Western culture and fashion trends have influenced our sartorial sensibilities. But sarees still remain a popular choice of clothing and continue to top fashion trends. I took a step further and decided to pull off my saree swag in Ladakh, bringing together Maharashtrian and Ladakhi culture.
It took eight years to make my dream trip a reality. Ladakh showcases a blend of rich Ladakhi and Tibetan culture, and I wanted to add an element of my Maharashtrian tradition by wearing the nauvari.
Initially, it was tough because of the rocky and sandy terrain. So I made sure that I wore flat footwear and the saree was tucked in properly. But trust me, after a while, I felt comfortable. Back in the day, women wore nauvari to the battlefield. So it was a good choice to sport the nine yard in the high altitude and difficult terrain.
I wore a radiant magenta and royal blue nauvari to complement the surroundings of Pangong Lake situated at a height of about 14,270 ft.
One needs to pass the second highest motorable road (Changla Pass) to reach Pangong Lake, which is magical because the water looks green or blue depending on the sunlight. That said, I faced one difficultly; there was a sudden fall in temperature. When I reached Pangong, it was 4 degrees. So I wore thermal pants and then draped the nauvari to combat the chill. But I was glad by the response of locals and tourists who showed an interest and curiosity in my traditional attire.
The nauvari is incomplete without traditional Maharashtrian jewellery. So I wore the nath — a traditional nose ring worn at special occasions and festivals. Women also wear Mohan mala, a long beaded gold necklace with 2-8 layers of bead stings. Thushi, an exclusive choker, goes well with Paithani sarees. Laxmi haar (coin necklace), Kolhapuri saaj, Tikada set (pearl choker), and Rani haar are other styles of Marathi necklaces that complement the nauvari look.
Traditional antique bun pins are also worn with the traditional drape. Other accessories like the amazing ornate earcuffs or kaan studded with precious stones add to your get-up. Vaaki or the armlet studded with stones further elevate your look.
At Nubra Valley, I wore a green chiffon saree paired with block printed Kalamkari blouse. Nubra valley is a tri-armed valley located to the north east of Ladakh valley. The common way to reach it is by crossing Khardung La Pass (elevation 18,380 ft) which is the highest motorable road in the world. The place has extreme patches of sand and lush green fields, which are visible from Diskit Monastery.
Beautiful clouds, blue skies, lush green fields, grazing yaks, gorgeous water bodies, breathtaking mountains — everything is picture perfect in Tangtse village near Pangong. For this terrain, my pick was a pink chiffon saree which I paired with a silver grey blouse.
Just ahead of this picture perfect location, there was a rocky area where I was able to spot marmots (giant squirrels) and was lucky enough to click pictures with them without threatening their privacy.
For travellers, Ladakh creates memories that last a lifetime. And if you can add a few more unique elements to your picture postcards, you certainly will cherish the images forever and ever.
(The writer is founder and editor-in-chief, Stylewhack)