“If there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here!”. These were the words of the besotted Mughal emperor Jehangir 400 years ago and they sound true even today. A fertile, verdant region enclosed by snow-capped mountains, Kashmir valley’s beauty has been praised for centuries: the capital Srinagar with its labyrinth of alleyways, mosques and intricately-carved wooden houses; the stunning maze of waterways that comprise Dal Lake and its famous houseboats.
Ladakh has often been called Little Tibet because of its historical connection with Lhasa and its predominantly Tibetan Buddhist culture. Its awe-inspiring landscape has been modified and sculpted into its spectacular shape by wind and water over the millennia. The moon-like scenery is extraordinary: stark and barren but interspersed with isolated settlements of green oases full of swaying poplar trees, apricot orchards and cultivated farmland.
Despite the rugged terrain and high altitude, the people of Ladakh exhibit a natural exhilaration and their customs and lifestyle are a continuum from the past; these friendly and gentle people. We hope you will join us on this photo tour that shall prove to be fascinating and memorable!
Day 1: (July 16)
Arrive in Leh, hotel check-in and an orientation meeting will be that evening.
Day 2: (July 17)
We visit the nearby Shanti Stupa early afternoon to get a better feel of the altitude and also do a bit of candid and landscape photography from this vantage point. On the way back, we walk downhill and through the nearby Samkar Village before hopping into our vehicles and heading back to the hotel. Overnight in Leh.
Day 3: (July 18)
After a good night’s rest, we head out early in the morning – about 5 am – to the Thiksey monastery where we witness a timeless ceremony that sees high monks blowing conchs and baritone bugles to herald a new day for the villages in the vicinity. After shooting this little ceremony, we stay back at the monastery and shoot the monks in the prayer hall and while they go about their routines. After our shoot, we head off to the banks of the Indus River to enjoy the views and have the packed breakfast Hot Tea n coffee. Post breakfast, we head to superlatively located Stakna monastery for a portrait session with the monks. Depending on when we finish the shooting, we either head back to the hotel for some rest, or head off to visit a local family, where we have lunch and have a leisurely session of shooting them in shoot the traditional dresses and the Kitchen in particular and all the lifestyle in general. A short walk in the village will give the opportunity for shooting the villagers’ activities. Overnight in Leh.
Day 4: (July 19)
Today will be an easy day; we drive to Tingmosgang and en route visit Alchi and Liker monasteries. While photography is not allowed at Alchi, the sculptures are worth appreciating. Reach the hotel, have lunch and after some rest, head off to Tongtum, a small hamlet at Tia village for shooting village life and slice of life photography. We will have dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Tingmosgang.
Day 5: (July 20)
Drive to Leh dho village and Skurbuchen village for visiting old houses and families – a trove of traditional costume and agricultural tools. Drive back to Lamayouru for evening shooting of the lunar landscape and the monastery and the hermitages of the Yogi of the Lamayoru monastery. Head back Uletopko for the night.
Day 6: (July 21)
Ule to Leh: A short drive made long because we visit the exquisite ruins of Bazgo, and stop at Pheying and Spituk Monasteries. We reach Leh at lunchtime. Afternoon free to catch up on e-mails and to get some rest. Overnight in Leh.
Day 7: (July 22)
Leh to Tangtse: Consider this stage 2 of the tour, where we drive over the third highest motorable road in the world to enter the world of Tibetan nomads. As the landscape opens up into the Changthang, we will stop at villages and nomadic camps along the way. After lunch, we drive to Sachukul monastery to witness a ceremony performed to bring good luck and better weather. The friendly monks will also allow us to shoot through the ceremony. The head of the monastery, an old yogi has his experience to share and we will have enough time for shooting. Then we’ll head back to Tangtse. Overnight in Tangtse.
Day 8 : (July 23)
We leave from Tangtse to Kargyam early in the morning and again mid-afternoon to spend time with the nomads as they begin and end their day. After the day’s shoot, we head off to Pangong Tso, a 144 km brackish lake at 4,500 meters, and on the Indo-China Border. Drive to Pangong in the evening and Topko for the night. Overnight in Tangtse.
Day 9 : (July 24)
Tangtse to Pangong: The morning is reserved for landscape shooting. We will also go to a couple of villages on the far end of the lake and find candid scenes to shoot. In the afternoon, we will shoot the traditional horse races that nomads often indulge in. We will be part of the action, yes, but also part of the rituals that go with such events. Overnight in Pangong.
Day 10 : (July 25)
Pangong to Nubra: This would be stage 3 of the tour, heading to the north of Ladakh to enter the Nubra Valley. The lowest section of this region, this is a lush valley through which the Shyok and Siachen rivers flow. We can either take the low route or the high route, depending on weather conditions but should enter the valley (Hundar) in about 7 hours. After checking into the fixed tented accommodation, and getting some rest, we head out to the famous sand dunes of Hundar for some landscape shooting. Weather permitting, we could also do a bit of astrophotography later in the night. Overnight in Nubra.
Day 11 : (July 26)
Hundar: Early the next morning we take a short drive to Diskit the sub-divisional headquarters to visit the Diskit monastery for candid and set-up shots. In the late afternoon, we return to the dunes to shoot the Bactrian camels and the handlers. Overnight in Nubra.
Day 12 : (July 27)
Nubra to Leh via Khardong Pass highest motorable road several stops for photos. Overnight in Leh.
Day 13 : (July 28)
Guests are transported to Leh airport to connect with their flights home.