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Vision statement

The traditional settlements of Ladakh demonstarte man’s remarkable ability to live in an austere environment and have over the centuries developed unique systems for the management and protection of their cultural and natural resources. There is a unique relationship both with the natural setting as well as with their own cultural roots. The location of these settlements for example was often determined by the location of a natural feature or resource. Many of the names of these settlements reflect this. Spituk for example was located on a hill shaped like an elephant, Basgo faces a rock shaped like a bull with the nose pointed towards the village, and there are many others. The location of water bodies, forests/sacred groves were also important aspects, which need to be understood.
This knowledge rests with the community and often determined cultural practices as well. The settlements selected for the first phase of the program represent some of the finest cultural assets of the region. These are the earliest settlements with monasteries established in the early period of the 10th to the 14th centuries associated with the legendary teacher/scholar Rinchen Bzangpo. Artists and craftsmen were invited from Kashmir to construct and embellish these monasteries and the artistic traditions are distinct in that they were located on the plains as compared to the latest monasteries located on hilltops.
What is particularly significant is that there are self-sustaining communities who have lived in these settlements for almost a 1000 years and have developed their own system for the management and protection of their cultural and natural resources. The aim of this program is to work with these traditional systems and strengthen them by providing technical assitance expertise as well as strengthening their management systems by evolving guidelines and plans to enable them to cope with this change.
Just consultative workshop – May
Encouraging local hotels to use traditional craft products
Constitute a heritage award in collaboration with UNESCO for conservation

Schematic layout of monastic settlements



LONG TERM STARTEGY (over 3 years)







-Obtaining government support

- Identification of cultural landscapes by stakeholders

Collaboration with the LAHDC on submission of proposal to UNESCO

  • Mapping of cultural and natural resources in the settlement
  • Building survey within the village – identify possible reuse
  • Status reports on monasteries
  • Survey of infrastructure, amenities, land use patterns, etc.
  • Random survey to ascertain socio-economic trends
  • Inventory of traditional crafts, performing arts, etc.
  • Survey of tourism trends within these settlements

Funding proposal to UNESCO


Training for resource person for GIS mapping

Creating a cultural resource data base for the government

Define preliminary heritage conservation zones

  • Preparation of development guidelines within settlement in consultation with stakeholders
  • Understanding existing legal and traditional systems of management within these HZ

As above



As above

Detailed information to enable implementation

  • Preparation of detailed conservation plans for heritage sites as identified in preliminary survey
  • Detailed studies to identify threats, potential needs on infrastructure requirements, land use patterns – land and water management, socio-economic patterns
  • Traditional economic patterns, crafts, performing arts, etc.
  • Examine patterns of domestic tourism to identify mechanisms to augment/optimize revenues

Department of Culture, WMF, Getty Foundation, etc

State National Government

National Handicrafts Council,

National Institute of Design Dastkar



Creating data base for the local government

Strengthening traditional management systems for the conservation of cultural heritage

  • Preparation of management plan within the framework of the traditional management systems






MODEL 1 (1 year)

The ongoing conservation programme at Basgo will be used as a model for future programmes in Ladakh. Efforts to raise funds will tap sources such as the Department of Culture, Government of India, World Monuments Fund, INTACH UK Trust, Rolex Award for Enterprise, Dubai Municipality Scheme, etc. Assistance to prepare these proposals /complete nomination form is being provided to the Basgo Welfare Committee.
The Basgo Welfare Committee has already commenced discussions on the levying of a ticket entry fee.

MODEL 2 (6 months)

Preparation of a series of heritage maps on the monasteries of Ladakh to provide information to the tourists on the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh. A number of publications on the monasteries of Ladakh exist in Ladakh but there is little material for tourists in English. Scholars from the Central Institue of Buddhist Studies have been identified for the preparation of these maps.

MODEL 3 (1 year)

Training for the conservation of mud structures is an important element within the overall program and international collaborations with CRATerre and the WMF is being sought for this.
Marketing and design workshops for local craftsmen with institutes such as NID or Dastkar.

