Sacred Junipers

Christopher RobinOur Town Arts

Recently I returned from another adventure of a lifetime, traveling to the mountains of Northern India in search of the elusive Ghost Cat of the Himalaya, the Snow Leopard. These cats were the main subject of our search but, just like for Walter Mitty, it is the trip and lessons learned along the way that make travel special.

Our search centered out of the village of Hemis-Shukpachan in the territory of Ladakh. There, as we waited for reports from wildlife spotters, we wandered into an ancient grove of Juniper trees. Some of these trees are 400 years old and I was mesmerized by them.

This image draws your eye first by the light in the opening and then by the depth created from the more distant trees. The falling snow softens it, giving it a warm feeling.

Juniper trees known locally as “shukpa,” thus the name of the village, are blessed trees and considered sacred. Our guide explained they are the only evergreen growing in Ladakh Territory. On several occasions, as we entered a home, monastery or special place we were greeted with a light “dusting” of smoke waived from smoldering Juniper needles.

Ladakh is not the crowded and fragrant India but is high desert valleys and snow-covered mountain peaks soaring over 20,000 feet. We met wonderful, happy and welcoming people and traveled roads that I can only call insane. As for the cats, you’ll have to wait for another article to discover that result.

Photographer Chris and painter Robin Rohwer each week share a painting or photograph that captured their interest in hopes that it will also capture yours. They have a small studio and gallery in the Phoenix Building at 418 South Gay Street where you can stop and see their work. Their website is All works are copyright protected.


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