SMART KITTY( for NIA)

I took these pictures while  we were being briefed on the HEMIS MONASTERY in Shrey, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India.

However  this Smart Kitty took up a lot of my attention as it made itself comfortable in front of the heater in the room.

I know my friend from Turkey , Nia, loves Cats, so the pictures were taken with her at the back of my Head.

 

cat and carved table
Who is sitting on my Chair  asks Kitty ?

 

Cat and Heater
Nice Warm Spot 

 

all attention
All Attention as the door to the room is left Ajar

Oops sorry I lost the thread of what was being discussed as Smart Kitty had me Enchanted in Ladakh.

CAST IN STONE

Leh is the Capital of the region of Ladakh. It is also a  Valley formed by the Historical Indus ( also called Sindhu) River.

The  45 kilometre drive from Leh to the famous Hemis Monastery took me through one of the most spectacular Landscapes I have ever seen.

You could well be on Pluto .

Mountains of Rocks
Rocks are Strewn over as though placed by Intent.

Hills are Cast in Stone.My imagination runs wild as I dream up faces and figures on the Rocks.

Is it the Land of Star Wars?

rocks and blue skies
A Rock Mountain

The Pristine Blue Skies and Clouds provide a fabulous backdrop to this Enchanting Mountain of Rock.

rocks and clouds
Are the Rocks calling out to someone beyond the Blue Skies?

The Ingenious People of Ladakh  have for centuries clung onto the Inhospitable and Barren Rocky Mountains and left their mark in the form of temples and  monuments.

 

clinging on
Clinging on like Moss

It is hard to beam into your homes a Fascinating Landscape which can only be measured by your Senses, however I have made a humble effort nonetheless.

Be Enchanted by the Indus River in the blogs to follow as it hurtles from the Snow Clad Himalayas through the Valleys Of Ladakh and beyond.

MAGPIES OF LADAKH

I hope you have been reading the previous blogs ( BREATHLESS LEH, LEAFLESS POPLARS and HIMALAYAN ICE)  as there is a connectivity between them you will enjoy discovering.

Besides the above ,do checkout FROZEN at http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com.

When I first set foot in Leh and saw the Leafless Sentinel like Poplars, I wondered if any birds would survive the sub zero temperatures in Ladakh.

However I first spotted a solitary Eurasian Magpie ( English) , Pica pica bactriana ( Scientific name) perched on a Leafless Poplar ( pic in the blog thus titled)  within the Hotel compound itself.

Thereafter this rather large Magpie was sighted with regularity all across Leh and the surrounding regions I visited.

The interesting sequence that follows was photographed after the acclimatization period was complied with and I set foot outside the Hotel complex.

The Large Black and White Eurasian Magpie was perched on a roof and attentively watched a small herd of 3 cows pass by on the alley below.( see featured image and the one below) .

As the Ladhaki Magpie changed  position, the plumage transformed into a Glorious and Iridescent myriad of Blue and Green . Have a look in the picture below and compare it to the the featured image above.

shimmering plummage
TRANSFORMED PLUMMAGE

The Crow Like Bactrian Magpie lands onto the Ice and Snow at Ground level close to a foraging Himalayan Cow.

See how it  cleverly balances itself and prevents itself from skidding on the Frozen Surface.

food on the ground
Landing on ICE at Ground Level

The highly intelligent Eurasian Magpie ( IQ levels match that of a chimpanzee) had spotted Food and chisels away the Ice to reach the targeted morsels.

snow and magpie
TWO MIGHTY BLOWS

The Magpie is Lucky to find Food in the Icy Cold Winters of Ladakh.

It belongs to the Crow Family Corvidae and  I thought the Magpie was a Treepie as it looked so similar to the native Rufous Treepie ( Dendrocitta vagabunda)  we see in many parts of the Indian Subcontinent.

food in beak
PAYDIRT AS THE MAGPIE GETS LUCKY

The larger picture, One of the three cows that the magpie had watched attentively.

cow slurps
THE COW SLURPS WITH ENVY

My hands were frozen while taking the pictures above despite the Sky Blue Skies and Bright Sunshine.

