The Mighty Indus

'I believe any trip in search of wildlife can be coupled with physical activity and elements of cultural diversity to form a thrilling opportunity '
John H.Eickert

The legend swirls in the hot dry air of Agra, describing the Taj Mahal as more than a tribute to a love. It perpetuates the legend of a place where civilization began, an Eden. A great mountain in the middle of a raised plateau with four rivers flowing to the four compass points was the model for the Taj Mahal. The legend of such an Eden, a place of beginning, is reported from many cultures and religions. Does it exist? On the Tsangpo, plateau of Tibet raises the holy mountain of Kailas, waters draining this large area flow to the four compass points. The Yellow river drains to the north, the Ganges to the south, the Brahmaputra to the east, and to the west drains the mighty Indus; the river we overview this month, do you believe in legends?

The Indus or "Lion River" stalks calmly into India from Tibet, roars east to Pakistan where it growls past Skardu and bends to the south barely missing the 8000-meter peak Nanga Parbat. The Indus flows through the province of Ladakh. In the gentle sections above Leh, the river purrs past fields and gardens, great places to spot cranes and waterfowl. Nearing Leh the pace picks up and the power and voice of the river increase until it nears the ocean far below in Pakistan. In Ladakh, the river is suitable for rafters of all abilities and types; most of the opportunities are day trips giving the adventurer a chance for a highly diverse itinerary. Sightseeing, monastery seeing and rafting can all take place in one well-paced day. Be prepared for bright sun and strong winds. Two trips are worth the while of the day-tripper, Spituk to Sapol and Upshi to Khaltsi. Both trips offer white water thrills without intense objective dangers, very enjoyable. The downside to these trips lies in their ease of access; easier access means more humanity means less wildlife, a mantra all too common around the world. Still, a day-trip out of Leh is a wonderful addition to a visit. Don't miss the Gompa at Hemis, the views from the pass at Khardung and the fossil fields of Kalibangan. Remember, for an intense wildlife/rafting experience the previously discussed Zanskar rumbles out of the Himalayas nearby. There is much to see and do and experience here in this "Abode of the Snow." Take your time and take the time!

Next month our primer will move away from the great rivers of India and on to other adventures. Indeed there are camels and elephants to be ridden (enough to give anyone a numb bum!), jungles to be tramped through and mountains to be trekked, and there are many more rivers to be rafted, including the Tons! Also, there are an infinite number of day hikes scattered throughout India in each of her magnificent wildlife parks. There is so much to do and see in this one incredible country. Is anyone making plans to go? Do you believe in legends?

Photograph: 'Indus' meets 'Zanskar' in Leh by Thomas Chacko

Contributed by John H.Eickert

Num Bum Adventures or call 406-777-2228.

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