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Friday, March 8, 2019

Resplendent Quetzal....a holy grail of birders!

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It has been a long time since I updated my blog. Rapid growth of image sharing social media sites has an effect on conventional blogs, at least in my case. As I started posting images on Facebook, my posts in this blog dwindled and very soon stopped. Increased viewership and instant responses of “likes” on Facebook has its added attraction but conventional blogs  still remain the mainstay with serious readers and writers. After my recent tour of Costa Rica, I thought of reviving my blog but was delayed due to my inherent trait of procrastination. I begin with this post a series about bird photography tour of Costa Rica.
 I was always fascinated by several photographs of colourful birds of Costa Rica on Facebook and Instagram, mainly from central American and south American photographers, but the posts of my Facebook friend Supreet Sahoo regularly caught my attention. Colourful toucans, tanagers and not to forget the most resplendent bird quetzal gradually came to the top of my wish list. Sometime in April/ May 2018, I contacted Supreet Sahoo about his photo tours in Costa Rica who informed about availability of a slot in January 2019. As usual my ever encouraging wife Anupama supported the idea and I started looking for few photography friends for joining the tour, but  nobody could join and finally decided to travel alone. I will elaborate on the preparation, travel and other aspects of the trip in a future article and limit this post to share our experiences in the search of a bird in the mountainous parks of Costa Rica. This bird considered by many as the holy grail of birders is one of the most resplendent bird I have ever seen and is rightly called as Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno).We saw more than hundred species of birds in our ten day trip in Costa Rica but the experience with this bird stands apart as unique and so I am writing an exclusive blog on this bird.
   Resplendent Quetzal is a bird of the trogon family. Trogons are colourful birds and several species of trogons are seen worldwide mainly in rain forests.Quetzals are exclusive to central America, their distribution ranges from Mexico to Panama in the montane forests. Resplendent quetzal  is the national bird of Guatemala and the national flag and coat of arms of Guatemala have the picture of this bird and the currency of Guatemala is called Guatemala Quetzales. They are seen in mountainous tropical cloud forests at altitudes above 2000- 3000 feet like the Talamanca mountain range of Costa Rica which has thick cloud forest vegetations. Los Quetzal national park located around 100 kms from the Costa Rican capital city of San Jose and spread over 5000 hectares of thick forests rich in flora and fauna . Resplendent quetzals are long slender birds and a breeding male measures around 40 inches, the tail is about twice the size of body and keeps freely swaying when the bird is perched. The distinctive long tail is lacking in females and the male is more colourful than female bird. The bird is green in colours but the shades vary depending on the direction of light fall and shades of blue, green or violet can be seen depending on the light. The green feathers are iridescent and look like a green coat, the chest and abdomen of male quetzal is bright red in colours and the beak is bright yellow.They feed mainly on fruits and especially attracted to avocados. January -February are the beginning of  breeding season for quetzals in Costa Rica. They prefer hollows in tall trees for nesting. Resplendent quetzals are on the top of lists of every birder visiting Costa Rica and naturally we too were eager to see them and get a clean perched shot of this beautiful bird.
  For the first three days in Costa Rica we stayed in Sarapiqui area which is considered as mid elevations geographically. We were six in the group, Dr Barun Sinha , a urologist and an avid photographer from Patna who is also the secretary General of Photography society of India, Dr Pramod Shanbag, a senior paediatrician from Bangalore, Dr Pulak Sahay, a Gastroenterologist from London and Mr Bhupinder Singh Randhawa, a software engineer from Chicago were my teammates and our mentor or tour leader was Mr Supreet Sahoo, a software professional and a professional nature photographer from Montreal. Jake Kevin, a Spanish teacher from University of Montreal, was another team member and he joined the tour on the fourth day of the trip.
Our journey from Sarapiqui to San Gerardo de Dota, was six hour drive in the mountains and the road became more tortuous after San Jose when we started going up the Talamanca mountain ranges. We reached Dota by afternoon and had lunch at a restaurant and  after a birding session in the same area proceeded to our lodge by evening. By that time the weather was getting very cold and we quickly finished checking in, had hot coffee in the restaurant of our lodge - Paraise de Quetzal and moved to our cabins. The place is at an altitude of 8500 feet above sea level. The wooden cabins located along the slope of a hill were  bit smaller but had provided us three layers of warm quilt and a small room heater. All these proved too little very soon when the temperature started falling. The restaurant had a fire place and most guests by then had gathered around the fire.We knew that we had to begin our next day very early and after dinner retired to bed .
    It was 4AM in the morning and a melodious Gurbani shloka started playing from Bhupinder's mobile, a nice alarm to begin the day. We were ready soon and reached hotel lobby for a cup of coffee and by 5.30 AM were on the road.The entry to Los quetzal national park is nearer to the town Dota but we preferred to go to a private farm near the national park. The birds are free and don’t confine themselves to the national park limits only, the avocado trees in the farm are perfect feeding places for the quetzals and the farmers keep watching the bird movements in the farm and our guides knew these places like the back of their hand. As we reached the farm driving through the deep valley the light was just enough for photography. The plantation was along a steep slope and we had to climb up a hill and it was a short trek of around 600 meters . The guide advised us to walk along the mud path upwards without talking or making any noises. The birds were already in the avocado trees. It was a literally uphill task to carry our gear which weighed around 10-12 kgs and as I reached the top of hillock, was breathing heavily and my heart was pounding! A small shelter at the hilltop was our destination for trek where we assembled our equipments and set our camera and lens on tripod . The avocado tree was some twenty feet from the shelter and inside the foliage of the tree a pair of quetzals were perched at a distance from each other and feeding on fruits. We could see the birds but couldn’t take any pictures. It was a waiting game, only if the bird comes  out of the tree to a particular branch which was in open and without leaves it is possible to get complete picture of the bird and being a shy bird it doesn’t come to an open branch quite often and even if it does, only for a fraction of a minute . Being a colourful bird, it is a question of survival for the bird to keep away from the eyes of the predators hovering above, as long as it is covered by leaves the bird is safe. The wind was blowing across the valley and the sun was spreading his rays in the valley from above downwards.The jackets and three layers of clothes were not enough for the cold and intermittent showers. We had time till it is completely bright across the valley and after 9.30 am or so , the birds play safe and do not move around much in open. Suddenly a female quetzal came out from the tree and perched in-front of us at a distance of twenty feet in open . All cameras started firing like AK-47s, the background was good and everyone got good photos but soon she moved to a different branch and then flew across into the adjoining forest.But our wait for the male quetzal continued.

