Three years after I visited Leh, capital of the former Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, I┬áremember what my guide said to me: “In Leh, it is so quiet that you can hear your own thoughts.”

When I think about Ladakh now, I can still hear the novice nuns we met beneath the apricot tree grove calling out to us: “Jullay! Jullay!” That’s a Ladakhi word meaning anything from ‘hello’ to ‘goodbye’ to ‘please’.

And Ladakh, in the heart of Kashmir, is a gorgeous, gorgeous place. When I came back and showed the photos to one of my editors, he said that they looked like they came out of a National Geographic photo shoot. So: enough said. Let the pictures speak for themselves.

The view of the Himalayan mountain ranges from the top of a monastery

Tibetan Buddhist monks deep in prayer

a 17th century monastery

A prayer flag flutters in the wind.

An old man pours us tea in a roadside coffee shop

A yak butter sculpture, crafted to signify the impermanence of life.