Ladakh (meaning ‘land of the passes’) is a cold desert in the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is divided into the mainly Muslim Kargil district and the primarily Buddhist Leh district. The people of Ladakh have a rich folklore, some of which date back to the pre- Buddhist era.
“The land is so harsh and the passes so numerous, that only the best of friends or the worst of enemies would visit you”.
Ladakh (meaning ‘land of the passes’) is a cold desert in the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is divided into the mainly Muslim Kargil district and the primarily Buddhist Leh district. The people of Ladakh have a rich folklore, some of which date back to the pre- Buddhist era. As the Himalayan farming season is short, Ladakhi only work for 4 months of the year. All ages can join in and help. During the 8 winter months work is minimal and festivals and celebrations are almost a continuous affair, giving them the opportunity to display Goncha, the traditional dress.
As you know, the Snow Leopard, Panthera uncia (Felidae), restricted to the high mountains of Central Asia, is regarded as an Endangered species. In 2008 the total estimated population was 4,080-6,590 specimens. In India, the Hemis High Altitude National Park that extends over 3,350 sq. km in the northernmost district of Ladakh, is considered a reserve with an estimated population of 200-600 snow leopards.
Finding a snow leopard in the wild is often considered to be an absurd dream by most wildlife enthusiasts. Until very recently, the chance to encounter one in the wild even after extreme endeavor was decidedly uncertain. That was mainly due to the high degree of difficulty spotting them in their characteristic rocky terrain and their very low density of occurrence across their entire range.
But that changed when relatively frequent sightings began to be reported in winter by villagers and scientists from the northern parts of Hemis High Altitude National Park.
A survey in march 2014 covering 200 sq km of prime habitat revealed a very high concentration of 9 snow leopards and perhaps more significantly, the surveyed area is contiguous with a vast expanse of excellent habitat having very low anthropogenic pressure and relatively high prey density – surely home to a reasonable number of Snow Leopards.
If you are a wildlife enthusiast and one of your dreams is to observe a snow leopard in the wild, check out this article that tells you how to make it happen. With luck, you could also find other amazing species of wildlife, such as the Bharal (Pseudois nayaur), the Pallas’ cat (Felis manul), the Tibetan argali (Ovis ammon hodgsoni), Himalayan marmots (Marmota bobak), Dholes (Cuon alpinus), and Pikas (Ochotona roylei).
This is a photo of my bedroom in a guesthouse that I stayed at in Ladakh, which is a region in the northernmost part of India in the Himalayas. It was probably my favourite of all the rooms I slept in on my five month trip, something about the deep window sill and the windows that opened wide looking out onto a field of wheat and sunflowers that swayed in the high altitude breeze. It was so beautiful oh my god.
At about 3pm every day the afternoon light would shine directly through my window and onto my bed and I’d sit there and watch this gorgeous Tibetan woman (a refugee) with long black plaits with flowers at the end feed her cow under the tree. My boyfriend and I had broken up while travelling and I spent a lot of time crying, but somehow this window sill and this view nursed my achy little heart, and after I had been filled up with chai and momos (Tibetan dumplings) from my favourite chai stall down the road I’d come back and sit on the window and find calm while the mighty Himalayas watched over me and the pretty sunflowers kept dancing. This photo is so special!
I keep coming across photographs from my trip to Leh-Ladakh, about 2 years ago. Until now I hadn’t realised that I was ignoring the mountains. I think it was because the beautiful large skies were drawing most of my attention. It’s a bit unfair (and, quite stupid) to look away from the vast blue, but once they were out, I could see some a lot of different (and yet ironically similar) interesting patterns in the snow and ice. I’ve spent quite a lot of time on these pictures and hopefully I will bump into some more soon.
Tso Moriri, at a distance of around 250km from Leh is a high mountain lake at a height of around 4500m.
Mighty mountains, snow capped peaks, lush green fields and the deep blue water stretching to the horizon, Tso Moriri offers it all. Due to its long distance from Leh, it is not frequented by too many tourists. Which means, when you visit Tso Moriri, you will most likely, have it all to yourself!