Tucked away in one of the remote corners of Ladakh, Hanle does not see many tourists. Which is a pity because Hanle is absolutely one of my most favourite places to visit in Ladakh. One of the reasons why I like Hanle so much is because of the beautiful light that I encounter here. I have visited Hanle about 4 times till now and have always returned back with some wonderful memories and photographs.
Here are some examples of what I am talking about.
One of my most enduring memories of Hanle is the golden light hitting the mountains behind the Hanle monastery during sunset. Every day, I enjoyed the spectacle of the shadows lengthening and creeping up the mountain side. The light getting more intense and more colourful as it reaches the peaks of the Ladakh range and the clouds beyond.
Sunsets at Hanle are perfect time-lapse material.
Things get more magical when the passing clouds throw out patches of shadows and light on to the mountains. The light filtered through the clouds is more intense and colourful, especially when contrasted against the dark shadows surrounding it. It my favourite kind of light in Hanle.
Dance of the Rain and Sun
Sunny days are boring!
There is nothing like a smattering of rain to add some drama to a scene. Combine the rain with some sunshine and you know that you are witnessing something special. You can witness this spectacle pretty much anywhere, but I remember witnessing this phenomenon more in Hanle than anywhere else.
Hanle is a very windy place. Dust devils are a common sight here. They dance across the plains like mini tornadoes and are quite a sight to behold. I suspect that these high winds are the reason why the rain clouds over Hanle move rapidly across the sky, bringing a mix of rain and sunshine across the plains at the same time.
Whatever the reason, I’am glad that I get to witness it every time I visit Hanle and the other regions of Changthang in Ladakh.
They say that you should never look at the sun directly. But in Hanle you should look at the sun when it is setting because it can be magical!
Perhaps it is not always like this. But If you are lucky, the setting sun would put on a show that cannot be easily rivaled anywhere else on this planet. The whole sky surrounding the sun would glow golden, pink and red as the sun disappears down the horizon.
My favourite moment was when the sunlight poured out through the mountains one evening. The light came out in such a concentrated beam that it appeared as if the peaks of the mountain caught fire. It was my most unforgettable moment in Hanle and one which I keep a look out for every time I visit the place.
I haven’t been able to catch the phenomenon again. But then that is the beauty of the mountains. You can keep visiting the same places again and again, year after year and each time the experience would be different. And that is the reason why I keep going back.