Wednesday, July 31, 2013

32. A different world

Not many may be aware that hardly at an hour's flight from Delhi lies a totally different and beautiful world. One has to be there to believe it. It is full of barren mountains of myriad colours- very different from the lush green mountains we are used to see. There is total peace- not even chirping of birds that we are used to associate with mountains. Yet the place has so much of variety. There are little streams, waterfalls, lakes, snow-clad cliffs and  even desert. I am talking of Ladakh, a part of Jammu & Kashmir, which is totally peaceful. The way to Leh itself is so exciting - one can see sandy and snowy mountains all the way from the window of the plane. And then suddenly you land at the airport- tucked among the mountains and you know that a new experience awaits you.


The majestic mountains surrounding Leh



The experience comes at a price. Lack of oxygen can lead to problems. Dryness can play havoc with your system. You have to negotiate the sharp sun during the day. On the first day, you are advised not to exert so that your body gets used to the hostile climate and you are ready from the next day to savour what Ladakh has to offer. During my recent journey to Ladakh, I met tourists who had been taking homeopathic medicine just to prepare themselves for the visit. They seemed to be happy with what they had been taking. I did not take any such precautionary measures and had to face some teething trouble.

In Leh itself, the major tourist destinations are the Leh Palace and the Shanti Stupa. The 17th century Leh Palace was once the abode of its rulers and brings out the striking contrast from the opulence of royalty in the rest of the country. Going by the Indian standards of royalty, the palace is quite humble rising 6-7 floors. It is mostly made of raw bricks and wood. The palace houses beautiful sketches relating to Budhism. From the balconies and terraces of the palace, one gets beautiful views of Leh and the nearby mountains.


The humble Leh Palace



View from the Palace
The Shanti Stupa is of recent origin. It is a beautiful place on a hillock and houses the relics of Budhism. It exhibits the entire life cycle of Budha. It is a favourite site for tourists to soak in the Leh town and the surrounding mountains. One can hear cameras clicking all over the place. And yes, within the premises, there is a little shop selling local delicacies like momos and gudgud tea which is salted tea prepared with butter.


The Shanti Stupa




The four stages of Buddha's life depicted at the Shanti Stupa
Clockwise: Birth, Defeating the Devils, Turning the wheels of Dharma & Maha Parinirvana

My son, Aviral clicked feverishly during the visit. Some photos taken by him in and around Leh have been included in this post. You can view the complete album at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/99577558@N05/

2 comments:

Indrani said...

No photos from interiors, I am guessing photography is not permitted there. Great series of captures, a real 'virtual' treat! :)

Sai Charan said...

Beautiful place! :) I've known Ladakh through hindi movies - many songs and some military movies were shot in those lovely surroundings.

Now through your post, I got a view of how Ladakh is like and its great to know that its not too far from Delhi! I have checked the album photos as well, great mountain views and peaceful serene locations.

Thanks for sharing, take care, Cheers! :)