Photo essay: A soulful journey through Ladakh

“Leh – 1 km away” – As soon as I saw the milestone, my face immediately broke into a wide smile. I was in Ladakh again, and this time for 20 days as part of an assignment for SaffronStays.

We’d taken the 434 km long Leh-Srinagar Highway to get there and the journey, though long and tiring, kept us staring out of our window in delight. I had seen it all before – the barren land dotted with colorful striking monasteries, steep curvy roads, high mountain passes, snow capped peaks, sand dunes, and unbelievably colorful lakes – but Ladakh had me spellbound and soulful again. Here is our journey in pictures –

 

The striking landscape of Ladakh that greeted us as we drove from Srinagar to Leh.

Ladakh

*************

Leh is one place that really lets you soak up Buddhism. Every street corner gives way to a set of Buddhist Prayer wheels, which you can gently push, watch it spin and send across your quick message to God, and walk past.

Prayer Wheel Leh

 

****************

During my trip, I was very excited about interacting with Ladakhi families. Living with them, observing their culture, and learning so much from them was a heartfelt experience. Their beautiful match-box like Ladakhi houses, with organic gardens, cosy rooms, hundreds of copper utensils, and the warm families living there, left a great impression on me.

P.S. Whenever you come across any Ladakhi, say ‘Juley’ and experience its magic.

Ladakhi House

 

  *****************

I had always wanted to visit the Shanti Stupa at sunrise. We shook ourselves awake before dawn and made it there by 5:30 am. We were the only visitors, and watching the sky slowly turn blue and bright at the Stupa’s backdrop was quite a sight.

Shanti Stupa

 

*****************

Another place where I wanted to watch the sun’s magic is Thiksey Monastery.  Being the largest monastery in central Ladakh, it is spread over 12 stories on a hill top, and houses shops, hotel, restaurant, school, museum, temples and even a nunnery. A 49 feet high statue of Maitreya Buddha is also erected here. Spellbinding isn’t it?

Thiksey Monastery

Thiksey Monastery

 

 ***************

Our journey onwards to Nubra Valley took us through Khardung La – the highest motorable road in the world.

When we reached the highest point of the Pass, I felt like I had reached the top of the world – it was a surreal feeling. There was a small cafeteria run by the Indian Military serving tea and coffee to travellers. Hats off to these soldiers!

Khardung la Top

 

*****************

In Nubra Valley, we were welcomed by a beautiful statue of Maitreya Buddha. The view of the valley from the statue is breathtaking.  The smallest village in the valley, Hunder gives you a chance to experience camel safari at a height of 10,000 feet!  This is the only place where you see a river flowing right next to you, sand dunes, barren land and snow-capped mountains – all at the same time.

Nubra Valley

 

*******************

 The last region of Ladakh that we explored was the magical Pangong Tso – situated at a height of 14,500 feet.

We crossed Chang la, believed to be the world’s third highest motorable road, to get there. We spent a night by the lake. I perched myself with hot bowls of soup and watched the sun rise and set and the colors of the lake change magically in sync.

Not like I had forgotten, but after this long and fulfilling trip, I am only assured of how much I love Ladakh and how no place can ever be as beautiful and  surreal as this.

Chang La

Pangong Lake

 

 

All photographs were taken by Kartik Mahajan

                                                                                                              *********************

 

We have 141 Homestays in some stunning locations of Ladakh. Click here to book one today.

About the authors: Greeshma Soley is an avid traveller, biker and adventure enthusiast and Kartik Mahajan is a professional Photographer and Videographer. They travelled together to Ladakh, Srinagar and Himachal Pradesh as part of the Travel Ninja programme of SaffronStays in July-August 2014.

Leave a Reply