The World From the Lens of Ladakhi Nuns.

When I went to live at a nunnery in the high Himalayas of Ladakh, I didn’t imagine that I would be interacting with nuns as young as six years! Living with these Ladakhi nuns for a fortnight was beautiful, insightful, heartbreaking and introspective, in that order. But that’s a story for another post. Today, I want to show you the world from their lens, in photos taken by them with my Sony Cybershot camera.


because in the real world, maroon is the color on them, and brown and white are the colors of the mountains they live in.

Ladakh nuns, Ladakh people


; I loved the innocence in their eyes, but knowing that their families have decided the course of their lives at such a young age almost broke my heart.

Ladakh people, Ladakh photos


at 6 years old. She came from a family of 6 sisters, and the parents, unable to look after all 6, decided that she should be a nun. Here, at this nunnery set up by a Dutch foundation, she has access to school and nutrition, but I often wondered if that’s enough for a kid that age.

Ladakh people, Ladakh nyerma


home to 20 nuns, including the 5 young ones.

Ladakh nuns, Ladakh photos


; in a land so remote where cameras and selfies are rare, it didn’t take long for these young nuns to figure out technology and indulge in some good old selfies.

Ladakh people, Ladakh photos


This picture surprised me because the nunnery only had a few trees in the middle of the barren mountain desert.

Ladakh pictures, Ladakh people


of the innocent faces whose smiles will forever stay with me.

Ladakh photos, Ladakh nuns


The nuns have a much more rigorous life than most monks, yet nunneries receive little donations or recognition. Someone even told me that they are often taught to pray, live and work more diligently in this life so they can become monks (men) in their next life.

Ladakh people, Nyerma


and their perfect poses.

Ladakh nuns, Ladakh people


but the young nuns find happiness easily.

Ladakh nunnery, Thiksey


Staying with the nuns in Ladakh: This nunnery in the Nyerma village of Thiksey was set up by a Dutch foundation to house nuns who didn’t have a place to receive their religious teachings. The nuns host travellers at The Taras, a small guesthouse on the same campus, and the income generated is used to sustain the nunnery.


What are your thoughts on these photos taken by the young nuns?


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Jullay from Leh!
In Photos: Jaisalmer in The Monsoons
In Photos: Bhap Village, Rajasthan

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  1. Excellent idea to hand the nuns the camera! The photos have a spontaneity and intimacy that’s hard to capture as an outsider. Besides, it’s great to see them having a good time with the selfies and all. 🙂

    1. My intention was only to try to break the ice between us while having fun with the camera, but their creativity (and spontaneity like you say) rather surprised me!

  2. Sid - The Wanderer says:

    Excellent collection of images…so good to see the world front their eyes 🙂

  3. Great idea! You always come up with something different and nice. Adorable photographs. Sad to read about these kids – I wish they get to live their childhood. I had a similar feeling when I saw the young boys as monks in Sikkim. Their ‘playfulness’ doesn’t match with the kind of life they are expected to live.

    1. I just loved the pictures they took so much that I had to share them! Like with everything in their lives, their “childhood” is a grey area too. It’s hard to say what kind of lives they’d have if they were back home, whether they’d even go to school or have enough to eat in a big family. Shall be writing all about it soon.

  4. Your blog is always a delight to read 🙂

    PS: my psuedonym has been Monk, since the time I started writing, hehe 🙂

  5. Shivya, I’ve been following you for a while now and I think this is one of your best and most touching/ evocative posts yet!

    1. Thanks Anuja, the credit really goes to the young nuns who decided to share a part of their lives with me.

  6. I love how these pictures capture the innocence and joy of children. I’m really interested to read your next piece about your experiences there.

    1. I can’t wait to get my many thoughts in order and write about the experience of living with them.

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  8. twishimii says:

    The pictures a beautiful! 🙂 But I can’t get over the fact that there are nuns as young as 6. It’s sad that some of them had no choice.

    1. I know what you mean. I think our worlds are so different that it’s difficult to understand the way the families often feel in these parts.

  9. Lovely one..straight from the heart and it is so moving…i feel this is your best post ever. thanks for sharing the photos….i ra

    1. Thanks Sunil; I had to share the photos for the way they capture the wonder in their young hearts!

  10. Lovely, yet heartbreaking. These photos convey a lot! I hope to travel here someday.

    1. Please let me know if you ever go. I’d love to print out some of these photos and send them to the nuns. Unfortunately the postal system hardly works in these parts.

  11. Brilliant capture… this is something that generally people are not aware of. …I just came back from Ladakh last week and it was my first visit and I was not able to see this part of ladakh…. Thank you very much for sharing this untouched hidden part.

  12. chaitalipatel2000 says:

    Lovely thought to let them have some fun with the camera. My heart goes out to those little girls. We take so much for granted… people lead such difficult lives… there are so many inspirational stories out there – and this is one of them.

  13. Which camera do you use when you travel ?

  14. It is sad that women around the world often suffer the same plight.If their parents are not truly well off, they have a hard time bringing the girl children up. The girl truly loses the hopes and dreams of womanhood very early when she is made a nun.

  15. Beautiful and emotive shots. They were quick learners, weren’t they?! As you said, just food and nutrition alone cannot be enough for a child. It’s so sad that there are so many who don’t even get those. They seem to have formed a family among themselves…

  16. Loved the post. I was searching for the Taras place when I hit on your blog. I looked upon their website. You stayed there only for 15 days? Did you visit them as a volunteer? The website mentions 1 month. Has that changed? I was planning to take that up seriously.

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  18. Nice and heart touching post, Shivya. Loved it! Thanks for bringing their stories to us.

  19. The tender age should have been spared ! Why they think that in the next birth ,they could be male monks ? [ Perhaps Gender inequality is sown in their minds ]

  20. hmm….i really lved ur travel posts…….keep gng….u travel alone a al over the world….

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