Leh and Ladakh

by Priya Anand

Priya Anand writes about Leh and Ladakh following her visit to the region for a trek. Spellbound from the time she landed in Leh, Priya’s poem highlights the region’s stark beauty, its unique culture and the people who inhabit it and how all of these provide a one-of-a-kind experience that is cerebral, sensual and spiritual.

A town dwarfed by mountains,
Stark shades of bronze and beige
White tipped peaks graze heaven
Girded by uniform, armed and fortified
Yet pervaded by a spiritual calm
A visceral gaze that sears the eye
Recorded for posterity in the mind’s iris
A dull throbbing at the base of the skull
A lethargy that weighs you down
An illusion that you are walking through water
Your eyes eagerly search the rarified atmosphere
Of a town and a weathered population carved
By the forces that hold nature at bay
Chiseled by the wind and polished by grit
A precious hot breath of air
Acrid, dry, gritty yet ephemeral
Each cell must now be content with its quota of air
A precious lungful held for just a little longer and let out reluctantly

Leave its quaint confines, and the desert and its mighty sentinels beckon you
Its burnish dotted with chortens and prayer flags
The wind transmitting their message of love and compassion
The shadow of passing clouds kisses brown and gold peaks
The Tso below and the La above
Traversed by a path that crisscrosses the mighty expanse
Julley, weary and dusty traveller on a quest both internal and external
Transforming the ephemeral into the eternal

Priya Anand is Bangalore-based and has various avatars as a writer of short fiction and poems, an avid trekker and sketcher, and a freelance development consultant who works on women and livelihood issues. Some of her work has been published in Spark, Bangalore Review, The Brown Boat (Raedleaf Poetry India) and The Reading Hour.
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