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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What are the popular things to see and do in Alchi?

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“”The things that ignore us save us in the end”.


These were the words of the renowned mystic Andrew Harvey, after he spent 5 solitary days in Alchi. Hidden in a valley behind the majestic Himalayas and cut off from the rest of the world, the seclusion and silence of Alchi is thought to bring one closer to oneself and the ultimate truth of life. Here is the list of popular things to see and do in Alchi:


Alchi Monastery

Your first destination will be the famous monastery, Alchi-Choskor, which is considered to be a world heritage site, owing to its status of being one of the only remaining structures housing ancient specimens of Indian Buddhist Iconography. The paintings inside the temple have a heavy touch of the Indian art style. The monastery is a big complex, which houses several temples like the Du-khang, Manjushree temple, Sum-tsek, etc. showcasing the sacred aspects of Buddhism. Cameras are not allowed inside the temple as the flash harms the priceless paintings kept inside. Carry a torch with you as there is no electricity inside the temple.


Exploring the Village

Though many tourist head back to Leh post visiting the monastery, it will be sorely unfair to think that the charms and attraction of Alchi end here. The beauty of Alchi can be testified by the fact that some scenes in Bollywood movies like Dil Se and Tashan have been shot here. You will find remarkable contrasts in the geography of the region. Alchi has lush green valleys guarded by the majestic Himalayan ranges showcasing every shade of brown in the shifting daylight. Beyond this, lies vast emptiness of a barren desert striking in its stark beauty. Climb on a rooftop early in the morning and take in the serene thoroughfare of the village life, or take a walk along the river side with the pleasant breeze wishing you a good morning and note the pretty patterns on the small pebbles and stones on the banks.


Shopping
Even if the word ‘shopping’ doesn't release the happy hormones in your bloodstream, the wares displayed in the curio or souvenir shops will be a siren song for you, until you are tempted to take a closer view. Once you step inside, you will find yourself surrounded with an assortment of intricately carved Tibetan showpieces, shawls, thangkas, meditation bowls, jewelery studded with semi-precious stones and other knick-knacks. You would rarely see such designs in the city malls or markets. Uniquely artistic, these little (or big, depending on your enthusiasm and pocket size) souvenirs, can be an ideal gifting item or a perfect personal indulgence. Walking along these little shops, occasionally peeking in to check out something that caught your eye, or stopping to have a chat with a local will keep you engrossed, then before you know it, dusk falls and the shops start closing, and you realise that you have had a very pleasant time through it all.


Adventure
With the Indus river almost brushing past the village, rafting is quite a popular activity amongst the tourists. Rafting available around the Indus and Zanskar River is suitable for beginners. For more experienced rafters, you can avail the 20 kilometres of fourth grade rafting from Nyemo to Alchi. This stretch has quite powerful waves and needs skillful manoeuvring.

Trekking, mountain biking, jeep tours and rock climbing trips are also available for tourists. All these trips are organized by the hotels in the village. A night spent in a tent, listening to the gushing waters of the river punctuated by other night sounds and the rhythmic flapping of the canvas folds in the wind, is something which is incomparable to anything else that you might have previously experienced.

For a completely different kind of adventure which tilts towards the supernatural, try roaming around the barley fields, or take a solitary walk along the riverside (in the night, if you dare) and see if you can feel a ‘‘presence’’. The locals believe the village is haunted and sometimes warn you not to roam out alone.



With so many small pleasures to choose from, Alchi is an invitation to a rustic and peaceful holiday which is hard to resist. Have we succeeded in tempting you to come to this hidden hole in the ‘Land of Mountain Passes’?

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