Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers
Indian constitution, Article 1(1) says, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” This is the only provision in the Constitution on how this country be called for official and unofficial purposes. Unofficially, both in India as well as outside in India in many geographies like the Middle East, Central Asia etc. India is also referred as “Hindustan”. Many people consider it to be mentioning Hindu as a religion but the truth is both India and Hindustan are derived from one of the mightiest river in the world – Indus or Sindhu as it is called. The folks ( invaders, traders, wandering friars etc. ) who came from west of Indus / Sindhu could not pronounce ” S” , thus Sindhu became Hindu so they simply called the land as “ Hindustan” or the land of Hindu People, meaning people living near river Sindhu i.e Hindu for them. So technically in all the holy scriptures of Hindus, it will be tough to find the mention of word Hindu as it originated much later compared to when the Vedas / Puranas and even Ramayana and Mahabharata were penned. Anyways long story short the reason I gave this Googled Gyan is because today the majority of river Indus / Sindhu on which our beloved country is named now mostly flows in Pakistan, except for where it begins in the highlands of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
I was pretty excited about my visit to Leh and was looking forward to seeing the Indus with my own eyes. It was nothing short of a pilgrimage for me to visit Indus the river after which my country is named. The first view of Indus we had was on a small bridge on way to the Hemis Monastery, the venue of Naropa Festival 2016. The bridge on the outskirts of Leh town next to a crowded bazaar is a utilitarian affair with hundreds of colored flags adorning it. The colorful flags totally cover the bridge and in moving traffic it is difficult to see a glimpse of Indus from the bridge. As there was too much traffic we could not stop and click pictures. But as we were going to the monastery we kept on seeing the Indus on our right side. What you see below is a picture of all the colorful Buddhist flags on the bridge on Indus in Leh clicked from a moving car.A couple of days later, when I was better acclimatized to high altitude with less chance of AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness, we decided to visit the confluence of Indus and Zanskar.
Just about 35 KM outside of Leh, at Nimmu Valley before the village of Nimmu, you can see the shiny bluish Green waters of Indus merging with the muddy waters of Zanskar. The first view of the Zanskar and Indus confluence is seen from the roadside as you look down at the valley. The first river you notice as you cross the famous magnetic hill and the Gurudwara Sri Pathar Sahib is the Indus River, as the emerald waters shine in contrast to the dark mountain cliffs.
But due to bad planning when we reached the Sangam or confluence Indus and Zanskar , the sun was directly in front of us shining brightly in the sky. As I was trying to find a good point to click the Sangam ( meeting point in Hindi ) confluence of Indus and Zanskar I saw a small river raft in the murky waters of Indus. Soon the raft came close to us when I clicked this picture where you can clearly see the greenish waters of Indus and the muddy silt-laden waters of Zanskar. Both Indus and Zanskar are popular among adventure lovers and people regularly do river rafting in both Indus and Zanskar. I think It would be better if you visit early morning to get better pictures when the sun will not be in front of your cameras.
When we visited the confluence of Indus and Zanskar the light was very harsh, and the sun directly coming in front of my eyes, I could not find a point from where I could see the confluence without getting the sun directly into my eyes and camera lens. Thus dear reader the images you see here do not represent the true colors and beauty of Indus and Zanskar that you must have seen in images that you find on the web. I am told the colors of the Indus and Zanskar River keep on changing as per the season and in winters it is Indus that looks bluer while Zanskar looks a dull gray in winter and also freezes first as it has less water. In Leh, the sun sets pretty quickly and once it is behind a mountain things get dark with rapid speed while in the valley next to you it may still be bright and sunny, all depending on your relative position to the sun and the mountains.
The confluence of Indus and Zanskar is also such a location where while it was bright and sunny at one moment making clicking pictures in harsh light but within 20 minutes the sun was behind a mountain and we had the confluence of Indus and Zanskar was in shade, making everything too dark to click. I must admit I was disappointed at a lost opportunity to click the images of Indus and Zanskar, I guess it is also a sign that I need to visit Leh again to click better pictures of Indus the river our country is named after.
Oh, how I wish to go to Leh a few more times to see the beauty of confluence of Indus and Zanskar.
How to reach the Confluence of Indus and Zanskar in Leh: The confluence is situated about 35 KM from Leh town about 6 KM before Nimmu village. On the way, you will pass the famous Gurudwara Sri Pathar Sahib and the magnetic hill. You can either take a local bus or a taxi depending on your budget from Leh to reach the confluence of Indus and Zanskar.
Photography tip: Try to be there in the first half of day to get better pictures.
Dear Reader I was a media guest in Leh on an invitation of His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa to cover the Naropa Festival 2016. Watch this space for more about the Kumbh Mela of Himalayas and if you do not want to miss the coming posts about Naropa Festival 2016, you should consider subscribing to desi Traveler Blog.
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