Yurutse:The incredible story of Ringzin Dorjee

January 22, 2016

There is no electricity,no school,no hospital,no road, no water supply,no mobile network,no market,no community hall and no post office .Name the basic and modern facilities it is not there.The nearest motorable road is 15 km away and you have to walk through the bouldered trails of the valley to reach there.The nearest town is 25 km away from that point.Have you ever imagined how it would feel to live in such a place in the 21st century ?We are scared even to think of it.But the story of Ringzin Dorjee in the village of Yurutse will make you believe that the spirit of life triumphs against every odds in this world.


The road to right goes to the wonderland of Yurutse in the Markha valley

I was back in Leh in the winter for the Markha Valley trek.The winter had cast a deadly spell of chill in the cold desert.On my first day of the trek, after walking 13 kilometers through the valley from Zingchen i reached this village of Yurutse for my homestay for the night.It was a backbreaking trek upto this village but i was amazed to see this beautiful village in such a remote location.

The view of the snowcapped mountains from the window of the homestay

The view of the snowcapped mountains from the window of the homestay

Flanked by the snow capped mountains and situated on the bank of a stream,the remote and beautiful village of Yurutse is a wonderland in the Himalayan hinterland.There is absolutely nothing in this village except one  and only one home and a cluster of Buddhist stupas.You may be wondering how come there is only one home village but it is a fact.This village fits into what the text book definition of remote stands for.The terrain is wild,remote,uninhibited and lonely.The sweltering summer comes here with the scorching heat but it comes with a boon.In the summer the snow starts melting and the streams starts flowing and water becomes the lifeline for man and farming in this high altitude village.But when the winter comes, it brings with it the nerve-wrecking cold freezing almost everything.Life comes to a standstill in the winter and life is extreme here.

Ever smiling, Ringzin Dorjee told his story of life in Yurutse

Ever smiling, Ringzin Dorjee told his story of life in Yurutse

But there lives a man Ringzin Dorjee,happy and hardworking,brave and kind,simple and graceful.He has a family of five,two sons Sonam and Rigzin,his wife and his mother.His sons are studying in a private school in Leh.His wife works at home.Ringzin works alternately as a farmer in his fields in the summer and as a guide for the high altitude treks in the Markha valley.They are a happy family living in one of the most remort part of Ladakh.It was 5 am when i reached this village and the bone chilling cold of the winter led me straight to the Bukhari (the local fire pit inside a room).Ringzin along with his two sons came to the room with a cup of hot Kawah (a famous Kashmiri beverage) and some biscuits for me and a bundle of dry wood cuttings for the fire pit.After drinking the hot kawah i slept for two hours.

The homestay is a heaven deep in the mountains.

The homestay is a heaven deep in the mountains.

When i woke up it was dark outside and the room was lit with a solar lamp.I took a cup of tea from the thermoflask nearby.I generally dont drink tea but in the winter to keep myself warm and keep myself hydrated in the high altitude i was taking Kawah,tea and hot water frequently.I was so curious to know the life of Ringzin Dorjee in such a place in the middle of nowhere.Sipping the hot tea in the wood fired warmth in the winter i asked Ringzin didnt he feel so lonely to live alone in such a remote place far from the habitated civilization.How does he maintain his social life where he is having no neighbour? Whom does he turn to in case of an emergency?Do his relatives comes to that place to meet him?What does he do for a living?Why he is not relocating to Leh ?I continued asking him all the questions I had.He paused for a moment and started his story.


From Left to Right : Rigzin (the elder son),Sonam (the younger son) and their proud father Ringzin Dorjee

Ever graceful he was,looking into my eyes he told me in his unpolished command of hindi,”the air is fresh here,the water is pure here,the vegetables are organic here,i have a field here,i am not educated,i work alternatively as a farmer in my field and a guide for the treks,i manage my family and my childrens education within my earnings ,i am happy here,this is where i born,this is my land and this is where i will live”.I was dumbstruck listening to him.I didnt uttered a single word for some moment.He was living in such a remote place on earth in such extreme conditions without all the basic amenities of a civic life but he was brimming with happiness.

