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Landscape & Travel Photography Workshop at Himachal

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Report By: Aseem Sharma

In the Month of June 2019, India International Photographic Council along with Camera Art Institute organized a 5 Day Photography Workshop in Himachal Pradesh. The workshop was conducted successfully at NARKANDA, KALPA, CHITKUL AND KASAULI. The workshop was attended by 12 photographers. They photographed the culture, scenic mountains, people and their colorful lives. Himachal is one of the unique places of our country and has hidden gems like Chitkul and Kalpa which many don’t know about.

The group departed on 15th Night from New Delhi and drove straight to Narkanda via Chandigarh, Chail and Kufri. The group stopped at Chail Palace for breakfast and continued the journey to Narkanda. We stopped on the way to shoot at different locations. Once we reached Narkanda, the group checked into the Hotel. Post lunch, we had a shooting session and we shot some lovely photographs of the sunset.

Next morning, After breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road again for our onward journey to Kalpa via Rampur & Reckong Peo. The route along the Satluj river was precariously beautiful. There were a number of Hydro-Electric power stations being built thus making the road more rough and bumpy. There were a number of water streams and waterfalls we saw coming down from the upper reaches. The group stopped for tea and snacks at Jeori. Jeori is the place from where the road diverts to Sarahan which is about 17 kms there.

After reaching our destination KALPA, when we looked at the mountain range of Kinnaur-Kailash, all our exhaustion evaporated and instead a feeling of exhilaration ran through our bodies. It was such an excellent view and the cool breeze took away all our feeling of any dissatisfaction. We sat unmoved looking at the gigantic mountain range. The hotel ‘Kinnaur-Kailash’ where we had our booking is also an excellent structure built keeping in view the tribal architecture of the place. As soon as we were allotted rooms with three beds having a row of windows through which we could see the mountains, we felt as if we were transported to a heavenly abode. Although it was getting dark slowly, still we could clearly see the natures’ splendor around.

I felt our coming all the way from Delhi to this remote corner of Himachal has not been in vain. With a complimentary cup of ginger tea from the hotel and some biscuits which we carried with us, the evening was perfect. After some time, the sky became cloudy and it covered the mountains for a while. When the clouds moved away, the moon became visible bringing with it a mystical touch of night. The Restaurant at the hotel is more than a four star hotel because of the view you get from the restaurant, and the rooms, I think very few places in the world can offer that. After dinner we got back to our rooms to protect ourselves from the strong winds.

Next morning all of us were up on time for taking pictures of the Kinnuar Kailash at sunrise but the sky was cloudy and overcast. We waited to get a view of the ranges and within a few minutes the sky opened up a bit allowing us to shoot the Kinnaur Kailash and other ranges. The landscape of Kalpa is dominated by the Kinnaur - Kailash range. This domination is so overwhelming that nothing else really matters as if only the Kinnaur-Kailash exists. After breakfast we left for our next destination – CHITKUL via Karchham Dam and Sangla valley.

To reach this remote heaven one has to fork out from the NH 22 - the old Hindustan-Tibet Road - beyond Tapri, entering the Baspa Valley. Ahead were rows of snow-clad Himalayas. The landscape was breathtaking. We passed by the small town of Bhabanagar to reach Tapri, where we stopped for tea. Scaling ahead, we took the right diversion at Karchham, entering the Baspa Valley. As we approached Sangla, we passed by many apple orchards, with red apples literally clinging to every branch. Sangla, situated at a height of 2,700 meters, it is a small picturesque hamlet with the Baspa river flowing alongside.

We reached Chitkul late in the afternoon; Situated at the banks of the Baspa river, meandering through the deep interiors of Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, Chitkul is a paradise on this very earth. Kinnaur, the land between paradise and earth, is surrounded by Tibet on the east, Garhwal on the south, Spiti Valley on the north and Kullu on the west. Interestingly, Uttarakhand border is just 20 km from Chitkul. The Indo-Tibet border is approximately 90 KMs from the Chitkul village. However, no civilian movement is allowed beyond Chitkul, which is why it is famously known as the last village before the Indo-Tibet Border. The area beyond the village is in control of the Indo – Tibet Border Police Force Summers are mildly cold temperature-wise, with highs of 20 degrees and nighttime cool of around 3 Degree Celsius. The group had Lunch at a Dhaba known as “Hindustan Ka Akhri Dhaba” . Honestly it didn’t look up to the mark but they served us delicious Himachali Rajma -Chawal with fried red chilies. Post lunch we returned to our tented camp at Mastrang which was around 14kms from Chitkul. We shot some pictures of the sunset. As the last rays of the sun touched the ranges, the plethora of colours that it emitted will be etched in our minds forever. In the evening a campfire ignited our spirits as we heard many a local myths and legends. There was music, some beverages and some poetry sessions with all of us enjoying it to the core.

Next morning we shot some beautiful landscapes with sunrise and moved to Chitkul again for some shooting. The participants were mentored by Mr. Hemshankar Pathak from Indore and My self.

Altitude of Chitkul is about 11,319 Ft in altitude, which is staggering enough to make it a hard-to-reach paradise. As they say all things worth having in life never come easy, so I say, add Chitkul to that list. The lack of a mobile signal in this hamlet makes you disconnected from the world and complements your connection with the surroundings. With Kinner Kailash visible in the backdrop, Chitkul brags of unmatchable views, from its soft spot on the Baspa River. On the left bank of the Baspa lie snow-clad mountains and on the right bank lies an expanse of apple orchards. The slopes of this magical land are flaunted by the majestic Deodars and the dignified Chilgoza, Chitkul also boasts of abundant orchards, catering to the world - some of the finest ‘Golden Delicious’ apples. The villagers are either Hindus or Buddists, speak a Tibeto-Burman dialect known as Kinnauri and wear distinct green pahadi caps.

The serenity of the place was immediately felt by us – the sheer feeling of oneness with nature. After shooting we returned to Mastrang for breakfast. With a deep satisfaction of being able to leave behind our footprints in this last frontier village of India, We started off to our last and final destination – KASAULI. It was long way to go via Reckong Peo, Rampur, Narkanda and Shimla. We reached Kasauli late at midnight. It was a blessing that the GPS was working as we had to look for our Villa which was somewhere in a remote area in a forest beyond the main town. At last we checked in at the beautifully made villa at around 1:45 A.M. and were served a cup of hot tea by the care-takers.

Next morning post breakfast we checked out. The group was taken to an Ancient church and some other points of interest for shooting. One of our group members Ms. Tanuja Chauhan who has been a resident of Kasauli Cantonement took the group members for a well guided outing. We thank her and her husband Mr. K J S Chauhan for the warm hospitality extended to our group at the Kasauli club. Post our shooting session the group left for Delhi via Solan and Chandigarh. We reached Delhi late at night.

This workshop was very successful and each one of us shot some really good photographs. I thank all the Participants from Delhi, Indore and Anand (Gujarat) - who made it a grand success. I also thank Mr. Hemshankar Pathak for mentoring the participants. There was a contest held for the participants. Three award winners are : Tanuja Chauhan, Shivam Bhutani, Ishaan Sachdev. Certificate of Merit have been awarded to: Pradeep Plaha, Deep Ravindra Kadam, Gurvinder Singh Chhabra, Manav Gwalani, Amrita Raj and Ashish Bhatia.

For more about the Workshops , visit our events section...

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