Ladakh’s landscapes and wilderness beckons every traveller. A trip to this place uncovers its sheer beauty of mammoth mountainscapes. This trip to the Himalayas and more so to the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state is one of the most fulfilling experiences one can have. Aimed at the production of meaningful and jaw dropping landscape photographs, a small group of photography enthusiasts will form this team. Destinations that are worth investing one’s time are picked after careful forethought especially keeping in mind the tour’s objective being Landscape Photography. Though not a promise one can expect to sight and photograph some of Himalaya’s endemic wildlife like the Marmots, Gulls, Goose, Ducks, Wild Asses and Blue Sheep.
Ladakh known for its beautiful landscapes, provides some great opportunities to make pictures of contrasting terrain, landscapes, mountains, ridges, alpine meadows, clear blue skies and lakes, snow-peaked mountains, winding roads and the list can go on. To enjoy Ladakh fully, one has to first get accustomed to the place, its weather, the altitude and more so, to the beauty of the magnificent land of the painted mountains. One can probably get acclimatised to the altitude by spending a day or two there, but getting to witness the sheer beauty of this amazing place is something which is usually beyond imagination.
We would be spending 10 days in picturesque locations, ranging from areas where one could reach the clouds and lush green valleys with swift waters giving you the much needed variety for photography. The average altitude would be around 4800 mtrs throughout the trip and we would be passing through Khardungla which is at 5600 mtrs forming India’s highest motorable road. It is incorrectly believed to be the world’s highest motorable road,which actually is a pass in Suge La, west of Lhasa, 5,430 m (17,815 feet), and Semo La 5,565 m (18,258 feet). Some of the places participants would get to visit and photograph are the famous Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Tso Kar apart from local sight seeing areas of Leh like Thikse, Stok, Hemis and Shanti Stupa.
- : Arrival in Leh by flight
Participants who do not have enough time to complete this tour by road can fly into Leh from Delhi on the 3rd of July 2011. They will be picked up and lodged at the resort for rest and acclimatization. The rest of the participants traveling by road will meet this team and the rest of the tour will be a common feature for both kind of travellers.
- : Leh, Local sight seeing.
Leh, the capital of the Himalayan kingdom is now a district along with Kargil that forms this famous area called “Ladakh”. A land of high passes, which actually means ‘Ladakh” is a distinctive culture that adds a great variety to India’s diverse landscape. Gongpa or the Monasteries built by the buddhist are a feature of this landscape through out Ladakh.As it is our first day at Leh, we are not going to be exploring the local sight seeing destinations around leh. After breakfast, we drive towards the famous Hemis Monastery and the Stok Palace/Monastery. We return to Leh for lunch and then spend the afternoon at leisure. By around 4:30 in the evening, we drive up to Shanti Stupa for a view of Leh and to also capture some beautiful time-lapse photography from here. During that night, we explore interesting places to capture trailing stars against a prominent foreground before we retire.
- : Leh, Departure to Tsomoriri – Overnight in Tso Moriri.
Approximately 225 kilometers south-east of Leh, and to the west of the Changtang plateau lies Tso Moriri which is one of the largest high altitude lakes at 4,595 m (15,075 ft). Our drive to Tso Moriri will take approximately five hours. Based on our experience, the best times to photograph the landscapes around Tso Moriri are in the evenings and we will hope for a great sky forming the backdrop of this picturesque lake. Staying very close to the lake, the group will have unlimited access to photography sites and around the lake. Though there is not much of human settlement around here, it is a very good place to spot some wildlife.A nesting area for the highly endangered Black-necked Crane, Tso Moriri is also a fantastic destination to photograph the Bar-headed Goose, the Brahminy duck and other wildlife including Wild Ass and Marmots. One of the highlights of Tso Moriri would be to spot the tiny Pika and Woolly hare that feed around here.
- : Departure to Tso Kar, Drive to Thikse for Overnight stay
Tso Moriri in the morning is a great place for birding. However, it is not a very nice side of light to practice landscape photography in the morning. Our group will spend a few minutes, spotting birds around here before we set off towards Puga, a small village on our way to Tso Kar.It is very likely that we spot a few Black-necked Cranes on our way. Tso Kar means the salt lake. In our opinion this is one of the richest areas for wildlife around these High Altitude Lakes. Red Foxes, Tibetan Wolves, Wild Ass, Little Owl, Brahminy Ducks, Bar-headed Goose, Pied Avocet, Sandpipers, Gulls and a variety of wildlife is supported by the lake. The beauty of Tso Kar is its sea green water amidst mountains and greenery. The salt concentration around the periphery of the lakes is also worth noticing. Having carried packed lunch, we will start driving towards the More plains to climb up Tanglang La yet again to arrive at Thikse that evening.As we are traveling by Tanglang La for the second time, we should be able to spend more time around this high altitude pass doing ample landscape photography and also trying to spot Lammergeier and Golden Eagles. Since we are taking off to Pangong Lake the next morning, we will not be going to Leh, but will be spending a night in Thikse.
