On the truck journey down the Leh-Manali highway I saw these young guys building the road. It was a sight I shall never forget, very shocking. I took a few photos from the moving truck I was travelling in.
I have never seen anything like this before or since.
I remember reading somewhere about the number of people killed building this 'highway' but I cant find oit now - it was a lot. They were very young, at a guess I would say many were around 14.
Critiques | Translate
yannick (1471) 2005-05-12 15:13
This scene is very impressive. It looks like a if this picture was taken from a science fiction movie, on another planet. The black smoke together with the black colour of the workers and of their clothes gives a very powerful impression of an exhausting work.
It is a very informative picture.
toni_al (15875) 2005-05-12 15:36
Impressionnant le travail pour faire ces routes, avec très peu des moyens
Superbe image, le cadrage est parfait
Damberio (241) 2005-05-12 15:47
Very very suggestive picture...they seem unhuman...but what was there on the left so bad that you didn't frame ?
kensimage (8561) 2005-05-12 15:57
That has to be a really tough life, and you've documented it very well, David. Makes me very grateful for what I have, as I sit at my desk!
dabri (1692) 2005-05-12 16:11
it's really very shocking your image.
At least for western people, to many times full of niceness.
robiuk (10807) 2005-05-12 16:30
David, this is beautiful... I mean, the photo - but the truth behind...
It looks almost like a battlefield rather than a building site.
The feeling & atmosphere is even more evident due to bold landscape.
Bravo, you made a great job here!
tontonjc (6623) 2005-05-12 16:34
WONDERFUL !!! j'adore . Presque le 5ém élément ... Tout est SPLENDIDE ..
olopez (4959) 2005-05-12 17:22
Impressive picture David,
sengir (4956) 2005-05-12 20:00
great shot, david! good that there are some people in TE that show pictures from outside cities :D
Aazragi (1927) 2005-05-12 22:29
Wow, Really a great shot. Nice composition and lighting. Great point of view. Well done.
Cormac (26563) 2005-05-12 23:19
This is a great compostion from a moving truck! The story from the note is good, but the photo tells it in a much more powerful way. We can only imagine what it was like for them, but your photo makes it a lot easier. Thanks for sharing this one.
jiekuan (332) 2005-05-13 0:41
Very mistery scene, Impressie! I cannot tell they are building road, what they were doing there, they are burning something!
desman (2220) 2005-05-13 2:56
cette photo m'impressionne. Le cadrage à la volée est cependant très réussi et nous plonge vraiment dans ce décors digne d'Indiana Jones et le Temple maudit. Merci
nerve (10231) 2005-05-13 3:48
This is a fantastic shot..A true documentary work.. Wonderful POV, dual colours, good DOF
just has all the elements for a great shot..
only appreciation really..
best wishes. (sorry green later, finished for now.. :)
clodreno (0) 2005-05-13 4:17
An amazing image David... I have seen it so many times on those roads. or that one or the other one going from Srinagar to Leh..
The conditions they work in is simply unbelievable.. Most of those workers are coming from the state of Bihar, one of the poorest in india. They live in tents next to the roads, mostly 3 or 4 months of the year at altitude going to 500O meters....at the kardung La at 5,578 m..
Interactive map of Ladakh
mishreyee (0) 2005-05-13 4:39
Hi David! what a nice shot again! apart from the composition the picture remains very informative!
ash_parikh (2266) 2005-05-13 5:50
Very nice capture of the condition there. The working condition is very bad and the money they get is worst still to feed them and their family these people must be working in harsh condition.
namaste_oti (705) 2005-05-13 5:53
very intersting capture, and what a hard work for the young people.
amol (952) 2005-05-13 6:12
this is so intense a scene... and its beauty lies in the fact that you could frame it in such a way as to capture all the shades... all the activities n emotions...
a great landscape... I can just wonder how big that mountain in the backgrd is... and how ur photo would have looked had it been taken in as a portrait with the top of the mountain visible in the backgrd... btw is that a river in the lower right part...???
entrelec (8328) 2005-05-13 10:53
Very well done;impressive is the good word.
nygus (8178) 2005-05-13 19:53
like a postcard from hell. amazing
tongapup (0) 2005-05-14 0:19
Excellent documentary shot. Terrifying, really. I wish I could see a huge print of it. It's just shocking the way all the workers are covered in soot, like it's their uniform. Very bizarre. Swiatek's comment "Postcard from Hell" is utterly apt.
keribar (43841) 2005-05-16 14:05
Seems that I have found someone with photos that should be followed daily: This one is quite impressing with it's subject of course but also with the wild landscape and smoke which surrounds the working men.
