LEH: CEC, LAHDC, Leh, Dr Sonam Dawa inaugurated a seminar on ‘Archaeological Research in the Western Himalayas with a Focus on Ladakh’ here at the Centre for Archaeological Studies, Ranbirpur.

The seminar was organised in the honour of German author and photographer Peter Van Ham for his 30 years of journey and extensive research in western Himalayas.

Giving a presentation about contribution of the great translator of the 9th- 10th Century Lotsawa Rinchen Zango in regions of the western Himalayas, Peter Van Ham said Alchi of course is the gem of the period of Rinchen Zangpo and he urged for its proper documentation.

“There is an urgent need to document this place and all other places also because you never know what’s going to happen,” he alerted, citing examples of how heritage sites were destroyed in other parts of the world. In the last 30 years Peter has documented several monasteries in the western Himalayas associated with Rinchen Zangpo. Peter is planning to document Alchi also if all necessary permissions are granted.

“There are so many issues with Alchi.  There are unclear inscriptions which have never been read or analyzed. There might be over paintings like the Drigung Kagyudpa School in the 12th century was taking over Alchi”, Peter Van Ham said, suggesting that with infrared photography one can look through layers of paintings without affecting anything.

The daylong conference was an initiative of Dr Sonam Spalzin from the Archaeological Survey of India and Dr. Sonali Gupta-Agarwal, Director (programmes) Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California Los Angeles.

Dr Sonali Gupta gave a brief introduction about the vision and relevance of the new venture called the Archaeological Institute of Himalayan Studies that both of them have embarked upon while Dr Sonam Spalzin, who has authored two books ‘Shesrigs’-discourses on archaeological and cultural identity and ‘gSter-rNying’ – archaeological remains of Ladakh, briefed about archaeological view of Ladakh region from pre-history to the present. She said the recent archaeological discovery in Saser that dates back to 8,500 BC (more than 10,000 years ago) makes Ladakh more important and interesting for archaeological studies.

CEC, Dr Dawa appreciated all Ladakhi and non-Ladakhi individuals engaged in preservation and conservation of Ladakh’s heritage.

While appreciating Dr Spalzin, CEC promised to provide her assistance from LAHDC for the efforts and contributions being made by her in the field of archaeology in Ladakh.

Dr Monisha Ahmad, Director LAMO talked about adaptive reuse of heritage building as LAMO itself is housed into a heritage house after proper restoration and it has now become a centre for cultural exchange, exhibition and learning.

While giving a presentation about petroglyphs found in different parts of Ladakh, Prof Tashi Ldawa of the EGM College urged for the need of heritage conservation as he has seen many petroglyphs and other heritage sites being destroyed in the name of development.

Tsering Angchuk Hornak, Convenor Ladakh Chapter INTACH presented his experience of conservation of historical Basgo Castle – the initiative later bagged UNESCO award for conservation.

Among others who also spoke on the occasion included Guest of Honour Lawyer and Notary from Germany Ronald Gerns and Upper Leh Councillor, Lobzang Nyantak.