For its fifth edition, the Nature inFocus Festival hosted its first-ever curated wildlife photography exhibition – The Wild Nation – showcasing around 100 images from across the country, curated by the top experts in their field. The Wild Nation is an attempt by NiF to throw light on the colossal beauty of India's rich wilderness and to sound out important conversations on conservation.

The exhibition is divided into five categories, based on the different habitats found around the country. Here, we look at the images curated for the Mountains category by Payal Mehta and Harsha J.

Payal and Harsha are primarily freelance wildlife guides who are also into various other ‘nature things’ like photography, guide training, tour planning and more. Life has taken them to the mountains time and again for long and short stints- to trek, to guide, to film, to train nature guides, to plant trees, to holiday and also to just live and love. You can follow both Payal and Harsha on Instagram.

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Sanjana Rao

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When the mountains speak, it speaks in the language of wind, earth, rain, and fire. It tells us an ancient story, but one which is not yet complete. And, for the one who listens closely and understands its tongue, riches await. Location: Ladakh

Varrun Varatharajan

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One of the most spectacular flights that you can take is the one over the Himalayas to Ladakh. The transformation from deep, wet and green valleys to high snowy mountain ranges and then to the dry high mountains with frozen rivers beyond, is pure visual delight. Here, the partly frozen Indus river meets the frozen Zanskar river. Indus is one of the longest rivers that flow through India and the very nation has been named after the river. Location: Basgo, Ladakh

Varrun Varatharajan

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A long and hard drive in the dead of the windy Himalayan winter brought the photographer to the endless pastures of Tsaga on the Indian border with China. At 4,500 meters, Changthang is among the highest, remotest and coldest regions in the Tibetan plateau. The land of Changpa nomads is abundant with grazing livestock even when the winter temperatures are well below freezing. This view of yaks grazing in the vast landscape of Changpa made for a welcome sight to the photographer after enduring hours of strenuous travel with not a person in sight. Location: Tsaga La, Ladakh

Abhinandan Sharma

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The Ladakhi Changthang plateau is home to the giant lakes of Moriri, Pangong and Ka. The climate here is harsh and unpredictable; the summers are warm but short and the winters are cold and arctic-like. In its vastness, this place is a world of its own, totally unexposed to the world we call home. The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) which inhabits these remote mountains lives and breeds on crags high up in the mountains. Location: Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, Ladakh

Dheeraj M Nanda

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While driving through a small village in Jammu and Kashmir, a group of Tibetan Wild Ass (Equus kiang) caught the attention of the photographer. Against the backdrop of the majestic Himalayas, three of them were stood away from the group, and interestingly all three were standing in the ascending order of height. For a second all three looked straight at the camera. Location: Hanle, Ladakh

Samyak Kaninde

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The primary prey base for the mighty Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia), the Himalayan Blue Sheep (Pseudois nayaur) are well adapted to the treacherous landscape of the Himalayas. Also know as Bharal or Naur, they make it look like a cakewalk, to move around the vertical, snow-laden slopes of the Himalayas. Location: Hemis National Park, Ladakh

Mohith Unny

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 Tibetan Wild Ass (Equus kiang) is the largest of the wild asses. They are stocky animals and usually live in small herds. They occupy large areas of land so that they can find enough food to survive in this harsh high-altitude environment. Location: Tsokar, Ladakh

Rashmi Swamy

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With an abundance of open spaces and mountainous areas, Ladakh has a prominent resident in the Himalayan Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). As per the IUCN, the bird is not under threat, but the land it calls home is slowly changing and is being affected by the influx of tourists and adventurers that are increasing every year. The threat is from humans, and we need to protect it from ourselves. Location: Nubra Valley, Leh

Adarsh Raju

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Renowned for the mass flowering of rhododendrons, the forests of west Sikkim explode in a sea of pink, red and white during full bloom. The region also supports an incredible diversity of birds and one of the species which calls it home is the crimson-horned pheasant - the Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan satyra) - with two brightly-coloured fleshy horns on their heads that stand up erect during courtship displays. Endemic to the Himalayan reaches of India, Nepal and Bhutan, they reside in moist oak and rhododendron forests with dense undergrowth and bamboo clumps. Location: Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Sikkim

Shantanu Somwanshi

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The Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus) is a relatively large-sized pheasant. The adult male has multicoloured plumage throughout, while the female, as in other pheasants, is dull in colour. Location: Chopta, Uttarakhand

Kallol Mukherjee

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This small forest village in West Bengal is a haven for butterflies. Here in the image, you can see the Yellow Orange-tip, Chocolate Albatross, Veined Jay and Fivebar Swordtail among others. The rocks, gravel and sand of the Jayanti river along with its host plants make this habitat possible. But, unauthorized tourism and the huge trucks and payloaders which come to collect rocks from the riverbed are destroying precious puddling sites. Location: Jayanti, Buxa Tiger Reserve

Manish Vaidya

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Observing massive herds of elephants can be a very humbling experience. Set against the backdrop of the Himalayan foothills and washed in the orange hue of the rising sun, this silhouette of three elephants wading through a small body of water in Corbett captures all the key elements of this habitat in a minimalistic manner. Location: Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

Rohit Pansare

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Spreading Flowered Habenaria (Habenaria rariflora) is a terrestrial orchid that lives on rocks. This ground orchid species is endemic to the Western Ghats and grows near lateritic rocks and usually flowers during the monsoons. The image was shot in the evening using flash to get as much of the habitat as possible. Location: Kaas Plateau, Maharashtra

Varun HB

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Horsfield's Spiny Lizard (Salea horsfieldii) is an agamid lizard endemic to the high altitudes of the Western Ghats including the Nilgiri and Palani Hills. This particular individual was going up and down a tree, pausing in between, when the photographer captured this image with a wide-angle macro lens. Location: Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Prakash Ramakrishnan

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The Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) inhabits the open montane grassland habitats of the south Western Ghats and symbolizes the conflicts inherent in the conservation of threatened fauna in India. Their number totals around 2200-2500 individuals in the wild, and they exist only in small, isolated populations due to extreme habitat fragmentation and illegal hunting. Location: Valparai, Tamil Nadu

Rithesh Nanda

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Valparai is a small town in the Annamalai Hills, nestled between the Idamalayar Forest and Annamalai Tiger Reserve. The landscape of Valparai, though a sight to the human eye is not something that is ideal for the fauna here. The encroached tea estates hinder movement of wildlife, especially elephants, which live and walk among the forests and hills here. This image is a drone shot of a tea estate in Valparai. Location: Valparai, Tamil Nadu

NiF thanks all its sponsors and partners for making The Wild Nation a grand success.

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