Ladakh is indescribably beautiful and noble. Many travelers’ minds get trapped in the vastness of its empty mountain ranges, wandering back to long bygone times. When peace and tranquility still existed, and satisfaction with the simplicity of a pure life to which people were patiently submissive. Where hustle, greed, and rivalry were still hushed, barely perceptible alien words, and instead, a strong sense of community and happiness the ingredients for a scrumptious life.
The happiness of the Ladakhi people is simply contagious. It bewitches those who arrive from far and travel across this great earth. With their mischievous smiles, the Ladakhis melt even the stiffest of visitor’s hearts. And when elders’ eyes beam at them through often cracked and patched glasses, they warmheartedly welcome them to stay. The wiry Ladakhis indulge in such a remarkable cheerfulness that they joyfully keep snatching from each other for no reason at all.
The seemingly barren inhospitality of this land is reflected in the people’s appearance. Deep gouges often dig into their beautiful faces at an earlier age. They dare to paint a picture that may have its origins in high altitudes, extremes, and an arduous existence. Yet, the Ladakhis hold an innate serenity as if the thin layer of oxygen were the very elixir of their content lives.
Where wrinkles and furrows don’t mean the end but respectfully garnish age and wisdom.
In Ladakh, heaven is so close that it can virtually be reached with bare hands. It’s the one that watches over the uniqueness of the mountainous realm in daylight. That spans in a stunning azure blue from horizon to horizon. While tender shadows of shreds of clouds hovering above the scanty slopes perform their unusual show. An when the wind begins to play, it lovingly caresses the innumerable colorful prayer flags—fresh and disheveled—flapping ontop of monasteries, homes, and dizzying passes. Purring holy mantras imprinted towards the deities listening from above and below.
It’s the same sky that lends Ladakh its magic wand at night. When the lights dim and one instant gives way to another to radiate its most incredible nocturnal beauty. When millions upon millions of stars shimmer across the eternal sky, they leave the viewer with the impression that it was and probably always will be this way.
Under Ladakh’s star-freckled night sky, the rest of the world is no more than a teeny-tiny insignificant speck in the ginormous universe of many.
Then, there are the monks in their eternally red robes — Ladakh’s perhaps most prominent display of a vibrantly devoted culture that embraces and surrounds everything. It’s in each part, every single heart — no matter how remote. Prayer wheels keep turning unceasingly, with mantras buzzing from near and far. Simultaneously, brightly colored ceremonies in the country’s countless monasteries call upon their devotees and keep them united. Everything melts into a contagious wholeness that knows but little separateness and even less ambiguity. The Ladakhis’ faith and passion for life make the onlooker pause.
A familiar feeling of longing settles in — it’s a yearning for a more self-sufficient, grounded, and authentic lifestyle, which many of us no longer know.
This tiny country amid the Himalayas beguiles my spirits like hardly any other. Whoever soars up to the mighty plains of this miraculous land and tosses open the rusty door to their hearts — just like an eagle spreads its wings — will be embraced gushily.
By the simply contagious magic of a wild yet humble land that maybe once was my home.