THE Known UNKNOWN
Outlook Traveller|October 2021
Beyond the popular — but now routine — Ladakh, lies an infinitely absorbing stretch of the land that offers culture and life little known to the regular traveller — the Zanskar region
SANTOSH OJHA
THE Known UNKNOWN

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF MEETING a YouTube sensation in a three-house village deep in the remote Zanskar Valley in Ladakh? Pretty low, you would say. She sings, and she writes lyrics too. Stanzin Garskit is a vivacious young lady, a graduate of Hindustani music from Miranda House, Delhi. She is at home cheerfully rolling out aloo parathas along with Stanzin Dolma, her mother, in their kitchen. She is bustling around, handing us our blankets as we are about to turn in. Her family is hosting us, a weary ragtag bunch of ‘Jeepers’. We are on an expedition to the barely seen parts of Ladakh, with the Zanskar region being the most significant part of our itinerary.

Wander Beyond Boundaries, which facilitates extreme off-roading adventures, is co-owned by Nidhi Salgame and Col Satty Malik SM (retd.). Nidhi is a driving record holder — the first Indian to drive solo to Siberia, to the coldest inhabited place on earth. Safety is a decorated officer of the Indian Army and has handled many challenging assignments in Kashmir, northeast India and Congo.

I have a love-hate relationship with them. I love traveling with them; Ladakh was my fourth expedition with them in just over two years. I hate it when they tell me, rather unceremoniously, to wake up at 3.30 am and commence the drive at 4.30 am. After each trip, I resolve not to travel with them, and each time when they announce a new expedition, I succumb. So here I was, signing up to an extreme 1,200 kilometres, 13-day self-drive expedition across rarely visited west and south Ladakh areas.

This story is from the October 2021 edition of Outlook Traveller.

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This story is from the October 2021 edition of Outlook Traveller.

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