- : Pangong Lake Excursion
Staying very close to the Thikse Monastery, we avoid at least one hour of travel from Leh to here. While we are at Thikse, it is a good idea to visit the Thikse Monastery and grab a lot of positive energy and peace in the monastery where the gigantic face of the Mytherya Buddha is installed. Thikse is on a hillock giving a nice view of the area as well. Since we are heading towards the Chang La pass on our way to the celebrated Pangong Lake, we will start after break fast and arrive at Pangong by around post lunch. We stop for lunch mid way and also stop at crucial spots on the Chang La Pass to watch some wildlife and also photograph interesting landscapes.By around mid afternoon, we are at the renowned Pangong Lake at an altitude of 4,350 m (14,270 ft). Pangong is 134 km (83 mi) long and extends from India to Tibet. 60% of the length of the lake lies in Tibet, which is today under China’s rule. At its broadest point, the lake is as wide as five Kilometers. Pangong Tso is in disputed territory as of now and one needs prior permission from the government to visit the place. The lake acts as an important breeding ground for a variety of birds including a number of migratory birds. During summer, the Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks are commonly seen here. The region around the lake supports a number of species of wildlife including the kiang and the Marmot.Photography wise, we will learn how to shoot Panoramic Views of the lake and also spend ample time practicing Time-lapse photography over here. Unlike most tourists who do a day visit of this place, we are in no hurry and have all the time in the world this evening to wait for the right photo opportunities. We end the day around the lake itself providing us ample opportunities till late evening and also at night. We also have the luxury of witnessing sun rise while around the lake the next morning.
- : Return to Leh, by afternoon. Visit Hall of Fame
Hopefully by now, most of us woudl have made decent landscapes and panoramic photographs of Pangong. At our own pace, we drive back towards Changla pass and then descend towards Leh post lunch. For this afternoon, we plan to visit the “Hall of Fame” museum situated in Leh which is a Kargil Memorial with loads of information and artifacts of the recent Indo-Pak war. A couple of hours in this Museum can be a great source of information which is not only interesting but also necessary for every Indian.People should definitely make use of the free time this afternoon to visit the confluence of Indus and Zankskar very close to Leh. This is a picture perfect scene with waters of these two rivers converging to form one river which flows into Pakistan.
- : Drive to Khardungla.
Khardung La is situated at an elevation of 5359 m or 17,582 feet. It surely the highest mountain pass located in the Ladakh region, and probably in India. How ever, some passes in Tibet are situated at higher altitudes than here. Khardong La is historically important as it lies on the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Chinese Central Asia. About 10,000 horses and camels used to take the route annually, and a small population of Bactrian camels can still be seen at Hundar, in the area north of the pass. During World War II there was an attempt to transfer war material to China through this route.After spending ample time in Khardungla from where we can also get a distant view of the Kharakhoram Range, we descend the mountain getting back to Leh.Please check out our optional tour to Nubra valley to extend this tour by another night.
- : Fly out of Leh.
Like how all good things come to an end, participants on this day fly out of Leh to Delhi and then travel to their respective destinations.Are you game for Leh ??For 2013 ??
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Get some peace of mind from the hectic urban life, the Ladakh short tour is designed especially ,if you aspire a short break. The ladakh short tour package includes an alluring
05Nights / 06 Days
Leh- Uleytokpo -Leh – Delhi.
Arrive at leh where you shall be escorted by our representatives, and tranfered to the hotel. In the evening we shall walk upto Samker Gompa & Leh Bazaar. Samker Gompa is little up in the valley, 3 Kms from Leh Town, which is open to visitors in the morning and evening only. The Gompa belongs to Yellow Sect & was founded in 18th Century. The Gompa is the seat of the Head Lama of Ladakh & founder of yellow sect, Tson-Kha-Pa. The temple walls have recent painted of figures including Sakyamuni, Avalokiteshwara, Padmasambhava, Tson-Ka-pa and green Tara. After Samker, visit Leh Temple & Walk back to Leh Bazaar through the famous Leh Polo Ground. Overnight stay & all meals in Hotel
Early morning we shall depart from the hotel for a Sightseeing visit of Spituk & Phyang Monastery. Spituk – 8 Kms from Leh, Spituk stands majestically atop a hillock overlooking the Indus valley for miles. Many icons and fine “Tangkhas” are to be found in this 15th century monastery. It also houses a collection of ancient masks; antique arms and is inspiring image of “Mahakala”. The face of the Kali image is kept covered and revealed only at the annual function in January every two year. After spituk visit to the phyang monastery, this is 17 kms from leh. . Afternoon we shall visit Leh Palace temple and take a walk through the Leh bazaar.
