21st Jan 2020

Shanti Stupa

Photo of LEH IN WINTER by Rajendra Makharia

Just about a couple of months ago, in January, I was in Leh (Ladakh) where the temperature hovered around minus 20 C at night. This was my first time in winter month here. Eleven of us photographers from various places of India (but mostly Delhi), braved the tough clime to witness the annual Gustor festival at the Tibetan Monastery Spituk. My involvement in this 3-day hiatus from citylife is detailed here in form of pictures at this icy locale. Believe me after a day there you get used to the chilly weather condition and will love the out of the world experience in this season.

We all participants assembled at Delhi’s A 2 Terminal on 21st Jan ’20 early morning and left by direct flight to Leh and reached by 9 am at Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport. We were all prepared to battle out the altitude sickness by taking medication well in advance. Thin bone chilling breeze greeted us on arrival at the 11000 ft high airport but we were all well prepared for it by donning multilayer of warm clothing. After settling ourselves at the hotel we set off on sightseeing spree. In first two days we visited Nimmo village where the Zanskar and Indus rivers form picturesque confluence, followed with visits to various monasteries and gompas like Thiksey, Stakna and Stok Palace and finally Shanti Stupa from where one can capture bird’s eye view of 360 degrees of Leh city in the fading golden sunlight.

The next day was devoted entirely to Tiksey monastery. Here the annual festival of Gustor is held in January every year. The 2-day festival starts with chants and charms offered to god by the monks of the ‘Black Hat Dancers’ residing at the monastery by dancing donned in hideous but colorful masks. The crowd witnessing the event was overwhelming _ the jostling and shoving reminding of the rush hour in locals metros during peak hour. The following morning we all left by early morning flight back to Delhi. Arriving from minus 20 to something like plus 20 was quite a hammer blow to us.

Apart from the sightseeing and witnessing the colorful event at the monasteries, our stay and other logistics provided for by the organizers was simply A class. On the whole, the trip left a longing desire for another similar experience in future.

Photo of LEH IN WINTER 1/7 by Rajendra Makharia
Sangam of Indus & Zanskar
Photo of LEH IN WINTER 2/7 by Rajendra Makharia
Kalchakra Ground
Photo of LEH IN WINTER 3/7 by Rajendra Makharia
Thiksey Monastery
Photo of LEH IN WINTER 4/7 by Rajendra Makharia
Maitreya Buddha
Photo of LEH IN WINTER 5/7 by Rajendra Makharia
Gustor Festival at Spituk
Photo of LEH IN WINTER 6/7 by Rajendra Makharia
Mask Dance Festival at Spituk
Photo of LEH IN WINTER 7/7 by Rajendra Makharia
Mask Dance Festival at Spituk