Saturday, 2 September 2017

Ladakh - in Textures & Hues

Travelling in Ladakh essentially involves long hours on the road. Depending on your itinerary you will be on the road anything between 7-9 hours a day Or may be alternate days if you include longer halts at any place. So much of the experience is solely dedicated to the travel time and in absorbing the visuals. As you drive through the mountains, high altitude passes, beautiful valleys, flat lands next to gushing rivers Or by a terrain that compels you to shut your eyes and hold your breath BUT absorb the 360 deg views as well, all at the same time,  the road  is totally captivating and fascinating.

What strikes most about Ladakh is her unique landscape.. The many shades, textures, the variations in the topography. With the constant uncertainty of the road conditions, the unpredictability of what lies at the next bend weaves magically into our minds giving us the much needed window to quietly surrender to enormity, vastness, and humbly immerse in the views sculpted by nature.

A small representation of the journey that was  !

En route - Leh to Turtuk 

Somewhere between Pangong to Leh

Towards Hanle - One of the finest views here 

Moving Closer to Hanle 

On way Tso Moriri to Sarchu - another showstopper route 

And then suddenly you find yourself  here  @ More Plains (en route towards Sarchu)

On a slightly cloudy day, More Plains with vast stretches of flatlands, and mountain ranges in the distance . 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Slovenia - Triglav National Park

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads -  Henry David Thoreau 

Few Images from Triglav National Park :

Some mist, some clouds , the golden hues , Lake Bled at sunrise

As the Golden Rays burst out from behind the Julian Range.

Less than couple of hours later, from another side of the lake .

Hayracks - unique to Slovenia , primarily used for drying hay Or animal fodder. 
Julian Alps  from Kranjska Gora. This region, is also very close to Austria and Italy borders.

Emerald green water and unspoiled surroundings of Zelenci Spring at Zelenci Nature Reserve

Soca - is one of the rare rivers to retain it's emerald color entirely through it's flow.

Lake Bohinj, another glacial lake, is the largest permanent lake in Slovenia

Blazing sunset over the Julian Alps.  Had never imagined will experience it this close .With Mangart  at the background, this is at 2679 metres , the original road across Vrsc Pass was constructed by Russian POW  during WWI in 1915.

Probably one of the last shots of the day .

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Salzkammergut - Part III

GOSAU - A Paradise for Real !!

It so happened, while I was building my itinerary (which went through several iterations before I settled on that final one), I happened to stumble upon some images of this incredibly beautiful village called “Gosau”. One look and I did not need any reasoning why/if I want to be there – I just checked all possible logistics and nearest location feasible for commuting. And as it turned out a very easy route from Hallstatt !
The bus (542) from Hallstatt to Gosausee (ie the Gosau Lake) takes less than 20 minutes. Along the route The views kept me engaged ! I reminded myself , This is Salzkammergut and I should expect nothing else. The view is precisely seamless and unless you notice the signboards that indicate beginning and end of each village, you would imagine it’s one big village/town. Somewhere in between I realised here is Gosau. As I waited with all my contained excitement for the bus to halt at it’s designated stop,  I realised to my horror we’ve passed by the village and now we are somewhere near a lake !! All my co-passengers alight here and a disconcerted self now informs the driver that I wanted to get down at Gosau village.  A few words of conversation with the gentleman (which he truly was) I am given to understand since there was no indication from anybody he drove past !
Now, we are at Gosau Lake and he equips me with some info, “ this is where everyone comes to, not the village..Nobody goes there , don’t you want to see the lake “ ..
Okaayy – but I have to go to the village – I have come this far and I just can’t go back with the Window views in my memory . 
He probably gauged my disconsolate state. He said “ Ok go and take a look at the lake , in few minutes I will be going back But not in that direction entirely. I can drop you at a point from where it’s a few minutes walk “  -  This was a moment of divine intervention !

I very quickly wrapped up my Lake side time, got some unmindful images and rushed back.  It was about  8-10 minutes drive and he explained me the directions on the way . 

At Gosausee

My drive back to the point from where I should find Gosau.
I thanked and thanked this gentleman profusely and started on the route as explained to me.
Gosau is not a remote location but (thankfully) it’s not on the usual tourist radar.  
It’s a slice of paradise.

For someone who resides in a concrete forest and amidst a maze of gleaming tall-rises, where if you do not find another human in less than a meter you are engulfed with doubts if something is wrong in the city,  THIS  was nothing short of a Paradise. From the moment I stepped here and as far as my sights could go, there was not a soul around.  Here I am strolling through these pathways amidst vast stretches of greens, surrounded by the Limestone Alps and dense alpine forest with most beautiful clusters of cottages and Not a soul around. Nowhere!  Occasionally a car would pass by with someone waving or smiling but that’s it.  This time that I had here,is the most cherished from the first half of my trip. No clutter in my mind.. No thoughts …I was just engrossed in absorbing all that was bestowed upon…It is not everyday I stroll through an endless natural green carpet and get a feel that I am the only resident here.Miraculously, the weather too seemed to clear out and let me be there.

90 minutes down , I sensed I should trace my path back . I knew the last bus schedule and the time was getting closer for the 2nd last bus . I have to reach back to Bad Ischl and then to Salzburg. By now I had wandered somewhere in the middle of the village. And to trace back my path I need some help and here lies a bigger challenge – To seek help I need to spot a human first !  I start to retrace my path and only hoping to be able to locate the bus stop before the last one goes by.

After about 15-20 minutes later I meet them and have to walk past them – Only two things were on my mind  a) Wish you spoke my language  b) Please just stay where you are, I am not here to harm you !

Sigh of relief from a few feet away !

As much as I longed to stay back and explore more here, one part of my mind kept pushing me to get to the main road from where the buses go. I was earlier informed by the Samaritan, that I should find a bus stop every 400-500 metres. I just wanted to find somebody now who could give me some sense of direction !
And finally I found this couple. They were extremely kind and explained me patiently . I found the  bus stops (and yes every 500 metres ! ) but hey now I need to decode the schedule that’s on the board .. This way or that way, which side of the road !!!  Well, If not mastered but over the last couple of days I had gathered some elementary sense of decoding the format . And guess who’s driving on this route to Bad Ischl  – Once again the Good Samaritan .

Here’s more from Gosau !

And  finally on the route to go back .

(For better viewing experience, please click on the images and scroll through the right/left arrow keys ).