Day 11 Leh to Hanle

Disclaimer: All the photos posted for this day have been captured by Sunil sir and Chethan.
I have watermarked the pictures just to save piracy and not take away credits from them

So from today we were a little eased out less worried about the bikes because as stated in earlier posts that this leg of the trip we would be covering on the scorpio.
We started our journey towards Hanle via Chumathang valley. The route to Hanle is from Karu from Leh. We had to cover around 250kms for the day. We had planned to stay in Hanle for the night since we already had got the permits for the same from Bangalore. And the next day was allocated to Chumur and if possible Tso Moriri.
The route was a mix of good and bad roads with the Indus river flowing besides the road. As we were heading towards Chumathang Valley, we noticed the change in flora and fona of the place. We saw big green trees unlike the other places where apart fromo grass and small bushes almost nothing else one can spot as greenery. May be because of the fact that the Chumathang valley is one of the most seismically active places, which is evident by the presence of hot water springs, making the soil fertile for vegetation.

Fantastic Color display

We saw a diversion for Tso Moriri but we had planned to visit the place after covering Hanle and Chumur. Hence we moved ahead. As we crossed Chumathang valley we again noticed a change in flora and fona of the place. It slowly became again like a desert with no tall trees and also color of mountains started to change. And to our surprise the mountains had very distinct colors like brown, purple, sometimes off-white, etc. We were just awstruck by the views en-route. We stopped at a lot of places and clicked many pictures. A lot of road work was also going on and they were laying new roads too which delayed us a bit.
We spotted a lot of wild asses and those small cute animals they call it "Marmots", we had fun time capturing those in our cameras.

The cute "Marmot"

Fantastic shot by Chethan

We were enjoying the roads and wondering why we didn't come on these roads on our bikes. We had suffered so much on the bad roads and when the roads were nice and smooth, we left our bikes back in Leh. But anyways that was the gamble we were willing to take.
After mahe bridge, we reached the village Nyoma which was the place what we missed to mentioned in our permits which made us go back from Chushul (Read this). We had to show the permits at this place yet again and we moved forward towards Hanle.
Soon enough we reached to places where there were no roads as the himank guys hadn't laid the roads till that point. Now we just had to follow the marks of tracks made by the trucks which had passed from here. We were very near to the China border as we were heading towards the eastern most part of Ladakh.

Visitors without special permits weren't allowed after that point

Newly laid roads towards Hanle

We had some fun time making jokes about Chinese army watching us pass by those roads and we were trying to spot chinese bunkers on the mountains. It was truly nice time that we all spent in the scorpio. All this time we were just riding through the route and not really interacting much with each other except when we took breaks for water or photos.
We reached outskirts of the Hanle Village and could spot the Hanle Castle on top of the mountain and there was an interesting sign board put there, take a look:

The observatory

The Hanle Castle

This was actually very logical and correct as the glares of the beams of vehicles would cause disturbance in the study and observations going on in the observatory.
We had very late lunch at a resident's house. Obviously he prepared maggi for us as nothing else was there. After having our food we headed towards the observatory so that we can go inside and take a look at the "2 meter telescope" used for the studies there and also make arrangements for our night stay there. We talked to the chief incharge of the observatory, his name was "Sonam" and we showed them the permit that we had got from Bangalore.
They made arrangements for our stay and asked us to use one of the bunkers.

After freshening up we went to observatory to see the 2 meter telescope and other things. The guys told us that this is one of only two world's highest observatories, the other is situated somewhere in USA. Sonam explained us the working of the telescope and what all things they capture from the universe through the telescope. We were hoping to see some planet, satellite images captured through the telescope but unfortunately the guys told us that they generally capture things which are more further in the universe. We spent some time there, took photos and then returned to the bunker. The observatory facilities guys cooked nice dinner for us.
We then went to sleep and decided to move ahead to Chumur and other places. This time joining with us was a guy from the observatory whose native was the Chumur village. We were also joined by a cute little passenger and that was our Chumur guy's son.
Some pictures from inside the observatory:
In the control room

The company which built the telescope

Nice view from inside the dome of the observatory

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