Chance of a Lifetime

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a real post, so if you haven’t been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you probably don’t know that I’ve been getting more and more into photography.  It’s been a lot of fun and a great stress reliever.  Here is a small portfolio I’ve put together.  Also pretty soon, it’ll be a side job as I do some freelance work for Qatar Foundation‘s Campus Life, photographing their student events throughout this next year.  I already had a test run before they decided to hire me and photographed their Education City welcome event, Ya Hala.  What a great opportunity!

So, jump to today, I’m leaving tonight for a photography trek and workshop to Ladakh, India.  It’s called Lumen Dei, and it’s a 2 week trip where I’ll be joining 7 other participants and 3 professional photographers:  David duChemin, Ami Vitale, and my friend, Matt Brandon.   I’m super excited about this trip and can’t believe it’s finally here (I signed up for it at the end of last year).

Well, I’m all packed and ready to go, but I wanted to show the itinerary of what I’ll be doing over the next two weeks.  Keep in mind that the trip will be filled with instruction and wisdom-sharing from three amazing travel photographers.  It really is the chance of a lifetime!

DELHI
Nizamuddin, Jamma Masjid

Nizamuddin is named after a renowned Sufi Saint that once lives and worshiped in this part of the city. Nizamuddin was know for his magic and great spiritual powers. Today pilgrims from all religions come to the shrine of Harzzat Nizamuddin Chisti to pay homage and to ask the saint for healing and other special favors.  The cramped alleyways and dark paths leading to the shrine give visitors a since of walking back into time 500 year to the days of when this great saint lived. There are hundreds of opportunities to photograph life as it really is.

Later we travel across town to Old Delhi to one of the most historic mosques in South Asia, the Jamma Masjid. Built by the same king that constructed the Taj Mahal, Shaw Jahan. This is one of the best examples of Mughal architecture left in the world today.

As an added bonus it looks like Gavin Gough will join us for these two days in Delhi.

DELHI
Street Shooting in Old Delhi

Old Delhi with its maze of tight streets and back alley bazaars is a photographer’s paradise. Shopkeepers tending to their wares, people moving from shop to shop. The tin smith, the copper smith, the used part (used anything parts, cars, motors, old cooking pot ect..) all make for great background to life and street photography. Some of the buildings date well back to over 500 year and you will swear some of the people do as well.


EARLY FLIGHT TO LEH

ARRIVE LEH (3,500 M / 11,550 FT)

Upon arrival you will be transferred to your Hotel. We’ll take a little time to settle in and acclimatize since we’ll have gone from a relatively low elevation to over 11,000 feet!

The morning is at leisure to acclimatize to the rarefied air. In the evening you may choose to stroll along the main bazaar – observing the varied crowds. Looking into curio shops is an engaging experience. A particularly attractive sight is the line of women from nearby villages sitting along the edge of the footpath with baskets of fresh vegetables brought for sale. Behind the main bazaar, Nowshar Gali is less bustling but has interesting little shops selling curios and jewelry. Further on are the labyrinthine alleyways and piled-up houses of the old town, clustering around the foot of the Palace Hill. In the other direction, down the bazaar, are the Tibetan markets where one can bargain for pearls, turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli and many other kinds of semi-precious stones and jewelry, as well as carved yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls, or any of a whole array of curios. When tired of strolling, one can step into any of the several restaurants; some of them located in gardens or on the sidewalks and serve local Tibetan, Indian and Continental cuisine.


IN LEH
The morning is at leisure to acclimatize to the rarefied air. You may choose to stroll along the main bazaar – observing the varied crowd and looking into the curio shops is an engaging experience. A particularly attractive sight is the line of women from nearby villages sitting along the edge of the footpath with baskets of fresh vegetables brought for sale, where you might get some amazing portrait shots of the Ladakhi women’s in their traditional dress. Behind the main bazaar, Chang Gali is less bustling but has interesting little shops selling curios and jewelry.

In the afternoon you will drive to Spituk Gompa – 8 km from Leh, standing majestically on top of a hillock overlooking the Indus Valley. Spituk Gompa is from the yellow sect. It houses a collection of ancient masks, antique arms, icons and numerous thangkas.


LEH  – THIKSEY

THIKSEY: BY SURFACE / 29 KM / APPROX  ½ HRS
SHEY: BY SURFACE / 3 KM / APPROX 10 MINS – LEH – BY SURFACE / 16 KM / APPROX 30 MINS

Today early in the morning we will drive on a well paved road traveling upstream along the Indus River to Thikse Monastery, we will attend the early morning prayer where you will see all the monks in the main prayer hall and will also see on top of the gompa monks blowing conch shell trumpets or horns.  It’s a good chance to get some amazing shots from the roof. Thiksey is one of the most vibrant and active monasteries in the region. It dates back to the 16th century and is part of the Gelug-pa Sect. It is headed by successive reincarnations of the Khanpo Rimpoche.   The monastery is 12 storied and painted in deep shades of red, ochre and white. It has evolved around a central courtyard with buildings surrounding it from three sides. At one extreme lies the main dukhang, which houses numerous racks containing religious texts. Behind the main alter lies a small chamber that contains images of revered deities.

