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An Autumnal Meander along the Leh-Manali Highway

We all know that fall/autumn brings a lot of colours to certain countries and chasing autumn colours is a pretty popular activity. However the change in colours during this season is not as dramatic in the plains of India. Mostly the leaves dry up and pave way from the dull winter after denuding most of the trees without offering any visual pleasures during the process.
Only the higher parts of the Himalayas in India boasts of the right kind of climate as well as right species of trees to deliver this proverbial riot of colours. Since my intended summer-monsoon trip in Ladakh got delayed (and various other disappointments also occured along the way), I inadvertently ended up here in September-October. The season has more or less ended and the markets now look deserted as I write this blog but this opportunity to frame the fall colours will remain one of the less frustrating aspects of this trip.
However, it was not as easy as it sounds. Due to the scarcity of public transport in Ladakh, I was finding it hard to do things as planned. But I met Leonardo from Italy in my hostel who asked me to join him for a bike trip along the Leh Manali Road, covering some key monasteries like Hemis, Stakna, and Thiksey.

Before you start expecting too much, let me tell you that this is a short post. I have not done such short photo features in a while but this one needs to be done as I have a lot of photographs to spare. A couple of big posts are in the offing but they still require a lot of work. Till then, you can just ogle at the bounties of the Himalayan autumn.

During the trip we also took a diversion going towards a village called Igoo, just ahead of Karu. I don’t know anything else about the village and could not find anything online either. We just rode for half an hour, till the road was smooth, and enjoyed the scenes. Most of the photographs at this stretch were clicked from the backseat of the motorcycle with one hand. So please forgive me for the quality issues (I did straighten some of them).
I’ll write seperately about the monasteries that we visited later. The following photographs are about the road rather than any destination. Apart from the yellow and orange of the autumn, a consistent feature during this trip was the great Indus river in its greenest best. So, over to Indus, autumn, willows, and poplars of Ladakh.
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Poplars near Shey
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Autumns comes to Hemis
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Stupas engulfed by fall colours
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Indus remains green while the rest bank turns yellow
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A closer look of the Indus/Sindu River
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Somewhere near Igoo Village
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Love that peak in the background but don’t know the name.
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A solitary house on the Igoo road
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Shades take away the shine
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A non-conformist poplar decides to go all green
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Clouds play with the willows near Karu
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Do you notice the Helmet on the left side?
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Yellow was never my favorite colour till I discovered autumn poplars.
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Autumn now spilling over to the street.
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That peak again!
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Is it getting monotonous?
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I think this will go to the desktop.
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Stupas look good anyway, irrespective of the season.
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The Leh-Manali Highway near Upshi.


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View from the top of Thiksey monastery.
Finally, here is another one. I got it on a different day at Likir Monastery, after I published this post. But it has to go with this post, so I am updating it.
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Autumn embraces Likir Monastery
Jitaditya Narzary

16 thoughts on “An Autumnal Meander along the Leh-Manali Highway”

  1. That one photo looking down on the river with the yellow leaves of the trees is particularly striking. We forget that even places like Ladakh experience fall colors.

  2. I love Fall in New England with the blazing colors. These are more subdued but nevertheless give very dramatic contrasts between the land, the structures, and the trees. Yellow is my favorite color btw.

  3. Would love to check out this hike and looks like theres not a soul in sight. Beautiful photos. 🙂

  4. The Indus is beautiful and such nice contrast to the golden fall colors! I have to admit I had thought of India as a good fall foliage destination.

  5. Fall is my favorite season! I love the colors and the drop in temperature. Your photos are gorgeous, and the blue of the Indus/Sindu River is stunning. I’d love to see that in person.

  6. The colors of the leaves are stunning! I love the contrast of the green river, the sheer grey of the mountains and the yellowing foliage! My wife and I take photo trips like this sometimes, I do the driving and she does the snapping. Looking forward to reading about the monasteries. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Oh, how I love Ladakh! My husband and I have visited it twice and the first time was mid-September. The views were amazing. It was a bit cold during the night, but it was worth for the colorful show nature gave us. Which monastery did you like the most? I really loved Hemis, and you should definitely try Zanskar area 🙂 Enjoy your travels

  8. Linda de Beer

    Wow. I love the spots of colour against the rocky backdrops. Those autumn poplars lining the streets and the Indus/Sindu River are amazing. Perfect inspiration for a road trip to that part of the world.

  9. Ladakh looks so beautiful. I am super impressed that these were taken while on the back of a bike! I especially love that one green poplar rebelling against the yellow of all the surrounding trees!

  10. Autumn looks like a stunning season to visit Ladakh. The oranges and gold of the leaves are spectacular! Cycling around the region would be a fantastic way to explore.

  11. Hello,
    I am a passionate photographer and did visit Ladakh twice during September. But wish to go there during fall. What time did you go there? I am planning to go mid October. Is that right time for fall color?
    Thank you advance for your response.
    Best Regards,

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