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'TO THE END OF THE WORLD':


KULU & LADAKH, 1990



’All men dream, but not equally; the dreamers of the night wake in the morning to find that their vanity has changed to dust, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dreams with open eyes to make them possible'.













Thus wrote Lawrence of Arabia in the 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom', and they are thoughts which come to mind when memory of this journey is roused.


In the late summer of 1990 a small group of photographers and travellers set off on what should have been a very ordinary photographic holiday in Northern India. From Delhi they were to travel by rail to Simla, the old summer capital of British India, and then onwards to Manali in the green Kulu valley. After a few days in this valley of apple orchards and forests of pine, overlooked by high snow-capped mountains, they would return to the plains and then fly North to Leh, the capital of the Buddhist region of Ladakh. This area, although part of India, in inhabited by people of Tibetan descent and is Tibetan in culture. Ladakh, once known as Middle Tibet, is perhaps the nearest we can get to what Tibet might have been like today, were it not for the Chinese invasion and occupation of that unhappy country.


Unfortunately plans can alter. A heavy, late monsoon, coupled with student unrest meant that the party was, in effect, stranded in Kulu with no way to Leh, bar one. This way was the spectacular Manali-Leh Highway, a military road through some of the most barren country in the world and which crosses passes of 17,500 feet. The story of this journey, passing through high mountain regions with strange names like Lahoul, Rupshu and Spiti, and our safe arrival in Leh, with it's Shangri-La atmosphere, make a fitting climax to this story of a wonderful holiday.


(This presentation has been amended by the inclusion of some material from visits to Northern India in 2006 & 2009).