Seeds of Hope
1st December, 2003
Ladakh is framed by the Karakoram mountains to the north and the Himalayas to the south. Yet even in this remote environment the forces of global consumerism are intruding. Nicola Graydon reports on the locals' inspiring defence of their culture
Likir, a village three hours drive west of the Ladakh capital of Leh, is a place of near indescribable beauty. At an altitude of 3,500 metres, it’s a verdant oasis curving down from the stark peaks of the Himalayas. Walking around the village, which is arranged on three levels, is to be made constantly aware of the presence of human hands nurturing life out of a desert soil as thin and unforgiving as the sharp high-altitude air. Tumbling streams run in stone-built channels through vegetable gardens, orchards, livestock pens and hectares of terraced barley fields fringed with poplar and willow.
In the short summer months these fields once sang with the voices of villagers celebrating the abundant harvests that resulted from their work. Now they are all but silent.
‘The young have all gone,’ says Dorjey Lundup. Seventy years old, he is the seventh generation to have lived in the same family home – a handsome building, three storeys high and decorated with threadbare prayer flags that give the house the air of a great ship floating on a sea of green. Lundup, the aba-le (father) of the household, is a master carpenter who carved the wooden throne for a recent visit by the Dalai Lama....
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