Updated: Mar 18, 2019
About 160 kms North- west of Leh and across the LOC along the winding mountain ranges of the Himalayas are the 4 villages of Dha, Dharchik, Hanu and Gahanu. Here lives the Brokpa community also popularly called ‘Dard’ . This community is arguably one of the most intriguing subjects of the Himalyan Terrain. Special permits are needed to explore the interior locations.
Ethnically, the Brokpas have different appearance. Visually they are exotic both because of their physical features and because of their dress code. The facial features differ from the Tibeto Mongol features found in this terrain. Brokpas are taller, fairer, have high cheekbones, flawless skin and almond eyes. They dress up flamboyant and colorful.
The women of the community wear intricate headgears adorned with flowers. This is called the ‘Tepi’. Adorned with the main orange flower called ‘ Monthu Tho’ – an exotic flower of the region. The headgear is believed to ward evil eye. The Headgear is further adorned with colorful ribbons and layers of coins stitched together, adding to the gleam. The headgears are worn even when they work in fields.
The Men wear maroon gowns , a thick belt and also wear the traditional ‘Monthu Tho’ . Men also wear silver jewelry. Metal is precious and wards many diseases .
The women wear silver jewelry. Metal has special significance. Infact each part of the ‘Tepi’ has a specific belief attached - warding off evil or a disease.
Their traditional dress is made of sheep wool.
The size of this community is just about 5000 people, however they are often referred to as the ‘Master Race ‘or ‘ The Aryans’. Multiple theories exist about their origin. One such theory speculates that they are decedents of Alexander’s army that invaded the terrain centuries ago. The other one concludes that they arrived from Gilgit in Pakistan and some link them to be categorized as Aryans by the British Army .
The Aryans follow Tibetan Buddhism. Their ancient religion is Bon . Today they worship in Monasteries and cremate their dead.
They grow their own food and raise cattle. Apricots are grown in plenty. This region is also very fertile. The Indus river flows across the villages. The Brokpas have immense regard for their food and resources and are judicious about it. For most part , they are vegans and believe in simple food of wheat and barley. Meat is consumed during festivals only.
The Aryan villages are famous for exotic people, peculiar lineage, pure DNA , stories abound of pregnancy tourism . Their genetic history is under constant flurry of questions, however they seem to have kept their gene pool intact because of strict social norms. Marriage out of the community is not allowed and immense regard is given to traditions and their history.
Whether the theories are true or not , I leave it on the research scientists to excavate. I am here, exploring the present day in these villages, meeting and talking to the strikingly beautiful, interesting and intelligent people, against one of the most magnificent backdrops . Watching the river Indus flow along the steep winding mountains and capturing in frames what may not be preserved for too long.
As narrated by Navtej Singh