I visited Ladakh in the summer of 2011 and even though it was the last week of the month of May I experienced snowfall atleast twice during my trip and also drove on roads surrounded by snow. I saw the most beautiful place that I have seen till date. Every inch of Ladakh left me spellbound, these are a few pictures from that trip and I am sharing them to show just how beautiful Ladakh is and I’m hoping that if you haven’t visited yet, then you will be inspired to do so after this.
Shanti Stupa, Leh
Built in the year 1991 by the Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura as a part of the Peace Pagoda mission, the Shanti Stupa at Leh stands atop a hill providing panoramic views of the city. The stupa is believed to house the relics of Buddha himself. Built in collaboration with the Ladakhi Buddhists the Shant Stupa is a symbol of peace and ties between Japan and Ladakh. While the stupa itself is quite beautiful, what even better is the view from here.
The Leh Palace
This 17th century palace used to be the seat of King Sengge Namgyal who had modeled it on the Potala Palace in Lhasha, Tibet. The palace was abandoned by the royal family in the 19th century during a conflict with the Dogra forces. Though in ruins now, the palace still provides you with views of the beautiful city of Ladakh and the ruins have infact exposed some very interesting techniques of architecture from those days as well. The palace is being currently maintained and restored by the archaeological survey of India.
This is the strangest thing that I saw during my travels in Ladakh. Lamayuru is a 127 km drive from Leh, and is famous for the Lamayuru monastery and this spectacular geological formation that is compared to the lunar landscape (it is thought to resemble the moon); hence the name moonscape. This unique formation has been there for ages and hasn’t let the weather conditions affect it in anyway.
This Old Abandoned House
Beauty does not lie only in perfectly sculpted monuments or wonders of nature, sometimes the thing that no longer has life or purpose can exude beauty as well. I don’t exactly remember where this picture was taken, I remember seeing a lot of abandoned houses along the way but this particular structure stood out. Something that was once inhabited now stood still without any sign of activity. It was explained to me that during the unfortunate cloudburst and flash floods in 2010 a lot of property and life was destroyed and some of these abandoned houses were a result of that; either there was no one to live there or it was too dangerous to inhabit anymore. I kind of liked how this looked in a frame; mountains as the backdrop and this old abandoned house placed in between rocks. I am pretty sure it would exude infinite amounts of eeriness at night.
Road Or River?
Roads that look like meandering rivers are commonplace in Ladakh. Sometimes you will even feel as if you are driving at an inclination of 70 degrees, especially while driving towards Pangong lake. When you look at these roads and notice the surroundings and conditions they built in, you are bound to have utmost respect for the labourers who work in such dangerous conditions and for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) who facilitate this construction.
The picture says it all!
The myriad colours of the Pangong lake are bound to leave you speechless with their beauty. As you gaze at the crystal clear waters of the Pangong Lake, the sun plays it’s tricks with the water and you can see it change from teal to blue to indigo to turquoise and what not. There is absolutely no fish in the water, but surprisingly you can see a number of gulls and ducks. The lake extends into Tibet and is 134 km long and is situated at a height of 14,270 feet above sea level! It is also a wonder that the lake freezes completely during the winters despite being saline in nature. An interesting fact to note about the lake is that the line of control (LOC) actually pass through the lake. You will not see it, but in armies from both Indian and China lie in deep trenches in the surrounding mountains keeping a watch over this area 24*7.
The Himalayan Animals (No I Didn’t See A Snow Leopard)
Marmot (en route Pangong Lake)
They’ll even take biscuits from you!
Bactrian Camels (Nubra Valley)
Even the strays look this adorable!
Kiang (the largest wild asses)
Took this picture from a moving vehicle, hence it isn’t too clear.
The statue of the Golden Buddha at Likir Monastery.
This gigantic statue is 75 feet tall and is located near the entrance of the Likir Gompa. This monastery has 120 monks and also runs a school for 30 young students. The Likir Gompa is the seat of the Ngari Rinpoche, the present emanation of whom is The Dalai Lama's younger brother. He is know to attend important festivals and pujas conducted here.
Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the future) at Diskit Monastery.
This 105 foot tall statue is located close to the Diskit Monastery in Nubra Valley. Also known as the Buddha of the future, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on the Earth in the future and imaprt teachings of the pure dharma.
The Mighty Himalayas
Bird’s Eye view?
The Confluence Of Indus & Zanskar
This was the first time that I ever saw a confluence of two water bodies having such a striking differentiation in colour. This is the confluence of the mighty Indus river and the Majestic Zanskar river. Such things are wonders of nature and it’s astounding to see clear cut difference in the colours of both rivers.
A 14th century monastery/gompa that also runs a school with the support of an NGO. This monastery is the oldest monastery in the Nubra Valley region and offers glorious panoramic views of Nubra Valley from its roof. I particularly love the way it has been built, resembling a stairway.
There were a lot more places that I visited, a lot more things that I experienced and lots of other pictures that I clicked, but this glimpse; a quick look into what to expect when in Ladakh should more than suffice to goad you to scratch off Ladakh from your travel bucket list as soon as possible!