August 2010 saw a cloudburst wreck the homes and lives of several Ladakhis, while temporarily blocking one of their main sources of income - tourism. And tourists are still shying away from one of the most popular among offbeat travel locations in India.
"Some people went to Ladakh barely two weeks after the cloudburst," says photographer Atmarab Parab, "But many others cancelled their trips out of fear."
Parab, whose collection of images of Ladakh in winter will be displayed at a city exhibition, is an avid trekker and travel enthusiast. He has been to Ladakh 18 times, his most recent visit being just after the cloudburst. "It was love at first sight," he says, recalling his journey on motorbike, from Mumbai to Ladakh, in 1994.
Admitting that summer is the peak season for tourism in the region, Parab says that Ladakh draws in crowds between May and September.
"Barely 50-100 people visit the place during winters, which is an altogether different experience from the summer. It is just something else," he says.
"The sub-zero temperatures are a deterrent for most tourists. In my personal experience, temperatures have dropped till -27 degrees Celsius," explains Parab. "Many journey to Antarctica to see everything around them frozen. You need to have at least Rs 4-5 lakh for that trip. Ladakh offers the same experience during winter for as little as Rs 20,000."
The photographer hopes to offer enough incentive for tourists to choose Ladakh even during the winters. His collection of 72 images has been put together only recently, and is the 18th in his series of exhibits on Ladakh.