"Valley Of Flowers"

 "We must be past the first checkpoint by 6:00 a.m. The Khardung la is closed for repairs on Mondays, and the weather can be pretty volatile; a build-up of snow will leave the pass unuseable from several hours to days. We must be on the road by 3:00 a.m." These were the final words Stanzin my guide said to me before retreating to his tent outside of my guesthouse in Hunder. We would be travelling over the 18,380 foot top of Khardung la, which is widely, (but incorrectly), believed to be the highest vehicle-accessible pass in the world.              

3:20 a.m.: Stanzin and Punchok had overslept; I awakened them from their slumber, and within 5 minutes we were leaving Ldurma, "The Valley Of Flowers" commonly known as the Nubra Valley. Surrounded by snowcapped Himalayan ranges, the Nubra valley lies sandwiched between Tibet and Kashmir. The past four days we walked amongst fields of rye and barley, surrounded by fruit orchards and sand dunes. For visiting Khardung la, Nubra valley, Pangong and Tsomoriri Lakes and the Dah-Hanu area of Leh District, it is mandatory to obtain Protected Area permits from the Deputy Commissioner’s Office at Leh.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                Khardungla Top                                   Mountain Pass

I had visited the Nubra valley as part of my trip to Ladakh India during the Harvest or Ladakh Festival. My guide Stanzin was from this area and had many contacts with the locals. The festival location was set amongst the sand dunes of Hunder. Though the area surrounding Hunder is arid and desolate, the village, however, is a vast expanse of green and abounds with cultivable land. Horticulture products, including, apricots, walnuts, almonds, apples and various fruits and flowers, from Nubra are much sought after. Beautiful but remote, Hunder village sits like an oasis in the middle of the high altitude desert in the Nubra valley of Jammu and Kashmir. Seven km from Diskit which is known for its Buddhist monastery, Nubra has acquired fame for its sand dunes, the cold desert that surrounds it, Bactrian camels and its breath-taking natural beauty.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                         Diskit Monastery                                  Nubra Desert
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                             Sand Dunes                                 Bactrian Camels

Stanzin had made arrangements to meet and photograph three young ladies who we gave a ride to school. They attended school six days a week between the hours of 10.00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The valley has been secluded, along with most of the exterior parts of Ladakh. Almost all of the region has been facing problems to get good quality education.  We met them at 8:00 a.m. before school and they were standing on the side of the road with their festive clothing wrapped in large bundles. We spent the morning taking photographs before they had to arrive at school. That evening we were invited by Zahida to come for tea and meet her family. 

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                                                      Meena, Zahida and Salima
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                Reflection                                          Meena

My days were filled photographing various ladies in their festival attire. We were constantly invited back to their homes for tea. I made several stops for biscuits and fruit, and carried small gifts I had brought from home to take with me for allowing me the privelege of photographing them and meeting their wonderful families.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
A woman’s headdress in Ladakh, called a perak, is often a stunning artistic achievement, and it provides a statement of her status, wealth, artistic sense, and history.The perak traditionally signified the wealth of the mother, which was passed along to her daughter when she married and left home to live with her husband. The perak is still worn by Ladakhi women as a symbol of traditional culture.
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

 The women wear a robe called a "Kuntop" but on their backs they add a colourful shawl, the "Bok" The embroidered hat is called a "Gonda". They also wear traditional textile shoes called Papus. The ladies style their hair in two long pigtails.

 


Comments

1.D DEY(non-registered)
Excellent photographs. I traveled Leh Ladakh but never could see such beauties. Thnks for sharing.
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