As the female went out, we expected the male to come out of shades and look for it’s mate and as the time was running out, a sense of restlessness was palpable amongst us. But the luck was not with us that morning and the male came out  but soon flew directly into the forests. Will they come back or not was a question for which everyone had answers as per their wish. The guides asked us to wait and went down the hill to look for quetzal and some of our teammates followed them. I chose to wait with few others in the same place.  It was around 9 am and there was still no sign of quetzal. Supreet suggested us to pack up and go down the hill to the vehicles. As soon as we reached the vehicle, our guide Jorge was waving from a distance asking us to come to a road across the entry to plantation and he had seen the male quetzal somewhere there. With the lens and camera still on the tripod I ran towards him . There was a male quetzal sitting on top of a tree branch, the angle, background and lighting were all bad for a photo but that was the best option we got to see the male quetzal that day and it was gracious enough to offer few seconds to shoot before flying away and after changing few places it went straight up the hill to the same tree where we waited since morning! We had another trek again to the hilltop and it was feeling almost like gasping for breath when we reached the hilltop.Whenever a bird finds itself being followed by someone, it feels insecure and as we reached the shelter at top the male quetzal probably felt insecure and flew away in the opposite direction again towards the adjoining forests . I had some photos but they were far from satisfactory. So with a mixed feeling it was time to return to the lodge for further activity and we were to return again next day. The day passed with activities like shooting some small birds and hummingbirds in action.

