Hues of Ladakh through a traveller’s lens

August 13th, 2008 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) Ladakh has its natural colour scheme. The land of rugged brown hills, windswept plains and remote monasteries shimmering white against the backdrop of an azure sky is a photographer’s delight. Shamim Akhtar’s ongoing exhibition captures the Buddhist land in all its moods. The exhibition of photographs, “Rode to Heaven”, a biker’s account of the colourful state through pictures, opened at the India Habitat Centre Monday. It will close Aug 17.

“There was no one else - just motorbike, my digital camera and me. I rode from Delhi to Ladakh. It was a 16-day trip,” Akhtar told IANS.

Deputy high commissioner of Peru Carlos Yrigoyen, one of whose photographs of the magnificent Kiagar Tso Lake in Ladakh was also unveiled at the show, inaugurated the exhibition.

The photographs, arranged in a chronological sequence, capture his journey from Delhi.

The first frame is of a cloud-kissed green valley along the river Beas in Manali in Himachal Pradesh, where Akhtar made his first landfall June 15.

It makes way for a little village Sissu in the Lahaul valley, where the photographer stopped to bask in its serene splendour.

The third frame is Akhtar’s first brush with the snow-capped Himalayas, a set of three imposing peaks rising steeply from the lush base.

“The picture is that of Keylong on the Manali-Leh Road. It is the last big town in Lahaul,” Akhtar said.

From Keylong, the photographer rode uphill to Baralacha Pass, past the bleak Moreh Plain to Tso Kar, a small brackish water lake and a roosting site for exotic birds.

Further up, Akhtar stopped at the Tanglang La pass on the Manali-Leh Road for a striking wide-angle shot of the barren Himalayan ranges splattered with snow.

After crossing Tanglang, Akhtar zoomed in on the green Indus Valley, panning his lens to capture the vibrant colours of the valley and its surrounding mountains, monasteries and lifestyles all the way to Leh, the capital of Ladakh.

“My personal favourite is a small frame of the Shanti Stupa at Leh,” he said pointing to a small frame of the Buddhist monument.

Some of the frames, shot at night or in poor fading light, have a sepia tone, an effect that Akhtar achieved by using the infra-red technology in his lens and camera.

“None of the photographs have been touched up in photographs. The colours of Ladakh change every half an hour,” Akhtar said.

“I have been to Ladakh several times. But I cannot say whether it is my wanderlust or love for photography that takes me across the country,” he said.

Akhtar went to northeast India for the first time in 1992 at the age of 21 on a 100 cc Hero Honda motorcycle.

The lensman, a government employee who already has one coffee table book, “Floating Pearl in the Arabian Sea - Lakshwadeep” documenting the society and culture of the island to his credit, is planning a second volume on Ladakh.

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