Ladakh From The Air : Aerial Photographs Of Indus Valley Himalaya India

2/19/2014 05:28:00 PM

"Sometimes I do think I get to places just when God is ready to have someone click the shutter!"

Talking about a place that has been photographed to death, Ladakh and this quote by none other than Ansel Adams fits the bill. One of those places in the world, where you'll find an incredible image waiting for you at every turn of your lens. Truly a place that has the ability to overpower an artist and her/his skill-sets as well as the choice of equipment. Absolutely anyone gets to bring back great imagery from this land of passes, along with stories to be told for a lifetime.

I was fortunate enough to spend a month wandering alone in this heaven on earth, and only in one digit, were the number of days when I sat on rock, in the middle of shallow indus river flow, let the icy water soak away the discomfort of cold swollen feet, These were the days I made just memories, intimate and that would bond me with nature, forever.

Rest of the days, I was perhaps a crazy forty-niner who suddenly found a gold mine. a state of mind and work that began the moment I boarded the plane from Delhi, and lasted till I had to give away the incredible views of himalayas to clouds and the mist. I love Aerial Photogrpahy. Here are a collection of images that I took when I landed in Leh for the first time. These are the images that I was able to extract from my archives in past couple of years, more will be published in future.

The images I am sharing here are all taken from the air, and not the aerial views from the peak or high view point.

Spituk Monastery, also known as 
Spituk Gompa or Pethup Gompa, built in the 11th century, about eight km from Leh in Jammu and Kashmir, was constructed to help develop an exemplary religious community in Ladakh.

This must be few seconds before landing in Leh, fortunately I had a clear sky the day i was flying to ladakh, and most of the aerial that I shot, were on the very first day. while returning, the fog took over the sky and I went in the lap of a very relaxed sleep.

Sometimes I do think I get to places just when God is ready to have someone click the shutter!” | Explored Dec 27, 2012 #343 added

One of my favorite from aerial collection, it depict the oasis of Indus valley beautifully. The Indus is the heartland of Ladakh. It has highest population density, and large amounts of agricultural land. North of the Indus valley is the Ladakh range, on the other side of which is the Shayok, and Nubra valleys

The very first clear view of Himalaya Range, I happened to catch a view of Mt. Nan or Kun peaking out of clouds, that must be before this, because by the time I shot this image, the mountain range was clear, and there were hardly any cloud to be seen. 

I posted this image from Ladakh I think, and a B&W for the reason I hardly remember now, I will look in to similar frame, for a color process sometime soon.

"Till last by Philip's farm I flow To join the brimming river, For men may come and men may go, But I go on for ever."
I should be proud to have caught the longest of Indus, this composition was really hard to create, Now I remember. Most of these shots I took from my Tokina 11-16 UWA and the reason for it was I wanted to have as much of the view in one frame as I could possibly get. this one was also a struggle because the elongated  indus river view, that was only visible because of the sun light, also fell on the lens, a bummer really. that and of course the airplane's window glass totally gave up on me, you can notice the glare.

Leh Ladakh - Aerial View

Here is another view of the sunbathed mighty Indus river.
All these shots were taken in between 6 - 7AM I think, perhaps exactly at the time of Sunrise that morning.

So how does this 'The Roof of the World' look to you Mr. 'Doctor Who' ?

A few minutes before the landing, this was the first time I took a good look the terrain, and i remember wondering where all this sand has come from, that too at such an high altitude. the next thing I noticed were those chortens. perhaps the first time I ever seen those. the foreground details in the sand were astonishing and I couldn't help but to shoot it.  

  An Indian Oasis of the unexpected | Ladakh, Aerial Shot, Leh city and surroundings 

This was me trying to make sense of the place, the first time I had a glance, in photography, whether its two or three dimension, frames limit your view, this is exactly why, Unless you have seen the place with very own eyes, its very hard to assess it, even with a panorama or a 360 degree photosphere.

This was the maximum a space I could fit in one wide frame. I wanted it all. from the valley, to deserted land to brown mountain to the higher peaks and the sky. The snow peaks you see here are stok kangri range,  and the village above is stok village, where the tiny speck makes up for the palace.

This is my most favorite image from all the aerials, precisely for the content in it and the trouble I had to take to shoot this. I don't think people in the plane would ever forgot my contortionist act. 

Ladakh | Dreams

And last but not the least, one of the most surreal, a dream frame of an airplane meandering and a mind a float that aboard it. when I touched the ground, the first thought that came in to my mind was, - this is what one earns for. This is what no quote / no poem / no image in the world could ever justify and I am living it. right now.

PS From composition perspective -  I don't remember which seat I was in though, but I had very carefully avoided wing in all these images, I think a few others in the archive might have, those perhaps I'd clone. Eternally thankful that the window glass did not have much scratches. 

More photo stories here -

Read More about Ladakh here - 


All Images in this essay are © Poonam Parihar. Please write to me if you'd like to use / own a print of any of the above or other images on the website. You can also order the print from here -

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  1. Lovely photographs you have captured.


  2. @Nevin, @Magiceye @Veena #ramesh_lalvani - Thank you all very much...Poonam

  3. fantastic! I spent some time too and no doubt ladhak is heaven. Wonder if you can suggest an ideal seat in the plane? left of right?


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