Zanskar Photography Tour Itinerary and Trip Report by Aditi Jha
DAY 1 Leh - Indus-Zanskar Sangam - Lamayuru - Mulbekh - Kargil
We arrived at Leh in the morning on 1st July. Then we took our vehicle and headed towards our hotel - Baru La Hotel in Kargil. On our way, we made several stops for capturing the beautiful mountains, rivers, and monasteries. The first stop was at Sangam View Point where the Zanskar River and Indus River meet it was a cool and calm sight. Then we stopped at Magnetic Hill clicked some pictures there then moved towards the nearest eating point Nimmoo Market and had our lunch there. Our next stop was Moonland, the textures on the mountains were interesting and the play of shadows was sightful. Then we moved towards the Lamayuru Monastery, where we entered the monastery and clicked some portraits. Next, we saw Mulbekh Monastery and after that, we finally reached our hotel, got freshened up, and had our dinner.
DAY 2 Kargil - Suru Valley - Nun Kun peaks - Parkachik Glacier - Rangdum Monastery - Penzi La - Drang Drung Glacier
Morning in Kargil, after having our breakfast we started our journey to our first campsite. On our way, we saw the Suru River and our first stoppage was Suru Valley which was soo scenic that we couldn't take our eyes off and we stayed in that place for almost one and a half hours. We captured the valley as much as we could. We also had a small interaction with the family working in the field. It was a pleasant start to the day.
Then we saw the Nun-Kun peaks, Parkachik Glacier, Rangdum Monastery, and Penzi La on our way. Then we had a heavenly sight of Drang Drung Glacier. It felt so nice to be able to see India's 2nd largest Glacier. Then we reached our campsite by evening and it was the darkest skies we ever witnessed, had our dinner and shot the Milky Way and Star Trails. Some of us were doing astrophotography for the first time but others made it easy to understand the settings for shooting the Milky Way and star trails.
DAY 4 Padum - Bardan Monastery (Bardan Gompa) - Lugnak Valley - Shilla - Reru - Changpa - Tsarap River - Purne Village - Trump - Tsarap Kurgiakh Confluence - Kurgiakh Village - Gonbo Rangjon / Gumbok Rangan
We left our hotel after having breakfast to reach our 2nd campsite. As always we can't reach our destination without stopping at different places.
The first stop we made was to see the Bardan Monastery. Then we entered the Lugnak Valley and crossed several small villages like Shilla, Reru and Changpa.
On our way, we saw the Tsarap River which was as pure as holy water. It was the highlight of the day. The color of the river was turquoise. Then we stopped at Dolma Shop, Purne, and had our lunch. There we saw the meeting of two rivers - the Tsarap River and the Kurgyiakh River.
lAfter lunch, we again hit the roads and headed toward our destination. The next stop we made was in Kurgyiakh Village as we saw some kind of celebration happening, took some portraits of children, and then finally reached our campsite right in front of the majestic Gonbo Rangjon. It was like watching a 3D wallpaper. Had our lunch, relaxed a bit, appreciating the creation of the place then shot in the blue hour and after having our dinner we again went to shoot the Milky Way but unfortunately, we were unlucky, the Milky Way and the sparkling stars got covered with clouds and we had to get back in our tents.
DAY 5 Gonbo Rangjon / Gumbok Rangan - Purne - Phuktal Monastery / Phuktal Gompa - Padum
Waking up and getting out of our tents and realizing that we are surrounded by some extremely beautiful mountains was so surreal.
After having our breakfast we headed towards Purne and after reaching we started our 2hrs trek to the most beautiful and the oldest monastery in Zanskar - Phugtal Monastery.
It was an adventurous trek with so many ups and downs. For some of us it was our first trek but others helped us and boosted our energy so that we don't stop or give up. The best part of the trek was that we were trekking alongside the Tsarap River.
After reaching the entry gate and seeing the monastery we felt the worth of trekking all the way just to see the monastery. It was so peaceful and amazing just to look at the monastery and the greenery and the Tsarap River. After that we trekked all the way back to where we started.
We had our packed lunch and we were so tired that we all slept until we reached our hotel in Padum. That was the only day we reached our destination without making any stops. We reached our hotel in the evening, took a bath, and had our dinner.
DAY 6 Padum - Zangla - Stongday Monastery - Lingshed
We left Padum in the morning for our next campsite in Lingshed. Our journey started with a long smooth road and made our first stop at Stongday Monastery. It was the most colorful monastery we had seen and the only which allowed us to shoot inside the monastery. The monks over there were so nice, we took some portraits of them.
Monasteries are always a peaceful place.
Then we moved towards our next stop The Zangla Palace. It sounds as if you will get to see a palace in between a barren land but in reality it is just a abandoned fort on top of a mountain which can be missed easily.
Now we got on the adventurous rocky road and after a long drive we reached Lingshed. But the villagers did not let us camped there so we had to move from there to somewhere else where water was available.
We found a place for camping so we stopped there and placed our tents. After a while we had our lunch and took rest. At night after having dinner we were waiting for the clouds to move awayso that we can shoot the milky way but clouds were so stubborn they didn't moved a inch, hence bad luck.
It was a lesson that right place and right timing is not always the key, how many times you visited that place to take that one shot, that effort you put is everything.
DAY 7 Lingshed - Singe La - Sirsir La - Leh
We had our breakfast and as it was our last day we took a group photo with our driver and our cooks who fed us with some delicious food on every campsite. Then we started our journey from Lingshed to Leh.
On our way, we came across two passes. The first one was Singe La and the second was Sirsir La. Took some photographs, and then after covering some distance we saw some people all dressed up and we stopped there to click some portraits. We interacted with the villagers and they told us that they were celebrating the birthday of the Dalai Lama and the Head Lama Ji is about to come. We could've waited for the Lama Ji to come but we had to reach our hotel so we moved on and had our lunch in between because our hotel was still at a far distance. By afternoon we reached our hotel The Shanti Nest in Leh. There we got inside our rooms, took a warm bath, and headed out shopping. Then came back, had our dinner, and off to sleep. Some of us had a flight the next day and the rest were staying in Leh for some more days.
And that was the end of our trip.
About the writer - Aditi Jha
Aditi Jha, 19 years old, born and brought up in New Delhi, started her photography journey in the year 2020 and by now came a long way.
She completed her Basic Photography course from SIA Photography and Advanced Photography course from Delhi College of Photography (DCOP).
She's quite passionate about her career and works hard to improve her skill set. Travel and Landscape are her favourite genre of photography and she's quite refined in her craft. She is also inclined towards the glamorous side of photography i.e. Fashion Photography.
You can find her on Instagram
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Tips for photographers
1. Keep Yourself Hydrated! Most Important!
2. Take a wide lens with you, Landscapes are so lovely and Astro is like the cherry on top.
3. Keep your batteries in a thick furry hanky so they'll be warm even at that temperature. (sying through experience)
4. Landscapes are so lovely that you would want to take pictures of everything but hold on..take only a few shots and enjoy the view, feel the wind, and inhale the fresh air (which you'll never get in your cities).
5. Lastly, don't forget to put on Sunscreen, or else you'll be a Roasted Bread
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All rights reserved. No copying without permission of the author Saurabh Chatterjee