14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It

Tripoto

Before entering the visual experience these images are going to bring, it's essential and mandatory to credit the photographer. Satya Rao Kommana clicked these pictures from a film reel camera when he dared to enter the Land of Gods in 1994. It is evident from the pictures that it takes a true admirer and adventurer to take leap of faith that he did. 

The pictures were initially shared by The Footloose Nomad and he eloquently writes in his blog,

"In a time when tourism has exploded across the region, and more and more tourists and travellers arrive in droves to this region, the feeling, the charm, and nostalgia of the place seems to be missing. You will hear old travellers talk with much fondness of their times in Ladakh when it was calm, quiet, and not over run by anyone and everyone looking to take a few days off to visit the usual tourist attractions. But, gone are those days…."

Given the concrete jungle the heaven has been transformed into, one can only imagine through this pictures the sanctity it once beheld.

Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 1/19 by Sreshti Verma
Traversing the ‘notorious’ Zoji La just outside Sonamarg and enroute to Drass/Kargil!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 2/19 by Sreshti Verma
Exiting Drass! Regretfully photographs of Drass town were NOT allowed during the times of the J&K violence!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 3/19 by Sreshti Verma
Deep inside the Kargil-Padum route in the lesser traveled Zanskar valley!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 4/19 by Sreshti Verma
Flowery welcome to the ‘faithful’ Yamaha into the heart of Zanskar!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 5/19 by Sreshti Verma
That’s Amit the ‘Shepherd’ and the ONLY soul I ever met ‘on the road’ on this 300-Kms run towards Padum -an act that regretfully culminated at the Rangdum Monastery as the terrain and the RD ‘guzzled’ gallons of gas. The 10-Lts that I hauled off Kargil just would NOT suffice to reach Padum and revert to Kargil! And those days Padum had NO stocks of petrol!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 6/19 by Sreshti Verma
Rangdum Monastery in the background where I spent the night courtesy the Humble Lamas!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 7/19 by Sreshti Verma
The swiftly flowing river(!) across the road near Rangdum Monastery where the RD ‘drifted’ with the current of that ice-melt and in the melee ALL my gear, camera, film, sleeping bag et all got soaked forcing me to spend the night at Rangdum before beating the retreat -back to Kargil with whatever gas I had with me! Barely reaching Kargil!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 8/19 by Sreshti Verma
The swiftly flowing river(!) across the road near Rangdum Monastery where the RD ‘drifted’ with the current of that ice-melt and in the melee ALL my gear, camera, film, sleeping bag et all got soaked forcing me to spend the night at Rangdum before beating the retreat -back to Kargil with whatever gas I had with me! Barely reaching Kargil!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 9/19 by Sreshti Verma
The transit town of Kargil during those days! Today its a different story though!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 10/19 by Sreshti Verma
The Gata-Loops!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 11/19 by Sreshti Verma
Lamayuru Monastery!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 12/19 by Sreshti Verma
One of the Frescoes inside Lamayuru Monastery!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 13/19 by Sreshti Verma
A bikers paradise but a a truckies nightmare! The Hangro-Loops a.k.a the ‘Jilebi-Mode’* with 20 odd reverse bends in as many kilometers!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 14/19 by Sreshti Verma
Time for a breather!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 15/19 by Sreshti Verma
The climb upto Khardung La!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 16/19 by Sreshti Verma
The bone-shaking 45-kms stretch from Leh to Khardung was like THIS until BRO & GREF bulldozed more of the mountains and have now laid a 24 x 7 x 365 ALL weather ‘tarmac’ route! Traveling time thus reducing from 5-hours to mere 1.5 hours!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 17/19 by Sreshti Verma
The ‘then’ Chai-Shop run by the TF/RCC dishing out ‘free’ steaming cups of tea and biscuits too to the weary travelers with a request to ‘please’ have the same! Now-a-days YOU got to pay for everything though!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 18/19 by Sreshti Verma
The then ‘India-Gate’ passage and the road to/from the K-Top!
Photo of 14 Vintage Pictures of Ladakh Before Tourism Ruined It 19/19 by Sreshti Verma
The very ‘summit’ of Bara-Lacha La @ 16,040 Ft!

Is your mind blown yet?

If not check out rest of the images at The Footloose Nomad.

Again, all image and caption credits are to Satya Rao Kommana.

12 Comment(s)
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Have you ever been to Ladakh? It is far more beautiful than the pics you have shared. It still is. In fact, I think no picture can capture the beauty of this place
Sat 03 19 16, 22:41 · Reply · Report
Ladakh is still the same.u can say that it is more frequented by humans today
Sat 03 19 16, 00:41 · Reply · Report
I read the story long time back and u reposted here again.fake blogger
Sat 03 19 16, 00:40 · Reply · Report
I dont think tourism has ruined much...............at least from these photos
Sat 01 30 16, 09:31 · Reply · Report
Great photos, never had the chance to visit... in the past nor in recent times, so won't be able to compare... sorry to hear you miss the charm of the earlier days...
Wed 11 11 15, 13:00 · Reply (1) · Report
Its not like that ma'am its still beautiful and offbeat.plz come n visit it just takes a lil courage to break open the boundaries and travel
Sat 03 19 16, 00:43 · Report
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