A Female quetzal 

A male Resplendent quetzal

As planned, we again came back to same area next day at same time , but there were many birders looking for quetzal on the hill.Being familiar with the place and accustomed to climbing we quickly went to the same hilltop shelter. That was a bad day as there were hardly any activity of bird. We spent around three hours without any luck with  the bird before returning to the lodge. After lunch Supreet decided to test our luck once more in the afternoon. It was around 3 pm when we reached the spot and started climbing with all the gears. This was a terrible trek and at some point I felt as if I was developing pulmonary edema(Heart failure). My voice from within had already started blaming me for this madness ! With multiple stops I could complete the hiking and looked back to see Bhupinder climbing up.As he reached the top with gasping breaths, the  only words he uttered were” mar jaunga aaj” (will die today). A quick rest sitting on the ground brought fresh energy to all and by then the guides had noticed a pair of quetzals in the nearby avocado tree . Another round of waiting game started, this was quite long and finally a bird came out to an open perch. Someone sighed and whispered “ female again”, the disappointment was striking in the tone. Supreet was standing behind us and must have almost lost his cool and retorted "quetzal tho hai na? Kawwa nahi , pehle photo keecho ” (at least it's a quetzal , not a crow! click photos first) .By now we had good pictures of female quetzal but our luck with male bird was still eluding us. The male quetzal is a really great looking bird and to have it in picture while on an open perch with clean background is every photographer’s dream. The female had again gone back into the tree and the male finally made an appearance on a fairly open branch. It was much better than previous photos but still not the dream shot. We continued our hide and seek game till it became dark , at around  5pm. The day was over with decent but not great shots and while returning I had decided not to come back again next day, (the fear of pulmonary edema !!)

Resplendent Quetzal Male

A close up of male quetzal

Close up female quetzal

It was a very cold evening that day and very windy and despite  being under cover of three quilts ,we could hardly bear the cold. Next morning the plan was to leave the place after breakfast and we were told that we could try our luck at quetzal place one last time, if we wished. At 4 am alarm woke me up and Bhupinder was getting ready. I was wavering in my decision to stay back and finally decided to get out of bed and go once more in search of quetzal. But this time I was helped by our guide who carried some of my heavy gears. It was very crowded that day with at least ten to twelve birders and photographers .The bird activity was quite good but it kept changing the places quite often forcing us to move from place to place with our gears. There were three opportunities when the male quetzal was visible to photograph but each time it was under cover of foliage or some twigs came in between or the bird was very high up. Though we could get photographs, they were not  as good as what we wished to capture and finally we returned without that "clean image" of the male bird in open with a perfect background. But even mere seeing the bird is an experience by itself! Such resplendent colours, iridescent feathers and a long swaying tail, the calls of the quetzal and their flight , all of them being an experience in itself and a treat in nature.

Female quetzal, shining feathers

On an avocado tree, male quetzal

High up on the perch, 

This happens quite often in nature photography, we may never get a picture to our satisfaction. But the efforts, journey to achieve that perfect picture itself brings joy and everlasting memories. It is their territory and we are intruders and whatever they offer should be acceptable to us. One should enjoy seeing them in their natural habitat, observe their behaviour and take pictures of whatever is available in that circumstance. Even our life is also similar, we may most often not get many things we have imagined or strived to get, but should be happy with what comes in our way and enjoy the journey of life .

