Umassi La – the Ascent

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In Machail I was determined to find some nice accommodation. The lack of sleep was getting to me and I needed to get things shipshape before the climb.

I actually wasn’t too sure how to go about this so just asked at the various houses around the temple area and In particular the ones that I thought looked most attractive. I found a very nice house painted pink but still of a traditional rock and deodar construction. It was very clean and I was shown a front room overlooking the river. Being upstairs it was quite private and not at all dusty. The family seemed very reserved and I think maybe a little unsure what to make of me. I desperately needed some rest and I couldn’t have found a better place to rest and clean up.

Tarath Sangh Rathore the owner of the house had a good workshop downstairs adjacent to the laundry and shower area. Actually he was in the process of making a toilet block next to his house. The existing scheme for toilet obligations was simply to go to the edge of the escarpment and do it there or walk up to the toilet blocks located over a very well built concrete water channel. He seemed to be a good craftsman seeing as he could make windows and doorframes with just a few simple tools. No electrics in this part of the world.

I had arrived in the morning having left Hamori without breakfast. So after tidying myself with a good washup,body and clothes I went in search of something to eat. I think maybe there were two restaurant choices

Machail’s best restaurant

in town and after finding one I topped up with some food. Food choices is really an exaggeration and it would seem you take what is going. I saw no meat dishes and veggies were in short supply. But the local restaurant did have onions and potatoes presumably brought in as the local crops were not ready to be harvested.

After this and a walk around the village and temple area I headed back to my room. I put my iphone on charge and started reading my Kindle. Next thing I knew I had fallen into a deep sleep and was woken by the Tarath saying dinner was ready. I hardly knew where I was – maybe old age had taken over or was it the onset of dementia? I was very pleased to be offered something to eat again though although I still hadn’t been invited into where the family ate.

(the next day 14th July:)It wasn’t long and I hit the sack again. After a good nine hours sleep I wake up in good form. For me I had decided to make this day a lay day, rest up and visit the local Buddhist monastery. Whilst Machail is a sacred Hindu site the surrounding villages are now increasingly Buddhist. These areas have very cold winters with a very short summer season and hence are not so attractive for agriculture. My legs still feel stiff and this day’s walking on relatively flat areas is a joy.

The call to Prayer- it takes practice

I walk to the Buddhist village which is in the same direction as I came from yesterday and then beyond the village I come to the Buddhist temple. The monastery appeared to be below a moraine but I didn’t explore the valley any further. As I walked up to the doors of the monastery the guys I could see in what appeared to be an empty school below caught up with me and opened up the gompa and we went inside. Such a peaceful place and we discussed some things but still I miss out on the details. Where are the school kids? Are the Buddhists and Hindus happy living together or are there tensions. What opportunities do the people see for themselves and so on. The monk and his friend were both young but appeared to be comfortable in their choice of living. We tried blowing the trumpet and sat for a while inside just soaking up the ambience before going back to the monk’s home for a cup of tea.


Umassi La – the Ascent — 2 Comments

  1. great writing and taking us with you over the mountains. Now i wish that i would have gone with you rather then dropping you off in Anantnag.

  2. Hey Denis, you are a legend!
    Hard core trekker and connoisseur of Lahdakhi culture. A great diary and record of your adventure, which I really enjoyed reading.
    Julica and I have just returned from four months in France and Germany, to take up residence on our new cooperative venture at Goolawah, near Crescent Head on the mid-north coast of NSW. Check the website and I’ll give you some more details another time.
    Meantime more power to you and your keyboard.
    Kind regards,

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