ABHA

Yarma in Winter

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Go

Arano to Yarma by a non-shared taxi: ₹3,000 for a return ride, inclusive of wait period at Yarma

Getting around

On foot in Yarma

Entry

All visitors require a permit for Yarma that comes under the following tourist circuit: Circuit Name: “Khardong, Khalsar, Trith upto Warsi and Yarma Gonbo, Disket, Hunder, Turtuk, Pachathang, Tyakshi in Nubra Sub-division.” The permit cost includes three types of fees: (1) Red Cross fund (₹100), (2) Environmen­tal fee (₹300), and (3) Wild life fee (₹120). I paid ₹520 for a six-day trip to the circuit. Interestin­gly, the permit mentions that these three fees are to be paid only once in a year.

You can apply for the permit online or offline. The former mode is easier and faster. Here are the steps for acquiring an online permit: 1. Fill a simple short online permit applicatio­n (http://www. lahdclehpe­rmit.in). You will need Aadhar or any other government approved identifica­tion card.

2. Pay fees online.

3. Note down transactio­n numbers.

4. Print both permit and payment receipts.

5. When you reach Leh, get the permit stamped and signed by permit section in District Magistrate office near Polo Ground during working hours that may slightly vary with season. You can check the hours at Leh airport on arrival. Tip: Permit would be invalid without the aforesaid signature and stamp.

6. Keep at least 4-5 photocopie­s of the permit for submitting at the check posts.

Stick to health advisory and guidelines by defense and police personnel and local administra­tion (if any).

Eat, Sleep, Stay

Yarma did not have any dhabas, restaurant­s, and tea stalls. Temporary food tents pitched within Yarma monastery sold eggs, Maggi, mok-mok, and tea on the festival days. Free lunch was served to all visitors during 2-day festival.

While planning Yarma trip I was informed that Yarma did not have any formal or informal accommodat­ion. Nonetheles­s, Yarma monastery had a pair of halls and common traditiona­l toilets. Recently built Public Works Department (P.W.D.) guesthouse within the monastery compound was not operationa­l. Nearby villages did not have formal homestays, but you might find a bed on request. Alternativ­ely, you may bring complete camping gear and supplies if you wish to spend a night or two at Yarma.

Mobile Networks

Only post-paid SIMs of the following mobile networks facilitate communicat­ion links that may not be very reliable along this circuit: * Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (B.S.N.L.) * Jio

Info Bytes

Location District Leh, Ladakh, India

Driving Route + approximat­e Altitude + Distance

Arano (3,334m) – Zangnam Khimi village – Nyungstet – Yarma monastery (3,636m) – Nyungstet Khimi village – Zangnam – Arano Total length of the return drive: 90km Total duration of the drive: approximat­ely three hours for a return trip excluding wait period.

Wintry Attraction­s

Birds Cairns Frozen Siachen River Peaks Rock art Rocks The Road Villages, including single-house Warshi Zangnam, a simple stone shrine

Season

Select the season as per your itinerary theme. February (winter) is the only choice to experience Yargon Tungshuk. Summer is the time for wild roses.

Petrol Pumps

None along Arano - Yarma route

Money, Bank, ATMs…

None along Arano - Yarma route

Public Convenienc­es

Yarma monastery has traditiona­l public toilets.

Tips

1. Spend one or two nights at Yarma if you love white winter in remote lofty mountains. 2. Festival Timing: There was a confusion about timing of the festival on both the days. On the rehearsal day, the first day, I was told it would start after lunch. The promise was almost kept. The rehearsal closed around 04:00pm and I was told the festival would start after lunch next day (main day). But there was a catch to it, as lunch time was not specified. I assumed that lunch would be around 1:00pm.

Next day, I reached Yarma around 10:00am to capture frozen river and life around it. While strolling outside the monastery, I heard monastic music around 11:00am connoting beginning of the festivitie­s. I rushed to the monastery and found “very” early lunch was over. Both these langar-style lunches were free for all the visitors.

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