Waiting for quetzal

The team

A video of the bird

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sun Temple,Modhera,Gujarat

Its nearly two years since I updated my blog!! The growing popularity of Facebook probably has affected the blogs in general and particularly in my case. But a blog has its own space especially when we are looking for a post on particular topic or posting images which have a sequence or connection.
After returning from a much awaited , short holiday in Gujarat , mainly in the wilderness of Little Rann of Kutch , I thought of reviving my blog with pictures of two architectural masterpieces of eleventh century in western India . The first of the two posts is about the Sun Temple of Modhera.
We stayed in a place called Patadi in Surendranagar district ,Gujarat to visit Little Rann of Kutch (LRK ). After completing our stay of two nights at Patadi on our way back to Ahmedabad we decided to take an extended journey by visiting Modhera and Patan.
Ancient India had many Sun temples and there were significant population of Sun God worshippers. But with time their number decreased and over centuries the temples were either destroyed or damaged. Only few Sun temples exist today. The Sun temple of Konark in Odisha is well known to everyone , many are not familiar with this Sun temple in Western India .
 Modhera , town in Mehsana district of Gujarat is about 100 kms from Ahmedabad .The temple is located right on the Tropic of Cancer at 23°  North of equator and while driving towards Modhera , a sign board at Becharaji town reminds you about your location on the tropic of cancer.
      Modhera Sun temple was built in the year 1026 AD by the king Bhimdev I of Solanki dynasty  and in ten years from now will be completing 1000 years !!. Though it is not as well known as the Sun temple of Konark, Modhera temple was actually built 200 years earlier to Konark.
          The temple complex  built in East-West direction has an welcome arch which is broken by invaders . There is a waterbody -Surya Kund right in front of temple and is meant for devotees to have cleansing  rituals before entering temple . Surya kund  also known as Ramakund is an architectural marvel with four levels of steps to reach the water. The steps are interlaced with 108  small shrines all round , coinciding with 108 beads in Rudrakshi mala ( Hindu rosary ). There are four bigger shrines in corners .
The temple is separated from main hall called Sabha mantap by a narrow passage. The Sabha mantap is another architectural marvel .This is the place that was meant for religious gatherings and conferences. Open on all sides with four doorways, the piece de resistance is its unique walnut-shaped ceiling supported by 52 spectacular pillars. These 52 pillars represent 52 weeks of the year. Each of these is intricately carved with every inch of available space recounting scenes form Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Krishna Leela.The exterior of the Sabha mantap has twelve idols of Sun depicting Sun in twelve different months of the year. Also there are carvings from epics, Life ,death and rituals etc. Again you will never see an inch of stone without art!
Like many ancient Indian Temples there are sculptures depicting sexual position from Vatsayana Kamasutra .
     The main temple is behind Sabha mantap and has sanctum sanctorum and all three parts of the complex are axially aligned. The main complex is built on stone plinth in the shape of inverted lotus considering the relationship of sun to Lotus.It is designed such that the first rays of sun on days of time equinox ( March 20, September 21 ) fall on the golden idol of Surya and lights up  the whole temple . The idol of Surya was supposed to be in gold and studded with diamonds. Entire golden idol with golden chariot and horses were placed in a pit 15 feet deep and filled with  goden coins.The idol were taken away by Mohamad Ghazni who invaded the kingdom of Solanki .Today the temple remains a heritage site ,maintained in an excellent way by Archeological society of India.

A view of Sabha mantap

A side view of temple complex

 Frontal View of temple, Suryakunj,

Sabha Mantapa ,

Interior of Sabha mantapa

Sabha mantapa

Main temple with sanctus sanctorum also called Guda mantap

                       One of Idol of Sun God on the wall of Sabha mantap,there are twelve such idols

             Another Sun Idol
Erotic sculptures on wall

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Agent of Death pleading for life !

