The emptiness of Tibetan plateau is one thing that is beyond the capacity of words to describe. Miles after miles of almost lunar landscape rolled before us as we drove from Saga to Mansarovar. There was of course a sprinkling of nomads throughout, rearing large herds of yaks and sheep. It seems that there is an effort to settle these tribes with fixed grazing grounds because at places there were large areas fenced with barbed wires. If that happens, only the time will tell what effect it will have on this very fragile eco-system that is already an high altitude arid zone. Over grazing in a limited area might devoid the land of already scarce shrubs and grasses that have so far prevented further desertification.
On way we stopped at Beriang for a meal. All along our drive, whenever we crossed places where there were no nomads and grazing activity almost without fail we spotted wild life like Kyang, the Tibetan wild ass, Yellow antelope and an occasional fox. Tibet also has a thriving bird life of which we keep getting a glimpse during our drives.
In the evening we reached the famous Mansarovar Lake, revered by both, Hindus and Tibetans. A large mass of snow-covered peaks formed a beautiful backdrop of this majestic icy-blue water body, while in the front there was a huge tent like formation of Buddhist prayer flags, all tied to a massive wooden post and fluttering with a deafening sounds. Speechless with the overwhelming thought that we were now right there at the beginning of our long awaited venture, we moved on to Darchen, a small settlement a little ahead. On way our Land Cruisers got stuck in a little muddy detour at a spot where there was also a small group of Tibetan women in all there traditional finery, an excellent foreground to the Mount Kailash behind. As expected, forgetting the need of the hour to push the vehicles out of mud, we all went berserk with our cameras. With Apal, Nishant, Dushyant, Jed and Helge, all being professional camera wielders, we have quite a tribe of photographers on board and Andy had to remind us in the evening that when the situation demands we have to attend to priorities other than photography.