Whilst the market space of Leh city remains wide allowing a free flow of tourists, locals, stalls and shops set all around it; it is the smaller lanes and by lanes that give a real insight into the traditional houses and how the people live. Made from mud and stones they appear like blocks when seen from a distance, haphazardly arranged over a hilly landscape. The spaces between different homes are narrow strips, allowing people to look into each other’s homes and communicate across balconies.
While walking through these lanes the first time, a traveler can be overwhelmed by the maze like roads that connect one home to another, and another. Modern looking homes are replacing the traditional ones. However, LOTI (Ladakh Old Town Initiative) has worked relentlessly in this region to encourage locals to hold onto and rebuild traditional, restored houses. It is these type of houses that can actually withstand the weather conditions, be sustainable, whilst maintaining the beauty of ancient housing systems.
Most locals live in Leh city for work during the tourist season or for government jobs, whilst they have their homes in villages near and far. Woman from the villages close by come with their vegetables and produces in the Leh market to earn some money from their sales.