We shall leave for a full day excursion to the monasteries of Shey, Thiksey & Stok Palace. Later proceed to Shey – it was the ancient capital of Ladakh and even after Singge Namgyal built the more imposing palace at Leh, the kings continued to regard Shey, as their real home. The importance which was attached to Shey – the seat of Ladakh’s heartland – is attested by the enormous number of Chorten about the village, particularly around the palace complex and barren plain to the north of the road. Thiksey – is one of the largest and most impressive Gompas. There are several temples in this Gompa containing images, stupas and exquisite wall paintings.
It also houses a two – storied statue of Buddha that has the main prayer hall around its shoulder. Proceed to Hemis – which is dedicated to Padmasambhava, what a visitor can observes a series of scenes in which the lamas, robed in gowns of rich, brightly coloured brocade and sporting masks sometimes bizarrely hideous, parade in solemn dance and mime around the huge flag pole in the center of the courtyard to the plaintive melody of the Shawn. Hemis was found in the 1630’s by Tsang-ras-pa under the royal patronage of Singe Namgyal, Hemis is the largest and richest of the Ladakh Gompas. It nestles into the mountainside a little way up a glen in the mountains of Zanskar range overnight at hotel. Return back to Hotel for dinner & overnight
Arrive at Uleytokpo and check-in at Uleytokpo Camp & Resort. En-route from Leh to Uleytokpo, visit the village of Nimo and stop for photo session at River Zanskar proceed further to visit Basgo Fort & Likir. Likir is situated in a side valley about 05 Kms from main Srinagar – Leh highway. Likir belongs to Ge-Lung-Pa sect; the monastery also maintains and runs a school for young Lamas. Afterwards cross-river Indus and reach Alchi.
A Beautiful village covered with Apricot Orchards. At our arrival, check in at Uleytokpo Resort. After lunch drive to Alchi Gompa that is 9 Kms from Uleytokpo from the most beautiful Gompa of Ladakh & is also called Jewel among the central Ladakh’s religious sites. It’s known as Chos-Kor, or religious enclave. It comprises five temples, which are noted for its massive Buddha statues and lavish woodcarvings and artwork. It’s Murals dating from 11th and 12th centuries, pre-date the Tibetan style of painting that is present in all other Gompas. Overnight stay will be at Uleytokpo Camp & Resort.
Early morning we shall depart to reach Leh from Uleytokpo en-route visit to Lamayuru and Temisgam Royal Temple. Later drive to Lamayuru at a distance of 65 Kms from Uleytokpo. On arrival enjoy hot Lunch at Lamayuru Restaurant. After Lunch, visit Gompa. Lamayuru is the oldest monastery of Ladakh perched on hilltop with its village at the foot of the hill. Most of the monastery is now in ruins. It was partially resorted in 1975 is the oldest holy side in Ladakh. Lamayuru was once a lake. It was blessed by a lama after which, as legend goes the water of the lake receded upto the mountains leaving place for the monastery to be built. It is also the” free zone” of Ladakh since not even a criminal can be apprehended in this place. Now mostly in ruins only the main hall exists today and houses numerous “Tangkhas”. We shall drive directly to Leh. Dinner & overnight stay will be at the Hotel.
After breakfast transfer to airport to catch the early morning flight to Delhi.
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Somewhere deep down they’d known that things would change, that the tranquillity of the sal forests that surrounded their tiny, non-electrified resort on the outskirts of the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand would not last forever. But when, in May 2012, a little more than a decade after they’d started, Ritish Suri and Minakshi Pandey decided to shut down Camp Forktail Creek, the decision was still painful.
For years they’d fought to preserve the surrounding forests, involve people from neighbouring Bhakrakot village in their activities and make the camp as ecologically low-impact as possible. The camp had become a favourite with serious wildlife enthusiasts and naturalists. Shutting down was an admission of defeat to the marauding concrete resorts, with their televisions, discotheques and swimming pools which have, over the last decade, overrun the periphery of the reserve. Once the only camp in the area, Camp Forktail Creek had become one of nearly half-a-dozen, with more coming up.
“We didn’t have much of a choice,” sighs Suri, “All we can hear in camp today are the sounds of excavators and drilling machines at work on the construction of two resorts next to us. It was not the most conducive environment for a wildlife experience.”