Over a long period of time a very sophisticated earthen architecture has developed in the Western Himalayas. Apart from the abundance of high qualitiy of different earthen materials, other factors like the arid climate and the difficulties of transport in this remote mountainous region have kept alive this tradition until recent times.
Today the earthen building tradition and many historic buildings are in danger to be lost. Since the 1970ies Ladakh has opened up for tourism, modernisation and industrialisation. On the one hand, Ladakhi communities have been able to profit economically from tourism. On the other side Tourism and an increased presence of the Indian Army significantly affected and altered all aspects of traditional life, influencing the continuity of this unique culture. Another factor that particularly concerns the Ladakhi earthen heritage, is the climatic change: the last years have brought unusually heavy rainfalls to this formerly desert-like landscape. In addition, the Western Himalayas lie in one of the most vulnerable seismic areas on earth.
The appreciation of earthen architecture has increased more and more within the last years all over the world. The efforts are not only restricted to maintaining the traditional knowledge, but also include an increasing scientific research of materials. The awareness to develop preventive maintenance strategies for earthen heritage has grown steadily. The focus of research should be directed even more towards the Western Himalayas due to the recent developments in this particular region.