Sonam remembers being on cattle duty as a Ladakhi child. Each of his seven brothers and sisters were periodically asked to guide the cows to the pastures. He would drop them and then head to school by 9 am.
Life was simple in his village and he loved the outdoors. It gave him a sense of freedom – and he started assisting tour groups who would come to the area. Gradually he became a seasoned trekking guide. Sometimes he would run away from his father, just to be in the mountains!
Trekking, horse-riding and the outdoors became his life.
Ladakh is a region of India, which constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region. Ladakh is bordered by the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh to the south, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north. It extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range to the north to the main Great Himalayas to the south.
In the past Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes. Since 1974, the Government of India has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh.
The largest town in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil, each of which headquarters a district. The Leh district contains the Indus, Shyok and Nubra river valleys. The Kargil district contains the Suru, Dras and Zanskar river valleys. The main populated regions are the river valleys, but the mountain slopes also support the pastoral Changpa nomads. Ladakh is one of the most sparsely populated regions in India. Its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet.
But he says things changed.
“We copy the West” says Sonam Togochaypa. “Instead of wearing our own traditional dress and shoes – we are now (blindly) copying the west”.
Soon tour operators who met him, were impressed with his knowledge and local knowledge. They began to urge him to open a genuine Ladakhi hotel. That was the genesis for the Togocheepa Eco Hotel.
We copy the West blindly.Sonam Togochaypa
A Dream Project!
A dream project which gave its visitors a complete immersion into Ladakhi life – far away from commercial Leh. While regular hotels were all about the usual – this creation of Sonam – 76 km from Ladakh – was about being immersed in true Ladakhi culture. Everything about the hotel was core Ladakhi. The materials to build were sourced locally. The food is grown organically on the farms around the hotel, and it gives employment to locals. Even the water is heated using solar energy!
Two floors with 11 rooms is as cozy and niche as you can dream of. A true Oasis of authentic Ladakhi culture.
Later he realised the potential of Yoga in this land of meditation and prayer. The rarified air has long been used as a training ground for athletes. The advantage of altitude training is that the muscles get a natural boost when more oxygen is available during lower-altitude competitions.
But the Ladakh climate can be difficult – so Sonam decided to create the first indoor fully equiped Yoga studio in Ladakh. With wooden floors, blocks and mats – you have everything you need for an intense Yoga holiday. All you need to carry is you enthusiasm.
Dont expect the usual buzz of city life when you reach here. If waking up to the mountains, and sleeping to bonfires is what you seek – this is your slice of heaven!
Sonam is proud of his Ladakhi culture and has spoken at events all over the world, introducing them to this unique culture. Even travelled to Antarctica and the Amazon rain forest!
Connect with Sonam at the Togocheepa Eco Hotel or have a conversation with him about Ladakh culture by calling +91 9419178885 or +91 9596811940.
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