Renowned as ‘the Land of Aryans’, Dha and Hanu village are settlements of Drokpa or Brokpa community in Ladakh. The village is located about 163 km northwest of Leh at the confluence of rivers Shyok and Indus in Kargil region in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Brogpa are a small community of Dard people residing in the valley of indus at the border with pakistan, about 163 km southwest of Leh in Ladakh. They are thought by some to be the purest descendants of the ancient Indo-Europeans.
Dha, hanu, garkon and darchiks are the only villages where they are found. Part of the community are also located in the Deosai plateau just across the LOC in the Baltistan. Like the people of Gilgit, they speak an archaic form of the Shina language unintelligible with other dialects of Shina. They are originally said to have come from Chilas and settled in the area generations ago. They are predominantly caucasoid in contrast to the Tibeto-Burman inhabitants of most of Ladakh. They are nominally Buddhist, however animist rituals still survive.
Minaro is an alternate ethnic name. ‘Brogpa’ is the name given by the Ladakhi for the people.
The traditional Brogpa diet based on locally grown foods such as barley and hardy wheat prepared most often as tsampa/sattu (roasted flour). It takes in different ways. Other important foods include potatoes, radishes, turnips, and Gur-Gur Cha, a brewed tea made of black tea, butter and salt. Dairy and poultry sources are out of menu because of religious taboos. Brogpa takes three meals a day; Chin-nana (Breakfast); Beh (Lunch) and Ganzang (Dinner). Brogpa vary with respect to the amount of meat (mainly mutton) that they eat. Household’s economic position decides the consumption of meat. It is only during festivals and rituals all have greater access to mutton.
Brogpa economy has shifted from agropastoralism to wage labor, and the division of labor that relied on stratifications of age and gender is now obsolete. Brogpa transition to private property, monogamy, nuclear families, formal education, wage labor, and their incorporation into a highly militarized economy of soldiering and portering illuminates the complex workings of modernity in Ladakh.
According to popular belief, the Brokpas were part of the army of Alexander the Great and came to the region over two thousand years ago. The Brokpas reside in five villages; however, tourists are allowed only in two villages – Dha and Hanu. Besides tourists, the villages also attract anthropologists.
The custom of marrying within the community has ensured the Brokpas have retained their distinctive features. Brokpa have fair complexion and blue coloured eyes. The custom of marrying within the community has, however, limited the population of Brokpas. The community hardly numbers over 2000.
Drokpa or Brokpa community is racially and culturally distinct from the common Ladakhis. The community has a unique sense of dressing. The community especially women makes it a practice to wear flowers on their hats. The practice has earned them the sobriquet of flower women of Ladakh. The community also practices polyandry.
Unlike rest of Ladakh which is predominantly Buddhist, Brokpas are animist and follow the Bon religion. They consider Ibex as sacred animal. The Brokpa people have preserved their traditions and rituals over the ages.
The villages of the Brokpas are also famous for their scenic splendour. Unlike the spartan landscape of Ladakh, the Brokpa villages have more green cover. Temperature in the villages is also higher than in other parts of Ladakh which has also led to the thriving vegetation. Temperature during summer reaches up to 40 degree Celsius.
Isolated from the modern world, the community mainly thrives on horticulture. Apricot and apples are the main crops. Apricots, especially from Dha, are renowned for their sweetness. The apricot stones are used for producing oil.
Dah and Hanu don’t have hotels or guest houses. But many tourism companies do offer tented accommodation.
There are no restaurants in the village. It is advisable to carry your own food. You can buy snacks and other eatables from the small shops in the village. But if you want to stay longer than one day you would need to seek the help of locals.
During summer, it is quite hot in the villages as temperature rises to 40 degree Celsius. The best time to visit is between June to October.
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