Today was about to start journey towards Chumathang. We had already spent 5 days in Ladakh and by now we used to have accustomed to the severe cold here. Though it’s quite comfortable for us to spend nights in Leh as our hotel is centrally heated and most importantly we used to have a hot shower each time we come here.
Journey to Chumathang
we left around 9.30AM and were on the same track which we traveled yesterday while coming back from Tangste. We reached Karu and then Upshi in less than an hour. From Upshi the route divides into 2 tracks –
1. The route in the right leads towards manali (leh-manali highway)
2. The route in the left leads to chumathang.
So we took a left and continued on it.
Generally it takes 4 hrs to reach Chumathang from Leh. But when you are in Ladakh you need frequent breaks for photography and so we did & as a result it took us 5 hrs.
Indus was flowing all along the way throughout the journey. After an hour or so, we saw complete frozen indus at a point & asked rigzin to stop (though we had seen frozen river at confluence of indus and zanskar, but it wasn’t completely froze there).
Our excitement knew no bounds and we just wanted to walk on it, but it might break if you step in on it, as Rigzin told us…and we had an adrenaline rush again!!
But before leaveing, we thought of giving it a try to check the solidity of ice by throwing a stone. It really broke away and gave us an adrenaline rush.
Sliding on Frozen Indus River
We moved on further after taking some pictures and after a distance, Rigzin stopped the car again and told us that here, ice sheet is thick enough to sustain our weight. We had no idea of walking on ice and with a little fear we stepped on it.
And wait!! It’s not easy to walk on icy sheet. We had fallen a few times but thanked to our puffed and bulky clothing layer that saved us from any injury and trust me, Ice hurts too.
Avoid slipping on ice by walking like a penguin!
Stepping off of a solid road and onto ice sheet, that too having deep cracks beneath my feet..fantastic experience. It was so damn slippery but Rigzin helped us to get on the river and told about how to walk on ice.
In the beginning it looked scary but in a while we started enjoying walk on it and soon we were sliding across the ice. We sang songs & danced together on the middle of the river & also walked up to the other side of it. What would be more entertaining than ice sliding & skating on a frozen river, once in a lifetime experience.
Afterwards we proceeded to chumathang. A lot of construction was going on at various streches & roads condition was not good. After moving a little further, we saw purple colored mountains for the first time.
Before you even guess, Ladakh brings a new wonder in front of you!!
Chumathang is a small village situated on the banks of Indus river at 13000 ft. & 138 kms away from Leh. The village has numerous hot water springs and our basecamp for tonight.
It has only few options to stay but in winters, that too becomes even lesser. So as soon as we got there, Rigzin made arrangements for our stay in a guest house.
The room was a small, four bedded with central heating avilable only for 2-3 hours in late evening. The washroom was spacious though and surprisingly enough, hot water coming into the tap directly from hot springs. It was a delight in the freezing cold of december end.
Soon after checked-in into room, we hopped out in search of food & to explore the surrounding area. They had their own cafe where we had noodles & tea in early evening snacks & we walked outside afterwards.
One can easily see the uprising steam from the top of springs. We kept walking near one spring & then little further upto the point where hot springs were separated from Indus river by a low stone dyke wall.
For about 2 hours we stayed by the hot spring side & enjoyed outdoor steam bath 😉 afterwards we were called for the dinner. We thought of walking out for a while after dinner but due to severe cold it became difficult and finally we entered to our cozy room. The heater only worked for an hour but room remained relatively warm due to its proximity to the hot springs.