Gujjar kids from Rajouri district at Sonmarg, Kashmir, India

We met these Gujjar kids on our way to the Thajiwas Glacier in Sonmarg.

Gujjars are a nomadic tribe of shepherds who move up to the greener pastures in the hills in summer. Come winter, the move down to the plains with their entire households and flocks.

Due to this lifestyle, the children usually miss out on conventional schooling. These kids had attended a nomadic school and as proof, they recited to us the alphabet, numbers and also some song and dance. They were happy to receive chocolates as their reward.

Kids of the hills

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By Sandeepa Chetan (

Sheshnag Camp, Kashmir, India.

Sheshnag is the first night halt of the Amarnath yatra.

Thousands of Hindus undertake a pilgrimage to Amarnath, at a height of 3888mt, in honour of Lord Shiva.

This picture was taken at dawn the next day, in freezing cold with shivering hands. The snow on the mountains is fresh from previous night’s snowfall.

By Sandeepa Chetan (

The central pillar of Diwan-i-khas, Fatehpur Sikri, India on Flickr.

Fatehpur Sikri, the city was founded in 1569 by the Mughal emperor Akbar, and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585.

Diwan-i-Khas: the Diwan-i-Khas, or Hall of Private Audience, is a plain square building with four chhatris on the roof. However it is famous for its central pillar, which has a square base and an octagonal shaft, both carved with bands of geometric and floral designs, further its thirty-six serpentine brackets support a circular platform for Akbar, which is connected to each corner of the building on the first floor, by four stone walkways.

Source : Wikipedia

Snapshots of a simple life, Sani, Zanskar valley, India.

They are trying to run away from another one(with the back to the camera) splashing water on them. This is in a small village called Sani in the Zanskar valley. The stretch of the road seen in this picture is the entire length of this village.

Life in Sani is extremely basic and the inhabitants mingle together as one big family.

By Sandeepa Chetan (

Children on the street at Rangdum, Kashmir, India.

Rangdum is midway between Padum (the main town in Zanskar valley) and Kargil. The only moto-rable road to Zanskar is from Kargil.

Padum is at a distance of around 250km from Kargil and even a good vehicle will take at least 10 hours to reach there. This makes Zanskar one of the most isolated valleys in India.

Rangdum is a tiny hamlet with maybe ten houses, and couple food stalls (travelers usually halt here for lunch) and a couple of guest houses (for travelers who want to halt for the night). A monastery is housed on a hillock, 3km away from the village.The village is essentially a definition of “in the middle of nowhere”.

These kids were playing near the stupa when our trucks halted for lunch. We wondered what their lives must be like, living in such isolation. From what we saw, it sure seemed like a lot of fun!

Kids of the hills

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By Sandeepa Chetan (

Sadhu lost in smoke on the Amarnath yatra in Kashmir, India.

We encountered many sadhus(holy men!) like this, smoking up, lost in their own worlds on the way to the holy cave during the Amarnath yatra. Thousands of Hindus undertake a pilgrimage to Amarnath every year, at a height of 3888mt, in honour of Lord Shiva.

By Sandeepa Chetan (

House in Dras, Jammu and Kashmir on Flickr.

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Dras, is the second coldest inhabited region in the world, with temperatures plummeting below -40C in the peak winters. Located after the Zojila on the way to Ladakh, at an altitude of over 3200m, it’s a stark contrast to the preceding Kashmir valley. The forest covered mountains transform to formidable barren look.

However, in the summer months, Dras has a very pleasant climate throughout the day. Barley is a common grain there, and the barley fields render a lush green look to the entire village.

Zareena from Drass, Kargil, India.

Zareena, her brother Shujat Hussain and their parents lived in this house in Drass. While I was clicking Shujat’s photos, other kids also got curious and wanted their pictures clicked as well.

Seeing all this activity, Zareena also joined in and after a couple of clicks was comfortable enough in front of the camera to give this picture.

By Sandeepa Chetan (

Charcoal fired hot basket known as Kangdi at Chatpal in Kashmir, India.

That’s how the Kashmiris keep themselves warm.

They wear a woolen coat called “firan” and carry this basket called “kangdi” with hot coal in it. The firan is loose enough for the kangdi to fit inside around the stomach or the back.

In the freezing cold, this is an extremely effective personal heater. Not very safe, though.

By Sandeepa Chetan (