Excellent David - Keep well - Izzet
Leonie (8809) 2005-05-19 5:22
This is really a very impressive photo! It looks like a painting from the middle ages about mine workers or something like that....hard to believe that this is from recent times. How did you get through there if the road was not build yet? Anyway I envy you for going there again...and I hope I will be able to follow your steps one day...it must be fascinating to travel there!
Well done, Léonie
bnallama (3763) 2005-06-10 16:35
Lovely and impressive shot David. The workers darken by the smoke contrasts the scenery.. I am about to say that it's a nice contrast but when I think about the workers I am feeling POOR them.
Bravo, for the nice POV and DOF... You wonderfully captured the atmosphere. Thumbs up
maciekda (19895) 2005-06-11 5:35
I like the mood of this photo very much, colors of the mountains, that smoke, 'black' people. somehow i'd like to see more of the left side, but I still like this photo very much, very good stuff
rich (1199) 2005-06-13 12:59
Given the 'moving truck' circumstances this is really nicely framed. Putting the road builders to the left adds to the drama as does the contrast in colour. A vision of hell - I can smell the boiling tar.
bfly (5775) 2005-06-27 17:23
ah the Himanks..I haven't seen them so crowded..a very very good documentary for me before all else...
Himalayas are like a playstation game I guess (for me); trying to look for a safe point before a rock (as big as building) falls on your head or the road slides down...human energy in its thaming is unbelievable...I have seen many roads built on several lives...
very beautiful picture..reminds me one of Vijay's (ttmountainman)
thanks..all the best
gren4 (603) 2005-07-19 13:42
I like this capture because you have documented something well worth seeing.The dark smoke and the darkly skinned workers against the barren hot landscape make for a graphical picture and the perspective holds alot of the scene
KevRyan (22952) 2005-11-20 18:54
This ia a really great image David - it has such a strong historical feel to it - I mean like a monumental historical feel to it - I think it's really one of the best I've seen here on TE for really showing something powerful about human beings in a landscape.
best wishes Kev
ngythanh (8580) 2005-11-27 13:21
Your picture gave me the impression of being on the so-called a-man-a-mile-road that I read recently. Thanks for your contribution.
One month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Burma at its most southern point. The city fell to the Japanese on Mar 8, 1942. Supplies from China could no longer be unloaded in this strategically advantageous port. The US Air Force quickly set up an air bridge from Assam to Kunming. But it was insufficient to bring the immense tonnage of supplies to China. In 10-1942 Gen Joe Stilwell decided to build a road that would start in Ledo, cross northern Myanmar and connect with the Burma Road which connected Bhamo, to Kunming — Chinese capital at the time. Terrible jungles, gorges, rivers, swamps and oceans of mud are what the builders of the Ledo Road faced.
A fuel pipeline was built along the full length of the new road from India to China. The Ledo Road and the pipeline went through some mostly uninhabited areas of Burma with some of the most difficult terrain in the world, including tropical rain forest, torrential streams, terraces and canyons, jungle-covered mountains and swampy valleys. The wet monsoon season from May to October had heavy rain (up to 140 inches in the mountains).
Leeches, malaria, and typhus were among the medical hazards for the troops. Construction system: Chinese Army engineers led, clearing a trace. An American engineer company followed, bulldozing the roadhead. An aviation engineering battalion cleared the right-of-way 100 feet wide, and other units graded sections of 10 to 15 miles. American and Chinese engineers installed drainage culverts. An engineer construction or combat battalion built the needed bridges. Finally, an aviation battalion spread gravel for the road surface. Engineers moved 13,500,000 cubic yards of earth in building the road. This is enough earth to build a wall 3 feet wide and 10 feet high from New York to San Francisco.
