For Dr Ravi Kumar and his family an eight-day photography vacation through the treacherous but breathtaking terrain of Kashmir, Leh and Ladakh led to a key realisation. For the military personnel they met there â€” as a signage on the Leh-Ladakh highway said â€” â€śWhat is a lifetime adventure for you is a daily routine for us.â€ť
Small wonder then that Ravi Kumar dedicated an exhibition of photos of the journey to the armed forces, because, â€śEach day for them is a new battle for their survival.â€ť
Armed with a Nikon DSLR, Nikon and Stigma Lenses and a tripod, Ravi Kumar documented the journey in a little over 3000 photos.
''Our driver discouraged us from stopping and getting out of the car as the terrain was narrow and there was the perpetual possibility of a landslide coming our way. To get the images right in such a situation, I had to use very high shutter speeds,â€ť he said. â€śI had to shoot most of the pictures from the window of a jumping SUV, with a hand held camera.â€ť
â€śThe moist environment was a challenge to the upkeep of the equipment, but, I still dared to put my camera out to catch a few frames of falling snow. I was lucky to have carried a stock of memory cards, as I took more than 3000 snaps in those 8 memorable days, he added.
The eight-day journey began from Srinagar, passing through Sonamarg, Zojilla Pass, Drass and Kargil on the way to Leh, from where the family went through Changla Pass, Pangyong Lake, Khardungla Pass, the highest motorable road in the world, and Nubra Valley and Siachen Base Camp. â€śThe terrain is treacherous, but the views are breathtaking,â€ť said Ravi.
Among the many sights captured in these photographs is a picture an Army Canteen at the Kargil War Memorial, installed at 9000 feet above sea level. The picture features the menu board, which offers tea or black coffee at Rs 10, a luxury at minus 10 degrees Celsius.
Ravi is an oncologist by profession, while his wife Nitika is a costume designer, and his daughters Radhna and Sanjana are an architect and a medical student respectively. Ravi says that his passion for photography drove him and his family all the way to Kashmir for their journey. â€śOur sole aim in travelling by road was to enjoy the scenic beauty of the valley and capture itâ€™s beauty through the camera,â€ť says Ravi.
Ravi Kumarâ€™s journey culminated in a collection of 75 photographs that were on display at the State Art Gallery in Madhapur, Hyderabad on Sunday.