INFINITE CHARM

Children are always charming and in Ladakh the Charm is heightened to the Power of Infinity.

Do read up the blog titled “The 3 Idiots” on the Rancho School located near Leh,Ladakh.

steps of kids
Step by Step

This sweet charming kid rests against a colourful wall in the Monastery . His expression changed once he  became aware of the camera.

inside hemis
Camera makes even children conscious

The Coy Girl was shy and kept covering her face with the white stole till patience paid off and I captured this image within the Hemis Monastery outside the Upper Residence of His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa.

hemis and coy girl
Within the Hemis Monastery

This charming and extremely young Buddhist Child is on his way to becoming a Monk.

pic pls
Charmed by the Camera 

I was fortunate to sit amongst children near Leh, Ladakh and capture some delightful moments which I am sharing in this blog.

birth to old age
Cycle of Life

ROYAL RED ARCHWAYS

Raipur Village in Pali District , Rajasthan is a small intriguing Village on way to becoming a tiny Town as it expands and merges with village Haripur (home to the fabulous Lakshman Sagar) . Raipur is located 90 kms from Ajmer, off a fabulous Highway .

Rajasthan is a lovely state which truly reflects the Heritage of a Royal Past.

The pictures that follow were taken in  Raipur Fort Palace now located in the midst of the Raipur Village where the erstwhile Ruling Family resides todate.

Red is the Hallmark  of this Royal Palace from where ,Once Upon a Time, Regal Diktats were issued and executed.

The first glimpse of the Regally Red Archways to unfold  from the bustling village street of Raipur.

archway to the royal home
Ancient Archways reveal the First Gate to the Raipur Palace Fort

The Main Entrance from the alleys of the Town-Village as it exists to date.

main gate
Primary Gate to the Fort Palace

The Main Gate which leads to the courtyard and the numerous Palaces within the Raipur Fort complex.

to the main courtyard
Lord Ganesha adorns the beautifully Carved Doorway

 

You feel you have gone back in time, 400 years ago as you step into the main courtyard that leads to the various Palaces .

The Palace which is immediately behind the Royal Marble Throne.

red arches.JPG
The beautiful Arches unique to Rajasthan

This was a peak into one of the relatively unknown  Royal Homes of Rajputana.

TRADITIONAL MILKMAN

Travelling within India is like viewing a scene through a Kaleidoscope.

The sights and attire change dramatically as you move from Indian State to another.

Shifting from the Freezing Cold of Ladakh to Warm Rajasthan reveals Interesting  Views taken from a moving car near Ajmer, Rajasthan.

The featured image captures an elderly Milkman with Beautiful Brass Utensils, pushing his Bicycle on a bridge.

His Splendid  headgear called “SAAFA”  or “PAGDI” is replicated by two of the Three Wise Men enjoying a cup of Tea . They are seated on a wooden bench besides a busy street. Do not miss the Handmade Leather Shoes called “JOOTIS“.

three wise men
Three Wise Men

While the headgear remains Unchanged, the Bicycle has transformed into a Motorcycle alongwith one of the Brass Milk Containers into a lighter and larger Aluminium Container.

The Hand towel over the shoulder is a unique Multipurpose Garment much like a Fouta in Tunisia or Hammam Towel in Turkey.

 

on a bike
Milkman moving with the times

The picture above was taken through the windshield of a Car and thus slightly milky. 

HIMALAYAN SUNSET

Pictures were taken at the Shanti Stupa in Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir,India.

These Breathtaking Views need no words, so am Zipping Up.

Enjoy yourselves and witness the Setting Sun during the Freezing Winter Month of February in Leh.

golden
Golden Pagoda looks over Leh, Ladakh
leh view
Sun Sets over Leh Ladakh

 

leh at sunset
Crimson Clouds over a Monastery as the Sun Sets
golden pagoda
Gold From Clouds to the Pagoda

THE THREE IDIOT SCHOOL

Movies have a Huge Impact on our Lives.

This statement is underlined and highlighted many times over at THE RANCHO SCHOOL at Shrey, Ladakh.

A huge blockbuster of a movie titled THE THREE IDIOTS highlights the creative educational practices followed at this Himalayan School in the desolate landscape of Ladakh.

