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In Search of Ladakh, and, George

Cyril borrows his Mom's car, meets a Greek guy called George, fails to meet up with an Israeli girl called Shira, subsequently loses George and nearly gets stranded at 15,000 ft. His journey ends in Ladakh, and, well, there are no words that can do justice.

I wanted to go up to Ladakh with my colleague Vipul so we could both work on our nature and travel portfolio for College. I borrowed my mother’s Bolero, and we set off from Dehradun. At our first stop, Kasol, we met old friends who introduced us to George. George was Greek and en route to Ladakh on his bike. He said he would join us. We offered to take some of his gear in our car and we set off. We also met an Israeli girl Shira, who wanted to join  us from Manali, we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet her there.

A Patchily Lit Diskit viewed from Diskit Gompa (Nubra Valley)

We reach Manali and Shira says she has made other arrangements with an Israeli family going all the way to Leh. We set off—George on his Enfield, us in our car. We’re making awful time cause Vipul and I cannot resist stopping every few minutes to take photographs. Understandably, George carries on assuming we will meet later on but without discussing the logistics of this. Our temperature indicator says our car is getting dangerously hot, but we ignore it and get to Jispa on day one. George is nowhere to be seen. There is no cellular network where we are and none in Leh or Ladakh. George’s extra fuel is in the back of our car.

A storm brews over Tso Moriri. Tso means ‘Lake’.
An explosion of light (Korzok, Tso Moriri)

We carry on the next day not quite sure what to do about the George situation. As we approach Zing Zang Bar (yes, it’s called Zing Zang Bar), the temperature indicator is angrily hovering at the highest level. We stop to investigate. Pop the hood and coolant—our last bottle—is literally exploding out of the car. 

As far as the eye can see (view from Tanglang La Pass)

We are lucky, soon enough, to find a mechanic having carried on once the engine cooled. He sorts us out temporarily and we just about make it past Baracha La pass and stop at a camp. What follows is an interesting encounter involving a group of chillum-smoking guys from Punjab and a very angry proprietor (of said camp). We get some much-needed rest despite the biting cold and are off the next morning.

Baralacha La Pass at Dusk.
Beautiful young Muslim girl at Turtuk, Nubra Valley.

The temporary coolant fix still requires us to stop consistently and often turn the car in the direction of the wind to ensure it cools down quickly. We’re almost reaching Leh and we stop again to ensure the car doesn’t explode. We’re standing by the car, freezing our asses off and suddenly in the distance we see an Enfield roaring towards us.

It’s George.

Oh, and sitting behind him is Shira. True effin’ story. 

Debring (Himachal Pradesh) at dusk. The last camp before Tanglang La Pass is situated along the road seen in the image.
Debring at Night
Diskit Gompa
Evening Glory
King of the Mountain
Kyagar Tso from up close. A tiny lake just before the much bigger and more spectacular Tso Moriri.
Leh in the far distance (viewed from Khardung La Pass)
Magical first view of the extremely clear night skies in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh (Jispa, Himachal Pradesh)
Mountain Pastures
On Top of the World
Prayer Flags at Tanglang La Pass
Sceptic brother, friendly sister
Solitude (Self-Portrait)
Storm clouds in the distance (Tso Kar)
Textured Landscapes (Himachal Pradesh)
The Good Shepherd
The rarely visited and relatively small but nonetheless fascinating Tso Kar. This lake was peculiar in that it smelt strongly of sulphur and the ground/earth close to the lake was so soft that you would start sinking in if you got too close to the water. Not a lake to swim in, but immensely beautiful!
The Yin of the Mountains
Threatening Storm Clouds (Tso Kar)
Tso Moriri from up close
Turtuk village viewed from high above.Turtuk is the final destination of one end of Nubra Valley (along the Shyok River) & was only very recently opened for tourists to visit. It is only 12kms from the border of Pakistan and people living there are primarily Muslim
Uri & Shira make XI (Kyagar Tso)
Uri watches the Milky way in Chumathang (Ladakh). Chumathang is a small army camp inbetween Leh & Tso Moriri
Watching the Moon rise over Tso Moriri (Korzok)
Yin & Yang
Zen & the art of motorcycling. Bikers kicking up dust as they ride towards the only camp in Debring. The (tiny) camp is situated along the road in this image and is the last place to rest before proceeding to tackle the last pass (Tangling La) on the Manali-Leh highway
Cyril Kuhn

Cyril Kuhn is a photographer with a diploma in professional photography from the Light and Life Academy in Ooty. Prior to studying photography he completed his BA in Philosophy from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. He is an avid traveller and a lover of the outdoors.