154 Photos - Oct 1, 2009
Photo: Photo: Caretaker at Alchi Gompa, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Darcha, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: This is my last shot for a while since I'm off for vacation for at least a week.

Take care everyone!Photo: Tsarap River below Baralacha La and close to Bharatpur (approx 4750 meters above sea level), Manali-Leh Highway, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Fort Agra, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: Family looking at Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: River Yamuna, AgraPhoto: Morning at Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar PradeshPhoto: Fathepur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: The abandoned old Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: View from our hostel towards Stok-Kangri (6,137 m, 20,135 feet), Leh, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Basgo, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Basgo Castle, Basgo, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Indus River from Spituk Gompa, Leh, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: This is a reflection of Taj Mahal in one of the ponds in front of the Taj.

I desaturated the image and added a dirtish tint (using splittoning in LR to bring out the texture.Photo: Puja at Spituk Monastary, Leh, Ladakh, Indian HimalyasPhoto: A few days after we arrived in Leh, we visited the Spituk Monastery. By luck, our visit coincided with the lunch prayer and we were invited to attend it. A puja (prayer) is a great and interesting experience (although a bit long) andit contains chanting, drums and some sort of horn music. This was our second puja, and the monks had a meal during both. This time we where actually offered some butter tea and food, probably since we were the only tourists that attended the puja (the first one, at Thikse, was packed with tourists). The lighting was quite bad but I managed to make some photos as a memory.Photo: Stok Palace, Leh, LadakhPhoto: Stok Palace, outside Leh, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Door at Thikse Monastary, Manli-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Namgyal Gompa from Shanti Stupa at sunset, Leh, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Main Bazaar, Leh, Ladkah, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Leh, Ladakh, IndiaPhoto: Thikse Monastery, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Thikse Monastery, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Taj Mahal at dawn, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. (I played a bit with the graduated filter in Lightroom).Photo: Thikse Monastery, Thikse, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: From the roof of Thikse Monastary, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: A young monk carrying a pot of butter tea, Thikse Monastery, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Puja at Thikse Monastary, Ladakh, Inidan HimalayasPhoto: Monk waiting for the morning Puja, Thikse Monastery, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Indus Valley and Stok Kangri (elevation 6,137 m) from Thikse Monastery, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Mani stone, Thikse Monastery,Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Thikse Monastery, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Stakna Gompa, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Stakna Gompa, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Sacred Sunday

This is a Buddhist prayer drum in the Stakna Monastery just outside of Leh in Ladakh, India. We visited the monastery right in time for the midday pudja, or prayer. Important parts of a pudja are recitation of Buddhist scriptures, chanting, horn-blowing, and drum playing. For this pudja, there were only a few visitors and the monks even served us some food.

#SacredSunday (cureated by +Charles Lupica and +Sumit Sen)Photo: Sacred Sunday

This is a close-up of the Shakyamuni Buddha statue at Shey Monastary in Ladakh. From the top to the bottom, the statue is 12 meters high and it's the second largest statue of Buddha in Ladakh. Due the the size of the statue, it spans three floors of the monastery.

The Shey Monastery was build in 1655 and it is located approximately 15 km south of Leh, the modern day capital of Ladakh. Shey functioned as the summer capital of Ladakh until 1842 and the monastery and the old palace are practically a single structure. You can find more information about Shey on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shey_Monastery

