Previously: We were 5 of us in the group, 4 men and I, a solo woman, and we decided to head to Leh, himalayas for a vacation from Delhi, by our car. We spent a night at Patnitop and next day went from Sonamarg to Kargil via Zozilla Pass and visited the Kargil War Memorial. After this our next destination was Leh and Magnetic hills
You can read the previous day’s experience here: Leh- A Trip to Remember- Some Bollywood Action (DAY 4)
THE HIMALAYAN KINGDOM
17th September, Day 5
On the 5th day of the tour, we explored Pathar Sahib Gurudwara, Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace and the Leh Market for some shopping.
Pathar Sahib Gurudwara: Gurdwara Shri Pathar Sahib is situated on the Srinagar-Leh Road, 25kms from Leh. It is very beautiful and it was created in memory of the founder of Sikh religion and the first guru, Guru Nanak Devji.
A brief hiSTORY about the Gurudwara
Guru Nanak Dev ji reached Leh during the second journey (1515-1518 A.D.) in 1517 A.D. after giving his sermon in Sumer hills. In the opposite hill, there lived a cruel demon who used to terrify the people and feed on them. On hearing the plight of the grieved, Guru Ji reached this place and the people there heaved a sigh of relief on seeing the Guru Ji. But the demon was very angry on seeing this and he hatched a plan a kill Guru Ji.
One day, when Guru Ji was immersed deep in the worship of God, the demon took the opportunity and threw a huge stone (Pathar) on Guru Ji, so that Guru Ji would die under the huge stone. But as the saying goes ‘When the almighty protects, none can kill’. So at that time an unusual incident happened.
As the huge stone touched Guru Ji, it became like wax and Guru Ji’s body got struck in the wax but it had no effect on Guru Ji or his prayers. The demon thought that Guru Ji was killed and came down near the stone. Seeing Guru Ji alive, the demon was surprised and in a fit of rage, he kicked the stone with his right leg but the demon’s leg also get struck in the wax.
The demon then realized that he, in his foolishness had tried to kill an ardent devotee of the Almighty. He fell at Guru Ji’s feet to apologize for this mistake. Guru Ji opened his eyes and summoned the demon to live the rest of his life by serving the humanity and only then he will be freed from the impacts of all his bad deeds. The demon obliged Guru Ji’s saying and lived peacefully thereafter.
Tourists and devotees throng the place to get a glimpse of the holy stone inside the gurdwara.
Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura as a part of the Peace Pagoda mission. The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Leh Palace is a former royal palace overlooking the Ladakhi Himalayan town of Leh. Sculpted and designed like the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, the palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century.
It is nine storeys high; the upper floors accommodated the royal family, while the lower floors held stables and store rooms.
The palace was abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh in the mid 19th century, and the royal family moved to Stok Palace.
The palace is open to the public and the roof provides panoramic views of Leh and the surrounding areas. The mountain of Stok Kangri in the Zangskar mountain range is visible across the Indus valley to the south, with the Ladakh mountain range rising behind the palace to the north.
After exploring all these wonderful places, we returned to our homestay by 8PM to call off the exciting day.
18th September, Day 6:
Leh to Sarchu, 260Kms
Getting ready by 10AM we bade adieu to Leh and started our 2nd lap of journey, back to Delhi via Manali, filled with some more adventures and thrilling tales and experience to share.
On the way, we stopped besides the river Indus, then in Upshi and near Tanglang La Pass to capture some more moments of this exciting trip and also to take back with us few enchanting pictures of the beauty of Mother Nature. But this time our halts were less as we had to cover a distance of 490Kms to reach Sarchu (the border village between Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh) by evening.
The Leh –Manali Highway is famous for its 52 hairpin bends, out of which 22 hairpin bends are present in Gata Loops, an area well known for its paranormal activities. But we were ignorant of this information and discovered it only after reaching Sarchu. As the saying goes “Ignorance is Bliss”, indeed it was a bliss for us.
As luck would have it we were not deprived of this paranormal experience as well.
As the car was making its way through the dark, barren and treacherous loops suddenly it came to a stop with a jerk and we (Me, Saurabh and Gyanendra at the back seat of the car) felt two strong kicks on the either side of the doors. It sent a chilling sensation through all of us and Appu later confessed that he felt someone was following our car in an area where there is no civilisation.
Appu tried to start the engine after a gap of few seconds but it refused to come to life. Nervous and panic-stricken he tried again to start the engine and this time the car did not betray us. But as an experienced driver Appu just instructed us not to look back from the car or at the rear view mirrors. Later we got to know from the locals that Gata Loops is haunted indeed.
According to them several years ago, during late October a truck with its two travellers, the driver and a cleaner, crossed Rohtang and moved on its way towards Leh. It had already started to snow at a few places then, and the driver was warned but he had no choice. He had a time-line and had to reach Leh. This meant it was too late for him to turn back and take the Srinagar Leh highway which was still comparatively safer.
It was the last truck to cross Rohtang as it snowed heavily the very same evening at the top and the pass was closed. Kunzum Pass was already closed weeks ago and there were no vehicles coming from Kaza as well which means that it was the last truck plying on Manali Leh highway.
The driver managed to bring the loaded truck safely all the way to Gata Loops, but this is where disaster struck.
On one of the loops, his truck broke down and came to a complete halt. After trying for hours, the driver couldn’t fix the snag with the vehicle. They waited but to their ill fate, no one crossed them by as they were the last vehicle on the route. So the driver decided to walk to a nearby village and get some help.
And as the truck was loaded and it was not possible to leave it abandoned with the cargo because of the risk of getting robbed hence the cleaner stayed back with the truck to guard it and also because he was very ill and was in no condition to walk. The driver walked and walked for miles until he found a tiny village but there was no mechanic there. He somehow managed to make a phone call to Manali to get someone to come and fix the truck but to his bad luck, while he was still waiting at the village, the weather turned out to be all the more harsh. It started to snow heavily and became impossible for the driver to get back to the truck.
It took several days for the weather to clear and he was stranded in the village all this time. Finally help came from Manali and they all hurried back to Gata Loops, to the spot where the truck broke down only to find the cleaner dead.
Poor chap was left alone on the road for several days in freezing temperature, in poor health without medicines, with no water and food and eventually died of thirst, hunger and cold. The body of the cleaner was buried at Gata Loops by the villagers, right at the spot where he died.
Next year when the highway reopened, people started noticing a strange thing. There was a beggar at Gata Loops who would waive at the passing vehicles to stop and begged them for water. Some people did not stop but the ones who did and offered the beggar some water saw the bottles drop right through his hands.
The word spread and sure enough people were scared of the ghost who begged for water, thinking that it might harm them if they stopped or curse them if they did not.
In order to pacify the ghost, the locals set up a small temple at the spot where he was buried and made offerings of water. Since then, whoever passes by and is aware of the story leaves some water at the temple, as an offering.
But we were not aware of this local tale.
We are alive to narrate a different experience.
At around 8PM we reached Sarchu to stop over for the night.
Read all parts here.