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Ladakh by Kalpana Chatterjee India's most northerly state, Ladakh lies on the border with Pakistan.  It is known for its incredible mountain scenery and culture and is home to one of the few remaining populations of Buddhists, orginating from Tibet, in Southern Asia. Dress & Festival Goncha - a voluminous robe of thick woolen cloth with a colorful kamarbund tied at the waist.  Multi coloured velvet caps fringed with black fur earlaps. Assistance is required to put on this elaborate costume. The LoSar Festival (a Tibetan word for New Year from  "Lo" meaning year and "sar" meaning new). His Holiness 20th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, Thubstan Nawang, born 24 November 2005, sits huddled on a throne. A Six -year-old boy, Thubstan Nawang, has been identified as the reincarnation of the Indian Buddhist saint, Kushok Bakula Rinpoche.  Bakula's reincarnation was confirmed by his holiness the Dalai Lama. The last Festival of the Tibetan calendar is the Thiksey Festival.  Monks dressed in their best festive brocades, perform the mask dance in front of hundreds. Children occasionally cry out loud at seeing the grotesque faces. Although the masks are very fierce, the dance moves are extremely graceful and in sync with the gongs and cymbals that echo throughout the ritual. The Monks When the eyes do that talking.  I met him three times and he rarely smiled! His intense eyes spoke a million words. A young monk scampering down the steps of the Thiksey monastery. He holds his texts in one hand and tries to get his flying robe in place. He is late for school. The Monastery houses a school for young monks to learn Buddhism. Sharing a joke in one of the lighter moments. Working hands. A baby monk, barely aged 7, washing his lunch plate in a narrow trickling stream born out of the melting snow from the mountain peaks. Is it their devotion or their belief in their religion that help them to overcome the age defying climb which they have to undertake every day to reach the shrine? I had to stop several times on the ascent to catch my breath. The Landscape
Pangong Lake: Calm tranquil, deep blue clear skies, fluffly white clouds and perfect reflection.  Spituk Gompa (Monastery) on a summer evening. Confluence. Last light.  A sunset over a small lake in Leh. Winter sunset.  The sun a fiery orange, the clear blue skies reflecting in the ink blue waters, the mercury dipping at -16 degrees C and of course the windchill.  Braving all this, is a man waiting for his bus to go home! The rising sands. Hot and cold.  Sundown at Shey Village. Back to current issue