My\u00a0 first trip to Ladakh in 2011 was an extravagant visual feast of culture.\u00a0 As a first-time viewer I was dazzled and overwhelmed so much that I could barely differentiate between the various ethnic groups that I was seeing.\nThat moment of enlightenment \u2013 when I noticed the distinctly different\u00a0 ethnic group, came to me much later when I was sifting through the hundred of photos hungrily shot during the festival.\nThrough an awed examination of their photos,\u00a0 it became obvious to me that this group was very very unique. All the groups in Ladakh were already fascinating me and consuming my interest and driving me to learn more and more about their culture. But this group was different from them all.\nThe Aryan people. In Ladakh they are called the Drogpas or Drokpas.\u00a0 They themselves do not identify with the word \u2018Dard\u2019 although that is the term used in older books for this fascinating ethnic group.\n\nMy Dard Hostess plucking flowers from her garden. Beyond the tall bushes in the background lies a steep drop to the road and then further onward to the river Indus.\n\nDards are considered to be the last of the Aryan race living in the Indus Valley and their linguistic root suggests a link to the people of Nuristan, Kohistan, Swat and Chitral valleys also from the same region of the Himalayas.\nToday their population is less than 3000.\n3000!!!\nThat is roughly the number of people transported by a single rake of a 12-coach Mumbai Local train during peak hours. Wow!\nI began to read about them and developed a casual interest in this group.\u00a0 This led to casual inquiries about visiting this group with an attitude of \u2018Keep In View\u2019.\nOn my second trip to Leh in 2013 on work, I came across a lovely lady from this ethnic group and began a conversation. And from then on, this changed from being a \u2018casual interest\u2019 to one of \u2018passionate interest\u2019.\nA long interested chat led to an invitation to and exchange of numbers and an invitation to her home early next morning for tea at 7am.\nI hate waking up early and in the chill weather of Leh this would be really difficult. But for this cup of tea I would have woken up at 4 am if that was the only time she was available!\u00a0 Serendipity was throwing an opportunity at me and there was no way I would not grab it. And so I had tea with her and her relatives and we bonded over tea and biscuits.\nThis new found relationship between strangers culminated in the journey of a lifetime in which I lived with the Dard lady, her husband, her sons, their wives and their children.\nIn September I visited their village 200 km away from Leh,\u00a0 Ladakh deep within the\u00a0 Himalayas along the Karakoram range \u2013 a home constructed on a little flat parcel of land that lay on an otherwise steep mountain slope along the Indus river.\nThis trip will remain one of the most memorable trips of my life in which I risked my life, limb, camera and iphone (listed in ascending order of importance) twice:\nFirst while climbing the great Himalayas (yes \u2013 even 300 metres up the steep rocky mountain slope in a gorge/ ravine/ whatever it is called is considered \u2018climbing\u2019 in my view) to reach their mountainside home.\nSecond while crossing the river Indus on a hand-pulled carriage and getting stuck midway. (note that the river crossing was not even essential \u2013 I just wanted to \u2018try it out\u2019)\nAnd so the articles below are about these experiences, and about living with my warm wonderful and spectacular new friends from Biama.\n\n1. (Published Earlier) Into the Hearts & Homes of the Dard People\n2. Living with a Dard Family\n3. Costume & Jewellery Culture of the Dard Aryan People\n4. Dances of the Dard people\n5. Lifestyle & Beliefs of the Dard people\n6. An adventure on the mighty Indus\n7. The magnificent 11th century Lamayuru Gompa Monastery \u2013 A photoessay\n8. A Cup of Tea with the Lamaji of Lamayuru Gompa\n9. Back into the Home & Hearts of the Aryan people\n10. The Bonona Festival of the Himalayan Aryans\n11. The Astitva Project with the Himalayan Aryans\n\u00a0\n\u00a0\email@example.com\n\u00a0\n\u00a0\nThe post Aryan Diaries appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.