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Ladakh Diaries Part 9: Lamayuru

Lamayuru is one of the most ancient monasteries in Ladakh, the oldest surviving structure dating to the 11 th century CE. What makes this monastery particularly fascinating, is its location, amidst what is today called the “moonscape”, for the spectacular natural rock formations, which truly are “out of the world”! As per legend , there once existed a huge lake in this area, populated only by the Nagas (serpents). It was prophesized that there would be a great monastery built here. This prophecy came true when the great acharya Naropa (756-1041 CE) arrived. He emptied the lake, meditated for many years inside a cave, and built the first monastery here. The present structure is a new one, built around the cave where Acharya Naropa is said to have meditated. This legend seems to fit well with the geological formations seen in the area, which suggest this was a paleo-lake, which disappeared around 1000 years ago. Lamayuru is about 130 km from Leh , and the Indus River flows along th

Guest Post - Kutch Diaries Part 1

This is a guest post, written by my cousin, Niranjan Chandrashekar. Niranjan is based in Delhi, and loves to travel and explore. His latest passion is for photography, a hobby which began with a brand new DSLR, but is soon becoming an obsession, as we keep telling him!!!! After much persuasion, he agreed to write a guest post for me. My family has always loved travelling, but I am the only one who has been documenting my travels so far. As I keep telling my uncles and cousins, they travel to a lot more interesting places than I do, so it is high time they began writing about it too! With Niranjan's foray into writing, I hope the others too begin supplying me with guest posts :D

He was recently part of a trip to Kutch, organized by Darter Photography Pvt. Ltd. in the last week of December, 2011 (from Dec 24, 2011 to Jan 1st, 2012). This is the first in a series of posts describing his experiences during the trip. This post is about the first half of the trip, where they explored the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

“The tour of Kutch” is where I discovered what photography is all about. Photography is not only about capturing landscapes, birds, animals... It is about capturing the moment as you see it, as you imagine it.
Sometimes, it involves just clicking continuously and praying you got the flight shots perfectly and sometimes, it is all about having a whole lot of patience and waiting for the right moment before you make a move. This being my first tour in an open uninhabited wildlife sanctuary, I had the opportunity to understand the preparations required, such as wearing camouflaged clothes, trying to stay as low and in as much hiding as you can, carrying camera cleaning kits and torch ALWAYS, and so on....

Our journey started from Ahmedabad on 24th Dec,2011.  A cab had been arranged by the organizer of the trip - Shreeram MV of Darter. We were on the move from Ahmedabad to Zainabad where we were to stay in a resort called Desert Coursers. On the way, we were amazed to see so many varieties of birds on both sides of the road perched on electric cable lines. There were Black Shouldered Kites, Green Bee-eaters, Collared Doves, etc. The day we reached Zainabad, we set out for our first safari to the open lands of Khari.

As an amateur in the fields of Travelling and  Wildlife Photography, I had no idea of what was going to come or how my perceptions of everything I saw was going to change after this trip concluded!
The first evening began with a trip to Khari minus our star photographer Shreeram. Here we got a glimpse of the Glossy Ibis, Indian Wild Ass and Common Cranes to begin with. We were also able to sight plenty of harriers, kestrels and buzzards on the way.

Day 2, 25th December, 2011 started with an early morning trip to capture the Lesser Flamingos in the Creek near Bajana. Our trip began early in morning at 5:30 AM after having a quick tea and heading for the field. On the way, we spotted many Common Cranes feeding in the fields. We had some great people in our group for helping us do the spotting - Shreeram MV from Darter, a fellow participant Anuroop Krishnan and our jeep driver Yunus.

After coming back to the resort, we got a 1 hour lunch break, before we set out again to Khari. We were lucky to capture the mongoose, Common Hoopoe, Baya weaver and as usual, the Harriers.
Plus, we get good shots of the Sunset :)

Day 3 morning began with our deciding to try and look for the MacQueen’s bustard in Zinzuada. Although we were able to spot only one which flew before we could click,  we were able to spot plenty of other creatures like the Nilgai, Buzzards, Bee eaters, etc.

