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Bactrian Camels of the Central Asian Silk Route – Ladakh

Diskit village, Nubra valley. Ladakh.

Wedged between two ranges of the Himalayas.

Sand dunes.

River beds.

Mountains with badly scratched faces. Mountains with a topology that mesmerised. Rock formations that pierced through the heart of the earth and reached out for the azure blue skies. And a river quietly flowing through these, making its own way. Dividing the mountains into two distnct ranges. And when these rivers are dry, the sand dune beds are visible to the world of today. Bearing testimony to the world of yesterday.

It is on these river beds that traders walked their camels with exotic goods. I am frought with an agony that is almost physical as I wonder about the exotic goods  that must have been transported along the path that I now walk on. Maybe we shared a footprint in space. But not in the same time zone. In physics this would mean that our world lines would never cross. We’d missed each other by a few centuries, even though we were in the same spot!! I hate these feelings of having just missed an opportunity!

With all the hostility in the world, the political borders of neighbours have become barriers to trade and cooperative living. And so these caravans have no place in the economy of the villages that line these river beds.

If only the mountains could talk, if only I had had the language and the time and the inclination, I could have asked the village elders the stories they had heard from their grandparents about these trade routes, and gotten a small peep into the world that used to thrive here….

They say travel can be fulfilling but every glimpse I get into a different space-time zone only makes me wistful and makes me agonise of all the things that I can never see ….I think I need a new set of perspective correction lenses !


The complete set of Hi-res images is available in the Himalayan landscapes gallery of www.jainamishra.com

jm

Oct 2011

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