It's been almost half a year already since I have packed my bags and left Bangalore for good to travel indefinitely. Since then I've been to fortunate enough to have seen some pretty amazing things and have experienced some unique cultures. I was planning to work on the go but with so many interesting things happening around me, it was really difficult to focus and write down stories as I had intended to. So I took a month's break at home after Nepal and finished up a lot of work that should allow me to travel for the next few months again.
Although, just before leaving home, Microsoft sent me a Lumia 830 to capture my travels and knowing how good the Lumia Cameras are, I jumped at the opportunity. I have only used a Samsung Galaxy mobile camera before and at best, it was just adequate. All these images are shot on Lumia and I'm in love with the 10MP camera.
I will be hitting the road next week and will keep wandering for the next few months. There are some interesting things in store and I will announce as the plans gets confirmed. It's only fitting that before I begin traveling again, I look back on where I've been so far. Here are few glimpses of the amazing journey so far - from Ladakh to Kumaon and Arunachal to Nepal.
(All images shot on Lumia 830)
(All images shot on Lumia 830)
One Winter in Ladakh, tracking Snow Leopards and witnessing exotic festivals
After the previous year's winter adventure of walking over frozen Zanskar, I never really thought I'd go back to that freezing land again. But an opportunity to track the ghost of the mountains was just too good pass upon. So, one freezing February morning I landed back in Leh. As it happens, Ladakh was the first place I went to after embracing a nomadic life. Ladakh is the only place I've come closest to calling home, I've been there 5 times already and without a doubt I'll be returning again. That's my happy place, apparently.
I spent almost 2 weeks taking shelter under the roof of the world, witnessed my first ever proper snowfall which turned Leh into a magical dreamland in white overnight. I saw a glimpse of the ghost and ran into the amazing Dosmoche festival, a festival that marks the end of winter and welcomes spring. Ladakh, as it turns out, was the perfect way to begin a new chapter in my life as a nomad.
|Dosmoche Festival at Likir Monastery|
|The surreal dance of the monks in the vast open spaces of Ladakh|
|The barren landscape covered in snow|
|Ice Hockey is a popular sport in Ladakh where all the ponds and lakes freeze in winters|
The awe-inspiring beauty of Nepal
Having trekked a lot in the Indian Himalayas, I thought I had seen the best of it and that no other place could be as amazing as this. But I couldn't have been more wrong. Nepal blew my mind and I didn't even trek! I should've expected nothing less from a country that has a lion's share of all the biggest mountains in the world. And the diversity was no less either. From the jungles of Chitwan to the higher reaches of Himalayas, one could easily spend years lost in the country. This time, I could only spend few weeks in Chitwan and around Pokhara but I am surely going to return to Nepal, to spend a lot more time and to trek a lot despite the high costs(which are totally justified btw).
|Sun peeking out of the clouds after a storm that had just passed at Sarangkot in Nepal|
|The lush beauty of Chitwan National Park in Nepal|
|Dramatic stormy skies that brought a flurry of hailstorms, then a rainbow and magical light. Sarangkot, Nepal|
|The ease of access to Himalayan views is the biggest draw of Nepal. Sunrise at Sarangkot.|
In the surprising marshlands of Assam
Assam always held a special fascination for me, but that was mostly because of the monster river Brahmaputra that ram amok in the monsoons yet inspired awe among others. But I had little idea on how rich the state was, biodiversity wise. I saw marshlands full of birds, forests full of amazing wildlife, tea gardens full of fireflies and on the whole, left the place more amazed that I thought possible. And yes, it was a whirlwind trip so I will be returning here as well. ;)
|The marshlands next to Branhmaputra where I saw tens of Lesser Adjutant Storks|
|A brilliant find, Maguri Beel close to Dibru Saikhowa National Park where hundreds of birds can be seen, migratory and residential|
|A pleasant morning along the tea gardens in Hoolock Gibbon Sanctuary|
An unexpected escape to Bhatkal
This was my first assignment as a photographer, I travelled along with a writer for one of India's leading travel magazines to cover Bhatkal as a destination. I was more excited about going on assignment as a photographer than the place, because this being in Karnataka, I thought I wouldn't really be surprised much. But what a surprise this place turned out to be, we hiked to a giant waterfall, explored some ancient yet little known ruins, got drenched in heavy downpour and had a great time in general. With travel, there's really no knowing what awaits you!
|A small fishing village on the banks of Sharavathi River, Karnataka|
|Islands of mangroves in Sharavathi River, Karnataka.|
|Crossing over a rickety bridge over Sharavathi River.|
In the foothill of Himalayas, Kumaon, Uttarakhand
I am not much into property reviews as a blogger, but when Kosi Valley Retreat invited me, couldn't really pass on the opportunity because of they said the property is situated in an obscure valley with amazing views, hikes and rides around. That one week happened to be one of my best times in foothills of Himalayas. I never really thought much of the valleys hidden below the mighty snow capped peaks but this trip taught me a good lesson that the valleys are just as fascinating as the mountains.
|Stunning views of the Kumaon Himalayan range and the valleys below from an old temple|
|First glimpse of Almora on a pleasant winter morning|
|The lovely terraced fields that dot the landscape in the valleys of Almora, Uttarakhand.|
A week with the fascinating Apatani Tribes in Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
This week in remote Arunachal was one of the challenges I was so glad to have taken. Spending a week with the Apatanis photographing their unique Myoko festival pushed me a lot out of my comfort zone and I think I might have a good body of work finally. Like I've said many times before, this is the exactly the kind of work I want to be doing much more in the coming months and this happened to be a very good step in the right direction.
|A rainy day morning in the splendid Ziro Valley, Arunachal|
|Local cuisine, including some ferns and preserved pork.|
|The tin roofed houses of Ziro Valley surrounded by the lush forest covered mountains|
So that was my very satisfying first half of the year in travels.
How has your year been so far? Where all did you travel? Let me know in the comments.
, by Neelima Vallangi