“One cannot handle Ladakh’s ever-changing million-pixel landscapes without using up a couple of gigabytes worth of text just to say what an overwhelming experience it was. But no amount of text can ever — truly ever— capture the enchantment that is Ladakh. One needs to see it to believe it,” says former journalist and now, a full-time travel writer and photographer Sohini Sen in her recently released photo travelogue titled Ladakh.
Ladakh — with its dramatic snow-capped mountains, unforgettable landscapes, high passes, Tibetan monasteries and quaint villages — makes for an interesting backdrop for Sohini’s travelogue.
“The mass and majesty of it all makes Ladakh special for every traveller,” she says and adds, “I fell in love with the Himalayas quite late in life. My friend and I — two ladies — have been travelling along the Himalayan foothills, in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh for the past six years or so. The mountains are beautiful all along the stretch. But in Ladakh they are the most awesome. The terrain is colourful, yet ruthless. The people have hard lives, but they are some of the sweetest I have met on my journeys. And the lakes with their ever-changing hues are all ‘heaven lakes’.”
Just photographs or mere text would not have been enough to share the wonderful moments of discovery and spontaneous laughter. “I was looking for a format that would combine text and photographs in equal measure, and as a harmonious whole. The comic-strip layout seemed apt for this. It is a format that is familiar to readers of all ages, and would suit all attention spans. I have myself been a fan of Asterix comics for years now, and so I have also tried to use an easy, humorous writing style even as I shared interesting bits about Ladakh’s history, customs, flora and fauna,” she says.
With its exciting subject, 414 well-shot photos and simple writing style, the book has everything to appeal to casual tourists, backpackers and armchair travellers.
During her trip, Sohini had many a memorable moment such as spotting the curious marmot popping out of its hole, exchanging smiles with masked lamas, sipping cups of hot, syrupy tea etc.
Ladakh by Sohini Sen Niyogi Books pp. 95 Rs 750
“But I was most moved by the late Captain Vijayant Thapar’s last letter home, displayed in Leh’s Hall of Fame. Captain Thapar was martyred in Kargil in 1999, when he was only 22. On a lighter note, I would really like the readers to watch out for the appearance of the ‘frozen’ marmot in my book,” she shares.
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