MODEL 4 (3 years)

Creation of an information database as identified in the long-term strategy.

Lead Facilitator’s Report, Day 9, 16 October 2001
Cultural landscapes of Ladakh – monastic settlements
of the period 10th - 14th centuries

  1. Ladakh is about maintaining the continuity of a process that has already begun. In trying to understand the needs of the project, the 6-8 participants who sat until closing time, were drawn in by the spirit of the place as we searched for the essence of the project. Until the end definition remained elusive.
  2. In twining Ladakh with Bhaktapur we thought we could explore the idea of mentoring. Although this ides did not really take off, nevertheless the concept is still worth exploring.
  3. Having taken cognisance of the objectives and project plan formulated at a preliminary workshop in May 2001, the participants focused on the settlement of Basgo
  4. It was noted that tourism in the near future would not be a major factor or income generator. The thrust would more be in the direction of building up an information base that would help the team understand the underlying values of the place. With a population of only 600 people operating within an entrenched traditional cultural landscape, we would want to know how fragile the structure is and where there is resilience to tread lightly. We had more suggestions than answers.
  5. So it’s left to Tara Sharma, the site manager to recognize and articulate her perceptions about the project and to allow her passion to drive the program which she will talk about next, to make real what our group tried so hard to come to grip with. To me the values embedded within the landscapes waiting to be rediscovered, is part of the process that UNESCO has so previously put in place for mankind, what in the 21st century Tom Wolf describes in his book “Hooking up” as a “great re-learning” process.


  1. Three temples within the place in Ladakh
  2. Big temple made in metal
  3. Wall paintings in bad state, badly damaged 16th century painting. Eg. Water.: some repair agency work: study to get funding for repair
  4. Consolidate the complex. Pop 600 to 800
  5. Retaining wall built round the temple to protect it. Mud conservation tied with frame + local people with training
  6. Villages donate money, materials – timber, tools (or food) for labourers. Workers are from Nepal.
  7. Villages are located at base of the mountain where the temple sits
  8. Army supply delivery system, eg. Truck, transport system
  9. Baley (or barley) and wheat – agricultural
  10. Three monasteries in Ladakh + temple village heads had to report to Monastery on progress on works
  11. Manuscripts in temple wall. There are a thousand manuscrispts that villagers collect
  12. Tourists visiting the temple are difficult. Monks are available to look after the temple (monk allocated). Reuse the resorts for visitors. Stables that can be reused. No documentation of the site – need documentation by next …..
  13. Extraction of apricot art as income generator
  14. (peach particle for blasting in frame) ….
  15. Traditional costumes for sale
  16. A very few places where there is stream in Ladakh
  17. Mountain at the back – sacred mountain. – to include aspect of their conservation programme
  18. Festival: archery. Traditional monastery settlement in Ladakh is nearly at base: structures around are abandoned
  19. Hand-pressed bricks – dry over a month. Water, mudbrick, timber – traditional vernacular construction for the house
  20. Problem of maintenance of the houses: waterproofing of the roof
  21. Arga – roofing system used in Tiber that may be useful in Ladakh
  22. Linkage
  23. Monastic community, religion is basically Buddhism
  24. Look at the boundary. .------------------ refixed for world heritage site. Get the municipality to agree, proposed by the government. Get national support. Strong linkage between site and community (religious committee, villagers) in the aim of conserving the site.
  25. Build up a strong sustainable community setting within the landscape
  26. Documentation for developing conservation plan, training, capacity building
  27. Use the environmental, architectural and human resources
  28. Local structure and resources
  29. Monks/monastery = intact!
  30. Live traditions and cultural structures
  31. Tourism: what tourism can help to generate fund for conservation
  32. Low-level conservation plan – documentation prepared in Nov. 2001. carry out an outline survey
  33. Remove the mental blocks in the community
  34. Survey the needs of the community