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Tradition versus Tourism in Ladakh, India

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With Fareed Zakaria The Northern Indian Town of Ladakh is wedged between war-torn Kashmir, and Chinese-occupied Tibet. Since the middle 1970's, a surge of tourism, facilitated by a Western fascination with Bhuddist culture, has brought in a rapid influx of foreign capital. This documentary in progress by Dan Shreiber explores the tension between tourism and tradition. "Tourism vs. Tradition", A film by Dan Shreiber, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting [Sound of horns honking and people talking in foreign language] In remote Northern India, Wedged between war-torn Kashmir and Chinese-occupied Tibet, Is the aired Himalayan landscape called Ladakh. [People conversing in foreign language] It is home to a gentle peaceful people, Who practice what is essentially Tibetan Culture. Because of fascination among Westerners with this increasingly novel culture, Ladakh draws hoards of tourists every Summer. The only season when the mountain roads are passable. [Sound of man driving car by mountains] Ladakh, which varies in elevation from ten to eighteen thousand feet above sea level. Is most commonly reached by way of a grueling, two-day Jeep ride over bumpy and dangerous roads, where deady accidents often occur. [Sound of car horn blowing sheep out of the way while driving] Despite this lay, Ladakh's capital, receives increasing numbers of tourists every year. Peaking in 2005 with 37,000 visiting during the 3-month season. That's about 7,000 more than the town's permanent population. So what brings these travelers over such a long hard distance? Mehboof Ali, State Tourism Officer They come here to see the nature, I think. Plus, the Buddhist monasteries, the high altitude lakes, The river rafting, the mountaineering. What do we not have here in Ladakh? Ladakh is a very beautiful place. Nate Sands, From Chicago, Illinois- USA I was working in the corporate world for about 6 years or so. . . And finding it really unfullfilling. . . So, I decided to take a couple years off, and just traveling. Stephanie Ullman and Belinda Kitchen, From London, UK We came because we haven't got long in India. And it's monsoon, and we wanted to avoid rain in the south. Marc Wancer, New York, New York- USA It's kind of an easy going, like gentle place to hang out. And if you are into it, obviously, you like learn tons about Tibetan Buddhism. [Music playing in background] The influx has brought rapid change to the area, throwing it open to western culture, a far cry from Ladakh's previous experience with the outside world, that of traders on Central Asia's famous Silk Route. This massive and swift change has caused most in the younger generation of Ladakhs to abandon traditional dress and culture in favor of Western fashions and a money economy. [Gentle string music playing in background] Whereas Ladakh was once a primarily agrarian economy. many have now turned to the short tourist season to make their living for the rest of the year. [storefront] Zahoor Art Palace, Ladakh and Tibetan Handcrafts Western demand for Tibetan and Ladakhi artifacts has created a sort of culture-for-sale inlay. Budshan Inn, Restaurant, Kashmiri, Chinest, Indian, Continental and Tandoori Dish, LAL CHOWK LEH CURIO CENTRE, Tibetan and Ladakhi Handi Crafts Tourism companies also sprung up in large numbers. Offering to arrange pack-ponies for trekking, tents, and other camping equipment, mountaineering gear, and logistic advice. Rather than working on farms, young men in town compete for tourist business. This's drastically changed the community relations inlay. We used to help each other much more than now. But now the situation has changed, you know? For example, in olden times, if somebody built a house, all the neighbors went to helping--to help the family. But now, even if I want I can't do it because I have no time, you know? So for me, it's much more practical if I employ some people. Tashi Morup, Editor-in-Cheif, The Magpie, Ladakh's weekly newspaper Now lots of money is coming in and lot sof people from other parts are also coming in, looking for jobs here. of course it's the market economy which is taking over the traditional subsistence agriculture economy that we had for centuries, suddenly being replaced by the market economy. The other problems that accompany it, you also see here. [Gentle string music playing in background] And so, in an effort to discover and understand a unique and ancient culture, isolated from much of the rest of the world for so long, tourists have left a permanent mark on Ladakhi society. Ironically, they have helped to very quickly globalize the society they originally sought for its authenticity. With Fareed Zakaria Glacial Change Ladakh, is a cold, arid, mountanious region in India's Himalayas, where annual rainfall seldom exceeds 50 mm. Local farmers depend on glacial water for irrigation, which is often scarce during the growing season A local engineer is building "artificial glaciers" to channel and capture the precious snowmelt for farming With Fareed Zakaria Producer/Director/Editor, Dan Shreiber Field Reporter and Additional Videography, Andre Noble Audio Engineer/Assistant Editor, Michael Bade Produced in association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria is produced by Azimuth Media

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 55 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Director: Dan Schreiber
Views: 371
Posted by: pulitzercenter on Apr 25, 2008

As featured on Foreign Exchange. The northern Indian town of Ladakh is wedged between war-torn Kashmir and Chinese-occupied Tibet. Since the mid 1970s, a surge of tourism facilitated by a western fascination with Buddhist culture, has brought in a rapid influx of foreign capital. This documentary-in-progress by Dan Schreiber explores the tension between tourism and tradition. For more information, visit

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