Friday, July 30, 2010

Pangong Lake, Ladakh, India

Hi and a warm welcome (back) to my blog. If you've been here before you'll notice I have changed the template. Hope you like it.

I'm going to take you on a trip up into the Himalayas to Pangong Lake. Make sure you've got your oxygen bottle, you don't want to get altitude sickness, believe me, it sucks!

Despite it, I think I managed to keep the camera still enough to give you a half decent idea of how beautiful it is. So let's go! It is about 164 km from Leh, our departure point and it will take us about 5 hours to get there.

At the beginnning of our journey, a classic scene in "Little Tibet" in India - hugely influenced by Tibet, but free from foreign interference - allowed to remain as it has always been. The more I felt the cultural integrity of this old and historic land, its people, it's religion and its traditions , the more I realised it is a treasure, to treasure. May it always remain so, we are so much richer for it.

Majestic. It takes your breath away!

When water is present the soil is rich and
fertile. The lush green is in strong contrast to
the barren land mass rising up from the plains

In the end the fertile flat is squeezed out by
the enveloping folds of the mountains

The road is cut into the side of the mountain.
The clouds dance their shadow on the
land that rises to meet them

There must be a TV somewhere.........
An army rest post

Amrit gobsmacked by the view. Zingral is the
last Army post at 15,500 feet before Chang La,
known to be one of the toughest passes in Ladakh

and it does get tougher, colder and whiter

then suddenly there was this little chap, so
unexpected, and so completely at home
in his wonderland environment

Just before the highest point...

...which is Chang La It is the third highest
motorable pass in the world. It is named after
the sadhu Chanla Baba

I wish they'd turn down the air conditioning!

Stalagtites sparkling in the sun

Through the pass and descending now
towards the lake

Almost there. Looks like this might have
been part of the lake but here it has
dried up

The beginning of Pangong Lake

The lake is at about 4,350 metres. 40% is in
India and 60% in China. It is 134 km long

The territory is disputed by both India
and China

The water is brackish, which means it has
more salinity than freshwater but less than

There is no aquatic life in the lake, no plants
or fish. Perhaps a few crustaceans

But you can find living creatures around
the's Naved and Bob

The lake is home to what look like sea gulls
but clearly aren't. I wonder what they feed on?

Ladakh means the land of high passes.
But the Ladakh Himalayas have no major peaks

Enough facts, just enjoy the view!

which is truly magnificent

Next time, before leaving Ladakh to go to
Dharamsala, I'll show you photos of Ladakhi
people that I haven't shown you before.
Hope to see you then.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hemis Tse-chu, Ladakh, India

Welcome to Hemis, 45 km from Leh where we were staying. You can see photos of Leh in my previous posting.

We were fortunate to be in Ladakh at the time of the annual Hemis Tse-chu (festival) held at the Hemis Tibetan Buddhist gompa (monastery) at 3,657 metres (12,000 feet). It is one of the highest monasteries in the world. It is also where I got my first taste of altitude sickness!

At the festival the monks take part in masked dances as you can see in this first photo of one of the beautiful masks. More of the dances later.

This occasion was so full of photo opportunities that I have made this issue a bumper issue with 40 photos. I hope you enjoy them and it gives you a feel for the visual feast that we witnessed.

These first photos were taken on the way to
Hemis The 8 stupas you can see represent the
8 major events in the Buddha's life including
his birth, enlightenment and death

Incredible rock formation

Very cold, clear and energetic!

The view as we climb up to Hemis

Another stupa at the
beginning of Hemis village

Having fun taking a precarious shortcut

Contemplation; seated and standing

A boy monk making his way to the Hemis

Classic Ladakhi architecture

The people are so colourful in every way


At the entrance to the Monastery. The Festival
is a big attraction

Inside the monastery courtyard where the
masked dance was being held

The event is spectacular in this beautiful

...with an amazing backdrop

The Festival of Hemis Tse-chu
is a 200 year old tradition

Great expressions on the masks

The masks and costumes worn by the dancer
primarily represent various guardians of the
Drug-pa order, of which Hemis is the leading
establishment in Ladakh

The highest viewing spot

Essentially the Hemis dance-drama depicts
the magical feats of Padmasambhava in his
eight different manifestations. He is said to
have transmitted Tantric Buddhism to
Bhutan and Tibet and neighbouring
countries in the 8th century

Ladies with heavy artillery

Like a box at the opera! Slightly different
theatrical setting

This lady is on the roof!
I really love her fasion sense

Part of the monastic ritual

These guys were the jokers and brought
some welcome light relief

A moment in the crowd. What a great jumper
on the little boy

This Lama's costume is pretty cool too

This monk grabbed somebody's bottle of
water and gave a few people a shower

When the wind blows it kicks up the dust

A scary row of masked and armed dancers.
Fantastic colours

A rather less scary row of local women

Traditional hats

My camera took this photo, not me!
It was attracted by this girl's beauty
and her gorgeous hair......

A still moment

This woman is wearing the lovely but heavy
local necklaces

Another shot of the beautiful surroundings
as we reach the car to come away from
Hemis. By this time I am feeling pretty
horrible due to the altitude

Stark and stunning

The green and blue make such a delicious contrast

A final shot of the snow capped mountains

For those of you who would
like more info on the monastery

Next time I'll show you photos
of our trip to the Pangong lake.
A real ordeal for me but still
worth it!

Thanks for coming