Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ladakh 9th July to 29th July 2014

What attracted me back to Ladakh was the beauty of the Place. Hills, Cold desert, High Passes, Glaciers and the scenic beauty of the area. I had been there last year and year before too and I wanted to show all these places to Kay. 
We left Tala on 9th July to reach Delhi on 10th morning. Adam and Maria were flying from UK to meet us at the airport to fly to Leh. 
I was so careful about telling others that what to take and what you will need in Leh but I myself forgot putting any warm clothes. This I realised when we were about half way to Umaria. Saving grace was my cotswool shirts.
Temperature at Leh airport was about 19C at 0740 in the morning. It was warm for Leh. Ascending ten thousand feet in 90 minutes time can create problems for some people. I was worried about Kay but she was as fit as before in that atmosphere. 
My name was suggested for Photographers pass by HH Dalai Lama's office so after breakfast I went to see the concerned person for pass. Whole press set up at Chogmalsar was very well organised and I was holding my pass within 15 minutes of submitting my papers and in next ten minutes I was right in front of HH Dalai Lama.
There were more than 100000 people sitting quietly listening to him. Volunteers were serving drinking water to each and every person. Kids as young as 3-4 years were sitting quietly. This is how they learn about their sect and respect for it.
Next day we just visited Shanti Gompa and Thiksey monastery. None of us were very much interested in Monasteries. We spent three days in Leh to prepare ourselves for Ladakh weather.
Our initial planning was to stay at Chamba Hotel Thiksey but due to HH Dalai Lama's Kall Chakra we had to stay in Leh.

As usual like any other part of India, after so many years the Leh authorities realised that their sewer system needs to be upgraded so whole of the Leh market was under construction. It was a chaos. Vegetable sellers and Dry Fruit sellers had to move to little further. 
Suddenly a beautiful market was very dirty and crowded.
Our first destination after Leh was Rumbak. We had no idea about Rumabak trek. We all were completely unaware of this trek. We had to ascend 3500 feet. I was the most unfit person there. Carrying 15 KG camera bag in that heat literally killed me. After more than 6 hours time we saw a white tent and we all thought That's it. But this was our illusion.
It was Tea Tent.

Tea Tent is run by Rumbak villagers on rotation. The lady who served us tea first day was working in field next day. She told us about this rotation system. Tea tent provides Beverages and Liquor to visitors. 

To reduce the use of Bottle water some Tour company from Britain donated a Water Filter to this Tea tent but after seeing the supply pipe line most of the people don't use it. We preferred mineral water and brought our bottles back to Leh. We hardly left any rubbish in Rumbak, even batteries came with us up till Leh. 
Rumbak is an ideal example to run the Tourism in wildlife areas of India. Accommodation and other facilities in Rumbak were adequate. It was not luxury but better than staying in a Tent in Rumbak. I wish that Rumbak idea is used in Buffer Zone Tourism in M.P. and other states. 
Rumbak plains are very good place for birds, butterflies and flowers. Brown bellied dipper and Fire Fronted Serin were regularly seen. Often Blue sheep come down for a drink in river opposite Rumbak village. Thats how we saw them.

Rumbak is used as a stop over by many tourists. It has lot to offer. We enjoyed our stay there. If that weather scare was not that great then we would have stayed another two nights there. 
I recommend Rumbak for bird, butterfly and Flower photography.
Kay with Adam Dare and Maria Dare.
Rumbak river is good place to look for Brown bellied Dipper
  Most of the monastery in Ladakh are very interesting but they all lack in providing information to the tourists. Hemis and Thiksey are two very major monastery near Leh. There are some very interesting murals in these monasteries. Flash photography is not allowed so be careful. Dont be stupid like one tourist we saw who used flash and next minute he was taken out by the monk. 

It is always better to reach early in these monasteries to see prayer because that creates more opportunities for photography.
Nubra Valley - Hunder is a land of Dogs. These village dogs sleeps for whole day and bark for whole night. We stayed in Hunder village and none of us could sleep due to dogs.
It is very unfortunate that not a single wild Bactrian Camel is left there. Feel yourself lucky if you see one without tag.
Walking around camel area is good for birding.we had some very good sightings of Pika there. Those photographs are still not sorted due to lack of ID of those Pika.  

Somehow we have an unknown face in the picture. We saw snow fall while coming back from Nubra. It was good but scary.By the time we visit this place next year the roads will be more safer at Khardungla. 
A night in Leh and next morning we were heading towards Pangong lake.Cant describe the beauty of that place. One has to see it to realise the beauty. Evening light is good for photography. Adam found Wild Ass through his telescope on top of the hill. There were another herd of some animal that we couldn't recognise.