Remember the Aryans whom Hitler declared to be the most desirable and superior race?
No, this is not about them. But it is about their proclaimed descendants living as a community in the remote villages hidden in the valleys of Ladakh. The Brokpas are a tribe inhabiting the villages, Darchiks and Garkone, in the so-called Aryan Valley of Ladakh. They do not relate their identity to the known history of Aryanism, though they do own it with pride. It is rumored that they are the descendants of the Army of Alexander the Great but their origin story is still a mystery entangled in myths and controversies. Though, with deep brown eyes and floral head gears, it is no doubt that they are different from the rest of the tribes inhabiting the place. Brokpa, literally meaning ‘people who live in the higher reaches of the mountains’ in Ladakhi, have always been isolated from the rest of the world and the world from them.
But things are about to change as the travel enterprise named ‘little local’ has taken up the project ‘Last of the Aryans’. little local started as a responsible travel platform back in 2015 and has now several running projects stretched over Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. It gives you a chance to immerse in the lifestyles of the local communities while contributing your skill and time to their benefits.
And true to its name, it collaborates with little and local organizations to reach up to the remote communities in places you won’t find on a tourist map giving you access to a world unknown. These organizations, referred to as the host organizations, also play a role as the key stakeholder. They are the connecting link between the team and the locals as these host organizations have been working with the communities and are familiar with them.
For this project, the host organization is Roots Ladakh, a for-profit organization based in Ladakh. It is a travel start-up in the business of adventure and rural tourism with the prime cause of development and promotion of tourism in the remote places of the Ladakh valley, mainly Kargil and Zanskar where they aim at changing the preconceived image of Kargil as a war trodden town and bring it on the world responsible tourism map. They too, like little local, believe in the complete involvement of the local communities in all of their projects. This would be the second venture of this collaboration after their pilot project in Henasku for ‘Zbalung-the invisible village’.
‘Last of the Aryans’ is their first attempt at documenting the unique culture and uncover some of the mysteries surrounding the tribe. The main objective of this project is to bring out their culture to the world and to promote tourism in the remote valleys. It is a perfect opportunity for students or professional artists, designers, filmmakers and writers to gain hands-on learning and experience while doing immersive traveling and community impact. It is a workshop meant to bring together like-minded people to learn about filmmaking and discover a new culture all in the scenic beauty of Himalayas. And to guide you through this experience are your mentors- Ghana NB (Artist & Co-founder – Art Compassion) and Satyarth (Film-maker & Founder – Lights On Films) led by Muzammil Hussain, founder of Roots Ladakh and Antara Chatterjee, the founder of little local.
The project starts on the 2nd of June to 10th of June starting from Leh into the heart of the Aryan Valley in Garkone village. The entire documentation including short films, digital publications, and artwork will be available online creating a digital repository which will only keep on growing with time. From living in homestays to exchanging ideas over a bonfire, from hiking to old fort ruins across the Indus river to the visit of the local family run museum, this is your opportunity to impact the lives of a whole community while having a once in a lifetime learning experience. And though the past of the Brokpa might still stay a mystery, their future is something we can all contribute to. So gear up these holidays and make your art count!