I was working in Snow Leopard Conservation as a Volunteer for a month, I am sharing my experience of a field visit to Fotoksar village in Western Ladakh. We started from Leh to Fotoksar village. We started driving at 8:30 AM and stopped at Nimmu for breakfast. We took a halt a Hanuptta village where we dropped some material for the construction of a personal livestock enclosure. The villagers were really kind and honoured us with Khata. Post lunch we continued for Fotoksar and reached the village around 4:30 pm.
As our ride broke down we also got a chance to drive in a truck in Ladakh. The road was beautiful with Marmots and Yaks all around with Snow Clapped mountains all around.
After we crossed Sirsila pass and upon our arrival, we distributed the material among the villagers. The village is headed by Rigzen Namgail and the members are divided in three different communities.
Fotoksar is a very beautiful village located The Western Ladakh near Zanskar Valley. The village is rich with flora and fauna. Some of the animals found in the region are Ibex, Long Tail Marmots, Brown Bears, Snow Leopards, Wolves and Red Fox. We spotted multiple herds of Ladakhi Urials on our way. Fotoksar is abundant with natural beauty and has a beautiful glacier on top of the mountain. This glacier is known as ‘Gyamtso Chen’ among the local populace. The Dalthang Dal mountain peak overlooks the village and is known as a self-formed Stupa among the locals.
The house we were staying at was a small little house near the stream. The owners were extremely kind and welcoming, they made sure we were fed properly. They even cooked momos for us on the first night. I also got a chance to taste Arak, the Gin of Ladakh.
We started the construction of Community Livestock Enclosure. The villagers joined us in three groups headed by their team leaders. The logs and the rest of the construction material were carried by the villagers on the hill, i also decided to give a hand to one old lady. The task was to create an enclosure of 20x20 feet where the villagers will be able to keep their livestock safe from predator attacks. One member each from all the 41 households of the village participated to finish the task on the same day. During the lunch break, the villagers sat into 3 different groups and made tea with the food they brought from home. It was wonderful to see how joyful these people were.
We all went for lunch in a different house, where they were building another enclosure. They were some Yak Skew and Chang for lunch. This was the first time I had chang and it was delicious. Skew is a traditional dish of Ladakh, it looks more like Pasta but it is a little soupy. This trip helped us interact with the local villagers and i also got a chance to visit an old house where they had all the traditional clothes and dishes. That house also acts as a museum for the tourists that pass by.
The two days in Fotoksar went by really quickly and soon it was time for us to leave. On our way back to Leh we stopped in various location where we spotted different animals like Urials and Ibex.
Goodbye Fotoksar, hopefully will see you again.