A World That Is The Chamba Camp, Thiksey – Part 2
The rustic and untouched land of Ladakh can allure even the well-travelled. TUTC’s luxury-laden Chamba Camp, Thiksey has something to revive your every sense. Read on to know more…
Words By Jovita Elveera Mendonca
At the Chamba Camp, Thiksey, your spirit feels most at home amid Ladakh’s towering mountains and tranquil villages. The hamlet’s cool air is filled with mellifluous chirps along with distant chants of monks. Get carried away by all the authentic experiences you receive at the camp in utmost luxury. Here, you can soak in every bit of Ladakh not as a tourist, but as a citizen of the land.
Here’s a list of experiences that you can have only at The Chamba Camp, Thiksey.
1. Get An Insight Into Ladakhi Culture On A Magical Sundowner
When the sun begins to set and the mountains change colours of a reddish-orange hues, things begin to unravel within the camp. The campsite is lit up with thousands of lanterns adorning the stone-studded pathways and the tents light up emerging with a different, more romantic ambience altogether.
You will notice how TUTC’s staff take up different roles to set up the most quintessential experience offered at the Chamba Camp, Thiksey. From setting up of barbeque and dining on the outdoor deck to the setting up of the stage, lights, music & all the technicalities associated with it; everything is done whole-heartedly with much enthusiasm and vigour. Simply watching them transform the place into something else is no less than a grand show in the brewing.
And when all is set and done, you get to experience a troupe of local men and women, meticulously display Ladakhi culture putting on an impressive show. The air once again, is filled with music and laughter with an innocence gleaming from their eyes. They sing from their hearts and dance like they’re never going to stop. You can join them if you will and dance to their tales of hard work and hunger, love and nature, God and His people – of all that these mountain people live and love in a lifetime.
2. Be Struck By Beauty At Tso Moriri At 4,522 meters!
With a recent boost in tourism in Ladakh, Tso Moriri is the new talk of the town! This beautiful lake is deep blue in color and perfectly reflects the beautiful mountains surrounding it. Tso Moriri is also called “Lake Moriri” or “Mountain Lake” since it gets its water from snow-melt from nearby mountains. The banks of lake support a varied wildlife, which includes migratory birds, marmots, wild asses, and rarely spotted Tibetan wolves.
But something that will really catch your attention about this is lake is that although it is known to be a freshwater lake, it is not entirely true! Since Tso Moriri Lake has no outlet, its waters are consequently brackish. You can taste it if you like, but let me spare you the disappointment of not finding it salty at all.
If you’ve already been to Pangong Tso, you’ll instantly know that it is bigger than Tso Morriri, but then, Pangong Tso isn’t entirely in India (a large chunk of it lies in China), thus making Tso Moriri the largest lake of the nation!
3. Ride With The Wind At Wari La!
Take on the fourth-highest motorable road in the world on an early morning cycling expedition from The Chamba Camp, Thiksey! If you think cycling in the mountains is not really your thing, think again.
Following a scenic drive from the camp to the top of Wari La, you instantly get an out-of-the- world view all to yourself! From the top of Wari-La pass, at 16,800 feet, you can see the mighty Karakorum mountain range well beyond the Nubra valley. This is higher than Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain! Also, if you’d like you see the chef prepare world-class dishes right right in front of you – that will be done. Like I always say, experiences are plenty when you glamp with TUTC.
After a delicious refill, your cycling expert will give you a quick safety briefing at the top. And trust me, you’ll be more than thrilled to cycle down the Wari La Pass. As you peddle down the road, you get a glimpse of the Nubra Valley, which lies beyond the pass, as well as many Ladakhi villages adorning the Indus Valley. What makes this experience stand out is the amazing feeling of pacing down the mountains with the wind in your hair and adrenaline filling up your veins at 4276 meters!
So, a scenic drive, lunch at Wari La top with a choice of either packed or live picnic lunch, the company of a TUTC’s cycling expert throughout your tour, a back-up car at your service and an amazing adventure of cycling down the Wari La pass – Remember when I said, think again?
4. Let The Waters Work Their Magic, Go White-Water Rafting!
So now you’ve seen Tibetan monasteries and mountain lakes, cycled down high passes, watched sunrises and sunsets, gorged on sinfully good meals, visited Ladakhi oracles’ and danced with the locals – now what? TUTC organizes a 28 kilometre long white water rafting experience that begins from Chilling village and goes all the way down to the Zanskar and Indus river confluence! #
Wondering if this is safe? Well, you have a well-trained guide on each boat and two more guides running interference in kayaks. They’re locals who literally know the waters as their own. You will also be given a safety briefing before you enter the waters. So safe or not? You decide.
Now let’s get to the fun part. Like I just said, your kayaking experts know the waters really well and so, they shoot the rapids at exactly the right spots at the right time, so at no point you’d ever be bored. In fact, you’d be triggered with adrenaline, screaming your lungs out as the ice-cold water hits you hard, your raft shifts at awkward angles; and you’d still be laughing, eager for more! Your rafting experience ends at confluence of the Zanskar and Indus Rivers, where you see how the green coloured river meets another, one that’s two shades darker – this, with mountains towering over you on either sides. Delight in nature work of art as you enjoy a sumptuous dinner set on the banks of the Indus River.