It was in later half of seventies I was in my high school studies . Our school was located out side the village limits and right across the road ,less than few hundred meters from the school was a hill and a small part of the hill was used as a dumping ground for carcass of dead livestock of village. From our class room I could see sometimes big birds soaring in sky and coming down to ground  when carcass is dumped in the area. Even from that distance I could see their big size and long neck. We were told they are vultures ( Rana Haddu in Kannada ) . Though they were not seen daily , their sightings on any day made us believe that somewhere in village a cattle has died . It was a common thinking to associate vultures with death or kill. Years passed and I was busy in my studies , moved to different places but whenever I passed by that road  almost subconsciously I used to look for these birds –Vultures ,though till today I haven’t seen them again. It was almost 30 years later ,when I developed interest in birds and photography I asked my friend Dr Rathnakar about any  dumping ground of carcass around Shimoga so that I can see vultures and the answer I got shook me almost. I learnt then that vultures are almost extinct . He narrated that their race in India faced a near extinction due to adverse effect of eating carcass of livestock treated with  drug Diclofenac .Since then I made several searches and went little deep into this issue and though I travelled several places for wildlife and birding I was  not fortunate to see a vulture till recently . It was only in first week of December, in Bikaner,Rajasthan I could see vultures for first time in so many years. 
Vultures are large birds which are scavengerine birds and birds of prey. As a bird vulture is not an attractive bird. There are different types of Vultures, White rumped vulture, red headed vulture, Griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures etc. They usually eat dead animals and even meat which is putrefying. Their digestive system has capacity to digest meat which is rotting and they can digest even such meat which is infected with deadly bacteria like Anthrax. Upto early  part of eighties  they were very common birds in India and by next few years their numbers started declining and by later half of nineties  their numbers had declined to critically low figures It was then learnt that such rapid decline in numbers of vultures in India was due to use of a drug Diclofenac in cattle and other livestock.. When those animals died and the carcass still contained Diclofenac in the dead tissues ,  vultures which fed on such carcass developed kifney injury and subsequently died in few days. Diclofenac is a very common drug used in Humans for pain relief and subsequently used by veterinarians for pain relief in animals.  By the time this was taken into cognizance it was too late and from few millions in numbers ,the vultures had come down to hundreds.  Govt Of India banned use of Diclofeanc in Veternary practice in 2006 a move considered too small and  too late. But by that time nearly90% vulture population in India were wiped out. But the alternative drug Meloxicam was costlier compared to Diclofenac and though Govt had banned it in Vet.Practice they were still able to use it as availability was not a t all a problem .It is still widely and easily available for human use and the same vials are used by Veterinarians also for use in livestock. Though this fatal effect of Diclofenac is seen in some species of vultures and not in all ,Those which are able to digest diclofenac like Eurasian Griffon vultures and Egyptian vultures  have escaped largely but the Indian vulture, White backed vulture ,red headed vulture have almost reached status of critical endangered species. Vultures once ubiquitous in India has now been confined to very few places that too in very small numbers.
In an environment everything has a chain effect. As the number of vultures declines their place was taken by feral dogs. These dogs have thrived on meat of dead animals and rapidly increased their population . When it was difficult for them to get enough food these dogs started attacking humans. There are several cases of human attack by feral dogs. It is becoming a menace to control the numbers of feral dogs in several cities and even villages. Many animal borne diseases started resurging after vultures declined . With forest area dwindling leopards from forest started looking out of their domain and found an attractive prey in dogs. So many cases of leopard trespassing into villages are due to increase in dog population and  vultures decline has a connection to this phenomenon This  is how everything is interconnected in nature and it might be passed off as foolish if some one says Dic;ofenac is connected to leopard –human conflicts !
Though there are several efforts to revive vultures it takes time to yield effect. Hopefully they will be successful and we will be able to prevent them from extinction.

The pictures in this blog are taken at a place called Jorbeed about 15 kms from Bikaner,Rajasthan, This area is one of largest dumping ground of carcass in India and they are tested for presence of Diclofenac in tissue and only such meat which is free from the drug are dumped here. Every winter number of Griffon Vultures from Europe ,Central Asia, Himalayan area migrate to this place for spending winter. I was able to see about 5 cinereous vultures, a flock of about 20 Eurasian Griffon vultures on ground and several of the perched atop small trees there. Egyptian vultures are seen in thousands here In addition to Vultures this area has large number of big sized Steppe Eagles, Tawny eagles, Imperial eagle etc.This is one place which is to be visited for anybody inetersted in birds and bird photography.

A flock of Eurasian Griffon Vultures
An Eurasian Griffon Vulture in flight

Perched on a tree -Eurasian Griffon Vulture
     A Cinereous Vulture : One of largest Vultures with a wingspan of around 2 meters.

