Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nyalam - Saga

Nyalam to Saga is part of a fascinating journey of over 800 kms across the Great Tibetan Plateau till our final destination. You traverse across flat land (even an aircraft can land here) ringed by bald mountains. Not a single tree is visible till the horizon and you have the landscape painted in myriad colours.

We set off from Nyalam early just before sunrise. We had a queasy feeling as it was around 7.30 am and it was funny to see a pre-dawn like atmosphere at that time. (All thanks to setting the clocks ahead by 2h-15m).

We had some excellent highways from Nyalam onwards but soon had to switch over to "Kachcha" roads as these highways were still under construction. Hundreds of trucks, dumpers, excavators and other equipment were furiously at work as if there was no tomorrow, a sharp contrast to an almost leisurely pace back in India.

The road to Saga was through the La-lungla pass at a height of around 5100 mtrs (16,800 ft above MSL). We halted at the very top to experience our highest altitude so far. It was cold with a howling gale blowing there. All mountains around were behind a thick cover of clouds. Tibetan prayer flags adorned the place as is normal at every peak or pass. It was not entirely unpleasant and I felt good to look around and walk around a bit.

We soon descended onto yet another plateau before crossing another pass and onto the next plateau. Luch was near the Diamond Lake of Lake Peigu-tso (co-ord: 28deg-46' N and 85deg-35' E and seen very prominently on Google Earth) in a small dining house - a cozy place elaborately adorned with paintings depicting local folklore. Just behind this towered the massive Mt. Shishpangama (Ht-8020 mtrs - 26,500 ft).

The lake is pretty big with placid and clear waters. There are mountains on the northern shores. Glaciers on the Shishpangama and the ridge mountains feed the lake with water through a multitude of surface and subterranean channels.

After a leisurely lunch (remember eating fast is an effort enough to get exhausted) we skirted the southern and western shores of Lake Peigu-tso as we made our way to Saga.

Saga is a small town on the banks of the river Yarling-Tsangpo. This river originates from Mt Kailash - Mansarovar, drains the Himalayan ranges and moves eastwards to become a huge and mighty river and enters India as the Brahmaputra. Read more about this river in this Wiki article.

Saga is predominantly an Army town with a huge army camp. The Saga Hotel adjacent to this camp and we were warned not to photograph anything from the rooms. I believe this hotel is run by the Army authorities. Imagine, Indian pilgrims contributing to the Chinese Army commercial ventures......a "Breaking News" topic for all our English News channels.

This was a regular hotel with running hot shower and we all had long baths. It was a welcome relief after a gap of two days. Well the Army camp would play Chinese martial music and that was good "entertainment" and the soldiers doing their drill was another spectacle. We slept like logs and were relaxed as we would not have to rush for our morning chores from the dorms.


Vinod_Sharma said...

A nice journey you are taking us on Mavin! Thanks.

manju said...

Great narration, Mavin!

Gopinath Mavinkurve said...

Hi great to read about your journey in such a superb narrative. About the hotel run by Chinese army - you need to tweet that to @bdutt and it will become breaking news soon enough!

BK Chowla said...

It is so exciting and expressive,I wish I could take a trip, but I have crossed the stage.

Mavin said...

Thanks everyone..

Gopi....Maybe, I will let this pass or NDTV may link Chinese Army incursions to me.


You can and must take the trip. Read on and you will believe that you can. Assurances at this stage may not convince you.

Prerna said...

This sounds amazing, I am envious!

Anonymous said...

I read this after seeing the beautiful pictures of your trip! Well described, Google Earth is a lot of fun ... I saw a friend's house which I have never seen in my life :)

Priyank said...

Nice narration again. So strange to read about the Chinese army hotel!