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Playtime's over. Heading home. .
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It is fun to play on the ice. But you better head home once the sun starts dipping towards the horizon. Because the cold winds rise as the sun goes down and they freeze anything and everything that they come in contact with. That's the beauty and brutality of #Changthang.
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I have seen a full bottle of water freeze right in front of my eyes. And my fingertips have suffered the most. They are numb even now (well it's close to 0 degrees in my room right now) and the skin is cracked on the tips of the fingers I use the most to operate my camera.
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Just exchanging a little pain in return for being able to capture these amazing moments. It's well worth it. .
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#Puga, #Ladakh. 17-Jan-2017, 3:10pm.
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1..2..Jummm...STOP!
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It is very tempting to jump into the pool of smoldering hot water. But it is a bad idea coz the bog might pull you right under. Even if it doesn't you'll spend a long long time washing the mud off your body. .
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But it is nice to watch the smouldering pool and imagine it's warmth while it is freezing all around.
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#Puga, #Ladakh. 17-Jan-2017 . ----
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Hot Spring country. #Puga, #Ladakh.
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The central point of the Puga #hotsprings is this little #geyser. The geyser sprout and it's surrounding moat is shaped like a perfect #Shiva #Lingam. If I were a more devious person, I would probably make up some myth about this place and watch the pilgrims and the money pour in. But I won't do that and you please don't as well. Coz nothing is more destructive than religion and money. Spirituality is a whole different matter though (before you bring out the pitchforks). .
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All the kids could not help posing in front of these wonders of nature. This boy in particular (sorry I forgot his name) was the most active of the bunch. He was also the most friendly and kept coming up with new titbits of information that would be of interest to me. He wanted me to try 'Keke' which I loved, and something which he kept referring to as 'Suvidha' which turned out to be chewable tobacco and I respectfully refused to try it. .
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Sangha and friends. My guides on ice. #Puga, #Ladakh.
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One of the best things about traveling in #winters is that you meet kids like these. Usually they'll be locked up in a boarding school somewhere but they are home during winters (till March 1st) and it's so much fun to meet them.
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They took me under their wing the moment I arrived at #Puga. They helped me pitch my tent and showed my around the frozen marshes. They showed me where the Wolves were and together we spotted a Fox (they are common here). And best of all they showed me where to find the delicious tubers called #Keke and how to clean and eat them. .
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I'll do a separate video post about Keke some other time. .
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Sumdo. The rugged Tibetan outpost in Ladakh.

Sumdo is one of the few #Tibetan refugee villages scattered around #Ladakh. Home to the nomadic Changpa herdsmen, #Sumdo is one of the most rustic places you can visit in Ladakh. Thanks to the local government which has mostly ignored this village of refugees. Why provide electricity and roads to people who can't vote?

The people though are continuing to live in the nomadic tradition of their forefathers. They range from the Hot springs of Puga in the winter to the high altitude grasslands around #Tsomoriri and #Tsokar lakes in the summer and autumn.

Getting to Sumdo and Puga is always fun for me. I'll get down from the bus at the Mahe checkpost. Have tea with the policemen (this time the post is manned by the nicest guy from Zanskar) and wait for a ride. Usually it'll be an army vehicle going towards Tsomoriri. This time was no different and it's fun to talk to the bemused soilders who always remark why I've come here to die. Lol!

It's no surprise that they hate it here. Especially during winters.

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View from the top. #Nyoma, #Ladakh.

Like most large villages in Ladakh, Nyoma is spread out beneath the watchful gaze of its #monastery. It is a beautiful setting with the monastery perched on top of a craggy hill overlooking the village. The beautiful setting made more beautiful by the fresh snowfall in the village.

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It's not winter till it snows! #Nyoma, #Ladakh.

I waited for about a week in Leh to see any signs of winter. Sure my tomato's were frozen rock solid and the gutters overflowed with ice, but the scenery surrounding #Leh looked like it was late autumn. It was just dry everwhere!

So, I caught a bus to #Changthang. My plan was to stop for a night at Chumathang, bathe at the Hotsprings (my room in Leh doesn't have any water for bathing) and then move on to meet the Changpa nomads at Puga. But then the weather changed and it looked like it might snow higher up in the mountains. So I rode the bus all the way to Nyoma and was rewarded with views like this.

Winter has arrived in Ladakh!

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A Winter Flight to #Leh.

It's time to say goodbye to Manali and head towards the freezing mountains of #Ladakh.

I always wondered about the places the flight passes over. This time I had offline maps on my phone and was able to see the exact path of my flight. I captured videos of some of the major landmarks on the route. Except #Parvati valley, Iam 100% sure of the accuracy of the landmarks in the video. Do let me know if I've marked any of the places wrongly.

Music : Guardian Angel by Ian Post

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Mist over #Manali.
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One of my favourite things to do when it snows is to sit back and watch the clouds roll over the valley below. The clouds play hide and seek with me. Selectively hiding and showing the rivers, forests and houses in the valley.
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And when they have had enough, the clouds would roll over to my home and hide everything from my view!
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Vashist Hotsprings during winter.
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Oh what joy it is to jump into a pool of piping hot water when it is cold and freezing outside! The #hotsprings at #Vashist are truly a godsend. You can feel it more so during winter than the summer months.
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These hotsprings are the reason why I stay in #Manali during winter months. I do not have heating in my room. My landlord has offered to put a tandoor oven many times but I refuse it everytime. I don't want to be the hypocrite who cries crocodile tears over chopped trees while sitting in front of a cosy fireplace. .
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So these hotsprings are the only way for me to keep warm once the sun goes down. A nice long soak in the hotsprings is enough to keep me warm for more than 3 hours. Time enough to cook dinner, eat and slip into my sleeping bag. .
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