Hot water springs of Panamik
Day 19, 30th June, 2013,
In our Diskit homestay we always used to see an old lady sitting in an open gallery on the ground floor. She was a grandmother of the young girl who had opened the doors when we arrived there. Maithili had grown fond of the granny. We always used to greet her by saying ‘juley’ and waving at her and she used to greet us back.
Today we had decided to go to Panamik which was around 50 Kms from Diskit. Before leaving Maithili gave small gifts/momento to the young girl, her mother and her granny. We took photos with them and bid goodbye.
Off to Panamik
The route to Panamik was very scenic. On route we went through a small village named Sumur. This was a very beautiful and well planned village. By five o’clock we reached Panamik. Panamik is mainly famous for its hot water springs. We stayed at ‘Hot Springs Guest House’ which was a very beautiful place just like its surrounding and it had a nice garden around it. We were very hungry and wanted to munch on some spicy food. We were fed up with the bland food that every restaurant on our route offered. We went to a small shop just opposite our guest house. Bought 6 packets of Lays chips, 3 bottles of orange juice, 3 chocolates and 1 packet of rusk. We sat down outside the shop on a concrete block. The owner of the shop was an old guy. He offered us chairs to sit but we told him we are more comfortable sitting on the floor like this. He offered us tea and sat there with us and we had a good conversation with each other. He had a young boy in the shop to help him. His own son was in the army. Soon a local village guy also came and sat there. Six of us had a very good conversation by the time we finished our tea. The local guy told us that Siachin glacier base was just 70 Kms from there but normal civilians are not allowed there. We tried to pay for the tea but the old guy refused to take money for it. But still we insisted and he finally took it. It was very strange for us to see that in such poor villages people were giving more importance to offering their hospitality to the guests or tourists rather than earning money from them and in the rich cities like one which we came from, the picture was totally opposite.
After our small food party we went to see the natural hot water springs of Panamik. Which was hardly half a kilometer walk. We had to walk a small hill to reach there. We saw a newly built public bath facility near the hot water springs. We read a signboard near it which said “This hot water spring contains Sulphur which has good medicinal properties. It is good for skin and cures many diseases”. But people used to mainly use this spring water for bath and washing clothes, therefore contaminating the water resource. To avoid this, local organisations run by village women built this Public bath facility, which charges only 20 . This money would be used for the maintenance of the facility. We were anyways tired due to our bike journey. We decided to freshen up by taking a bath in this spring water. We bought three tickets. Maithili went to the women’s section and Avinash and I entered the gents section. There was a jacuzzi in the facility but the jacuzzi water was too hot, so we decided to take only shower. We really felt fresh after the bath. The day was about to end. Sun was disappearing behind the mountains. We came out of the bathing facility and sat in a small cafe nearby and observed a beautiful view before us. We could see a small village at the base of a mountain. A small waterfall was visible too but only if observed carefully. We sipped a cup of hot coffee and started walking down towards our guest house as it started getting dark.
For dinner we had our MTR food packets. We had a sound sleep, maybe because of the bath in spring water.
Return from Nubra Valley
Day 20th, 1st July, 2013
We had decided to reach Khardung village which was at the base of the Khardung-La. So that the next day we’d have to travel only 90 Kms to reach Leh. We left Panamik by 10 am. By 1 am we had reached Sumur village. We decided to stop for lunch. While having lunch three of us came to the same thought that had struck us. We thought of crossing Khardung-La today itself and rest in Leh tomorrow. We agreed on the plan and left for Leh after finishing our lunch. Climbing K-top from the north side was a good experience in itself. We were on the K-top for the second time. We clicked some snaps again and started our descent towards Leh. Since it was afternoon the water level in the streams had risen dangerously high. One of the streams looked so dangerous as if it would drag our bikes into the valley down below. Avinash and I crossed these two streams very carefully. In the second water stream, Avinash’s bike’s engine hit a rock beneath and the bike’s brake lever got bent. Avinash crossed the stream and bent the brake lever back to its original shape by hand. I was in a hurry to reach Leh as I had to make a call home since it was my mom’s birthday today.
We reached Leh by 4:30 pm. We were so hungry that instead of going to the hotel we rode straight to YoYo’s place. Our tongues longed for the spices. We kind of celebrated our two attempts on the K-Top. After stuffing ourselves with food we came to our hotel, Hotel Manser. We met Rajesh and Kinjan after a gap of three days. Rajesh told us that he had arranged a 500 cc bullet and wanted to come to Nubra valley just a day after we left. But unfortunately all the permit copies were with Avinash. Since Rajesh told us that he’d be staying in a hotel only, we also didn’t bother to hand him over the copies of permits. He even attempted to make new permits for himself but unfortunately due to a strike in the DC office, he didn’t get his permits made in time. Rajesh and Kinjal remained stuck in Leh only. He told us about his visit to “Hall Of Fame”. It was a war memorial. I showed him all the photographs I had clicked in the last three days. He seemed disappointed for missing all such beautiful places. I left all four of them in my room and ran towards a STD booth. I made a call home, wished my mom Happy Birthday and spoke to everyone in my family. They all were celebrating mom’s birthday.
When I returned, Avinash, Maithili, Rajesh and Kinjal were still in conversation. We all came to a very good decision. Since our permits were still valid for the next day i.e. 2nd July, Rajesh can hire a bullet and visit K-Top. Rajesh went ahead and hired the 500 cc desert-storm Bullet. Five of us had dinner at YoYo’s place. The entire evening went in three of us telling Rajesh-Kinjal about our experiences in Nubra Valley.
Since we were free the next day, Maithili called up Mr. Norboo, as he had asked us to call once we were back In Leh from the Nubra valley trip. Maithili told us that tomorrow Mr. Norboo is coming in his car to pick us up and take us for a little sight-seeing in and around Leh.
After three days, YoYo’s place sprang back to life with the loud laughter of Avinash and Rajesh during our dinner.