Woke up following a relaxed sleep in Garkon. We had been staying at Master Sonam’s Homestay and our chief cause of getting in the ‘Aryan Valley’ area was for the wine! Our breakfast consisted of shalgam leaves (turnip leaves) and rotis to be washed down with milk tea. It was incredibly tasty and fresh and we gobbled up 2-three rotis each and every. Just after that it was time to wander from door-to-door asking for ‘gun chhang’ or grape wine!
Study : In Search of Wine in Ladakh -Hitchhiking from Wanla to Garkon in Winter
Diary Entry from the third day of my Second Winter Trip to Ladakh
We could only procure 1 bottle of gunchang in Garkon village following a great deal looking across many households. It expense only 300 Rupees as a nearby had also joined us in our endeavour! The locals had been shocked and proud when we told them that we had been in this area mainly to taste and supply their locally created grape wine. For the uninitiated, the bottle that we had procured was created from green grapes and can be referred to as white wine. For the locals of this area, red wine is pretty much equivalent to a sacred solution and they speak of it as a medicine due to the fact it is developed in minimal quantities due to significantly less quantities of black grapes grown in the ‘Aryan Valley’ or ‘Brokpa’ also referred to as Drokpa villages.
In my thoughts, I was pretty much specific that either the villagers had began producing significantly less ‘gunchang’ or they had been maintaining it for themselves for the Ladakhi Losar festival that was only a different two weeks away. In either situation, we gave up the believed of procuring additional bottles of wine in Garkon and began walking toward the principal road. Lost our way a lot of instances in the winding lanes. Ultimately reached the road. Retain a target of five automobiles for going to Darchiks village and give up inside 45 minutes with zero targeted traffic on this lesser taken Khaltse-Batalik road.
Locals had recommended we must make our way to Darchiks for maximum probabilities of procuring the gunchang or grape wine, as the village is positioned on a greater cliff on the opposite side and grows additional grapes. Just after that the locals who had noticed us lingering about, suggested that we stroll to Garkon bridge (which was 1 km away from exactly where we had been) and ask at the only dwelling there. We had begun to feel that due to the fact we had selected to undertake this genuinely offbeat journey, even the gods had been wiling to assistance us at each step.
One particular camper guy who had noticed us just before appeared in front of us (as if by miracle) we narrated our prerogative of coming to the ‘Aryan Valley’ in search of grape wine and he immediately recommended a village referred to as Hordass. I had in no way heard of Hordass just before and when he talked about his sister lived there, we speedily struck a deal of Rs. 200 for a check out to Hordass procuring at least three bottles of gunchang and possibly 1 of red wine, and dropping us back to the bridge. And off we start off for the exploration of the remote village of Hordass.
Gorgeous road to Hordass. It is positioned on a hillock on the road to Batalik opposite Darchiks village. A sharp diversion on the road to Batalik requires us to the village of Hordass. Indus river appears wonderful on our drive, possibly I can also get in touch with it heavenly. It feels unreal, like a film to be right here in the cold winter month of December in Ladakh. From Hordass parking, I can spot a Buddhist Gompa. The village is a quick stroll away from the parking spot. Hordes village is tiny and is deemed a component of Garkon village.
We stroll in the stone lanes ducking in the slender paths and arrive at the camper guy Tsering’s sister’s dwelling. His sister is pleased to see him and we are ushered into the kitchen and sitting location. It seems to be an ancient dwelling, a tiny kid and cat play with each and every other. A table is laid out with chacha (Tibetan Butter tea), apricots (chulli) and almonds derived from the kernels of the apricots (badam giri). We appreciate the graciousness of the Brokpas in this warm and sunny village although Tsering is on his way to each household in the village asking for Gunchang following his sister has indicated that they do not have any grape wine at their dwelling.
Tsering emerged with three bottles in his hand and asked us for 900 Rupees. We gleefully handed him the cash and tasted 1 of the bottles for authenticity! Apparently, the locals demand as a great deal as 500 Rupees for a bottle of gunchang from other locals. Tsering had apparently persuaded the seller to give it for a affordable cost by narrating my story of obtaining come to this area earlier in January 2015. We thank Tsering’s sister and say goodbye to the enigmatic village of Hordass. Just after a quick drive, we are back at Garkon bridge and ask to be dropped on a component of the road exactly where the sun is nevertheless shining.
Locals are sitting in the sun as well. It is 1 pm in the afternoon. Wait for ride. Sun goes behind the mountain. Locals shift to a area exactly where its nevertheless sunny we shift with them as well. Garments are hanging on a wire we wonder who have to have washed them in the freezing waters of the Indus! A bridge is visible a quick distance from exactly where we are, and with the blue colour of the Indus appears incredibly enchanting. We sit with the locals and chat, with no certain order of conversation. A couple of youngsters are playing with sheep and goats. No vehicle has come our way in an hour right now. And just like that, the sun goes behind the mountain as soon as once more and the direct sunshine in our vicinity disappears. The locals also choose to head back to their houses as quickly as the sun is gone, and we are now on our personal.
We have decided to retain a limit of two:30 pm and if a automobile does not come by then, we would go to Dah village (Also spelt Dha village) and remain at a homestay there for the evening. The villagers have informed us that the Leh to Garkon bus is plying on the identical day and that suggests we will have an assured suggests of transport to get out of this area the subsequent day (at least.) Just when we are mentally receiving prepared to load our backpacks, we get fortunate once more. An IB officer (Intelligence Bureau) officer’s gypsy seems at two:24 pm. He is going to Achinathang and gladly gives us a ride till there.