#SacredSunday (cureated by +Charles Lupica)Photo: Close to Stakna Gompa, Ladakh, Manali-Leh Highway, Indian HimalayasPhoto: At Lake Tso Kar, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Detour to Lake Tso Kar (approx 4000 meters about sea level), Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: A russian touring bicyclist (lower right) is passing an abandoned nomad tent, Morei Plains, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Bicycling over the Morey Plains (4400m), Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: On the last stretch to the mountain pass Nakeela La (4937 meters above sea level).Photo: At the top of the Gata Loops, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Gata Loops, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Sarchu, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Sarchu, Ladakh, Manali-Leh Highway, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Sarchu, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Sarchu, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Tsarap River, outside Sarchu, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Two tankers at Sarchu, border between Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, Manali-Leh Highway, Indian HmalayasPhoto: Sarchu, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Taj Mahal, Agra, IndiaPhoto: Sunset at Sarchu, border of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Sarchu, Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Close to Sarchu, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HinalayasPhoto: Baralacha La, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Baralacha La (4890 meters above sea level), Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Baralacha La (4918 meter above sea level), Manali-Leh Highway,Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: From our bicycle ride across the Himalayas. This is just below a high mountain pass, at approx 4900 meters above sea level (16 000 ft).Photo: Photo: Road workers between Zing Zing Bar and Baralacha La, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Zing Zing Bar (a small road worker's camp), Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Photo: Hoozer, owner of Hoozer's Café, Patseo, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Late afternoon at Patseo, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Himalayas. Note the road workers in the distance that are returning to their spartan tent camp.Photo: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Photo: Photo: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Photo: Toilet at a Dhaba, Darcha, Manali-eh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalaysPhoto: Outside Darcha, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Photo: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Photo: Photo: Steve negotiates a hairpin outside Jispa, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Hoozer, owner of Hoozer's Café, Patseo, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Keylong, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Between Gondla and Thandi, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Sissu, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Sissu, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Sissu, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Sissu,Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Outside Sissu, Manli-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Himalayas2Photo: Leaving Sissu, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Rohtang La, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Himalayas.Photo: Rohtang La, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Himalayas. The title is from the novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling. In the novel, the main charachter describes Rohtang La with these words.Photo: Below Rohtang La, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Photo: Photo: Manali-Leh HighwayPhoto: Congestion on the Manali-Leh Highway, below Rohtang La, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Sunrise over Patalsu (4472 m), Marrhi, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Himalayas.Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: View from Marrhi, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayaPhoto: Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Above Kothi, Manali-Leh Highway, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayaPhoto: Photo: Photo: Manali, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: ManaliPhoto: Manali, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HImalayasPhoto: Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: Photo: Old Manali, Himachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayasPhoto: Manali, Himachal Pradesh, IndiaPhoto: The lock at our door, Tiger Eye Guest House, Manali, Himalachal Pradesh, Indian HimalayaPhoto: ManaliPhoto: Photo: India Gate, Rajpath, Delhi, IndiaPhoto: India Gate, Delhi, IndiaPhoto: Red Fort, Delhi, IndiaPhoto: Red Fort, Delhi, IndiaPhoto: Entrance to the Red Fort, Delhi, IndiaPhoto: Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, IndiaPhoto: Photo: Portrait Tuesday

Alchi Gompa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alchi_Monastery) is one of the oldest remaining monasteries in Ladakh. In the village just outside the monastery, we found a large group of women and children peeling the season's apricots. I made a few photos of the group before we continued down to the monastery.

#PortraitTuesday (curated by +Laura Balc)Photo: Mountain Monday

Yet another photo from our bicycle ride across the Indian Himalayas.

#MountainMonday (curated by +Michael Russell)Photo: Mountain Monday

This is a photo from our last short break before reaching our first really high mountain pass, Baralacha La at 4918 meters above sea level. We started out at Patseo, 32 km away and 1300 meters below the pass. As long as you'll go real slow (like 5-6 km/h), the altitude isn't that much of a problem. However, if the road just a little bit steeper for a few meters or if you happen to pedal a little harder for a few seconds, the lactic acid hits you with a force. This is was happened here, the road was a little steeper for maybe 50 meters and we had to stop and catch our breath.

The snow in the ground is from the first major snowfall of the season. The storm had us holed up for a day in a village a few days from this location. For two or three days, the pass was closed for all traffic.

