Sunday, June 12, 2016

Diskit, scenes from a Himalayan town

Khardung La is now behind us. With all that snow and ensuing traffic snarls, crossing this mountain pass at 5,600 metres has taken a good part of the day. It is late afternoon as we enter Nubra Valley, and things are already looking better. It's warmer here in the valley at 3,000 metres, there are more trees, and the river Shyok is now a steady companion on this journey. It's easy to imagine the travellers of the old silk route heaving a sigh of relief as they left the treacherous Khardung La behind on their way up north. For the ones on their way to Leh, I can imagine that they postponed the crossing for as long as possible, especially if it meant leaving Nubra Valley in springtime to take on the snow at the top!

Picturesque, serene Nubra Valley

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Crossing the Khardung La on a snowy day

Day 3 in Ladakh. The evening before has been tense, we are still unsure whether Wolfgang needs a permit to get into the lake region of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, and the valley of Nubra. Besides, a quick look into our phone's search results confirms our worst fears. Tso Moriri temperatures drops to around -10 degrees in April. Pangong is marginally better but not much. I check cautiously, because I don't want to sound like a total coward in front of the hotel manager, about breathing issues in the higher altitudes of Tso Moriri. It doesn't help that our man is the typical Ladakhi, taking life as it comes. 'You will be ok,' he tells me.  'Well, give us some hot water bottles to take along,' I mutter and he agrees. But I am already wondering if we should have gone to Ooty to escape the heat instead of flying to this freezing zone. The manager is just as nonchalant about the permit question and repeats his line about us being ok!

The road to Khardung La in April 2016

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Leh, a desert town in the Himalayas

Here in the plains of the south, we have had a summer seldom seen before, with temperatures hovering around 40 Celsius, dusty and dry air, power cuts, water in short supply, irritable locals, and one hopelessly hot day melting into the next. An escape to Ladakh was terribly attractive, especially when we spotted return fares from Leh at 5000 Rupees (around 60 Euros) per person!

Himalayas calling

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Shiva temple of red sandstone in Mukteswar

The 10th-century Mukteswar temple in Bhubaneswar is said to be a jewel in Odisha's cultural landscape, the culmination of an era, a precursor to other famous landmarks of the city including the Lingaraja temple.

The torana or arch in front of the temple is unique 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Woodpeckers to elephants, squirrels to tigers, this is Kabini

The river Kabini flows down from the wild of Wayanad in Kerala meandering its way east, through Karnataka, generously hosting the wildlife that come to its banks in the Kabini Forest Reserve. The wildlife reserve, a part of Nagarhole national park, is one of India's few remaining spots where the tiger runs wild. There is a catch in spotting the animal, though. The reserve is big (around 55 acres) and dense with multiple valleys and watering holes which make it easy for shy tigers to stay hidden when noisy safari jeeps laden with visitors come trawling.

A tigress stares down her visitors in Kabini