A lot of effort does go  into keeping everyone who reads these blogs ENCHANTED.

HIMALAYAN ICE

Pictures were taken at the Animal Rescue Centre ,near Shey, Ladhakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India.

Ladakh is a high altitude desert and home to the River Indus .

The pictures that follow need no words, be Enchanted.

rivers of snow
Himalayan Rivers of Snow
mountain streams
Half Frozen Mountain Stream
glistening river
Embankments of Snow along a Glistening Stream
icicles along the banks
Frozen before it can meet the River

Do check out LEH TEASER at http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com.

LEAFLESS POPLARS

The White Solitary Posts are Poplars , a high altitude  tree you will see covering the the entire Landscape of Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India.

There is a huge and exciting controversy brewing on the scientific name and I have honed onto the scientific name Populus parmirica. 

tree and bird
An Enchanting Magpie

As I have only seen and photographed them during the Winters when not a single leaf adorned them, let alone bear a flower or fruit, it is hard to key on the species with precision for an amateur like me.

3 trees
Stretching their arms to touch the Blue Skies

I understand these Ghostly white posts have separate male and female trees and are an intricate part of Ladhakhi life.

Willows and Poplars dominate the winter landscape of Ladhakh.

one willow
A solitary Willow amongst the Tall and Elegant Poplars

The Ladhaki Frass or  Ladakh Poplars or Populus pamirica can be seen only at altitudes above 2000 m.

Leh is at 3800 m and thus home to vast Poplar plantations.

trees and himalayas
The Himalayas form the backdrop to a forest of Poplars

I hope you will help me identify the species in case I have blundered . Am certain the Genus Populus is however correct.

 

BREATHTAKING LEH

From an Altitude of 215 metres at New Delhi  ( 24 degrees C) to a dizzy 3800 metres at Leh, Ladakh ( -10 degrees C)  within an hour meant the first day was reserved for the entire group to acclimatize to the drastic change.

The breathtaking views and rarefied air at an high altitude left me gasping for air.

All the photographs were taken from the Mahey Retreat Hotel , Leh ,Ladakh on the first day of an Enchanting trip.( please check out my blog titled LEH TEASER at http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com)

fields cottage and Himalayas
The View from the Room

The landscape at Leh is amazingly stunning and unique.

Behold the Snow Clad and Mighty Himalayas viewed through a screen of leafless trees.

trees and himalayas
Snow Capped Himalayas 

It was so Enchanting to see the Himalayas close at hand. I felt I could reach out and touch the mysterious Himalayas, home to the mysterious Snow Leopards.

wisps of clouds
The Sun shines brightly on the Lofty Mountains

The intensity of the Sun is multiplied manifold as the Rarified Air does not filter sunlight. The result is that Snow dissolves leaving barren Mountains like the one in the picture below.

The picture was taken from the window of the Hotel, the rooftop of which can be seen in the foreground.

hotel roof top and a barren hill
Barren Hill and Clear Blue Skies

Leh during the winters is Spellbinding and leaves you Breathless literally and figuratively .

FIELDS OF JOY

 

The following pictures reveal the Green Fields of Rural India and the Joys of Nature it encapsulates within its folds.

Pictures taken near  Village Dhankaur, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India.( 40 kms from New Delhi) .

Can you spot the Cattle Egrets near the Hay Cottages  ?

two cottages
Amongst the fields

This group is having a blast within the Fields of Joy.

 

spreading wings
Spreading my Wings

Another Field of Joy  and closer to the Village Huts, the  Pea Hens are nearly invisible till you are literally within an arms length.

pea hens
PeaHens amongst Green Fields

They don differenet hues.

pea hen close up
A Closer Look at the Pea Hens

Leaving the Fields of Joy with a Heavy Heart as I take my last picture.

huts
Two Cottages in an Expanse of Green

You really do not need to make extensive plans to experience the Magical Spells cast by Enchanting Nature.