"Land Of Nomads"

From September onwards the cold begins to set in. Nestled under three layers of wool blankets the room is partially illuminated by the full moon. There was no need for an alarm clock as the donkeys started braying beneath my guesthouse window at 6 a.m. Tso Moriri lake in Changthang region of Ladakh is one of the most beautiful, calm and sacred high altitude lakes in India.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
At an altitude of 4572 m, Korzok is one of  India’s highest permanent villages. Korzok means “Middle of the mountain” and it’s an excellent location to enjoy the lake side.During the summers Changpas camp at various places in their robos (small tents) and look after their flock. Their sheep produce the famous pashmina, one of the costliest varieties of wool.
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
Tsomoriri is the highest brackish water lake in India. Officially the lake is known as Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve and is accessible only in summer as the region remains snowbound during other times of the year.
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                                                    Guesthouse Tsomoriri Lake
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                                                   Guesthouse view of Tsomoriri

Perched at an average elevation of 4,700 m, the Changthang (meaning Northern Plateau in Tibetan), like the rest of Ladakh, is a high altitude desert. It is an impressionable and unforgiving landscape. One, whose striking beauty, and vast emptiness,  will not vanish quickly from your memory.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

The Changpa of Ladakh are high altitude pastoralists, raising mainly yaks and goats. The Changpa (or sometimes pronounced as Champa) are a semi-nomadic Tibetan ethnic group found mainly in Zanskar region of Jammu and Kashmir. A smaller number are also found in the western regions of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Changpa are followers of Tibetan Buddhism, most belonging to Red Hat (Drupka) sect. Their Lamaistic form of Buddhism is dominated by the occult.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
Changpa nomads in their encampments of artfully-stretched yak-wool tents; at the corners of each tent are protector yak tail standards. The tents are known as "Rebos" and are made with goat or yak hair. The yak hair is more durable and takes months to make. The tents can last for more than ten years.         
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                   This young lady was washing her hair aided by her husband when we arrived
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                               Pouring salty tea                                   Family Portrait
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
We were welcomed by another family who had a young grandson and invited us to partake in their evening meal. We accepted some salty tea and thanked them for their gracious hospitality.
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                 Young grandson and grandmother                                       Grandfather
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
The horses are known for their ruggedness and the ability to withstand extreme cold climates. They work tirelessly, and carry loads at high altitudes. The yak is the most important species for the Changpa in these areas. In Ladakh, it faces one of the harshest environments. It feeds on grass with leaf blades barely an inch long at high altitudes in the summer, descending to lower ranges in the winter. An excellent pack animal for snow-bound areas - its cup-shaped hooves create a vacuum, allowing it to walk easily on ice - the yak can cover 25-30 km per day, carrying loads up to 125-150 kg.The female yak(dri) produces milk all year round. Strong animals are always preferred, and those with well-shaped horns. These animals are specially consecrated, and it is through them that the Changpa invoke the gods for blessings, and make offerings to appease the demons and spirits.

  To visit the Changtang region in Ladakh a special permit is necessary.


Comments

Priya Balan(non-registered)
I am sure it really must have been difficult to get here but the beautiful Lake and the scenery must have really made you forget all your thoughts of hardship...Beautiful images and very informative.
Jacob(non-registered)
interesting
jeff(non-registered)
very nice
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