Buddha Satues at Kanji, Ladakh
The photogenic village of Kanji is one of the reasons we are trekking this particular route - we arrived here four years ago at the end of a long trek from Zanskar and I've always wanted to return. Kanji sits under a steep hill at the confluence of three valleys and the head of a canyon that runs north to the main Leh to Kargil Road. This canyon now has a drivable road - Kanji's connection with the outside world -the same road that our taxi drove last night at the end of our long trek over the Timti La.
Our camp is by the tea house near the river, the village is above us, sprawling over several low hills. The tea house also functions as the social focal point for the village, last time we were here there was a festival of dance and music - and drinking - right by our tents. The newer building on the slope beneath the hill is the new gompa, monastery; below it are the newer houses in the village. The older parts of the village contain crumbling old stupas and some precarious houses among narrow lanes.
In the morning I'm delighted to find that my boots have arrived, the rough tracks of the last three days have knocked the stuffing out of my shoes. Newly booted up we walk around the village.
Kanji is a typical Tibetan style village with stupas and flat roofs. In 2012 we met the daughter of the village Amchi, the traditional doctor, and had arranged to go to his house. Unfortunately we never got to see the inside of his house and dispensary with it's numerous jars of herbal remedies but the house itself is the best looking house in the village.
The old gompa is tiny but had some restoration work done by the Alchi Society and houses three decent statues and a couple of good mandalas on the walls. We meet the same lady key holder as last time and we bend double to enter the small shrine room.
Inside the gompa there is a Medicine Buddha and unusual variations of Avalokiteshvara and Green Tara. There are two mandalas in good condition painted on the walls.
It's harvest time at Kanji and most people are working in the fields, the village is quiet. This woman's new house is beside the path that leads to the Kanji La, a high and difficult pass that leads to Rangdum gompa and is also a route to Zanskar.
An old gateway stupa has remnants of old painting on the inside of the roof, another stupa is protected by a poplar and willow roof, there are painted mani stones and at the side of another stupa there are piles of tso-tso, small clay mini stupas made to contain the ashes of those who've passed on.
We don't plan to stay here tonight but last time there was wonderful light at the end of the afternoon and a beautiful moon over the hills.
Bev created an artwork on a hill by the new gompa. "This Land" is a evocation of this wonderful landscape, a piece of work made from the dust and grit of the hills, impermanent, to be quickly eroded by wind, rain and footsteps. She made a similar piece on a pass near Yulchung, above the Zanskar river and also at Mt Kailash in 2014.
My memory is that there's only a short walk to a delightful camping area up the valley towards our next pass. Camping there tonight will shorten the following day. We break camp in the early afternoon.