Achi Association
  • Youth Training Program Wanla

Pilot Youth Training Program for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage in Ladakh

Fieldcampaign I: Wanla

Team: Deldan Angmo, John Harrison, Ernesto Noriega, Konchok Phanday and Dennis Playdon

The second phase of the youth programs’ first year took place in Ladakh during the months of June and July. Fourteen from the original core group attended. A young artist, Tsewang Stanzin from Alchi, joined the group.

The program started with a three-day heritage tour which took the group to Matho, Hemis, Chemre, Thagtok, Tikse, Basgo, Alchi, and Mangyu monasteries. The students were also given a tour of the old city of Leh, visited the newly restored Munshi House, the Central Asian Museum under construction, and the new White Lotus School at Shey, which combines traditional and new design elements and introduces appropriate climate control technologies. The monastery visits were guided by local historian Sonam Phuntsog. John Harrison, Basgo Anchuk, and also the team of the THF presented their projects to the students. 

The trainees of the YTP with architect John Harrison in Wanla (photo: Ernesto Noriega).
The YTP in Wanla

At Wanla we set up camp and started with the documentation of the monumental area and the village of Namtses on the West side of the ridge. The participants applied their newly learned skills that allowed them to produce measured sketches of all the structures. They produced drawings at the roof-plan level, and also of sections through the village and the top of the ridge. When this work was completed they continued measuring Zomal, the village on the East side, and the area between it and the ridge. Furthermore, topographic measurements were taken of the ridge.

Participant Konchok Thinlas interviewing Meme Chumpa (photo: Hilde Vets).
interviews with locals

Parallel to this work, some of the participants made video interviews of some of the elderly members of Wanla. This allowed them to start developing skills in documenting oral history and to develop a closer relationship with the villagers, who told them many local stories and legends and readily talked about their own childhood and the changes Wanla has gone through over time.

Additionally, artistic renditions of some of Wanla’s corners were made as well as photographs of all buildings and spaces in both villages and the ridge.


Field campaign II: Wanla

Team: Daechen Lamo (translation), Konchok Motup, Jigmet Namgial and Ernesto Noriega

In September and October the second Field campaign took place. Here we started working with the second component of the youth program which concentrates on the schoolchildren of Wanla. Sixteen boys and girls, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen took part in the workshop. This group will later join the core group of older participants with whom we had been working since the first workshop in Dehradun in February (see first report).

The first of this workshop was a general introduction in which the students were exposed to vernacular architecture of different places gaining an understanding of the different factors that influence its form and construction. Then they took a closer look at the architecture of Ladakh and specifically of Wanla, identifying the main natural, climatic, social, and religious influences that give it shape. This was followed by a discussion on the benefits and disadvantages of traditional and modern materials and construction methods. They also were asked to imagine and draw a speculative representation of the historical Wanla as it existed as an old walled village on the hill below the castle.

The students then learned basic building measuring methods and drafting techniques after which they produced a plan of their school dormitory, and had a chance to design their own “dream house”.

Students measuring in Wanla (photo: Ernesto Noriega).
Students measuring in Wanla
Trainees Jigmet Namgial and Konchok Motup teaching young students of Wanla.
Jigmet and Motup teaching young students


From the second week onwards two members of the core group, Jigmet Namgyal and Konchok Motup, joined the team and played an important role in training the young school kids in the documenting of architecture. They were able to transfer their new competences and each one lead a group of students in the documentation of a specific object: The first group generated measured sketches (plans and elevations) of the Lhompo House in Namtses, and the second group measured the ancient access path to the temple complex from the East side, including the two chörten groups.

Furthermore the students divided into groups to continue with the work of interviewing elderly villagers, many of them their relatives. They are also committed to sharing with their siblings and parents what they have learned and to explain the objectives of the program.

The new participants in the program are all from Wanla, either from the two main villages, Namtses and Zomal, or from nearby villages. They are seven girls and nine boys, and all attend the Government School - Wanla:



Tsewang Ladol                                   Age 16                                 Village of Shilla

Tsering Dolkar                                    17                                        Fanjila

Tsetan Angmo                                    15                                        Wanla-Namtses

Rigzen Angmo                                    17                                       Tarchit

Rinchen Dolkar                                   18                                         Wanla-Namtses

Tundup Dolkar                                    14                                       Tarchit

Sonam Zangmo                                  17                                        Susgo

Tundup Namgail                                 17                                        Shilla

Thinlas Nurboo                                   16                                        Fanjila

Sonam Gonboo                                  16                                        Wanla-Namtses

Tsering Dorjay                                   15                                        Susgo

Tsewang Nurboo                               14                                        Shilla

Sonam Puntsog                                 15                                        Shilla

Rigzen Nurboo                                   18                                        Wanla-Namtses

Nawang Stanzin                                16                                        Wanla-Zomal

Smanla Tundup                                 14                                        Wanla-Namtses