Class four rapids in summer, classic highway in winter — the Zanskar River, in India’s Ladakh, boasts many distinctions. The most recent thrust upon it has been of offering the “wildest trek” in the world. But much before being reduced to an adrenalin rush, the traverse of the Zanskar had been a journey of nerves and faith. A vestige of the Silk Route, residents of the remote valley of Zanskar would walk 90 miles and 11 days to Leh over the frozen river to trade their wares. They read the ice with the eye and staff, prayed for good weather, and rested in caves high up in the gorge.
But that generation it could well be the last to know the Chadar and its legends. An all-weather road through Zanskar’s gorge is on the verge of completion.