Ladakh: Awed by Scenic Diversity
Ladakh - the land of passes. Some people call it the land of high passes. And for good reasons: two of the three world’s highest motorable roads are said to be located there. You could also call it the roof of the world. To be fair, Tibet is known as the roof of the world. Surely Ladakh must be regarded as a part of that roof, if not a roof itself. Enough with the semantics. My first visit to Ladakh in June 2014 were preceded by two-and-half-months of planning and many months of a strong, inescapable pull of the Himalayas.
I will write about Ladakh in a few small pieces. The first one is about its landscape. I had heard landscape of Ladakh is breathtaking - saw countless pictures of Ladakh before I went there. As the flight was landing in Leh, we could see the surrounding arid, mostly barren mountain ranges bordering snow-capped peaks. I was in a kind of daze - the landscape looked familiar. I must have seen too many photos. It was when I travelled out of Leh (the day after we arrived), I began to truly appreciate the natural beauty of the land. On a number of spots en route some destinations, I wanted to stop and take pictures. Since I was part of an organised travel group, I could not do so. At least two or three such points are etched in my memory. Perhaps the next time when I visit, I would get opportunity to visit these places.
It’s not just the beauty of the landscape, the diversity of the scenery was also incredible. The views I saw while going to Alchi-Likir monasteries were different from the ones seen en route Nubra Valley or Pangong Tso. Nubra Valley had a distinctive landscape, which was unlike that of Pangong Tso. More on these places in the next posts. River Indus when seen from most places in the mounatins looked different at its sangam (confluence) with river Zanskar. The landscape, though predominantly arid, would change rapidly during a drive. Some places were more dry and sandy, others rocky and some mountains were covered in snow. There were a few patches of green on some hills, though not many. Colours of hills also varied: I saw shades of brown, green, blue and yellow. I guess one could spend weeks, if not months studying the Ladakhi landscape.
I am almost sure I am going back - to see more!
Text and photos: Sanchita Chatterjee 2014