I stand at the edge of a cliff and i see the gates of heaven up ahead...
a smorgasbord of thoughts were rushing through my head and the one thought that kept coming back was how could such a beautiful place still exist unravaged by man ?? The place i am referring to is Karakul lake .It is nestled among the mighty karakoram range..A small lake geologically but a giant when it comes to the degree of its beauty.Later on the lake.First i'd like to say something about the karakoram highway..The highway has existed for over a thousand years as a trade route between China and the outside world<Read india,central asia>It was morfe like a dirt track ridden with bandits ,rogue generals,autonomous warlords et al..Around the 1980's due to strategis reasonsand also a need by china to take part in its own version of the "great game"China and pakistan started the process of renovating the road.
Today the road is a gleaming,4 lane highway that extends all the way from kashgar in china to sost in pakistan through the kunjerab pass..The highway is closed to traffic 6 months a year due to heavy snow and landslides..The road starts off boring -just plains and semi arid landscapes outside kashgar.But an hour into the journey we start ascending along the Ghez river<ghez darya in local parlance>..2 hours into our drive we reach the ghez checpoint-a major chinese military checkpost where they check all formalities.I must confess that this place gave me the creeps.Photography is strictly forbidden and if caught could result in confiscated film..Once we pass this we reach the flaming mountains which are bright red in coulour bcoz of the sandstone..The road then ascends higher and higher until the scenery really is breathtaking..There are snow capped peaks all over you as the ghez river passes along the road,We realize how small and insignificant we are in the whole picture.We did see trafiic not a lot but there was a continuous trickle of heavy vehicles .I dont think there is too much of border trade here.Most of the traffic were vehicles belonged to local mining companies.There was quite a bit of mining going around..
This area is of immense strategic importance to the chinese.It has around many countries in the neighbourhood...-Pakistan,Tajikistan,Kazakhastan,Kyrgyzstan,India...
Karakul lake: the turquoise and placid waters of the karakul seems to radiate a sense of clm ive never seen anywhere else..There is no commercial activity around the lake <a welcome respite fro m all the other places in china>There is accomodation available .Do not expect the ritz..I bargained with a kyrgyz family to spend the night for 50 yuan in their yurt..The best nigfht of all my stay in xinjiang.That night while i was given some very tasty food,the thing that really struck me was the beauty when the sun went down,nad the moon rose.The stars were everywhere.ive never seen so many of them .Million of galaxies -each with their own stories to tell.I stood at a nearby cliff and just soaked in the ambience....no traffic,no noise,no lights,just the mountains and me....