A Window in to the Unknown : A Photo Essay

6/21/2012 02:50:00 PM

"Cecil says, each new window contributes to the breadth of our view. 
I say, I just don't like to lose what's in the window. "

Presenting here a series of window shots i took in my ladakh trip.
 The very first photograph below was shot at leh place on my final evening in leh-ladakh. the image in the mirror view is a zanskari dancer/folk dance performer who's getting ready for his evening performance.

1. Reflection

A Window to the unknown : Ladakh India

Every evening a group of musicians and dancers both male and female, present a cultural show, with folks songs and dances from various regions of ladakh e.g. changthang and spiti folklores, zanskar etc to entertain the visitors in leh palace.

2. Masquerade

A Window to the unknown : Ladakh India

"village kid and two young masked monks hanging out of the monastery temple window in korzok" 

Apart from performing regular tasks like dance, processions and literal help, these young kids also do a job of maintaining discipline in crowd during dance festivals roaming around with a stick in hand,  wearing the masks and colorful robes. however their actual task is collect the money by singling out few folks from the crowd , bless them, and get some money from them in return. I am not sure what this ritual is called. but it can be irritating if the monk kid is real mischievous and he's got ways.

3. Echelons

A Window to the unknown : Ladakh India

when you travel to a place for the first time, no matter how many of photographs you have seen, or texts you've read before, its still remains strange to you until you experience it yourself. hadn't that been true, the books and photos would have long replaced traveling. and having said that, you cant plan your experience either. the idea is to go with the flow and enjoy the journey.

this series of window photographs wasn't a planned shoot either. its more like coming back home and find out "oh, i have shot so many windows in ladakh, lets put 'em together, should i? "

to the people of north india, the structure of these windows might not be a unusual and strange, because this is exactly how the windows are constructed in villages of north india plains. though these are mostly painted black using charcoal or something similar, if not the regular color of geru red and the wood is thicker and solid enough to last through generations. 

The village of korzok in changthang, ladakh however have a little uniqueness about these windows. the mud houses of dusty village, are more delicate than a lady whom you dare not touch. ya! from a look of those it feels they can fall down any time, still stands through the roughest of weather through out the year. the windows mostly glassed or occasionally open with no shield of any sort, are constructed in parallel and hence make a layer of windows (sometime 2-4) to see through entire house and a glance of whats on the other side. in the above 2 layers of windows of a store house, i  have found a view to die for.

4. Murals 

A Window to the unknown : Ladakh India

If you have been to any place of Buddha's presence, you' must be aware of stupas or chortens. chortens, also called chaitya or pagoda usually signifies a monument, a domed memorial, sort of a tomb of great individuals. 

Stupas shape and size generally evokes the seating figure of Buddha with eight variations as, Stupa of enlightenment, of many auspicious doors, of commemorating victory and appeasement of existence and nirvana, and also teacher's descent, evoking the lotus heap, reminding of the miracles, and marking the victory over all misadventures. More in to the real world, the structure corresponds to 5 elements, earth, water, fire, air and ether -- is visually divided into a base, mound and pyramidal steeple, which are, in turn, segmented.

A Window to the unknown : Ladakh India

Sometimes its the color with which stupas are painted. which represents the basic elements of life. its goes like a combination of blue white and red, and more.  While in Nubra Valley, going further  hunder valley, you'll find many sets of small sized chortens in 3 colors. however unlike anywhere that I have seen in Ladakh, Stupas in Sumoor village, (towards panamik and siachen glaciar) have a small door (e.g. 10X10 inches) kind of openings where people do offering. the size also differs and height is reduced to the waist level, and the area is extended.  this unique room mulitple window openings, wall murals and fresco paintings, depicting various natures/types of buddha, in above photograph, I found on the way to samstanling monastery sumoor, near a stupa of sumoor chortens' description. 

the ruined structure might be depicting the stupa of many auspicious doors or it could possibly be an enclosure, a building where people can be protected from the weather. as the chaityas' definition goes. I  find it  simply fascinating.

5. Entourage

A Window to the unknown : Ladakh India

A self explanatory window on a nicely painted mud wall, sending out a message of going green. are you following? I wonder whats that pussycat is doing right in the middle? Warding the evil away?

6. A Good Shop Window

A Window to the unknown : Ladakh India

A small window tea shop at North Pullu, Nubra Valley, which also is a police check post and military camping spot.  if you're traveling to/from Nubra Valley this is one of the pit stop for a short tea/coffee break. North Pullu is at 16000ft altitude and pretty cold through out the year. wont u need a cup now?

7. Social Rank 

A Window to the unknown : Ladakh India


these two photographs both shot in the village padum of zanskar valley.  here I find this window in the above image, which seems to be a window to a kitchen of a well established family with tons of cutleries, dish tv connection and what not. the other window however has old torn clothes hanging for the screen with nothing significant to sneak on to, (but there is more in the frame, wait till you see ) for now its merely a representation of the social status, stigma.

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  1. Beautiful captures.


  2. poonam, i didnt know of your blog earlier, visited today and its a great one. loved the shots and your story telling.


  3. @Saurabh,

    Hey Thank you for visiting and appreciate your comments. do visit again!


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