Sanku/Sankoo/Sanko – you can see it spelled any of these ways, and there are probably even more ways to spell it, like many many places and things in India. 42 km from Kargil, on a bumpy two hour bus ride, I arrived in this village. First thing – breakfast. WOW delicious bread. Soft and doughy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, dipped in a really flavorful carrot, potato, and cabbage sabji…20 rupees. Yes please.
The main attraction for people visiting here, considered the start of the Suru Valley, and the gateway to Zanskar, is the Chamba Buddha. Located a 5km walk from the village, this 7m tall statue is said to have been there for more than 1000 years. The walk is easy, mostly flat on a paved road which winds through schools, fields full of wheat, barley, and bursting with wildflowers. Like in the California desert, it seems that flowers that manage to survive in unsympathetic climates are even more explosive than their tame counterparts who have it easy in supportive environments. Chinga-tus-ojos pinks, purples, fuchsia, magenta, yellow, white, forming multi-story carpets alongside the healthiest green crops you have ever seen. The Suru River flows powerfully and majestically beneath and alongside all of this. The mountains are arid here, and as in other high-altitude dry landscapes, the rock is a splash of rainbow colors, the greens, purples, ochres, and reds blending together like a divine watercolor.
I got some time to sit on a rock on the side of the river and read, and just be in silence which was absolutely precious. Kashmir was intense, full of joy and love but also full of tragedy and sadness, and it was good to just let all the things flow through me. In the evening I headed back to Kargil and made the next plan of attack – Mulbekh.