Christian Giudice – Chadar, old iced route
The Zanskari people and the ancient ice route
There is an ancient ice route that for generations has opened the doors of the world to the Zanskari people. We are in Ladakh, a region of India enclosed between Karakorum and the Himalayas at over 3,700 meters high, where for just over a month, between January and blacksmith, the Zanskar River becomes passable and breaks the isolation of winter.
Merchants of spices and fabrics have waited for that moment every winter for centuries… the moment when East and West met on the Silk Road. It still seems to see them, crowded between the inns and in the streets of Leh, wrapped in the scents and shouting of the ancient capital.
It is an enchanted and terrible journey, between deep gorges, crevasses, cliffs but also unexpected colors and waterfalls of ice. Forward, step by step, in the icy wind I learned to listen respectfully to the voice of the ice under my boots.
The camera to steal at least a little of that wonder that fills the eyes, to crystallize the ritual gestures of the guides that have been repeated for centuries: the preparation of the sledges, the preparation of the caves for bivouacs, the traditional songs that accompany at any time of the day.
Three days of walking that become a journey through time to the monastery of Karsha Gompa, surrounded by her village, where the powerful sound of the Sankha, the shell trumpet, recalls the monks for the beginning of the Puja, the celebration of the Awakening of the Buddha.
The ancient monastery of the tenth century is a treasure trove of history and spirituality, but also of art with its extraordinary wall paintings. The most precious treasure of Karsha Gompa is, however, the light in the eyes of the monks and the Zanskari people… My excuse to return home was to be able to tell that light with these photos.