One of the last strongholds of Tibetan Buddhism lies in the Zanskar Valley. This valley in northern India is a high-altitude semi-desert, home to ancient monasteries, a few mud and stone villages, glacial streams and deep gorges. At its southern end stands guard the lofty Mt Gonbo Rangjon, considered to be holy by the local inhabitants who practice Tibetan Buddhism. Gonbo lies on the Darcha – Padum trek route and lies about 16kms south of the Kargiak village.
Till the not so recent past, the valley was pretty much isolated from the rest of the world and life went on as it had for the many centuries of the past. But that is set to change now with the construction of a road over the Shinku-La pass connecting Manali to Padum which passes right below Mt. Gonbo. The road will bring prosperity and economic development to the region along with a lot of tourists and the pollution they bring along.
As an astrophotgrapher, while not grudging the economic prosperity for the villages, I can’t help but feel saddened by how much light pollution will be seen at this Bortle 1 sky location moving forward. I am glad I manged to visit this location while light pollution was still manageable, for already at the base of the mountain permanent tented accommodations have come up and there is even a restaurant serving snacks to the travellers.
A single long exposure was taken for the foreground and later blended with a single tracked image of the sky.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor