Should I have read this before going to Ladakh? It has sat on my bookshelves for a long time, unread. Written about a visit in 1981, Andrew Harvey lamented already being decades too late to encounter the traders from Yarkand and (K)Hotan.
35 years later, watching concrete paving stones being laid in the backstreets of the old town, extending the pedestrianisation-cum-sanitisation that had already been done along the 2 main streets of the bazaar, I felt I’d arrived too late too. But Ladakh delighted me. And if I felt a momentary annoyance as I read that The Greatest Painting in Ladakh is in Stakna monastery, the small gompa perched on top of small hill emerging from the banks of the early autumn Indus which we’d driven by at leat 3 times and yet never visited, a more hopeful thought swiftly followed it: Well at least I’ll have somewhere new to visit when I go back.
A couple of sentences to savour –
“This wilderness of rock and light had not been tamed; it remains exalted, and sometimes frightening. But it does not have the inhuman solitariness of Antarctica or the Sahara; everywhere there are marks of human love and prayer.”
Author webpage: A Journey in Ladakh – Andrew Harvey