The IB officer has some function in Biamah (Also Beema, Biama, Beama) and halts there. I notice the changed landscape of the village as compared to 2015. Widespread destruction in Biamah due to overflowing of the Indus river. A tiny pond has formed about the road in Biamah it is semi frozen and a component of it reflects a snowy peak. I ask a person and they inform me that numerous houses had been devastated when the tragedy occurred in Biamah village. Possibly the type family’s property exactly where I had stayed in January 2015 was also washed away. All in all, I could barely even recognise the village and wondered what climate transform and ecological disasters could imply in a sensitive location like Ladakh.
We start off moving once more and chat with the IB officer with regards to his function. The driver appears at us with suspicion but does not interrupt the conversation. We attain the Achinathang workplace and are presented tea and biscuits. An unplanned day had meant we haven’t had any lunch and are unsure exactly where our subsequent meal is going to be and are pleased to accept their type present. An unpleasant interrogation is also held by a stationary officer but the kindness of the IB officer and his request of not publishing something of the nature of their function suggests I can not divulge any particulars. He directs the driver to drop us close to the TCP (possibly Transport Manage Post).
As quickly as we are dropped close to the TCP post, close to the dhaba canteen and the shop we spot a camper and a two persons heading towards it. We rush to the camper and even although there is tiny space in the front sitting location, the camper guy doesnt refuse us a ride! Apparently the situations have been incredibly conducive for us. The camper guy had noticed us receiving down from an Army automobile, and when we had been asking for a lift – the verify post Police officer had also asked him to take us. Later the camper guy mentioned, ‘Thinking you had been from the army, I had to give you a lift due to the fact there was no selection!’
He mentioned that he was heading to Skurbuchan. Even although Skurbuchan would be in the middle of nowhere, we had been pleased to cover what ever distance we could cover. As usually, when I am on a hitched ride I attempt to make good conversation with the hosts and it ordinarily aids lighten the mood. When we had reached Skurbuchan, the camper guys took a detour to a godown to unload and load some goods and informed us that they would be Domkhar and attainable even Khaltse. We are in a lot of strife with no space to sit (in particular with our heavy bags) but there is no other selection and with a joyous heart we arrive at Khaltse Dhaba at four:30 pm.
There is an selection of obtaining meals appropriate there but we choose to remain hungry and get a different ride in the path of Leh. The strategy is to check out the monasteries of Alchi & Likir and I’ve figured that Saspol would be the very best bet for us to remain for the evening (if we handle to get there and come across a homestay). It appears like our fortunate day and a different ride comes by in no time. It is a brand new Innova Crysta going to Leh. The owner is a taxi guy driving the vehicle and he hails from Stok village.
It turns out that he has bought the automobile from Jammu and is driving straight to Leh from Jammu. He is hungry and stops the vehicle at a dhaba following Khaltse. He invites us for momos and thukpa if we are interested but we decline the present (our minds are preoccupied with getting a homestay as close to Saspol as attainable.) It is almost dark at about five-530 pm and even although its a actually comfy ride, we are a tiny uneasy due to the fact it is very probable that we wont come across a homestay in Saspol.
We reached Saspol Market place at 520 pm in close to darkness. Upon asking the locals, they recommended a confirmed homestay by the name of ‘Onpo’ positioned about 1.five kms ahead of Saspol. The Innova guy was super valuable and asked us to hop back in the vehicle. He had been driving for additional than 1 day straight from Jammu and have to have been actually tired. We saw the lights and a signboard indicating ‘Onpo GH (Guest Residence). He waited for us to go inside the property and only then moved the vehicle. We thanked him profusely for all the assistance and he had even mentioned we could drive with him to Stok village and remain there for the evening if we couldn’t come across a appropriate location to remain.
Our screams of ‘jullay, jullay’ shocked the lady inside the property and she opened the door and invited us in. We had been pleasantly shocked with the warmth of a solar heated hall exactly where the daughter and husband of the lady had been seated. She served us cha-cha (Tibetan Butter tea) and dried apricots (chulli). Considering that they had not brought up the concern of discussing the cost of the homestay, we had deemed it prudent to leave it to the ‘goodness of strangers’ in Ladakh. Just after all, this was 1 of the prime causes we had been in a position to undertake this journey in the dead of winter.
Dinner time was even superior. Fresh palak (spinach leaves) had been procured from the greenhouse and the lady created tenthuk. Meals was served at 730 and we had been so hungry that we immediately asked for second helpings due to the fact the tenthuk was so tasty. With so a great deal kindness bestowed upon us, we gifted the family members a bottle of gunchang which they happily accepted but informed us that they had provided up drinking due to the fact of their exalted status (Onpo is a noble final name in Ladakh). Hearing this, we gulped down a glass each and every and relished each drop of the fabulous grape wine.
Just after the dinner, we went out to wash the hands and pee. A million stars shined in the sky and beneath the bare poplars, it felt like a miracle to be in a position to see the colourful milky way with our bare eyes. The husband showed us our space for the evening remain which was a hall in the adjacent developing. We had been freezing following getting into the hall that seemed to be constructed in concrete. The blankets offered had been plentiful and warm we snuggled in bed and shivered all through the evening for a actually cold time. I had woken up at six and kept waiting for sunrise so that the sunshine could bring some a great deal necessary warmth but it wasn’t to be.
It was to be just the start off of an intensive cold wave in Ladakh, although our travels continued to Alchi, Likir, Basgo and beyond!
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