    A cinereous Vulture taking off!
Griffon Vulture
Another angle of same bird
Another flock of Eurasian Griffon Vulture

Egyptian Vulture , 

                                                      Egyptian Vulture perched on a tree

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mangalajodi Wetlands,Odisha

There are several places in India which are unique for reasons of their own. If you travel between cities India looks same whichever city you go, from Ahmedabad to Bangalore to Bhubaneswar cities in India have same colour, same brands of coffee, hotels, shopping complexes and cinema theatres and people in and out of these places also look similiar .But when you move out of cities into the other "india" you start noticing its richness, diversity and uniqueness of every place. These places are rich in their flora and fauna, diverse in their customs and culture and here lies the true India and its richness. The place which I am about to describe is a small village in the state of Odisha in eastern India. This village with a population of around 10,000 humans is situated n the district of Khurda , and about 75 Kms from the capital of Odisha ,Bhubaneswar. But not many people with whom i talked knew  about Mangalajodi even in the city of Bhubaneswar.Mangalajodi village is in the northern most part of Chilika lake ( Chilika Lagoon ). Chilika is the largest brackish water lagoon in India and the second largest in the world with an area of 1100 sq.Kms. This lagoon is connected to Bay of Bengal.(see on map). This lake is declared as a wetland of international importance . Chilika lake is one of the largest wintering place for nearly a million of migratory birds with more than 160 species of birds visiting the place for winter.
Mangalajodi is the winter home for nearly 200,000 birds in peak winter . The story of Mangalajodi is interesting . Till 2000, this place was considered as poachers paradise where people were engaged in poaching the birds and their eggs and meat transported to cities . In the year 2000 when bird census was held ,the population of birds was said to be around 5000 .This was when conservationists and environmentalists took up the challenge of motivating villagers who are largely fishermen, into conserving the population of migratory birds . Many organisations and people were involved but the efforts of Wild Orissa are significant and the results of their hard work can be now seen that the village which was once considered as poachers village now transformed into naturalists village and this year 2013 January census showed more than 150,000 birds population .The time I visited was at the fag end of winter ,March first week with many birds already left the place. But still I could see many birds and some of them I had seen for first time. There are thousand of Purple more hens, open billed storks, Grey headed lapwing, Wagtails , pipit, Pied starling, hope, Kingfisher, Myna, Redwattled lapwing, Sandpipers , Snipes, plenty of Black tailed Godwits, Blackwinged Stilts, stints, Bluethroat, Kite, Harrier, Black shouldered kite, Ruddy shelducks. There are little ringed plovers, Pacific plover, Ruffs, Black headed Ibis, grey heron purple heron, cormorants, and many many more. In the peak season many more species which are unique to this place can be seen. There are two ways of birding here one by walking on the 3.5 kms of nature trail and second most prefered is by boat. For both you need a guide .
This is not a holiday travel destination and hence there are no resorts or big hotels. You can get good accommodation at Mangalajodi ecotourism cottages at a reasonable cost . This place is a community owned venture started two years ago. They have made good improvement in their quality of stay and food going by what I have read from experience of previous travellers. They can be visited on web at . Mr Shashank and his team there do everything within their limits to make your stay memorable and your purpose of visit fulfilled. The boating is also arranged by them each boating is of 3 hours duration and accompanied by an eco guide. The other hotel  which I saw there though I have no idea and details is the Godwit cottage.
But Mangalajodi is a special place for birding , a village where its bird population is ten times more than  human population and a village where once poachers are now protectors, a place where you can have birding at ease , a place still not exploited by commercial tourism . Some of the winter migrants travel more than 12,000kms to reach these places
Best time to visit is between November-February. Even in month of March you will still be not disappointed. You can reach Mangalajodi from Bhubaneswar by road. about 75kms on BBSR-Chennai road on NH 5 .

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ladakh : Amazing land where mountains meet heavens

Ladakh , a peaceful ,serene and pious region of Jammu and Kashmir state of India , is a natural destination of any travel or photography enthusiast. Situated between Kunlun mountain range and the Himalayas ,the word Ladakh means " Land of High passes". True to the literal meaning Ladakh has many mountain passes all around the region and some of the highest motor able roads in the world pass through Ladakh.

  Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys, the Indus Valley, the remote ZangskarLahaul and Spiti to the south,Aksai Chin and Ngari, including the Rudok region and Guge, in the east, and the Nubra valleys to the north.

Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti to the south, the Vale of KashmirJammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the trans–Kunlun territory of Xinjiang to the far north. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It is sometimes called "Little Tibet" as it has been strongly influenced by Tibetan culture.

Ladakh being a strategic location from military angle was closed to visitors till 1974. Ladakh region includes the districts of Leh and Kargil. Ladakh is a high altitude cold desert . 

Leh town is the hub of all activities in Ladakh. Leh is connected by air to Delhi,Jammu and Srinagar with daily flights to and from Delhi. By road Leh can be reached by two routes one from Manali and other from Srinagar via Kargil. Both these places are around 440 Km s from Leh and need two days of travel through high mountain passes. These roads open only during summer and peaks receive snow fall even in summer. Leh is at an altitude of around 11500ft above sea level. The co ordinates of Leh are 

34° 8′ 43.43″ N77° 34′ 3.41″ E.
The main tourist attraction of Ladakh are the beautiful landscapes ,historic and pictursque monasteries ,
High altitude lakes with crystal clear waters, snow peaks , vibrant culture and religion of Ladakh.
Leh town has an ancient palace belonging to Numgyal dynasty and a monastery . Thikse monastery and shey palace
are about 10 km from Leh . The sangam of Zangskar and Indus river, Sindhu ghat,  a museum of Kargil war at Hall of fame
Gurudwar pattar saheb, Spituk monastery ,Shanti stupa are the places worth seeing at Leh.
Nubra valley is a region to the north of Leh with the Nubra river and has famous Diskit monastery.
 Nubra has a landscape with white sand dunes and snow capped mountains the combination of which is unique to Ladakh.While drive to Nubra valley
invoves excursion on world's highest road at Khardung La (18380 ft) .
Ladakh has several high altitude salt water lakes .Famous few are Pangong lake ,Moriri lake, Kar lake.
Pangong lake is around 140 km from Leh while Tso Moriri is around 220 km. .
Ladakh is a beautiful place ,dark blue sky,white clouds, blue water, colorful prayer flags , monasteries atop tall hills, Snow capped mountains, sand dunes, curving serpentine roads, smiling Ladakhi Budhists, prayer wheels ,stupas all make this land serene and Gods own place. If you are a photography enthusiast and want to make all forms of photography in one go Ladakh is the place. You can have great landscapes, beautiful birds, amazing wild life ,portraits of some of the smiles which you will ever remember , action, night and time lapse photos , structures and monuments everything in one trip Ladakh is undoubtedly the place. 
Of the several places I have travelled in India and abroad Ladakh is the place which has left an indelible mark in my memory. Ladakh is not just about photography ,it is not just about holiday travel ,it is beyond all these which makes it special. It is about a place which has stood all adversities ,it is about a human race which stood against time,. against all difficulties and yet bear an inimitable ,genuine smile on their face.
In the following few photos I have included a glimpse and divided my web album into different segments and given link to them separately.Please visit all the albums and in every picture I have included some small details.
Ladakh is too big for any camera to capture. 

Every inch of the land is photogenic and most of it is best enjoyed by our eyes and it will be indelibly recorded in your memory.Photos are only to show to others a glimpse of our journey into this great land of Lamas.
Pangong Lake

Sand dunes

Himalayan Mormot
Khardung La road

Shanti stupa at Leh

Thikse monastery,

Click on the image below to visit my web album Ladakh Landscapes

Ladakh landscapes
Click on the image below to view my web album Ladakh Monasteries

Ladakh Monastery
Click on the image below to view my web album Ladakh birds and wildlife

Ladakh birds and wildlife
Click on the image below to view my web album Ladakh trivia

Ladakh trivia