My love for the Himalayas is no secret. If you are a regular on my blog here or on Instagram, you must be knowing it already. Those mountains are perhaps the strongest lure I have ever felt in life, and thus I keep going back. Often asked about the point of visiting the Himalayas again and then again, I just wonder about why you don’t go more often! This time, when I landed in the familiar, on my trip to Ladakh, I fell in love all over again and spent perhaps the best days of this year though the year end is still a few months away.
I’ve been planning this trip to Ladakh for long, and it kept getting postponed. And when finally, it happened, all it took was a whim and my tickets were booked in less than 10 minutes of the trip plan hitting my head during a drive. So you see, you never plan a trip to the Himalayas, they plan it for you. This trip to Ladakh meant more than any other for I’ve never stayed grounded for so many months, away from my backpack or the airports.
I waited for Ladakh to happen with as much keenness as a human can. My head has been a flurry of thoughts much of this year, working and re-working on plans, fancies and whims, leaving me gasping for a retreat that could be only these mountains.
As I sat down to write this post, about why just one trip to Ladakh is never enough, I found myself lacking of apt words; something that happens rarely when it comes to writing. So, rather than telling you of Ladakh and the magic of Himalayas in words, I pulled out some of my best Ladakh photos from the trip. Hoping I succeed in unraveling the magic that these mountains are; hoping you understand why I keep going back and why I would probably have a home there someday.
- What is life if not freedom?
And Ladakh is one place that will set you free like no other. There are no clogged roads or smoky haze, all that you will find here is wilderness. It might sound like what Jack Kerouac would have thought of, but you will never know what you are made of until you set yourself free. So go, dunk in that glacial lake, camp on the sand dunes of this cold desert, sit in a Leh coffee shop and people watch, ride a bike and be your own Che; do what you have always wanted to do and you’ll never be the same again.
2) How human are you if not human?
When in Ladakh, notice how often you smile. You might have some surprises there for this is what these mountains and their people would do to you. There is no customary cheekiness that a tourist region exhibits. Ladakh and its people are some of the warmest souls; try to live with the locals and experience how their lives are and you would find they are very much like us, just a lot more forgiving and thus happy. You might learn the real art of living with your time in Ladakh.
3) How free are you if you cannot let go?
While I cannot write that I’ve mastered this art but Ladakh will make you let go. If you have ever been to the region and in one of its monasteries, you might have noticed a lot of personal belongings left around the idols as tokens of respects or out of sheer faith. I realised that leaving some of your most cherished belongings at the monasteries might all be about the need of letting go; right or not, I left bits of my stuff and a lot of my emotional baggage in those ancient structures. Hoping to continue with this more saner state of mind!
4) What is sleep if you cannot dream?
Regular days, when I talk to people our talks center around practicalities; about Income Tax, about the next promotion and appraisals, about next weekend’s shopping etcetera etcetera. Go to Ladakh and its deep valleys and stark blue skies will make you dream. My typical nights in Ladakh (when not braving the cold) were spent in stargazing and getting back the childlike curiosity and optimism that is often lost in city life.
5) How much do you know if you do not know yourself?
If you do not remember the last time you had a word with yourself, take a trip to Ladakh. Most of the times, we are so surrounded by people and distractions that we do not meet ourselves. Days pass and we miss self talks, leaving from homes too early, looking at laptops most hours, coming home too late and barely enough to catch up on sleep. And then, before we know, we forget ourselves, how if felt to be just us, like the way we were in childhood. Ladakh brings so much solitude that you will have to sit with yourself, willingly or unwillingly, and have a talk. You might just find your axis again, going back to what meant the most to you.
While this post is written, mostly, at a whim while looking at my Ladakh photos, there is more coming from Ladakh your way. Post your comments, questions and feedback in the comment section below if you have any queries about the place and they might find their way in my next blog post. Till then, travel.
For those planning a trip to Ladakh and Spiti, here are some quick tips: What not to do in Ladakh, Spiti Valley or pretty much anywhere in the Himalayas?