Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ladakh Blossoms

Ladakh region, located on northern borders of India, is remarkably distinguished. No common geographical features of the Indian subcontinent are seen here. Ladakh is surrounded by tall mountain ranges from almost all side, yet none of the hill slopes have vegetation or forest cover. Taller or very high peaks and spurs, which are above snow line, are covered with white snow all round the year. Except for these, all other mountain ranges lie barren and naked through most part of the year except for the winter, when snow covers these as well. If we observe these naked and barren mountain slopes closely, one is astonished to see shades of different colours on each and every hill slope. Mossy green, purplish, reddish, or slopes with orange like hue, look very distinguishable. The mountain tract region near Lamayuru village, commonly known as 'Moon land', is sulfurous yellow. All these mountains look so distinguished that absence of forests and vegetation is not missed at all.

If we observe these colourful mountain slopes at close quarters, we can observe that the slopes are actually teeming with very short shrubs with narrow and small leafs. When summer arrives in Ladakh, these shrubs start blooming with blue, pink and red coloured flowers. In the local Ladakhi language, these are called as kalzang-mentok, (Blue coloured), sulu-mentok, (pink coloured) ,tesma-mentok, pale purple coloured) and luku-mentok, (yellow colourd). I do not know the Latin names given to these by the botanists. I prefer to call them the Ladakhi way because it is much easier.

On the sandy mountain slopes of Ladakh, one of the most common short shrub that is found, is called 'Burtse'. The remarkable feature of this shrub is its high calorific value and quick inflammability. Mountaineers and local people commonly use this shrub to cook food or light a warm fire on cold nights. I asked one of the locals regarding 'Burtse'. He pointed out to a shrub with beautiful Blue flowers. I am not confident though to say that this is the 'Burse' shrub for sure.

If we slide down from these naked and barren mountain slopes to the deep valleys at bottom, the landscape and picture suddenly changes. Rich green fields with yellow mustard flowers, Tall Poplar and willow trees with bright green leaves and number of springs and brooks flowing through them make you forget the barren mountain slopes. Mind wonders at the amazing wizardry of nature of providing such stunningly beautiful landscape in the valley, surrounded by naked barren mountains.

One can see many flowers blooming near the hedges, houses, fields and in middle of no where. Roses, seen everywhere blooming with imperial majesty reign supreme. But even the wild flowers have an amazing natural beauty.

I kept on snapping Ladakh blossoms, wherever I could, with my camera. I can only hope that at least a small part of the unbounded joy, which I received while watching these flowers, reaches my readers through these photographs.

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