Coming to Ladakh was like a dream. While I had anticipated breathtaking sights, I did not expect to be overwhelmed with such beauty.
Since my travel companion and I were arriving at the tail end of winter and the roads were closed, we took a flight from New Delhi to Leh. I asked at the check-in counter that we each have a window seat so that we could fully enjoy the scenery ahead that morning. I was happy I made that decision, and I strongly recommend this for anyone flying for the first time to Ladakh.
I had planned to sleep a bit on the plane as soon as I finished eating the in-flight meal, as I barely got any sleep at the airport – we had arrived late night at the airport directly from Agra.
But, as I was still eating, I did a double take when I saw this outside my window:
How could I sleep now after seeing this? My full attention was now outside.
As I saw snowcapped mountain after snowcapped mountain, I began to see shapes and patterns. Many times in the past especially during childhood I would see and imagine shapes and figures in clouds, and now I was seeing them in the Himalayas – the Himalayas! I could not contain my glee. At some point I must have bounced up and down like a child on my seat, and I did not care. It also helped that I had the row on my side to myself.
With each moment, I found myself more and more arrested by Himalayas’ beauty. Each scenery was just as beautiful – or even more beautiful – than the last.
I found myself being swept away in a euphoric bliss I haven’t felt in several years. At that moment, having witnessed such unbelievable and almost unbearable beauty, I believed I was ready to die, if that also meant I could be a part of such beauty. The first time I felt this was when I first laid eyes on a glistening white sand bar amid blue waters years ago. This flight was the next. It might sound like a morbid thought to the average person (my travel buddy was quite mortified when I shared with him this feeling later on), but I was left with a lingering and profound sense of peace.
Later, those feelings naturally faded and were replaced by the desire to see more of that kind of beauty in my lifetime. And yes, I would be seeing more for the rest of my Ladakh trip.
This flight – the best plane ride I’ve ever had so far – was just the beginning. I would be seeing more beauty that would leave me awestruck in the coming days.
To see what happened next, read Part 2 of my Ladakh adventure: Mountains, markets, and monasteries: Magical one-day tour of Leh town in Ladakh.