An Attempt to Trek in the Markha Valley, Ladakh and a Story

When we went to Ladakh this year in June 2005, our aim was to trek from Spitok to Hemis, which is also known as Markha Valley trek. After two days of taking rest in Leh, we started the trek. The first day itself, I developed a violently upset stomach. To tell you the truth, I guess the damage was done in New Delhi itself when I ate mushroom Momos in Connaught Place. But generally, I have a very strong stomach and I did not pay too much attention to the rumblings from New Delhi.

So on the first day of trek as we were camping in a place called Zinchen, I was paying many visits to answer the nature’s call. My husband was getting worried and he started asking me if we should head back? I wanted to continue. So, we walked for the second day, and I was walking like a zombie. Still, we reached Rumbak and camped there. My stomach was not too well even now. We decided that we would walk for one more day and see what happens after that. The above photograph is from the third day of walk. We started early in the morning from Rumbak to Ganda-La base. We must have walked for at least three to four hours (OK, we walk slowly, locals will cover the same distance in probably less than an hour) and then we discovered just this house, standing all alone in the wilderness. It is at least one hour’s walk from Rumbak (the place has no motorable road, though locals can use a pony) and on the other side, the nearest habitation is at least four to five hours walk away. Again, there is no other means of transport, apart from a pony. Can you imagine living in such a place?

woman-ladakh
Lady near Ganda- La, Ladakh

The lady in the picture was working in the field in front of the house. She very kindly posed for me twice and was quite delighted to see her snap on the LCD screen of my camera. Nearby, a much younger woman was washing a few vessels in a stream and a young kid was playing next to her. The tea stall for trekkers on this route was run by a couple of this house. In all, probably they are five people living together (or maybe more, I cannot be sure, but how big can the number be?) in this house, away from everything. I wonder how it would be like.

As, for our trekking the Markha Valley, we had to return from Ganda-La base, a little distance ahead from this house, as I just could not recover from my bad stomach. I was very disappointed but Ladakh is so beautiful and the other places that we visited, made up for the unfinished trek.

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16 thoughts on “An Attempt to Trek in the Markha Valley, Ladakh and a Story”

  1. I’m so envious of your adventures! I think it’s so interesting to see people who are living so far away, removed from roads, cars, phones, computers, even cameras! I like the photo of the woman, too! How nice of her to let you photograph her! 🙂

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  2. What a beautiful photo. It’s funny that you wondered about living in such a place. I just wondered the same thing about living on a ranch in the Hells Canyon section of the Snake River.

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  3. Uma, I too was stuck by the absence of technology in their lives. My most worrying thought was, what would happen if someone fell sick.Mo, I too wonder what their lives would be like. I was thankful she let me photograph her, but I did not had the heart to ask to take a photograph of the young kid and the girl playing next to her. It seemed like asking too much.Lily, I have no idea what it would be to live on a ranch, I have never been to the US. But I guess it would be exciting, living far away from the crowd.

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  4. Is it considered rude to want to photograph people in India? Or would people expect you to give them something in return for the photograph? Here in the USA there is a group of people called The Amish. have you ever heard of them? They came to the USA in colonial days, hundreds of years ago. And they have refused to take on any modern things in life: No electricity, no machinery, no cars. Everything about their life is agrarian and pre-industrial. many people like to go visit Amish Country and buy their homemade foods and furniture. But taking their photograph is PROHIBITED!!!!! They beleive that you will capture part of their soul if you take a picture of them, or something like that. I think. Anyway, sorry for the long comment. You photo story reminded me of the AMish people here in the USA. Ever hear of these people?

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  5. Hi Mridula,I read about your blog and came here by chance… and I am glad I did. I like what you write about. We are planning on a trip to ladakh-leh region in October this year. And I would really appreciate if you can help us with it… Any insights you may have to share would be really helpful…

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  6. Mo, generally people do not mind if you ask them to take their pictures nor do they expect anything in return. If they are kids, they will always welcome toffee or chocolate even if you don’t take their pictures. I had not heard about Amish people, thanks a lot for letting me know. And you are most welcome to write long(er) comments, I really enjoy it. The only time I saw ‘Photography Prohibited’ sign was when i wandered into Red Light District of Amsterdam! What an experience it turned out to be. I should write about it sometime.Pecos Blue, I would love to discuss any options you feel like. I have not been to the places you mentioned, yet.Emma, thanks a lot for stopping by. I am so happy you liked my blog. Ask me anything you feel like about Ladakh. I am sure you will have a nice time.The Wanderer, thank you for stopping by and liking my blog.

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  7. I hope you’ll recover from the bellyache soon. My hubby is *terrified* to go to India because of the stories we hear about Dehli-belly and how everybody who goes there gets sick etc., and when we visited Morocco last May he was scared of getting sick the whole time. The one thing I learned about traveling to an underdeveloped country, is to always come prepared with Immodium and some extra rolls of toilet paper.

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  8. Crystal, I am recovering, thank you for your concern. Usually nothing happens to me after eating out, after all I live in New Delhi! But that one day, something went wrong and I am suffering. I can understand how difficult it must be for people from other countries to come and adjust to things even on a vacation.

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  9. it sounds all so romantic to be staying all alone away from any form of civilization…’m sure ther r hardships… can never stop awing people who do it (by default or otherwise)

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