Day 1 – Ladakh 2012 – The Majestic Taj Mahal

Day 1 – Ladakh 2012 – The Majestic Taj Mahal

The Ladakh 2012 trip was a 12 day photographic adventure of discovery in an exotic region of Northern India. The golden land of Ladakh (Land of High Passes) is nestled between the giant Himalayas and the Karakorams.  The region is interlaced along the ancient Silk Route between Sinkiang and Kashmir, which provides many spectacular views and a rich history for visitors to experience. It is one of the few “Last Frontiers” to be explored since openings its boarders to the public approximately two decades ago. Known for its deep spirituality, unique culture and warm hospitality, Ladakh provides a full experiential trip for the true adventurist.

The team was lead by two extraordinary individuals; Kristian Bogner – Nikon Ambassador and three time award winner of Canadian photographer of the year. Along with a legendary guide & friend – Chandan – he makes the Dos Equis beer guy look like a kitten – for real.  With their combined efforts, they were able to expose student photographers to stunning landscapes and culture in a safe yet very informative environment. Kristian provided exceptional instruction and inspiration along the trip to ensure that participants would achieve the photographic results they desired. While Chandan enhanced the adventure with his extensive knowledge of Ladakh history and folklore, as well as ensuring participants were well taken care of and most of all – well fed!

What can one expect upon venturing into India? Plenty of surprises! So its best to go with an open mind, sense of adventure and the ability to submerge yourself in the beauty that is India – and a bottle of Pepto wouldn’t hurt either.  As This photographic adventure will bring you back to the playfulness that you only experienced in your youth, captured all through the lens of your camera.

We started off our adventure by landing in New Delhi and were immediately whisked off by car to Agra – home of the magnificent Taj Mahal. Lucky for us, the new Yamuna expressway, has been put in from New Delhi to Agra. That makes this trip much more enjoyable and quicker (approximately 3 hours) than the previous 6(ish) hour trip. Just a straight clip down the new expressway brings you into vibrant Agra – well worth the toll for what you save in time!

Once we reached Agra, we took a quick a stop on the side of the road before hitting the majestic monument. This allowed us to get some pictures of the Taj Mahal from a distance in some beautiful morning light.

The Taj Mahal is stunningly beautiful even amongst the throng of people visiting the exquisite shrine, Emperor Shah Jahan built for his wife, MumTaz Mahal. We had an entertaining guide who was able to help us not only with the wonderful history of the Taj, along with Chandan’s help, but as well with getting some interesting shots of the Taj. As it turns out the guide’s father was a photographer, so he took a great interest in helping us capture some unique angles of the Taj.

After a spectacular day shooting at the Taj Mahal, Chandan showed us another interesting part of the city that few visit on their Agra trip. He took us to a cemetery to see the Red Taj Mahal.  This monument is the resting place for Col John Hessing and was constructed after his death in 1803 by his wife Martha. Though it stands no where near the magnificence of the great Taj Mahal, it still is quite striking against the backdrop of the cemetery. Just don’t venture into the Red Taj if you’re scared of anything small and flying…such as bats.

We had one more quick photo stop at the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, where we took advantage of the golden light streaming down on the great monument. As well as some reprieve from the humid heat, as the Tomb is situated close by the Yamuna river and provided some much welcomed breeze. After playing with the light and with a few willing locals who happily modeled in a few shots – we hit the road again!

I don’t think one of us could recount the sleepy car ride home, but we made it safely back to the hotel in New Delhi after a long day of shooting. Even though we were tired that didn’t stop us from enjoying one of many delicious dinners we would have during the course of our trip with thanks to Chandan. After dinner we all promptly headed back to our rooms at the hotel to get a good night’s rest for the start of our Ladakh journey in the morning.

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