Making our entry in Ladakh in early summer, we were not in a
position to undertake Zingchen – Rumbak – Stok trek. Stok Palace consisting of Gompa and Museum was a part of Monastery Safari circuit which
we took from Leh, on day after our arrival. Stok village which is merely two km
from Palace, was not a part of the tour, as it is rarely visited, because of dearth
of any worth while tourist spots of importance.
On 30th May 2010, we took the fourteen km jeep
drive from Leh, to Stok village, without having any prior knowledge of the place, but
it turned out to be hugely rewarding. Sonam
the driver of our hired Innova car dropped us at the point in Stok village,
where the asphalt road seemed to end and trail to the hills began. A garage
converted into a tea stall cum eatery was a welcome sight, in early morning, when
we alighted, to have a chance to wet our throats and combat the chill,to get
the circulation going. As we looked around the hill side panorama, a young
Ladakhi girl served us tea and took care of the place till her parents
Sipping tea and munching a few biscuits from our ration, guideless,
clueless, we were just three wandering souls contemplating from where to begin
our trek. We had a modest goal of trekking up to Stok Kangri base camp. Stok
Kangri is a major mountain peak nearest to Leh and is attempted by adventurous
trekkers in month of September. The sign
board denoting ‘Stok Trekking Point’ appeared in an agricultural plot containing a single
storied home stay guest house. It looked deserted at this time of early summer.
Home stays are basically accommodations where tourists stay with the Ladakhi
household at a pre-determined rate. The food cooked for the family is shared by
the tourists. In Ladakh, if one does not spend at least one night in home stay
accommodation, he has missed some thing. We had our share of home stay at
Tsomoriri, but here we were just having a days outing.
Stok landscape, with deep blue skies, the fluffy white clouds,
the mountain tops scattered with snow, the sky piercing Poplar trees, the
brooks, the cottages, created many picture post card images on my retina. I
unleashed my digicam to do some photo shooting, before we set on a journey to
unknown, with our back packs, through a grassy green passage alongside a tiny
stream. It was nothing short of an exciting dream!
point, I would take the liberty of going fast forward, since our trek from Stok
to Changma is covered in my travelogue as per following web address :
We pick up
the thread, when we returned back to Stok after the trek. While seated on the road side culvert,
waiting for the Innova car to pick us up and to take to Leh, it was opportune
moment to shoot some more Stok landscapes around us.
We were not
he only ones enjoying the nature’s bounty around us. A group of overseas
tourists were reveling in their own style. A guy photo-shooting the Ladakhi
owner of the garage eatery, in the scenic environment, in his own inimitable
style, gave me a photo shooting opportunity as well!
shared the results of photo shoot with his model through LCD image of his digicam,
to his delight.
The duo posed
for me, to capture their moments of happiness, in this scenic environment.
phone call from driver Sonam that he was on his way to pick us up, assured, we
captured some more of the scenic surroundings. Tall Poplar trees and smaller willow trees are
the main vegetation in Stok village. The
single storied cottages blend perfectly to give the village a picture post card
two km drive from Stok trekking point, through Stok village to Stok Palace,
will remain one of my best road journeys in Ladakh. The landscape is awesome to
say the least. We got a photo shoot of Stok Palace from about two hundred metres distance, with a large number of chortens on
the way side. The cloud formation was
just right to give dimension to the landscape.
I could not
resist yet another shot much closer as we approached the Palace.
Palace houses the Stok Gompa and a Museum which is very popular with the
tourists. The Vista from Stok Palace is magnificent and soothing to the eye.
Stok in early summer i.e. in end May or first week of June, when the mountain
top snow has not melted fully, the clear blue skies give a picture postcard
landscape and one is in tune with the nature; it will remain one of my most
favorite destinations in Ladakh. If one wants to stay here, there is a single
storied home stay guest house, in a huge compound at ‘Stok trekking point’. There
are a few more guest houses, we came across at a short distance on way to
Changma. One does not have to book these places in advance and just walk in. There
are a few restaurants as well, which we could make out from spiraling smoke through
the chimneys of the road side cottages. Cell phone connectivity at this place
is a great advantage. Both Airtel and BSNL work here. The travel agencies at Leh will
arrange for drop and pick up from this place at a reasonable rate. One can trek
to Changma, about 5 kms. and will be in Hemis wild life sanctuary; a chance
encounter with wild life is a possibility. A two km drive will bring one to
Stok Palace. The vista from Stok Palace of the adjoining hills is
magnificent. A casual walk through the
Stok village will be a rejuvenating experience for tired souls. Stok has the potential to be a great destination
in Ladakh, if given the due recognition it deserves by local government as well
as the travel community.