Monday, February 7, 2011


Leh (Ladakh) : Despite the mercury dipping in the winter months, Ladakhis have learnt to endure adversities, and choose to deem this period as a season to relax and take a break from all the toil that they undertake during the rest of the year.

Totally cut off from the rest of the world, the 434 kilometres long Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway remains closed for six winter months due to heavy snowfall. The other route towards Manali in Himachal also remains closed due to snowfall.

Thus life almost comes to a halt for almost four months here as such the locals stock all the needs of daily use well in advance.

The hydro-power generation is also affected due to freezing of the water. The alternative source power through diesel engines is also restricted. It is limited to just six hours in the evening.

As such use of heavy electric gadgets is strictly banned from the middle of December and a fine of rupees five thousand is imposed in case one is found guilty of misusing electricity.

Alongside, water supply and sanitation are also some of the major problems faced by the people here.

Inspite of all these odd trends, the locals enjoy the winter months by hosting neighbourhood get-togethers where they feast on chang
(rice brew), good food and perform traditional dances, sing songs and also recite folk stories.

"People enjoy in the winters. Chilly winters and snowfall are important because people get to rest in winters. Ladakh people perform traditional dances, sing songs and retell folk stories, enjoying every bit of these refreshing items," said Tsering Norboo, a local.

The locals here rely on room firewood fed heating systems like bukharis which keep the rooms warm and do not emit smoke.

People of Ladakh store all essential commodities, including rice, flour, cooking gas, kerosene oil and other eatables in advance for the times when they literally go into a sort of hibernation.

During winters, the Ladakhis concentrate more on indoor activities and these could be weaving, knitting and allied handicrafts.

"Winters in Ladakh are different from the winters in other places. Here the temperature goes down from minus 10 to minus 30 degree Celsius. One can hardly venture out to do any work. But one can sit at home and do many indoor handicraft activities," said Sonam Sopari, a local.

During winter months, the minimum temperature in the daytime may range between 10 and 12 degree Celsius while the night temperature touches the minus mark of 25 to 30 degrees.

The resourceful among the Ladakhis prefer to take a break and holiday in warmer places lie Delhi and Chandigarh among other places.

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