Monday, September 29, 2014

Autumn in Ladakh

For our Autumn break we went to Ladakh.  Ladakh is a Buddhist ex-kingdom set among spectacularly jagged, arid mountains - it is a high altitude desert that has sunshine for 300 days per year.  It's full of colourful, fluttering prayer flags and prayer wheels. Traditional homes are large and mostly self-sufficient in food and fuel.  This is an amazing achievement when you consider the limited amount of land, the short growing season and the fact that water has to be channelled from glacier-melt mountain streams.


We stayed in a guest house just outside of Leh in a small village called Sankar (it was about a 15 - 20 minute walk down the hill into Leh).  The guest house was really lovely - as were the people running it (Padma and Sonam) who made us feel like part of the family.  We had a lovely "sunset" Ladakhi room with a balcony that looked out over the Shanti Stupa and towards the Tsemo Gompa.


We arrived in Ladakh at a very beautiful time of the year.  The mornings were crisp but the day soon warmed up as the skies were clear and blue.  During the week we noticed the trees changing from green to yellow and the leaves just starting to fall.  It was also right at the end of the season - many places were closing at the end of September - so everywhere we went was very quiet and not filled with hundreds of tourists.


The garden of the Silver Cloud was lovely - filled with flowers and with organic vegetables - which formed the basis of our meals most evenings.


Here is one of the views from our balcony looking towards the Shanti Stupa.



It was time to collect in the harvest - everywhere we saw stacks of barley and fields of vegetables being dug up to prepare for the winter.


This photo, taken on our last day in Ladakh, shows just how the trees have changed in one short week.  Now the leaves are yellow and starting to fall.  The mountains in the distance are covered in snow at their peaks.



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