At Thiksey you will be served packed lunch and then three km ahead you will visit Shey. Overlooking a small lake, the palace and fortification of Shey was the site of one of the former capitals of Ladakh. In the 10th century the first ruler of Western Tibet, Nyima-Gon, laid the foundations of the first dynasty of Ladakh. On a large rock below the palace is an engraving in shallow relief of the Five Dhyai Buddhas, credited to him. His son constructed the small place and made it the first capital of Ladakh. During subsequent reigns the palace was expanded and the present structure dates back to the time of Deldan Namgyal who lived here for the better part of his reign. The significance of the sight is apparent from the large number of chortens that dot the entire landscape around Shey.


LEH – BASGO – LAMAYURU
BY SURFACE APPROX 120 KMS – 04 HRS

Today you will drive towards the west of Ladakh along the Indus valley. On the way you will visit “Basgo” the ancient capital of Ladakh in the 14th century. The ancient castle is at its ruins but “NIRLAC” has been able to restore the 2 Chamber temples “Ser zings” a two-storied statue of the Matreya Buddha and the other a three- storey clay statue of the Materiya Buddha. We’ll then travel to Lamayuru.  You will be staying at a beautiful location with a natural setting. Here time stands still with its beauty. You may choose to take a leisurely walk in the evening through the village. Our local experts will be happy to arrange a visit to a local home and if you feel adventurous enough you may also try your hand at the local cuisine.


LAMAYURU- – Dha Hanu
BY SURFACE APPROX  – 120 KMS – 04 HR

Today we will go shooting in the early morning and then by lunch time we will drive to Dha Hanu which is totally different people from Ladakhi’s. Having their own language and culture, they come from an Aryan background.  Their headdress and clothing is different from any other region of Ladakh.

After having an afternoon of shooting we’ll camp for one night in this village.

Dha hanu-   IN LEH

We will be exploring around Dha hanu shooting in the morning and by afternoon we will drive back to Leh.

Overnight in Leh


LEH – TSO MORIRI – KARZOK (15,075 FT)
227 KM / APPROX 6 HRS

Tso in the Ladakhi language means a Lake. Tso Moriri is one of the most exciting places in Ladakh; some rate it better than Pangong Tso. A visit to Ladakh is incomplete without visiting Tso Moriri. It is a brackish water lake about 28 km long and 8 km wide at an altitude of 15,000 Ft above sea level. The complete area is considered as a protected wildlife sanctuary and special permits are required for the visit.

From Leh you set out on an early morning drive on a broad well paved road traveling upstream along the Indus River. At Upshi there is a bifurcation, the left road taking you to Mahe still driving along the Indus River, which remains, on your right. The valley in which you are traveling narrows in a couple of places. Here you have steep rocky escarpments alongside the road. The landscape appears different to other areas in Ladakh as the barren rocky mountains are up front along the road. Especially at Kiari you get a close look of purple coloured rocks. Further ahead is Chumthang, which has hot springs. At Mahe you cross over the Indus River and head into a narrow gorge-like valley. This brings you to Puga Sumdo from where the right road goes to Tso Moriri and the left one goes to Tso Kar. On your way to Tso Moriri you cross over Namshang La (4800 M), which is a very wide pass. Shortly after crossing over you come across a small lake called Tangtse Karu. It is a small, brackish water lake at an altitude of more than 4000 metres above sea level. It is something of a prelude to Tso Moriri. Driving through an awesome vast wilderness the scenery is simply breathtaking. As you are about to reach Tso Moriri, excitement is on high, because having driven through a high altitude vast desert land the last thing to expect there is a lake. Then suddenly, a vast expanse of turquoise blue water appears.

Tso Moriri or “Mountain Lake” is situated in the middle of the elevated valley of Rupshu surrounded by snow-capped peaks. This valley is inhabited by a small-scattered population of “Changpas” who are nomadic shepherds who also engage in trade and work in Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti. The area is rich in wildlife including the “Kyang” (wild ass), red fox, black necked crane and geese.

On arrival check in to your accommodation. In the afternoon explore the surrounding areas of the Lake. The village of Korzok is besides the lake. It is the Nomad Headquarters. A large meditation center has also come up besides the lake a little ahead of the village. One can visit the ancient Karzok Monastery or take the opportunity to catch hold of some nomadic tribesmen to get a glimpse of their lifestyle. The lake itself is surrounded by mountain peaks with a strong wind causing waves in the lake. As the sun is about to set it gives a golden tinge to the peaks: the dense blue colour of the lake contrasts with the golden coloured peaks against the backdrop of a light blue sky, which is simply captivating. After an early dinner, do not miss seeing the sunset and the reflection of a clear starry sky in the waters of the lake.

Retire to your tents for an overnight stay. We’ll be camping for two nights here.

TSO MORIRI
APPROX 55 KM / APPROX 2 ½ HRS – LEH – APPROX 145 KM / APPROX 3 ½ HRS

Rise early in the morning to capture some unforgettable snaps of the deep blue waters of the lake against the backdrop of rocky mountains of unimaginable hues.

After lunch at the lake, you commence your journey back to Leh. The near distance mountains are greenish – brown in colour, the middle distance ones are purplish – grayish & snow-capped peaks are visible in the distant. Descending from the pass the road gets you back in to civilization passing through picturesque villages with well-cultivated fields, you’ll arrive Leh by late evening and spend the night at your hotel.

Overnight in Leh


IN LEH

Today is a leisure day to relax and explore the area on your own.

Overnight in Leh


LEH – DELHI
After an early breakfast you will be transferred in time to board your flight back to Delhi.

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