Ladakhis pride on rich culture, education and tourism vital to economy

In May, Twentytwo13 held a series of writing workshops for students from the Druk Padma Karpo school in Ladakh, India.

The school is best known for hosting the famous Bollywood movie ‘3 Idiots’, starring Aamir Khan.

Several of the students have since gone on to produce articles about Ladakh. Twentytwo13 will publish selected articles from the students in our Young Voices column.

Here’s an article by 16-year-old Padma Tashi.

In between the Himalayas,
From the most adventurous passes,
Known as the cold desert of India,
Where I belong is my hometown – Ladakh

Ladakh, located up north in India, is surrounded by huge mountains, namely the Great Himalayas and the Karakoram range. It is a remote region in our country, which has its own culture, identity, and presence.

The flora found here has a great influence on medicine, and there’s great diversity in the fauna, too.

Ladakh literally means ‘Land of Passes’. As the name suggests, this region is full of mountains, and the passes connect the various towns.

In ancient times, Ladakh was also known as Maryul, which means ‘red land’, but another has it that it means ‘lowland’. Lhachen Palgyigon was the founding king of the Kingdom of Maryul.

It is an area of low rainfall, and water is scarce, with large swathes of dry land, which is why this place is also known as the ‘cold desert of India’.

The population of Ladakh is not huge. The region is largely secular, with predominantly Muslims and Buddhists. Since Oct 31, 2019, it has been an Indian Union Territory (UT) with Leh and Kargil as the two largest towns.

The cultures are rich, having been around for some 1,000 years, and are mainly derived from cultures in Central Asia. Ladakh is also known as, ‘Little Tibet’.

Around Leh, people generally speak the Ladakhi language, and in Kargil, Purgi is preferred.

Also, the dress codes differ in both the areas – kos, sulmas and chupas are mostly worn in Leh, while dhoti and a colourless garment, known as abbakappa and thot, are often seen in Kargil.

Just like the outfits, the languages and religious texts are also different – Buddhists speak Bhoti, while Muslims use Urdu – but there is no hatred or hostility between the people.

Ladakh is well known for tourism. There are many places that are great attractions, namely Pangong Lake, Tsokar, and Nubra. Tourism has played such a huge role in Ladakh’s economy that today, there are over 200 hotels and guest houses with different ratings.

The place is a marvel of nature as it has been blessed with a large variety of exotic wild animals and migratory birds.

Animals like the black-necked crane, yak, and the Bactrian camel are common in Hunder, in the Nubra Valley. The snow leopard, the Tibetan wolf – which is nearly endangered – and the Tibetan Argali can also be seen here.

Plants, such as skalzangmentok, dana, and vasaka, grow naturally in the valleys and are used for medicinal purposes. Sweet and sour apricots of the Sham Valley, sweet, creamy dry cheese, and the refreshing milk of Zanskar Valley are quite prominent here.

With a huge stock of sheep, cows and yak, the Changpas, the only nomadic tribe in the Changthang Plateau of Ladakh, is constantly on the move, depending on the availability of grass and water.

In the 21st century, education is of paramount importance for the Ladakhis. The people of Ladakh have opened their minds and now see things differently.

The younger generation are now encouraged to build their careers in any field – whether it is dancing or designing.

To give the younger generation an avenue to express themselves, Twentytwo13 has a dedicated space called Young Voices. If you are a young writer (aged 17 and below) and would like to have your article published on our news website, send your contribution to editor@twentytwo13.my.

All articles must be accompanied by the young writer’s full name, MyKad number, contact number, and the mobile number of the young writer’s parents/guardians for verification purposes.

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