On the third evening, we went to a place called Nava talab. There, we were able to capture lots of birds like the White wagtails, Purple swamphens, Black-tailed godwits, spotted redshanks, Cormorants and Kingfishers. Later, after sunset, we went for a night safari, where we saw Desert Cats, nightjars (Sykes’s and Indian), Thicknee, and a  Fox at a distance. 

We returned to our resorts late in the night at 10 PM, so contented with our safari that we had a good night’s sleep.

The next and the final day in LRK started with a trip to see the lesser flamingos beyond Zinzuada. We captured a flock full of lesser flamingos and spent a good few hours in the area relaxing a bit and enjoying the serene surroundings. While we were returning from the flamingo place, we got lucky and were able to sight the Desert fox at a very close range. Generally, foxes are known to be very shy animals, but this particular fox let us almost come near it. The behaviour of the fox was very peculiar in the way that it started running as soon as our jeep stopped but gave us a good look repeatedly before it started running. 

We spent the final evening at the LRK with a trip again to Khari. This time we got lucky as we were able to sight the Indian coursers as well as Chestnut bellied sandgrouses. By the time we ended the trip we had almost 130 different bird sightings only in the LRK!

Overall, by the time we were only half-way through our Kutch trip, I was already contented, and felt  that the money spent on the trip was worth it! The place is so serene and so uninhabited, that I had no qualms about there being no network or no access to the internet.

Also the main reason for the LRK trip’s success is to be attributed to a few people like Dhanraj Mallick who was the owner of the Desert Coursers resort. In spite of being the owner of a resort which is in huge demand, this guy was down to earth, taking daily updates on what all we were able to spot and trying to make sure that every one had good sightings. In fact, he personally drove the jeep for the Night safari after he noticed that we had not been that lucky in sightings in previous safaris. The other guys who helped make this trip wonderful were people like Yunus who was more than a driver of the jeep. He was an excellent spotter. And of course, last but not the least, Shreeram MV for being an excellent spotter, naturalist and a terrific organizer. This was the trip worth remembering and worth going again and again with Darter.
The journey was not yet over, for the next morning we started for GRK. - the Great Rann of Kutch!
Niranjan has recently started his own webpage, where he plans to put up his photographs as well as his travelogues. Go over to Nomadic Travellers to see more of his photos!


  1. All the very best to the budding photographer, Niranjan.  The narratives and the photographs gel well and speak a lot. I am looking fprward to the tags identifying the birds, which I am sure you would be working ON.

  2. Mama, I will leave it to Niranjan to answer you, but meanwhile, how about you doing a guest post for me too? One on the Adi Kailash trek should be great!!

  3. Amazing photographs! And a wonderful account..

  4. Thank you mama and Vidya for your wonderful comments :)

    Mama - Work in progress :)

  5. Enjoyed up to the brim. Awaiting the next part.

  6. awesome Niranjan.....well done ....totally appreciated..!!

  7. Aravamudhan SrivatsanJanuary 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    What a fantastic photos , as professional as it can get, very good framing and elaborate write up. Cool thislooks like something I want to do in near future, Hopefully the creatures wont be extinct by then

  8. Wow, the pictures are superb! Thanks for getting this guest post and sharing with us. Looking forward to reading more.

  9. Thanks, Sri! nice to see u here after so long! i certainly hope u get to do this soon! before they become extinct!

  10. Thanks on behalf of Niranjan, Neelam!

  11. Nice and wonderful captures by Niranjan. LRK is  an incredible place ! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Good information,its very interesting information,It's presented very well.Thanks a lot for sharing.Keep blogging

  13. I like your blog it’s look nice and attractive. I visited many places in many countries and always get new experiences in my trips i have many photos as memories of it in my album and heart touching photos are always with me. Awesome blog with nice information. I always keep in touch with your blog and going to bookmark also.

  14. The Rann of Kutch is one of the best places to explore Wildlife in India.
    The pictures are representative of the actual experience of being amid the various birds and animals...


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