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The Amazing Aryan People of the Himalayas - My Travels and Photos

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  • The Amazing Aryan People of the Himalayas - My Travels and Photos

    I'd like to now feature a little-known people that you guys might find interesting. This is a small part of a trip to the Indian Himalayas that I took in summer 2013 (http://www.elevenshadows.com/travels...013-himalayas/).

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Himalayas in India, summer 2013:
    The tiny village of Dah is accessible from the road only by footpath, largely isolated from the rest of the world, its Aryan inhabitants seeking to keep their culture distinct. At a population of 4000, the people the Ladakhis call the Brokpas are one of the smallest ethnic groups in the world, and speak a dialect that they call Miramo, which according to a book by Breton Schwarzenbach, has "strong Indo-European roots".

    They also have their own animist religion called "Bon-Cho", where they worship elemental spirits, mixed with Tibetan Buddhism. Some theorize that the people are descendants of Alexander the Great's invading army, but no one actually seem to know their origins. DNA testing is apparently still inconclusive, although I'm not sure how or why.

    And some German women have sought the men for their pure Aryan seed. While some of the men may happily oblige them, it's frowned upon by village elders and the Indian Army (this area requires a permit to enter).

    The stop for Dah is in the middle of the road, with no discernible buildings or signs, just a path. One then walks to the mountain side of the road, away from the Indus, taking a trail for approximately 10-15 min uphill. On the left, with no visible sign, is the Skybapa Guest House, run by a very nice guy named Lundhup Dorjey. His guest house is charming if crude, with three rooms on the top roof, and darker rooms at the bottom with bathrooms and a bucket shower on the ground floor as well. As there are no restaurants in Dah, we eat at the guest house. Lundhup prepared rice, dal, turnip, and spinach, which was rather welcome since we were all quite hungry. He also has a large mulberry tree, which I haven't seen since childhood, and makes mulberry jam.

    ~~~~~

    Many of the older women wear "mew-tew-toh", the flowers stitched on the top of their hats, a beautiful contrast to the green fields that they are often seen working in as one walks through the valley. These are apparently traditional, and I saw a couple of the men wearing them too, although theirs are not nearly so flamboyant or Frida Kahloesque. According to Breton's book, a noted Ladakhi historian named Sonam Phuntsog says that the flowers are a sort of offering to the village's protector spirits playing an essential role in Bon-chos, the Aryan's elemental and animistic religion.

    ~~~~~

    Another villager from Dah. He later drove us to another village so we could walk around a landslide that was blocking the road. When we saw it, it was still actively falling and therefore rather dangerous to cross. We had heard this landslide while at Skybapa Guest House, an enormous thundering sound that filled the air.

    ~~~~


    Many of the older women wear "mew-tew-toh", the flowers stitched on the top of their hats, a beautiful contrast to the green fields that they are often seen working in as one walks through the valley. These are apparently traditional, and I saw a couple of the men wearing them too, although theirs are not nearly so flamboyant or Frida Kahloesque. According to Breton's book, A noted Ladakhi historian named Sonam Phuntsog says that the flowers are a sort of offering to the village's protector spirits playing an essential role in Bon-chos, the Aryan's elemental and animistic religion.

    ~~~~


    A woman from the village of Dah. There were less people in the village than usual because many had gone for Buddhist teachings at Lamayuru Monastery. We had driven past this earlier in the day, seeing the enormous colorful festival, the crowds, the people giving teachings on loudspeakers, and the pilgrims arriving on the tops of buses.

    ~~~~~


    Three village boys.

    ~~~~~



    How Dah Village Was Settled: An Oral History:
    Lundhup told us of a story of one of the early migrations which tells about three brothers, Dulo, Melo, and Galo (Vohra 1982:74-75) and how the valley was settled 800-1000 years ago. I found this story in detail in "An Ethnography: The Buddhist Dards of Ladakh" by Rohit Vohra, 1989 (Skydie Brown International, publishers). 800-1000 years ago, the Raja of Gilgit forbade the killing of animals and the use of flesh, so the three brothers went looking for land outside the jurisdiction. When there, they killed a goat at Dah. They removed their shoes to relax, and as in those days people wore straw inside their shoes, as they removed them, some grains fell out.

    Back in Gilgit, they often thought about their new land where there were plenty of wildlife, and set out again to Dah (the book calls it mDa-'brog). Upon reaching the area they had last relaxed, they found a crop in full growth that was ready to be harvested, and decided that they should settle this fertile land.

    They also realized that it would be difficult for their families to live outside the jurisdiction of the Raja, so they schemed, and then dressed themselves as beggars to return to Gilgit to begin their plans.

    However, they were caught and brought before the Raja, where they were recognized by the minstrel in the assembly. They were asked to dance, and in the confusion of the dance brought on by the youngest, who was dancing in a manner that involved pushing and confusion, managed to escaped, eventually escaping with their families. The brothers brought with them a stick of still-green Chang-ma, a stick of Stag-pa (birch wood), and the last a bow and arrow.

    They eventually arrived at Dah, and planted the Chang-ma stick. The Stag-pa stick was planted to establish the settlement on the other side of the stream. They began cultivating the land but needed to dig a canal. They had no tools, and deliberated about this The youngest brother decided that wherever they shot an arrow is where they would begin digging a canal. From an elevated area called Changlota, the eldest brother shot the arrow, which hit a rock and made a hole from where water sprang out. This area exists today, and the canal actually emerges from there. They used a wooden space to dig, and the horns of a goat to remove stones to irrigate the land, establishing the Dah settlement.

    This is a story that has been preserved and passed down through word of mouth.

    ~~~~~






    After eating dinner, everyone eventually retired for the evening. And even though there was basically a giant full moon out, I wanted to stay outside on the roof, where our rooms were and hang out in the quiet of the valley. That is the window and door of my room in the photo.

    I was keeping my travel journal on my netbook, and that evening wrote:
    "Right now, I am writing this outside while looking at the virtually full moon shining down in the valley. It is warm. I am happy. I am also taking some night sky photos from the roof of the guest house, including some north-facing star trails photos. I am staying up late, as it is now 11:10 pm, and it is only now starting to get a bit chilly. I am clicking away, trying for an extra long star trails, which I began at 9:37 pm and is still going because I restarted the camera as soon as it got to its Continuous Burst limit of 100, so these star trails will probably be 100 minutes long if there is not too large of a gap from when I restarted, and if the woman who shined the flashlight in the camera did not do too much damage. At any rate, the valley is growing noticeably darker as the moon is sinking lower in the horizon. It will be interesting to see how many more stars will be visible after the moon goes behind the mountains, which create a narrow valley."

    The entire trip to the Himalayas of India are here:
    http://www.elevenshadows.com/travels...013-himalayas/
    Last edited by UstadKhanAli; 02-10-2015, 09:34 AM.
    Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

  • #2
    As great as your landscapes are, I have to say you also have a way with people.
    .

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