Roads to the mountains

The impenetrable mountains span across the arid landscape. Like silent giants of lore, they bear witness to the ever-changing skies. Every shadow a testimony to the moving earth. Every valley a potential for a bountiful summer. Every river a precious source of glacial water.

Roads are strewn across the Ladakh range like noodle strips. I uttered “How amazing!”. To which a venerable traveller responded, “Even more amazing are the road builders”: deceptively insignificant in size against the magnitude of the majestic mountains, the roads are the product of labourious task. At times, female labourers were seen removing rocks by hand while tending to their children in the wind and sleets of summer snow. In the mercurial and harsh weather, road building is difficult and dangerous.

Even as a convoy of vehicles meander through the zig-zaggety roads, the sense of diminutive solitude is evident and magnified by the great expanse. The backbone of the earth, pushed, moulded and contorted by the laws of geology, protrudes into the skies. Here high up in the mountains, some say roof of the world, we passed by scenes after scenes of majestic greatness.

And while we were ensconced in comfort and in the safe hands of our experienced driver, people were attempting the seemingly impossible by cycling up to Khardung La in the sleet. The Ladakh marathon will end up here a few days after we left. Here. At about 5000m above sea level.

Imagine riding up all the way to Khardung La to be greeted by this sign. Up here amongst the clouds, looking upon the deep valleys, surrounded by rolling mountains and feeling on top of the world.


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