Leh, can be easily called the heart of Ladakh. It is the biggest and easily accessible city[by air] in the region. It is also home for many civil, defense and religious institutions. Thus Leh was my base during my stay in Ladakh. It was my destination for touchdown, we returned here after Temisgam and Durbuk. And finally it was from here I set back towards home.

Leh is modern in many ways, it does not give a feel of authentic Ladakhi life. Swamped by tourists in peak summer it is a tiny confluence of various cultures. Like we get to meet Tibetian, Italian and Israeli folks their cuisine is readily available everywhere. Guest houses are modified to provide a convenient stay for travelers and tourists. Having said that it does not feel like other cities in India, it has the peaceful and comforting feeling of Ladakh.

Walk, walk, walk

During my first stay for two days I realized walking is the best way to explore Leh. And it is not a hard task to walk through the entire city. I used to walk many kilometers everyday, sometimes in search of food, sometimes to Shanti Stupa, sometimes with no particular reason.

Menthok from Ammale’s garden. She had done a very beautiful garden

Sparrow, watch the carvings on the window. This is how most windows are done

Shanti Stupa

Two things Shanti Stupa and Namgayal tsemo are visible from most parts of Leh. Having located on top of hills, we cannot escape their view from down. Yes, the view was my motive to walk up many steps to get there. On first day while I was still acclimatizing it was stressful to walk up, but once I got there the view and cool breeze cheered me up. I would spend few hours watching, clicking and talking to people before descending down for dinner.

Snow caps seen from Shanti stupa

Brown and barren

Sun setting over Leh

Leh city, slow growing out

They always turn golden at dawn and dusk

Changspa Stupa

Lamdom, is a group of schools. This is behind their huge campus in Leh

Namgayal Tsemo

Clouds play created such beautiful often

Shanti Stupa, one of the modern structures

On the stupa, many forms of Buddha

Silhouette hill

My hosts at first guest house where I stayed. Rinchen and Ammale

The Movie People

Ladakh has been popular with film industry off late. The picturesque landscapes appears magical on celluloid, thus it is slowly becoming favorite choice among film makers. We inevitably got to see two movie crew in action when our roads were blocked for the purpose of shooting.

Terror, the fake one. At sets of a film shooting

On Road

Like the touchdown series the roads around Leh have very similar features. Varying landscapes, rivers, valleys, road blocks etc.

Magnetic hill, did not get to see the effect though

Sangam, Zanskar meets Sindhu

~

Camouflaged Monastery

 

Indian Army, Guardians of borders

 

Excavators, sometimes to make new roads otherwise to fix broken ones

Main Bazaar

This is the center of the town. We find shops, restaurants, street vendors, travelers,tourists, trek and tour organizers everyone either buying or selling something. The main bazaar also has two mosques [assuming one Shiya ,one Sunni] right on the main street.

 

Bollywood in action, shooting in progress

With all shops in main bazaat shut, people had to watch what was the chaos about

Vegetable seller

Older busy selling, younger err munch munch

Namgayal Tsemo

Popular junk shop

This is another high point with a very splendid view of the surroundings. It is located just above the Leh palace and can be accessed through a rough trail right behind the mosque on main bazaar. There is another approach from behind the hill with well laid steps, it takes a bit of walk though on this path. And if you are not walking person there is a good road where you can drive up [even shanti stupa can be accessed easily by road]. May be I am repeating this, Namgayal tsemo like other monasteries is home for many forms of Buddha with an history of over five hundred years.

Walking upto Namgayal Tsemo

 

Much like all monasteries it is house for many forms of Buddha

This was a two storied statue

Avalokitesvara

On top of Namgayal tsemo

The view from top was splendid

The distant and the close

Lachumir house seen from top. This was the guest house for rest of my stay in Leh and it is our official location as well

Set free

 

Cant get enough of it, located on one of the highest peaks it is possibly visible from every place in Leh

Scars of 2010 flash flood

Tranquility 

Leh may be crowded, yet you can always find tranquil moments in the crowd if you look up to the hills or take a walk away from the main city. You can find yourself alone sitting peacefully cherishing a book or the view in front of you.

Bliss~ the crisp blue sky and crimson colors of dusk were so refreshing and lovely

Leh seen from a small peak in Sankara village

 

That must be fresh snow, we could see it snowing on previous day

Team FOL

Shanti Stupa seen from another hill

Traveling in Ladakh was a dream, I would have done this trip no matter what. The only difference was I came to work with FOL. And this added a different dimension, a different value to my stay in Ladakh. Teaching, reading books, maths workshops, art workshops were all different experience for me. Working with amazing teammates made it only interesting. I am grateful to them that I got this opportunity. I want to write more about it in a blogpost,hopefully soon.

The climbing teacher, he was there to pluck apples for the kids

Rimpoche, the reincarnation of one of the high lamas

That’s what we conveyed with our books and libraries

 

Addition of books to Spituk Gompa school

Framed, just a mark we left at libraries

Adieu

Monks at Spituk Gompa school

 

Bidding adieu!

Looking back at the three odd weeks I had been traveling, leaving Ladakh was the tougher part than touchdown. I still cannot get over this place. My mind lurks around the places and memories often. There are many things awesome about Ladakh I have already listed and there are many more I might have skipped, and I can go on and on. Ultimately it was the happiness and peace of mind that I had rediscovered.

I am back to the [un] civilization called city. Albeit I cannot escape, I am on toes to return to Ladakh. In due time.

I hope you liked this photo series. Please do leave a note here. Of course few blog post shall follow, do come back and check

Jhu-le 🙂

PS: I hope to continue this photo essay in the years ahead, so this may not be the end of it.