What is the history and culture of Alchi?
Posted on Dec 16, 2013 by sushma.yadav
Almost for 25 years, after Indian attained freedom, tourism was banned in Ladakh by the Indian Government, because of this being a sensitive territory, which is neighbored by China, Pakistan and Tibet. However in the mid-1970s, Ladakh was finally open to the general public. People now visit Ladakh as a tourist destination.
Alchi was cut off from the rest of the world however now this is emerging out as quite a popular holiday destination. A local saying in Alchi goes as “Only the staunchest of enemies or the best of friends come visit us”, which hints at the remoteness of this small hidden village.
Alchi was at point in time known as an important religious centre for Buddhism, and the famous Alchi-Choskor monastery which was, built as far back as the 10th century; the history of this village is still obscure.
At point of time the whole of Ladakh was a part of the Kushan Empire in the 1st century, and later on in the 8th century, it became a part of the kingdom of the Kashmiri king, Lalitaditya. However later on in the 10th century a Tibetan royal offshoot, Nyima-Gon, decided to set his roots in Ladakh, and again reintroduced Buddhism. His grandson, Yesh-es-od of Guge, sent a scholar named Rinchen-Zangpo to study and rejuvenate the Buddhist culture in his kingdom. Zangpo was also known as the Great Translator and he even set up a number of monasteries in Ladakh and in the neighboring area, one of which was the famous Alchi Gompa.
Religion holds a very special place in the hearts of the people in Ladakh. Here you will notice many scattered Buddhist shrines, also known as Chortens. People believe that these Chortens ward off spirits and protect the locals. The local people are dependent on agriculture and very self-. There only 1000 heads residing in the village and this is a strong community bond.
The practice of fraternal polyandry is quite common as this ensure that land is equally divided amongst all and due to this all the sons in family share a wife and any child resulting from such union belong to the eldest brother. Here one will notice many polygamous and monogamous unions.
Men and women wear gonchas, and a bright colored sash tied around the waist. Females wear more colourful gonchas with a lot of silver, gold, shell or coral jewellery.