How many people can say that they stood right on the middle of a flowing river? Underground rivers and standing on bridges don’t count. But, a frozen river definitely counts.
I can convincingly say that I stood right in the middle of the frozen Indus river at a place called Mahe in India’s Ladakh region. This place is situated right at the junction where one road leads to the Tso Moriri lake, while the other leads to Nyoma, Loma and the astronomical observatory at Hanle.
It was end of December and the Indus river here was completely frozen. Not frozen in bits and pieces, but completely frozen end to end. One could stand on it and jump as hard as possible and not even a teenie-meenie crack would appear. Only thing was that it was a bit slippery and we had to watch our footing.
Such was the strength of the ice that when I threw a huge rock onto it, the rock broke into many pieces. And it was unbelievably cold here too. The shade factor added to the misery.
Generally, as a thumb rule, the Indus river is completely frozen from Mahe and upstream into Nyoma and Loma and the rest of it in the Changthang Cold Desert. The winter temperatures here are always below minus 20 degree celsius even during the day time.
Sometimes I think…Why don’t people walk on the frozen Indus river like how they do on the Zanskar river as part of the Chadar trek. Of course, I do understand that the Chadar was then part of the winter trade route and no one lives in the Changthang Cold Desert and thus needed no frozen river trek. But, in today’s world of adrenalin junkies, I am sure the frozen Indus river trek would find a lot of takers. Considering that the terrain is much more ruthless when compared to the Zanskar valley, this place should offer a memorable experience. I am definitely kicked to do it at least once.