Unapologetic in their greatness, elegant in their stature, rugged in their demeanour, imposing in their magnitude and yet warm and welcoming at heart. That is what I feel about the Himalayas, they feel like home. So naturally, when I read about little local and their exploration to Henasku, a 500 year old village in Ladakh, I signed up within a couple of days. Little did I know, this trip would be instrumental in changing so much for me!

What started as bunch of strangers, soon turned into a group of FRIENDS (and I do mean FRIENDS like the iconic sitcom), with each of us filling in for every character :) I think witnessing a sight as gorgeous as the meeting of River Zanskar and Indus, is bound to create an inexplicable bond between people.

What makes a place truly special? The people! And in all my travels I have never really lived with the locals. Thanks to little local and the unique travel experience they offered, it didn’t feel like I was a tourist, we lived with the villagers like family, shared their food and of course local brew Chang (potent, my advice would be drink with caution), used the dry pit toilets (needs some getting used to), and I finally overcame my fear of jumping over puddles :)

Our first Chang, everyone is focused on the glasses, with our lovely hosts, who were the royal family of Henasku.

No visit to Ladakh can be complete, without a visit to their lovely Monasteries. The peace and tranquility of Lamayuru Monastery will leave you mesmerised and spellbound.

PORTRAITS OF HENASKU - THE LOVELY PEOPLE OF THE INVISIBLE VILLAGE

The oldest member of the village, who sang local songs and told us ancient legends and stories for 2 hours :)
The irreverence on this child’s face, an expression which is far too grown up for such a young child.

THE INVISIBLE VILLAGE

The trek to Lhonpo house, which the gang persuaded me to go for (considering I was too lazy), turned to be worthwhile, for this panoramic view of the little hamlet called Henasku, a forgotten village, that has so much to offer to travelers.

As seen from the top of Lhonpo House
The gang posing at Lhonpo house, which now lies in ruins.

Below is the image, from the other side of the cliff, of the ruins of a house where once the elite of the village resided.

THE ROYAL FAMILY OF HENASKU

Our hosts, guides, translators, friends – everything! Loveliest people we met, and they were so sporting, ready to dress up in the traditional attire so that I could shoot a family portrait for them :)

Trying our hands at spinning some wool with the local women, failing miserably, choosing to chatter instead :)

THE TRIP TO PANGONG - A JOURNEY THAT WILL CHANGE YOU FOREVER

The trip to Pangong, will leave a permanent mark on you. The pristine beauty of the lake, no pictures can ever do justice to the hues of blue, the changing colors of the sky, the water mirroring everything.. The sun suddenly disappearing into dense clouds, as hail and rain pour from the skies, while the colorful prayer flags adorn the lakeside.

Some places change you forever, you are never going to be the same person again once you get back. You may get back to your routine life, family, successes & failures, but something has changed within you, a part of you is revealed to you that you never knew existed. That place for me is Ladakh. It feels like I have left a part of myself there, and in its place, a serene calm and sense of wonder has made home within me.

Ladakh and the friends I made there, is what moved me to finally pursuing my passion for capturing moments, and I am continuing this journey, with the same sense of wonder that Ladakh made me feel. Forever a Pixiedust collector!

Thank You little local : I could not have asked for a better experience :)

About our author - Prerna Thapa : Reluctant Traveller | Amateur Photographer | Pixiedust Collector | Bibliophile | Corporate Slave | Mountain Lover | Dreamer | Caffiene Junkie | Chatterbox : Instagram @pixiedust_43

About our partner - Roots Ladakh is a 3 year young travel start-up based in Ladakh, India. They are a for-profit social enterprise, in the business of adventure and rural tourism and are pioneers in promoting the lesser known parts of Ladakh – Kargil and Zanskar. Their philosophy is to create 'shared value' between the business and the community it thrives in, and they believe that travel based initiatives are the best way to re-introduce Kargil and Zanskar and at the same time provide livelihood opportunities for the locals. You can read more about them here.

If you enjoyed reading this and would like to be part of such travel experiences, do read about our current trips here. And please write to us on antara@littlelocal.in and give us feedback on what you'd like us to post about!