They left home 1,015 kilometres far and have made the City Beautiful their second home. The city is the most suitable choice, a fact validated by more than 2,000 Ladakhi students pursuing higher education in various city colleges and the Panjab University.
The cosmopolitan culture of the city and its proximity to their hometown makes it the first choice for Ladakhi students to make a beeline for Chandigarh. Another reason these students prefer the city is its safe and secure environs.
Apart from these students, around 10 Ladakhi families are settled in the tricity. In 1992, the community formed Ladakh Students Association, Chandigarh, a society for the welfare and development of its people.
The association also contributes towards the betterment of the city. In March this year, Ladakhi students gathered at the Sector 15 vegetable market to spread awareness and protect the clean and green environment of Chandigarh. Their aim was to do away with polythene bags and replace them with environmentally friendly cotton-made bags.
These students distributed cotton bags among residents as part of the awareness campaign and urged the people not to use polythene bags.
Ladakhi's started coming to Chandigarh in the mid-70's specifically to pursue higher education. Most of them are followers of Buddhism and also have a monastery in Khuda Ali Sher village, Chandigarh.
Stenzin Dawa, who works as a programme manager at Commonwealth Youth Programme, Asia Centre, Sector 12, Chandigarh, and has been in city since 2005. He believes that Chandigarh is a second home for most Ladakhi's as the city is clean and well organised.
Dawa says, "We feel safer in Chandigarh and have not faced any major problem as compared to other metropolitan cities of the country, where our people face discrimination."
Dawa did his post graduation from Panjab University in 2005 and later stayed back.
Jigmet Anghhok, president of Ladakh Students' Association, who is doing his graduation from Post Graduate Government College, Sector 11, says, "Most Ladakhi students prefer to study in Chandigarh to pursue higher education as city colleges and Panjab University are not very expensive."
He adds, "Even our parents want us to study in Chandigarh as our community has never faced any problem here. The girls of our community feel secure in Chandigarh and we do not face discrimination. We love this city because of its amenities, which cannot be matched with any other city of the country."
Stanzin Angmo came to Chandigarh in 1997 after finishing Class 10 to get admitted at Post Graduate Government College for Girls, Sector 11. She completed her studies and made the city her base. She now works as an advisor with an insurance company and says, "I liked the city so much that I decided to stay back. I love the cosmopolitan culture of Chandigarh and the people are very friendly."
The Ladakhi community gets together once a year to celebrate Losar (the Buddhist New Year); it is there main festival and falls in the month of December or January, depending on the lunar calendar.
It is celebrated for two weeks and all Ladakhi Buddhists celebrate it by making offerings to their gods, both in Gompas and in their domestic shrines. The festival is marked with ancient rituals, stage fights between good and evil characters, chanting and passing through crowds with fire torches. This festival is enriched with music, dance and dramatics and gives the locals an insight into their culture.
The most popular dance of Ladakh is Tashispa, which means happy ending. As per Ladakhi tradition any dance show starts with Lharna and ends with Tashispa.
Back home, Ladakhis practice farming and the produce from their fields is used to make delicious dishes. The staple food of Ladakhi people is Sku and Thukpa (made of wheat flour), Pava (made of sattu) and khambir (a local variety of bread).
The most popular sport in Ladakh is ice hockey, which is played only on natural ice generally between mid-December through February.
A feature of Ladakhi society that distinguishes it from the rest of the state is the high status and relative emancipation enjoyed by women compared to other rural parts of India.
Know the community
* Population: 2,000 (mostly students)
* Popular dance: Tashispa
* Main festival: Losar (Buddhist New Year), falls in December or January, depending on the lunar calendar
* Staple food: Sku and Thukpa (made of wheat flour), Pava (made of sattu) and khambir (a local bread)
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 teaspoon kopan masala (Tibetan Garam Masala)
1 teaspoon roasted chilli powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup potato, diced
1 cup tomatoes, diced
4 cups vegetable stock
100 gram fresh wide egg noodles
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
* Heat butter in pan and sauté ginger, garlic and onions for two minutes or until slightly translucent. Add spices and cook for one more minute
* Add potatoes, tomatoes, and stock and bring to boil
* Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender
* Add egg noodles and cook for five more minutes or until tender. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about one minute. Make sure potatoes are tender, add soy sauce and salt/pepper to taste
*Serve hot with fried noodles on top