#MountainMonday (curated by +Michael Russell)Photo: This is a photo from one of the major resting areas on the Manali-Leh Highway in the Indian Himalayas. Initially, we were very scared of these colorful trucks since bad roads, bicycles and speeding trucks don't mix very well. On our second day in the saddle, we discovered that a friendly greeting made a world, or at least half a meter, of difference. We greeted each truck with a simply wave, which generally resulted in a loud honk, a bit more space between us, and a big smile on driver's face.Photo: Sand Mandala

We arrived off-season in Leh after crossing the Himalayas on our bicycles. Shops were closing down for the seasons and most tourist had left a few weeks ago. We were almost completely alone when we visited the magnificent Leh Palace. After existing the palace, we noticed a small hand written sign that said "Exhibition on Sand Mandala and Butter Sculpture".

We were naturally intrigued and entered a nearby building. During the past two years, monks of the Chemde Monastery had practiced to make Sand Mandalas and Butter sculptures, as the knowledge of how to make them was rapidly decreasing. A Butter Sculpture is, as the name impedes, a sculpture made of butter. The sculptures can be very elaborate and they often depict scenes and stories from Tibetan Buddhist tradition. A Sand Mandala (http://goo.gl/pqXkd) is a circular drawing, purely made of sand, dedicated to different tantric deities. Once completed, both the Butter Sculpure and the Mandala is destroyed.

Once again, we were very lucky. The exhibition was the final part of the training and this was its last day. During three days, the monks had completed at least twenty small butter scupltures that were displayed on a small altar. In the middle of the room, twelve monks were busy making the final touches to two beautiful sand Mandalas. We sat down and watched, amazed, as the monks added, moved or removed single grains of sand to the Mandalas.

#SacredSunday (curated by +Charles Lupica and +Manfred Berndtgen)
#SquareSunday (curated by +Matt Soave)Photo: This is Namgyal Gompa, perched on a cliff above Leh. The Gompa was founded around 1430 and it got a huge Maitrieya Buddha statue but that part of the Gompa is unfortunately closed to the public. The views from the top are fabulous and well worth the trek.

#SacredSunday (curated by +Charles Lupica and +Manfred Berndtgen)
#ZenSunday (curated by +Charlotte Therese Björnström)Photo: When we arrived in Upshi, we found this restaurant. Unfortunately, it was abandoned and we had to eat at another place.Photo: Always shoot in RAW

Late one evening during our bicyling ride across the Himalayas, I made some high ISO photos due to the low light. The next day, we continued our bicycle ride. Almost immediately after leaving the village where we'd stayed, some fellow bicyclists lined up perfectly with road and the amazing backdrop. I hit the brakes hard and and hurried to get the camera out. I made several shots before I realized that I'd left the ISO at 3200 and hence over-exposed the photos by several steps. When I'd corrected the settings, only one of the bicyclists remained in view...

I've made this mistake several times before, but these was by far the best photos that I've ruined in this way. Fortunately, I always shooting RAW and when I was back in Sweden a month later I discovered it was possible to save at least some information. Now, almost three years later, the software has gotten even better and while the blown photos are far from award-winning, they are sufficiently good to help remember the fabolus scenery that wepassed this day.

Lesson 1: Always reset the to your preferedbase settings
Lesson 2: Shoot in RAWPhoto: Sunrise at the Taj Mahal.

#sunrisesaturday (curated by +Josh Davis)
#silhouettesaturday (curated by +Naila Ziani)Photo: Mountain Monday

Finally a new mountain for #mountainmonday (curated by +Michael Russell). These peaks, in the Indian Himalayas, are approx 5500-6000 meters in height and they rise at least 2500 meters from the valley floor.Photo: Stakna Gompa in the province of Ladakh (Indian Himalayas).

#sacredsunday  (curated by +Charles Lupica, +Manfred Berndtgen, +Robyn Morrison, +Margaret Tompkins and +Sherrie von Sternberg)
#zensunday  (+Charlotte Therese Björnström, +Simon Kitcher and +Nathan Wirth)Photo: Agra in India has two World Heritage Sites, Taj Mahal and the somewhat lesser known Agra Fort. This is a photo from the Agra Fort.Photo: Taj Mahal at sunrise.Photo: Lake Tso Kar (elevation 4,530 metres), Manali-Leh Highway, Ladakh, Indian Himalayas