On a Flight of Fancy to Leh
A flight to Leh from the Plains gives you an actual chance to view the awesomeness of the mightiest Mountain Range on the Planet especially just as Winter gives way to Spring and the Peaks have the maximum amount of Snow which accentuates the appearance of the Mountains.
The endless Plains first give way to the lower Hills and the Shivaliks. Its just ahead and coming out of these lower Hills are a number of Rivers as they enter the Plains. And the effect of man's work is also visible as you see the Reservoirs of various Dams appear once into the lower Hills.
The lower Hills give way to the Lesser Himalayan Ranges like the Dhauladhar and the Pir Panjals. These appear as big mountains with craggy tops and snow higher up with a some small Glaciers.
Once across this suddenly you see an elevation in the lay of the land and suddenly till the eyes can see are visible craggy Peaks all white with massive Glaciers between the Massifs. This is the sign that you are now on the Great Himalayan Range itself. The main and the highest Spine of this Mountain Range. And it goes without saying this appears as the most dramatic part of the Range as its a virtual Ocean of thousands of Spires.
But like all good things must end so does this this.And then you start noticing that the landscape gets browner with lesser Snow and the Mounatins appear to be rounder rather than craggy. These are the Trans Himalayas. And also making their appearance are certain large water bodies that exist on this Trans Himalayan desert.
In the pic below you can see the dramatic change as you cross from the Great Himalayas over to the Trans Himalayas with a River acting like a border. The Mountains to the right of the River are craggier and whiter than the ones to the left. Also in the left corner you see a large water body which is the Tso Moriri Lake.
However the Trans Himalayas dont last long as soon appearing on the horizon are Mountains ever craggier than the Great Himalayan Range. These are the what were called in Turkic language as the Black Rock Mountains and even today we use that term for them, the Karakoram, arguably the most impenetrable Range of the whole system. From the Leh flight as it starts its descent on the first view of the Karakaorams they appear even more formidable till they disappear behind the Ladakh Range and the plane lands along the Indus River.
However if by some luck we were able to continue to fly northwards we would cross the first line of the Karakorams and come across the formidable Deosai and the Depsang with the Changthang of the Tibetan Plateau further afield on the right alongwith Changchenmo. Soon we would be flying over the mighty K2 and the Trans Karakoram Tract. But the fun doesnt end until you run into the spires of Kun Lun and the Pamirs at the point they meet and converge. Another great Mountain vista awaits you you cross another of these Great Mountain barriers which seperate the Indian sub-continent from Central Asia. And finally our imaginary flight would land at Yarkand at the edge of the Tarim Basin.
You have just flown over the most formidable Mountain barrier on the Planet. Now think of the Men who crossed these barriers on foot. And let me know if a chill passes down your spine when I tell you their stories on a day I decide to tell that story :)
Do walk the Mountains someday instead of flying or driving over them
Pic from April 2018. Delhi to Leh flight.