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What makes for a good travelogue? Intricate details, interesting anecdotes, painstaking research or may be just great images? Most of the travel writings that I have ended up liking fulfill at least one of these criteria. Postcards from Ladakh by Kunzum‘s Ajay Jain also fulfill at least two of those criteria. When I first glanced through the book, what I noted was that it was reasonably priced for a book filled with good quality photographs.
The book is a collection of several small incidents or stories that the author has experienced over his travels in Ladakh. As it can be seen from the book, he has traveled extensively in the enigmatic region and has spent a significant amount of time exploring the remotest corners and interacting with the natives.
It is full of interesting events, local myths and genuine characters. There are reclusive ascetics, bewitching village belles and industrious entrepreneurs. There are mysterious oracles inside far flung Gompas and there are tales of angry monks eliminating arrogant aggressors. While going through these details, the author doesn’t forget to include the landscapes that are gloriously devoid of “civilization”. Other creatures are not ignored too. There are friendly marmots fighting over bananas and Tibetal Argalis camouflaged against ancient rocks.
Overall, the book gives us glimpses of immense possibilities. Ladakh is one of the last frontiers in this country that has not been touched by the malaise of modernity. As the author suggests, it has to do with not only the remoteness but also the traditional values and ethos of those people. Eventually the book leaves you wanting to know more about this land. I only wish the author takes up the individual myths and folklores in detail and transforms them into something of epic and mythical proportions such as Jiang Rong’s Wolf Totem.
You can purchase this pictorial travelogue of Ladakh online.