Generally visitors dash to Thiksey and Shey (Leh) in private vehicles and browse through the Thiksey Monastery and Shey Palace. They probably do not know about other attractions of these two popular destinations. For example, an easy short walk linking these two destinations offers an opportunity for bird watching and photography.
Do not follow in their footsteps when you visit Leh.
Instead, walk the link road connecting Thiksey to Shey via Garatong to spot a flock (s) of colorful birds, including cuckoos, hoopoes, magpies, redstarts, swallows, swifts, and wagtails. We enjoyed the walk and spotted the birds in the last week of September 2013.
While walking, you may come across rocks naturally sculpted in interesting shapes. The cakewalk through scenic rural landscape ends at the Holy Fish Pond located at the foot of Shey Palace.
Strings of poplars and seabuckthorn bushes bearing juicy orange and red berries frame the dusty kachha road winding through the village. Both tall poplars and seabuckthorn bushes shelter several beautiful birds.
Landscape and wildlife photographers can surely capture the birds on the wing to add zing to the photographs during summer and autumn. Monumental structures of Thiksey Monastery make a good backdrop for the pictures. Turn back while walking towards the palace. You will find the imposing monastery behind you.
Time Required for Walking
This short walk requires about two hours if done at a leisure pace and combined with photography breaks. Otherwise, you can complete this about four kilometers walk in less than one hour.
- Walk up to Chamba Hotel and Restaurant from Thiksey Monastery.
- Take right turn on Leh-Manali Highway towards Leh.
- Walk up to Kongma No No Guest House, a few steps from the hotel. The guest house is on the right side of the road.
- Cross the highway. Walk a few more steps towards Leh, along the blue green canal on your left.
- On left, a pullya (a short bridge) over the canal connects the highway to a kaccha-pakka link road that connects Garatong ward in Thiksey Village to Holy Fish Pond overlooking Shey Palace.
- Near the bridge a rusted board reads Fish Pond to Garatong (3.5 kilometers).
- A few minutes before the palace, you will find a chowk (crossroads). Keep walking straight.
- Follow the link road until you reach the palace. The link road merges into the highway again.
Carry some water.