Narratives of Ladakh – Summer Programme

The summer program is hosted jointly by INDUS university, Ahmedabad, INTACH Ladakh Chapter and Central Asian Museum, Kargil For videos on Mud construction technology & our work in Ladakh please visit our Youtube channel Mud Architecture Technology Initiative

Ladakh is a crossroad of civilizations since hundreds of years; located at the high Himalayas of Jammu & Kashmir, India. The twin cities of Leh & Kargil are epicenter of trade between Ladakh and Central Asia. An offshoot of the silk route; rich amalgamation of people belonging to different religion and traditional setup has blessed the land with delicate cultural landscapes.

Delicate cultural landscapes in turn gave rise to a complex order of built & un-built heritage which is deep rooted in the essence of the place.

More often then not, vernacular art & architecture is viewed as an isolated artifact against a picturesque setup; degrading its value to mere external “beauty”. The summer program aims at documenting tangible and intangible heritage in Leh & Kargil, exposing the anatomy of its cultural assets. Such an approach will help us decode the language of “beauty” in these properties, thus a holistic approach towards understanding the house forms and settlement patterns in Himalayas is initiated.

The summer program will help in developing a heritage walk in old town of Kargil and exhibitions at Leh, Kargil and Ahmedabad are planned. It will be followed by a publication on drawings, essays and other student works from IDEA Research cell.

For Information and Updates, click here.

17th IALS (International Association for Ladakh Studies) Conference

We are proud to announce that the 2015 International Association for Ladakh Studies IALS Conference is being held in Kargil and we are delighted to host the three day event.

The event is scheduled for 26th to 29th July, 2015. We encourage participation from students, researchers and others by presenting their research work during the event. It will be a great opportunity to listen to and learn from some of the senior most authorities on Ladakh Studies from all over the world.

Last date for submission of Research Abstracts is 30th April, 2015.

Click here to know more.


IFA-Inlaks Museum Fellowship Programme

ifa-logo India Foundation for the Arts
inlaks-logo Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation

Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum in collaboration with the India Foundation for the Arts, a Bangalore based Arts NGO, under their Archival & Museum Fellowship Programme, is hosting a four month long project to re-curate the permanent exhibition space in Kargil.

This project will culminate in an exhibition that will open in the Museum in May, 2015. The exhibition will re-present and contextualize the large collection of historical and ethnographic objects in the museum by constructing narratives around these objects, texts and legacies of the people who have traversed these regions.

The fellowship has been granted to Latika Gupta, an Arts an Museum Curator based in Delhi.
This project is supported by the Inlaks Foundation under the IFA-Inlaks Museum Fellowship.

Visit India Foundation for the Arts website.

Visit Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation website.

Ethnic Food book

Historically, Kargil has been a transit place for travellers and traders from the time of the Silk Route Era. People from Baltistan (now in Pakistan), China, Central Asia, Europe and the Americas used to rub shoulders in the shops and streets of Kargil. One could still find some remnants of this almost lost heritage around the town.

As a result of this multicultural intermingling, Kargil has a rich ethnic background. These ancient interactions between the cultures have manifested themselves in the form folk lore, music, and language and of-course, food. While most of the staple food is comprised of wheat and barley, over time, flavors of other cultures have also been integrated into the food such as Kashmiri rice and meat cuisines, Tibetan food, and Central Asian bakery.

The people of Kargil (Ladakh), for their greater history have informed their lives with a very careful relationship with the surrounding topography. The cold, rugged mountains for the most part can only inspire awe, even for the seasoned trekkers (home-bred and outsiders alike) attempting arduous journeys. And the local inhabitants, few and far between as many may be in the most unreachable pockets, have evolved ways of living that accord respect to the environment. It is not that advent of television sets and toilet seats in the last few years are not a sign of accommodation and aspiration to the more modern (whatever that vague, presumptuous term implies or signifies) urban habits and comforts, but still in the higher reaches a semblance of regard for the surrounding naturally occurring environment prevails. The difficulty of navigating an undulating terrain and the cold climate puts in perspective the relations of men with their surrounding earth. Even as Ladakhis scarcely get to savour fresh vegetables and fruits in the brief summer, preparations are always underway to make preserves for the long harsh winter. The home architecture and local fare-home food or special cuisine, also carries this nuance. Ladakhi homes with their stylized kitchens and dry toilets; home-made and market bought oven-baked fermented dough bread and butter tea are just some of the fine and curious examples.

However, in the recent times traditional foods are being slowly forgotten and are not savoured anymore in the households. We were slowly losing touch with our ethnic identity.

With this concern in mind an annual ethnic food festival is held in the Munshi Habibullah Mission School campus where the students are asked to bring atleast one traditional item cooked from home. The parents are also urged to accompany the student on the festival day. Over the years we have noticed a gradual increase (now close to 30) in the variety of ethnic food items as well as the response from the families through their participation.

Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum has collaborated with MIT Institute of Design to creatively document the ethnic food in the form of a publication. The publication is scheduled to be released by June, 2015 and will be on sale at various outlets in Kargil, Leh, Delhi, Mumbai, Germany and various online outlets.

The Ethnic Food Project is an attempt to give a tangible shape to this finding, document it in a creative manner, so that it is preserved and promoted for generations to come.

A Journey into the History of Purig

A first ever extensive documentation of the history of Purig (Kargil) by Dr Deiter Schuh, a renowned Tibetoligist and Historian from Switzerland in collaboration with Ajaz Hussain Munshi, chief curator at Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum.
Download the preliminary report here.

The Himalaya – A timeless Quest – Monks, Traders and Travelers (A 10 day Exhibition at the India International Centre)

Duration: 19th to 30th December, 2014

Curated by: Deb Mukherji

Hosted by: India International Center, New Delhi

Venue: Art Gallery, India International Center, New Delhi

The Himalayas, over the centuries have witnessed several historical events and phenomena, from great conquests to spread of religion, cultures and ideas. The Silk Route is one of the greatest events that the Himalayas have ever witnessed. Kargil was one of the key trade centers in this trans-continental, multi-directional trade route.

Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum was invited to be part of an exhibition celebrating this very trans-Himalayan trade culture. A wide range of artifacts from material objects of trade, documents and manuscripts, items owned and used by traders and several archival photographs were displayed at the exhibition giving visitors a holistic experience of the life of these trans-Himalayan traders.

Other contributes to the exhibition were:

Dr. Chhaya Haesner (National Museum Fellow at Berlin Museum) – A narrative on The Himalayan Channels of Interactions between Kashmir, Ladakh and Khotan

Manju Kak (A well known Film-Maker) – a Documentary on the Salt Traders of Kumao

Vidhura Jung Bahadur (Photographer) – Photographic story on the Chinese trading families of Darjeeling/Kalimpong

The exhibition inaugurated by Dr. Janet Rizvi, a well known authority of the History of Ladakh and the Silk Route. Her notable work in her book “Crossroads of High Asia” and Trans-Himalayan Caravans – Prince Merchants and Peasant Traders” serves as a bible for anyone exploring the Silk Route history of Ladakh.

View Photos here.