Builders dug 1,383,000 cubic yards of gravel from riverbeds to surface the road. If this gravel had been loaded on railcars, the train would have been be 427 miles long. The Ledo Road crossed 10 major rivers and 155 smaller streams. 700 bridges were built over the length of the road. Foresters gathered 822,000 cubic feet of lumber for use in building the road. One million board feet of lumber and 2400 pilings were used in a causeway over the swamp.
The entire length of the Stilwell Road was 1,079 miles. American fatalities were 1,133. Due to the greater cost of human lives, it has the nick name "a-man-a-mile Road".
quelquepart (810) 2005-12-06 14:57
A very strong picture. The fully "dark" aspect of people (due to the burning asphalt) reinforces the idea of shadow slaves.
jbweasle (9373) 2005-12-14 13:55
Hello David, this is a fascinating picture of this hard working gang. I like the composition of the line of workers leading my eye through the frame. It seems to be incongruous though, this dirty work of man in the clean, wild landscape.
bibs69 (3251) 2006-01-14 12:08
Great view. I saw the same thing in 1991 (same year), on the way from Leh to Lamayuru. I've been told that these guys were prisoners coming from the south of India to build the road. I don't know if it's true, but it's hard life ...
Anyway, the colors of your picture are perfect, very true, and I like the compo.
rajhema (1871) 2006-01-19 15:28
Imagining the condition that these workers (I couldn't still believe they would be around 14!) I just couldn't appreciate the picture for its classique. Very powerful shot. Thanks for sharing David.
johnnyh (639) 2006-01-21 6:16
Excellent picture David as are most of yours i been looking at, you have captured a great scene here. Well balanced out too, regards johnnyh
Mistral (15402) 2006-02-01 16:31
It's a biblic image! Really stunning!
I'm staring at it!
Svillegas (1169) 2006-02-02 2:47
What I most like from this photo how the pedagogical it is. It fits exactly with the “soul” of TE, showing how the world is. We can perfectly see the bad working conditions that these people have in this place.
The fact of that place being so dry gives a harder sensation to the person that is looking to the photograph.
Great composition and perfectly captured “essentia”.
fayeulle (27827) 2006-02-03 11:03
I am astonished by the people required to built a road in these countries. The scenery is very interrestic as reporting despite a low artistic value.
andrea188 (45) 2006-02-13 8:59
I see you also made an incredible journey through the Indian Himalaya. I also say these guys on the Manali-Leh highway. Very shocking. They work for 1 Euro a day.
About the photo: From a moving truck? I know the road there.... that's a difficult job! Very good. Your photo gives a good look into the lifes of these people.
lestans (17104) 2006-02-21 16:21
What a cruel work you are showing!! Terrible, sad information about these young people lives. That is really photojournalism.
And this mountains look also sad, without any vegetation.
Thank you for sharing.
sn00zie (2384) 2006-02-24 3:59
nice and impressive picture. like your pov too.. it reminds me of Vijay's (ttmountainman) pictures on the same subject..
Ghivelder (0) 2006-11-14 3:58
This is really an impressive shot. The framing with the workers starting at the lower left and disapeering in the center is perfect. I'm just back from the Himalaya and yes, that's how they build roads...
vagabondtravels (6507) 2007-02-05 20:58
Great documentary style shot. Nice comp and way to set the mood. I remember seeing these road crews (B.R.O. Border Roads Organization?) working in such harsh conditions. Good work.
kingurek (724) 2007-05-08 14:11
This is really amazing shot although it's rather sad and shocking. I guess you will never forget the moment of taking that picture. It is very informative. I like the composition, lighting and colours. Swiatek has written "the postcard from hell"-it would be the perfect title for that photo.
banyanman (7789) 2007-12-24 1:13
A very impressive photograph, David, and technically very good for a shot taken from a moving truck. To many western eyes this is quite a shocking scene, but as you would well know it is quite common in India and other third world countries where it is cheaper to build roads by hand. I remember seeing a roadbuilding gang in another part of the Himalayas a few years ago that was made up of all women - many of them carrying babies and with children playing by the side of the road. I note that a few of the critiquers above have suggested that you should have gone for a wider shot, but I like this framing because if it had been any wider we would have lost a lot of the detail of the road workers. And you have just enough in frame to enable us to appreciate the depth of the scene. An excellent and educational post. Cheers . . . David