It’s Brown. It’s bright. It’s beautiful. Ladakh. It’s a cold desert. It’s cold and dry. The colours of Ladakh had me in shock when I reached there. And then I was mesmerized. Ladakh is an uncanny combination of dull and bright. Because of the altitude, the sun is especially bright and sky clear and Blue. However, for miles, I could only see huge rocky Brown mountains and winding Grey roads. A part of me yearned for another colour, especially Green. I like Green and Blue. I like them together. I have never before seen so much Brown and Grey. The part of Ladakh that is Green wasn’t a part of the itinerary. If I had known the overpowering feeling of Brown rocky mountains and bright sunlight, I would have probably altered the plan a bit.
I wonder if the lack of colours ever bothers the native population. The people from the deserts of Rajasthan make up for the dull monotony of Brown and yellow with extremely colourful clothes, interiors and food. But Ladakh’s clothes are also Grey and Maroon.
The overpowering feeling of being surrounded with Brown was especially bothersome on our way to Nubra valley from Leh. The route was long and tiring. It was absolutely beautiful but so very Brown and rocky. The journey ended in a sand desert that inhabits double hump Camels. More Brown and Grey.
The key highlight of the drive was Khardungla pass. The route can get really scary as you keep going higher up. As far as the eyes could see, there are rocks. The Blue sky meet the Brown rocky mountain near the hairpin bent of the Grey road. And you are a tiny little blip on the landscape.
Initially it was fun searching for variants of Brown and Grey and playing with the sharp contrast created by sunlight and shadows on majestic mountains. After a while, I felt a little tired. The prayer flags brought in an interesting relief providing a beautiful contrast to the otherwise dull landscape.
Brown has a very unique appeal. The first association of Brown for me is Soil and Trees, which remind me of the beauty of nature and the simplicity of existence stripped away from the artificial world created by man. Surprisingly enough, it’s also a very comforting color. It feels more natural than the other brighter colors. It doesn’t have the fire of Yellow, Orange and Red. It doesn’t have the icy coldness of Indigo and Violet. Just like the pleasant Green, Brown is also very comforting and motherly. It’s soothing to the eyes. The color reminds me of Petrichor, the beautiful fragrance rising up from Earth after the first rains. However, in Ladakh, we encountered Brown without the rains and the trees. The dry rocks were rough. The beauty was lost on us initially.
It was on the last leg of our journey, in Pangong Lake, that I found an absolute love for the magnificent mountains. Early morning, on our way back, we decided to stop near the lake for a while more. The beauty of the moment was unparalleled. The reflection of the glorious mountains in the lake filled the landscape with Brown… a much softer shade. And it was gorgeous.
Ladakh is Brown, Grey and Blue.