Deep inside the Phuktal valley.
The mountains on the left are through the village Cha. The ones on the right are through the village Purne. Both these routes lead to the Phuktal monastery.
The locals recommended the route on the left, through Cha. For them, it was a faster, shorter route, around an hour and a half away. “For them” is the operative word here - it took us a good four hours to reach there. It was treacheously high up, a bit too narrow, and (I am not exaggerating here), not something your heart could take again!
We returned via Purne. You have to change mountains thrice, crossing three shaky wooden bridges over the river. But the path is broader - the horses take this route. It’s also at a much lower height.
The local Zanskari people, are people of the hills after all! The hills are their homes. They belong to the hills and the hills belong to them.You will, alas, always be a foreigner here!
By Sandeepa Chetan (www.sandeepachetan.com)
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