Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ladakh, aka 'Little Tibet'

"The land is so barren and the passes so high that only the best of friends or the fiercest of enemies would want to visit us."
~ An old Ladakhi saying

This beautiful saying, framed on our hotel-room door, got glued to my heart for a very long time. True, only a very good friend would dare to traverse through this expanse of tall mountains, high passes, and cold deserts. And, only a fierce enemy like our neighbouring country would intrude with their troops now and then, every couple of months because our borders are iffy. Then there are some who would call Ladakh a No Man's land, and to some it is a land too foreign in its culture that might tickle their touristy apprehensions. To us, it was just perfect. A sanctuary full of natural wonders and kind, ever-smiling faces that make you forget the dust and drudgery of a mad, mad city. A place that heals, listens to your worries, and sometimes even talks back to you in soothing whispers. A place where one can just be.

Bald mountains and feathery poplars, the towering guardians of the place. Leh Palace, the stoic reminder of Ladakh's royal past. Prayer flags lending a hint of colour to rusty doors. The shambled past giving way to a green present. Bleached stupas, the ruins of Shey - the erstwhile summer capital of Ladakh royalty. Sindhu Ghat or the banks of the Indus River, a culturally significant place for the locals. A bactrian camel couple relaxing on the parched sands of the Hunder desert. Sweet-smelling wild roses, one of the scant blooms found in the region. Leh market, where a myriad colours and faces come together. Tibetan refugee shops, chockablock with many a treasure. The market walls adorned with inviting handicrafts. A journey to the culinary heaven via Tibetan momos. Beautiful Ladakhi buildings thronged by poplars and stumpy hills. The Royal Enfield, aka the 'Bullet', the wheels that take you through the ups and downs of the intriguing, never-ceasing-to-fascinate terrain. 
  















16 comments:

  1. You are not only on a geographical journey but also on a journey into the past, myths and legends, colour, inspiration and into the very heart of spirituality and what it means to ‘be alive’, in this world, the next and the one before.

    I would love to be wandering with you as my guide and mentor and experience the miracles which this magnificent landscape, steeped in the mists of time, reveals.

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    1. And I would be only too glad to be accompanying such a witty friend!
      Thanks for that beautiful comment, dear Friko; it surely made my day.

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  2. Amazing - especially the intensity of the colour. If the reds and blues are this vivid in photos, I can only imagine how they must be in life. The photo of the red door is one that would be a joy to look at during our long rainy season when green, brown and black predominate here. The Great Dane can't visit high altitudes anymore. I wonder if this is a trip I'd be willing to make on my own?

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    1. You'll do great in Ladakh, I'm sure. How I wish the Great Dane could accompany you on this magical journey!
      I agree what you say about the colours; the terrain, despite having any vegetation barring the stray poplars and apricot trees, is blessed with more colours than what most densely vegetated places have.
      Having said that, I still miss my dear, dear Pacific Northwest. :-(

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  3. Dear Suman. I love so much the colours : Blue and red. It's so beautiful!! But I think it's a special journey, not only a geographical one. I like when you say : "A place that heals". Yes, some places can heal...

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    1. Couldn't agree more, dear Celine. Ladakh does have a therapeutic effect on you - may be it's the silence of the mountains, or the calm of the monasteries, or just the simple way of life. It's just enchanting!

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  4. Dear Suman

    I would love to see Ladakh, this magical place seeped in history. The colours and light are drawing me in. Thank you for sharing this magical journey

    Helen xx

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    1. Hello Helen, the pleasure's all mine.
      Oh, what a joy it'd be to you, to be able to bring all those colours alive on your canvas! If you can, do plan a trip there sometime during the summers. It's a treat worth having for a lifetime. :-)

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  5. What a place to visit and relax. Most of my friends went there and shred their beautiful memories of Ladakh. It is such a great place. Your photographs are very colourful and bears a magical touch. They are like telling me to visit this place as soon as possible and enjoy the place and experience its culture. Hopefully I will visit soon. Nice post Suman...

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    1. Hello Rajnish! Hope you are doing well; has been long since we saw you here. Thanks for the kind words. And yes, Ladakh IS an unforgettable experience and one must, especially when one's in the country, see it for oneself. Hope you make there soon!

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  6. You have an interesting blog......
    Beautiful photos!

    Ruby

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    1. Hello Ruby, thank you so much for your kind words and for the following. You too have a very aesthetic blog - just love what you do, and of course where you live since I'm a big Scotland fan! :-)

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Suzzane!

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  8. Hi Suman,

    Lovely pictures of Ladakh! I went there in 2008, and have been wanting to return ever since.

    You went to the Nubra valley I think? That ride from Leh on the bike is unforgettable.

    Here's the link to my book blog (just one post as of now): http://thegirlfromnongrimhills.blogspot.in/

    Ankush.

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    1. Hello Ankush,

      Thank you so much for visiting. Must say, the cover looks quite intriguing; looking forward to the upcoming posts and the book as well.

      Yes, we did go to Nubra and Pangong as well. Every inch of that place is chockablock with wonders, isn't it?! It was only three months back that we had been there, and yet I feel the urge to go back time and again. So I don't blame you at all!


      Suman

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