Travelling, trekking, hiking are a passion for me. I look at a mountain, and the first question that comes to my mind is, ‘What is the best way to climb it?’ I am very curious. During one of my walks along the Indus, I saw a track bifurcating to a wooden bridge over the river and then vanishing into a gorge. Every time when I passed by this point, I would wonder where this track was leading to. I even enquired about it from the locals but couldn’t find a satisfactory answer. What intrigued me further was that I never observed any movement on the wooden bridge or on the track beyond the bridge.
One afternoon curiosity took the better of me and I gathered the courage to cross the rickety wooden bridge. The blue-green waters of Indus were gushing at torrent speed underneath. Contrasting white froth due to the incessant tossing of water on virgin rocks added to the scenic beauty of the river.
After crossing the river, I started heading toward the narrow gorge. As I entered it, the track became extremely narrow, just about a feet-and-a-half wide. At the outset, I was mesmerised by the beauty of the gorge. On one side was the track, in the middle a gurgling water stream, and on the other side, lush green trees and bushes. The trek uphill crisscrossed with the stream many a time, which meant crossing over several small makeshift bridges.
Despite the high altitude, I kept gaining height without getting tired. The untouched beauty of this land has such invigorating magic to it. After a long, arduous climb, the gorge gave way to a lush green meadow, surrounded by towering rocky mountains on all sides, with a lone white house in the corner. The circumference of the meadow was dotted with apricot trees loaded with yellowish red fruit. Here I met a couple of women who were working in the fields. They offered me tea and apricots. The folks in this region are humble, modest, and helpful, and always full of warm hospitality. It was here that I learnt that this hitherto mysterious route led to Tar village and I was almost halfway through.
After walking for another half an hour, I entered a canyon with endlessly towering rocky mountains on both sides. The beauty of this canyon cannot be explained in words. The entire stretch is flanked by a stream with sheer drops making tiny, frothy white waterfalls. I took a small break to take in the beautiful view and capture it on my lens before moving on.
At the end of the canyon, there was another vast opening and I had the first glimpse of the beautiful Tar village. The village has about ten to twelve houses. My visit could not have been better timed, as it was that time of the year when the apricot trees are absolutely green and laden with fruit. Most of the villagers were out tilling the fields, save for a few children and the elderly.
As is the disposition of the people in this region, my hosts at this village too were extremely warm and amicable. The hospitality was such that it appeared that we knew each other since forever. I sat down to chat with them for some time. During the conversation, I came to know that there is no regular electricity in the village and it remains totally cut off from the rest of the state during the winter months. The only contact with the outside world is through landline telephones and even those remain out of order for a better part of the winter.
Since the sun was coming down, I started back for my camp location, richer with the warmth and love of the people village Tar. They may be lacking modern amenities but they have what the rest of the world doesn’t – love, affection and pure hearts.
I remained a regular visitor to this village for the rest of my stay in Ladakh.