5. The Ultimate Archery Experience– A Traditional Sport Of Ladakhi Warriors
Did you know that in the ancient times archery was a matter of pride to the citizens of Ladakh? The mark of a Ladakhi warrior was his ability to shoot his arrows with expert precision over great distances. As a matter of fact, this traditional sport of Ladakh never had anything to do with hunting, it has and will always be a recreational sport mostly to the people of Ladakh. The bow is carved out of bamboo, with bow strings made of rawhide and metal pointed arrows which are made by the village’s local artisans. There are distinct feathers attached to every arrow to mark each archer.
Ladakh also holds an annual Archery Festival where the whole community comes together to celebrate the season’s harvest. Chang, the local barley beer, flows freely, as the crowd attends in their Sunday best. The Ladakhi men and women wear traditional attires, with the women wearing their brightest brocade mantles and their heaviest jewellery. There is much of singing, dancing and feasting. And while the ladies mingle and offer food and drinks, the men folk draw their bows, aiming to accomplish the maximum bull’s eyes.
The archery competition typically involves two teams, each with a target painted in black and a clay white centre. Villagers travel from far away to participate in this competition. Each team scores three points for hitting the white area, one for black and another two if they chip out any part of the white part. Accompanied by the thumping beats of the kettle-drum, Surna and Daman (oboe and drum). The winner is then invited to lead the community dance – a legacy that is practised even today.
6. If All That You Want To Do Is Relax… TUTC’s Got You Covered!
If you’re an avid reader, you are going to love the in-house library at Chamba Camp, Thiksey! They have a decent collection of travel guides, field guides (Concise Flowers of the Himalayas; Birds and Mammals of Ladakh), histories (Ladakh Through the Ages; A History of Kashmir) and also books on culture, religion, travelogues and the local language guides and photography books. All in all, it’s not a full-fledged library, but good enough to keep you company on your holiday in Ladakh.
The Chamba Camp, Thiksey also has a boutique that displays superior quality regional handicrafts, including tribal weaves, silver trinkets containing semi-precious stones, along with hand-made crafts and paintings. Just so you know, these handicrafts are made by a local community in Thiksey; anything you pick from the boutique directly benefits them.
Apart from reading & shopping, you get to watch the fascinating documentaries with regards to Ladakh like the astonishing documentary film, Shepherdess of the Glaciers.
At the Chamba Camp, Thiksey, a note would be laid out on your bed that has a bedtime story of parables pertaining to folk tales of the Ladakhi people. How nice, I don’t remember the last time I read a bedtime story! Thank You, TUTC!
7. Stay Connected At All Times At The Chamba Camp, Thiksey
Although it is a boon that most places in Ladakh don’t offer a network coverage, TUTC gives their guests a local number throughout the duration of their stay at all its camps like Kohima Camp at Nagaland, The Jaagir Lodge at Dudhwa & The Kishkinda Camp at Hampi. This is just so you do not have your beloved ones worried about your safety, and attend to important calls to have a tension-free holiday!
8. A Walk Through Ladakh’s Many Hamlets
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.” – John Muir
This being said, TUTC believes, the perfect holiday unveils itself only when you experience it all. Even a short walk in the vicinity of the Chamba Camp, Thiksey, takes you through mud-bricked lanes adorned with poplar trees and willow trees.
You can also hike to nearby nunneries, or set forth on walks that take you further across Ladakh’s lunarscape; or you can stroll into the many oases of happiness that are the hamlets of the valley. No matter what kind of adventure you prefer, Ladakh will not disappoint, and so does TUTC. The Chamba Camp, Thiksey lets you experience the natural, rural and cultural treasures of a destination, without compromising on comfort.
TUTC also lets you into a Ladakhi home where you can sip on homemade butter tea and learn more about their pastoral lifestyle. Here, you get an insight into ancient knowledge of medicinal herbs, agricultural practices and also the religious life in the nunnery. You can choose your best pick and set forth on a walk that would change the way you’ve perceived Ladakh.
9. Fly Off From One Of The Highest Civilian Airports In The World!
As your holiday at The Chamba Camp, Thiksey, comes to an end, your bags are packed and you’re ready to leave; remember that you’re in for a wonderful experience. The Leh Aiport, also known as the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, is the 22nd highest commercial airport in the world at 3,256 meters.
Wikipedia says, “Due to the presence of mountain winds in the afternoon, all flights take off and land in the morning. The approach is challenging as it is unidirectional and has high terrain towards the eastern end of the airport. Airport security is tight with Indian Army patrols. Due to its location in between the Mountain ranges of Himalayas the approach to Leh Airport has been named as one of the World’s most scenic approaches which makes this airport a scenic airport to land into and take off from.”
There are very few flight journeys in world that can give you a view like this, and the Leh airport, just happens to be one! Happy flying!
TUTC provides offers much more than just a typical ‘luxury-holiday’ experience. It lets you absorb every bit of the magic in the air, no matter where you are. Come, take on euphoric excursions into few of the most secluded destinations of India and sink deep into the lands’ varied ways of life.
Experience a time when man and nature flourished in peaceful coexistence. With warm locals, local cultures and the ultimate luxury, TUTC promises a magical experience that truly lets you discover the untouched side of Ladakh, Nagaland, Dudhwa & Hampi.
Words by Jovita Elveera Mendonca
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