The school is managed by the Hemis Monastery which was founded in the 11th Century. The Naropa Temple ( seen in the picture below from the Rancho School) is dedicated to Naropa, the founder of the Drukpa lineage of the Hemis Monastery.

temple overlooks the school
The Rancho School and the Naropa Temple

The school was closed during the Winters when I happened to visit the Region.

himalayan playground
Himalayan Playground

The Rancho School Coffee Shop doubles up as a restaurant or Dining Area during the Winter Festival which coincides with the Birthday of His Holiness . ( do read the previous blog titled SEA OF MAROON)

The building blocks of the entire school are Locally available Stones and not Bricks.

The entire school  premises are powered by Solar Energy .

rancho coffee shop
The School Coffee Shop

The School is surrounded by the Lofty Himalayas , Buddhist Temples and Stupas.

The picture below was taken from one of the Hostels at Rancho School.

 

himalayan view
Buildings integrated into the Beautiful Landscape

The Rancho School makes Movies come to Life.

Domestic tourism  from other parts of India to Ladakh  increased 500% after the movie rocketed to the top of the Charts.

A SEA OF MAROON

In the first blog on Leh, Ladakh titled CHARMING LEH AIRPORT, I had mentioned certain signs which forecast what was to be unveiled in the hours and days to follow.

The posts SIGNS OF BUDDHA , EMPTINESS and FROZEN unraveled Three such Symbols, this post is the fourth in the series.

On reaching the Naropa Temple ( Famous for the Hemis Festival or Kumbh of the Himalayas) and the Rancho School ( made famous by the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots) at Shrey, Ladakh   I was greeted with a SEA of MAROON.

Buddhist Devotees  draped in shades of Maroon had reached Shrey in thousands to celebrate the Birthday of His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa.

welcome
All paths led to His Holiness

An Awesome and Stunning  Gate crowned by two Dragons around the Buddhist Circle of Dharma . Unfortunately my illiteracy prevents me from reading the script on the Golden Gate.

dragon gateway
A Beautiful Gate at the Entry to the  Naropa Temple Complex

The Grey Wall is the Boundary between the Naropa Temple and the famous Rancho School. Both of which are managed by the Hemis Monastery which in turn is headed by the Spiritual Leader His Holiness of Drukpa Lineage.

The Himalayas look upon the Celebrations taking place in the valley below. The Birthday Celebrations coincide with the Winter Festival held at the Hemis Monastery.

happy birthday

The Dragon Flag is the Symbol of the Hemis Monastery

Devotion and Faith help thousands of Monks and Devotees brave the Icy Chill of Winters at Ladakh as they sit in the open , under the gaze of the snow capped Himalayas, listening to their Spiritual Leader His Holiness the G. Drukpa .

maroon and himalayas
The Barren landscape is awash in a Sea of Maroon

Despite an extremely hard and tough life all you see in Ladakh are Happy and Cheerful Faces.

Was the Secret of Happiness their faith in Tibetan Buddhism  or the Colour Maroon they adorned , or both ?

maroon all over

If you recall the initial picture in the CHARMING LEH AIRPORT showcases  cheerful Buddhist Monks in Robes of Maroon greeting us.

Who says you cannot see the Future ? Travel with Mukul and Behold the Faithful.

SIGNS OF BUDDHA

As mentioned in my previous blog CHARMING LEH AIRPORT the camera had captured symbols or SIGNS which had foretold what was to be revealed in Leh, Ladakh.

The First Sign and it is the Featured image as well  in the previous post is  a car with Buddhist Prayer Flags.

The featured Image is of a small Stupa or Temple covered with Stone Art and seen near our  final destination , The Mahey Retreat Hotel .

The short drive form the Airport to the Hotel revealed that Ladakh was indeed the Land of Lord Buddha.

All the images that follow were taken from the car during the course of a drive taking us to our Hotel from the Airport at Leh, Ladakh, Jammu& Kashmir, India.

Leh palace and temple
LEH PALACE ON THE LEFT BELOW THE SNOW CAPPED HIMALAYAS

A large Prayer Wheel seen alongside one of the major avenues leading to the LEH PALACE and FORT built in the 17th Century.( see the picture above please)

Do observe a Dog sits patiently on the steps leading to THE PRAYER WHEEL.

the prayer wheel and the dog
A PRAYER WHEEL

Buddhist Symbols, the  Unique Script of Ladakh ( similar to the Tibetan script)  ,  and Frescoes adorn this little building which I could capture only partially.

buddhist symbols
The Himalayas provide a beautiful backdrop to a Buddhist Building enroute

This  small Stupa was spotted during the drive as well. Do observe the Prayer Flags.

 

a small stupa
Stupa and Prayer Flags

Leh sure has a unique and distinctive flavour. I was loving it, hope you do so as well.

Watch out for the the unraveling of the other signs mentioned in the previous blog as well.

CHARMING LEH AIRPORT

For me the first point of entry into Leh, Ladakh was the KBP Airport and there were many signs captured by the camera which foretold me of the sights to follow.

The Unique Blankets hung over doorways charmed me at the Airport. By the time I left I realized it was a practical Local way of retaining the Heat during the Bitterly Cold Winters of Leh.

airport at leh
Small Charming Airport at Leh

Volunteers from the Hemis Monastery welcomed us with White Silken Scarves. Theie gorgeous traditional woolen attire ensured they remain warm when temperatures fall to minus thirty degrees centigrade.

saropa and mountains
Traditional Welcome at the Airport

Ladakh is classified as a COLD DESERT as Rainfall is a Luxury. It falls in the rain shadow of the Lofty Himalayas ensuring Rain bearing Clouds seldom reach the region.

The result is a unique and stark Landscape bereft of even a blade of Grass as can be seen in the picture below taken at the Airport at Leh.

stark mountains at car park
Watching the International Borders

The temperature was minus Ten degrees Centigrade at 1000 hours when we landed. The frozen water on the chairs outside the airport bear testimony to the  statement above.

It was another sign that Ladakh will be Freezing Cold.

ice on chairs at airport
Brrr Freezing Cold

Having understood little of the signs and symbols at the time of arriving I now see in hindsight that many sights had already been foretold the moment I stepped out at the Airport at Leh.

 

car top
Off we go in the Powdered Sugar Car

Stay on Board as the Signs and symbols are unraveled as we travel through Ladakh.

LEH TEASER

Ladhakh is a unique region within the Northern most state of Jammu & Kashmir, India.

Leh is the capital of Ladakh and located at an altitude of 11480 feet ( 3500m)  in the lap of the lofty Snow Clad Himalayas.

This was my first trip to the region and was I excited.

A short one hour  flight connects Leh  to New Delhi .

Delhi T3 Airport
 0530 hrs at New Delhi Airport

Each region of India is wonderfully diverse and unique. Ladhakh is no exception and the change in attire and faces is apparent at  New Delhi Airport itself.

changing dress
The change in faces and clothes are apparent at the Boarding Gate itself

The Pilot announced the temperature was minus 10 degrees Centigrade, however I was overwhelmed by the snow covered Himalayas.

first look through the window
First Awesome look

Do observe  the Mountains in the foreground have no Snow and are absolutely barren.

The region of Ladhakh is known as a COLD DESERT.

 

snow peaks
Breathtaking view

Do await  more blogs here as well as at http://www.enchantedforests.wordpress.com.

This is as the Title says but a TEASER.

JEWEL AMONGST TREES

The Beautifully landscaped Highway from Noida ( an industrial suburb of New Delhi, India)  to Greater Noida is a Classic Example of an Urban Forest amongst Skyscrapers and Industrial Factories.

beauty along urban life
The Jewels Line the Highway to Greater Noida near New Delhi

Announcing the arrival of Basant Panchmi ( Spring) are these Clusters of Jewels which adorn the leafless Trees of the Indian Coral Tree ( English), Parijat ( Hindi) ,Erythrina indica ( Scientific Name).

Native to India , The Indian Coral Tree belongs to the Pea family or Fabaceae.

the tree
Indian Coral Trees

Adorning the ends of each twig are these brightly Coral coloured blossoms which contrast beautifully against their leafless branches.

As the seasons change , new leaves will sprout on the deciduous branches of The Indian Coral Tree.

the scarlet tree
Splendour of Coral Blossoms

The Inflorescence is a cluster of Brightly Coral coloured Blossoms each of which flexes its spine and Curves upwards towards the Blue Skies and the Sun.

Do the Jewels resemble a Tiger’s Claw??

the blooms
Cluster of  Curved Coral Blooms

The Corals are not unprotected as they have sharp spiny thorns along the branches.

Is the Tree  called The Tiger Claw because of the beautiful Blossoms or the Spiny thorns, both of which resemble the Curved Claws of a Tiger ?

tiger claws
The Jewels are protected by Spiny Tiger Claws

If you live in the vicinity of New Delhi or are visiting, be Enchanted and take the Slow lane on the Highway to Greater Noida .

Be Witness to these Jewels amongst the Trees, which are adorning The Indian Coral Tree this February.