A Trip to Ladakh

Posted by

I hear that there are now well-built rest-houses all along this road….from Matayan down the rocky valley to Dras was a very hot march. The only trees that I remember were the tiny pencil cedars. The road below Matayan sweeps round the base of a magnificent mass of limestone, with splendid cliffs below, and giant steps above, culminating in picturesque castellated forms.

person walking while holding his hat strap

The rushing, sparkling river was very inviting, and, as I was some miles ahead of my followers, I had plenty of time for a bathe. It was not all joy, on account of the rocky floor. I ever remember bathing off such a spiky beach. I had not finished my ablutions when I discovered two pairs of dark eyes looking at me over a wall close by. Men they were, with long black hair. They looked so unprepossessing that I immediately came out of the water to get near my clothes for I though they were intending to annex them.  So I commenced putting on my clothes as quickly as my wet body would allow me, keeping my eyes on these.

I bad put on my boots, as the rocks were most painful. I might no doubt have saved myself from vain imagination. These two fierce, wild men may have been watching me in order to take care of me, in that swift icy-cold river, with no ideas of robbery, for when in Ladakh I heard that the people are most honest, and one can always leave one’s property without fear of having it stolen.

Having bathed, the next thing I needed was food, for I soon met two more long black-haired men who were carrying large cakes of Indian corn. I bought one of them. I don’t know how many days ago it had been baked.

Later on I made friends with some villagers, and they, to show that they meant well, brought me as much milk as I could drink. I was then so thirsty that I did justice to their supply. I sat with these kindly folk until I saw my caravan approaching. When it arrived we continued our journey, and in course of time we arrived on a great open wind-swept plain, and soon l saw a group of stone and mud houses, which calls itself Dras, the capital of the country of Dras.

(The article is a summarised version of the accounts of British Missionary Tyndale Biscoe (1920) taken from his book “Kashmir in Sunlight & Shade”).