As we spoke more on that cold night, my respect for Ringzin Dorjee grew by leaps and bounds.He triumped all the odds thrown at him to live a happy life.Over the dinner our conversation continuted.His wife is from the Markha village,which is another remote village in the valley.They are married for last sixteen years.His elder son now studies in 10th standard and his younder son studies in 7th standard.Both are studying in the Lamdon public school in Leh and they were at home as the schools in Leh are closed from december to march due to extreme cold.I asked him how he affords the fees of a private school.He told me he earns enough during the summer.Hikers throng to the Markha valley during summer and Ringzin uses his home as a homestay for the hikers for Rs 800 per night.Over and above that many hiker offered him tip for his hospitality.In the summer too he does farming and sells his produce in the Leh market.He works hard to make both ends meet.


The frozen farmlands of Ringzin Dorjee

He goes to Leh twice in a week to get the supply by treking the trecherous trail of 13km throgh the valley upto Zingchen and from there he goes to Leh in a vehicle.While coming back from Zingchen he brings the supply on the back of mules.

Its an incredible story of Ringzin Dorjee in the village of Yurutse. Inspite of all the odds he lives his life with so much joy and happiness.I always love to meet the mountain people to listen to their stories and their resolve to live life in such remote and extreme conditions.I am fortunate to meet Ringzin Dorjee and know about his inspiring life.His life in Yurutse is an incredible story of triump of human spirit over all the odds.

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  • Reply Christine @thetraveloguer April 8, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Wow, this looks like such a great experience! Beautiful views and interesting people!

    • Reply Ajaya Kumar Rout April 8, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Hi Christine,it was indeed a great experience and the people were amazing.

  • Reply Tom April 8, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    Very interesting! Even in the 21st century, there are still many different ways to live! Fair play to the guy, he seems happy enough!!

    • Reply Ajaya Kumar Rout April 8, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Thank You Tom.
      They are living in one of the most remote places in the Himalayas but they are brimming with happiness.I was so happy interacting with them.

  • Reply Anne Klien ( MeAnne) April 8, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    This is truly amazing experience you had, great time spending it with locals. Might be the best place to detox from technology lol

    • Reply Ajaya Kumar Rout April 8, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      Anne,that place is a world beyond the world of Twitter,Instagram and FB.
      It was truly a beautiful experience with Ringzin and his family in Yurutse.

  • Reply Marge Gavan April 9, 2016 at 1:25 am

    I’d been to the remote parts of my country where some things are not available and no I cannot imagine myself living there. It’s amazing that even in this time and age, there are still places like that.

    But I sure wouldn’t mind visiting Yurutse for the sake of experience, and a humbling one at that. For some reason, people who seem to be living with less are the ones who are happier as in the case of the man you met, Ringzin Dorjee. I salute this guy for working hard to feed his family.

    • Reply Ajaya Kumar Rout April 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      Marge,there are still some places on earth which are remote,pristine,beautiful and untouched by the onslaught of technological reach. Yurutse was one such place.I was honoured to meet Ringzin Dorjee and his family.He is a hero for me.

  • Reply Votel Travels April 9, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Great subject matter, great topic, great blog. Looked like you had a great time. Look forward to reading more

    • Reply Ajaya Kumar Rout April 9, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Thank you so much

  • Reply OneMoreBackpacker April 11, 2016 at 12:23 am

    Beautiful travel tales again, I really like these off-the-bitten-path destinations you found. It sounds very authentic.

    • Reply Ajaya Kumar Rout April 11, 2016 at 7:39 pm

      Thank you Dani.Yurutse is a beautiful remote and picturesque village in the Himalayas and enjoyed my time with the gracious host.

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