The great Himalayan Mountains are a sweet addiction from which we plan to never recover. In this conversation Sourabha Rao interviews our Ladakh Landscape Photography Tour Skipper Rajiv Shyamsundar about exploring the magical place with Toehold.
Sourabha: What does the invigorating name of the Ladakh Tour – High in the Himalayas – mean to you?
Rajiv: Ladakh is one place I wish to go back to again and again. I love seeing the greater Himalayas in different seasons of the year. The place makes me happy; it’s as simple but as priceless a reason as that.
Sourabha: What exciting details about the Photography Tour do you think make it a unique experience?
Rajiv: We plan the Photo Tour in a way that maximises photo opportunities in the locations we carefully choose to visit in the premeditated stretch of time. We also try to make the best use of light to bring out the breathtaking details of landscape and the contrasts between the natural and man-made elements. We also ensure that the journeys between different locations themselves offer soulful experiences because the whole place is incredibly picturesque.
Sourabha: What do you see and photograph on this Tour?
Rajiv: Although Ladakh has tens of monasteries, we choose those that make the Tour photographically productive. We consider the significance of the place’s history, which allows us deep insight into customs and ways of life of the present as well as of the times gone by. We also get to meet monks and nomadic tribes and interactions with them are memories that will never lose warmth.
Sourabha: And the lakes…?
Rajiv: And the lakes, yes. The lakes in Ladakh are surreal in their nuanced greens and blues, and the waters rippling slowly like a dream in the lap of mountains can render themselves into splendid frames. The changing colours of the mountains simply add that much ethereal allure to it. I again stress on the fact that the journey on the roads that snake through mountains and valleys and sometimes next to rivers and lakes itself is an extraordinary experience, and sometimes funny too, with the signboards.
Sourabha: How do the logistics of the Photography Tour help one explore the Himalayan beauty?
Rajiv: Keeping our participants comfortable throughout the Tour is of the utmost importance. When we are travelling and when not travelling but exploring the place photographically on foot, we make sure that it’s not physically taxing. In every vehicle (usually an Innova) that takes us around in Ladakh, we have only three participants. This means each one has access to a window and plenty of room for their luggage and camera equipment. Sitting by the window can also help each one to recognise offbeat places that are worth stopping for when we are on the move.
Sourabha: How important are the vendors and partners we work with?
Rajiv: Oh, they’re critical. Our vendors and locals connections there have been working with us for years now and they understand our needs as photographers, our perspectives, and even help us pick and stop for great photo opportunities; it’s not merely about taking us from point A to point B, which is what makes it great. And they wait patiently when we’re soaking in the delight of the beauty of the place and making images of it.
Sourabha: Why must a person who has never seen Ladakh join this Tour?
Rajiv: Ladakh is one of the most spectacular places not only in India but in the world. Apart from the reasons I’ve mentioned, I must add how enriching an experience it is to meet the local people. They are kind and hospitable when one tries to interact with them. Their way of dressing, their food habits, the details of their everyday life are all fascinating to discover. We are talking about the Himalayas after all; one simply doesn’t return from the mighty mountains without some soulful experiences.
Join our High on the Himalayas – Ladakh Landscape Photography Tour with Rajiv!