum-travel-guide/)
On the way we make friends with our 3 Indians and talk a lot about everything, so even after 13h drive we are looking for an accommodation together. We are finding one and we go for a beer to a bar and afterwards for a good simple dinner to a tea shop nearby.
The next day we are discovering Padum, it’s Gompa (Buddhist monastery or monument Stupa on the hill). There is a beautiful monastery in distance, build in a hill – Darcha, we will not have a chance to see it.
Padum (3.669 masl)
Padum is named after Padmasambhava. It is the only town and administrative centre in Zanskar. It was historically one of the two main capitals of the Zanskar Kingdom, the other being Zangla.
The slow pleasant vibe of the city persisted us to stay a few more days, when we mostly ate, played cards, walked the streets and chilled with a milk tea before we hired another shared taxi to the really big mountains and the end of the road – village called Cha.