travel like we do > India > North > Ladakh > Dah The Aryan Village or Racist Village?
Sunset from Dah

You might have heard the name of Dah village as the Aryan village, where still the Aryan’s reside. We also heard the same and with a lot of hope we set out towards Dah Hanu for a great experience. We had to travel a long long distance to reach here. I know anticipation was building up and we left picturesque Chiktan on the way just to be here. Oh! little did we knew at the time, what we are about to experience. We had our first racist encounter. Before I narrate our experience, let me clarify, by no means we hold one man’s actions against the entire village. Our stay was pleasant and welcoming and I am sure, if you are planning a visit you will have a great time there.

Please note by no way we are calling the entire village racist we are sharing our experience and you might not feel the same at all.

Is Dah an Aryan village?

Dah Village

First time I heard about this village is when a German woman traveled all the way to marry and settle in the great Aryan race. Later I saw a documentary on it, and when we were traveling in Ladakh we had to visit this place. Mainly for all the gorgeous portraits we have seen from the region.

The fact is, it’s a myth that these are Aryan village but the interesting thing to note is the features of the people from Dah Hanu region. They are completely different than the locals of Leh Ladakh. It is believed that when the Great Alexander came to concur India, his soldiers got sick somewhere in the Himalayas, because of that he had to leave. It is said many of these soldiers couldn’t travel all the way back home thus never left the valley. That is why the people living in these villages have a very similar features like Greeks.

There are 5 villages known as Aryan village. The names of the villages are Dha, Hanu, Beema, Darchik, and Garkone. Dah and Hanu are open for tourists to visit.

Do you need permit to visit Dah Hanu region?

Yes you will need permit as these villages are located near the border area. You can obtain the permit in Leh and show them to several check points en-route, to visit this village. You can apply online here.

How many days needed for this trip?

We would recommend you to stay at least a night to see the village and walk around. Many tourists chose to come on a day trip as well. If you are not riding and have rental car then you can do a day trip too. Our recommendation will be staying a night.

When is the perfect time to visit Dah-Hanu?

Indian Summer months to Autumn is the perfect time to visit these villages. If you are planning May to October will be perfect to plan. We will recommend to visit Dah-Hanu festival in first week of October. We will tell you why later in the post.

Where to Stay in this Village?

Not a lot of option here in this village. There are two home stays one is Mackspon Guest House and Skyaba home-stay when we were there. By now there might be plenty of options to stay here. Please do not expect luxury, people have opened their house in a dorm style or private rooms. It can cost you 1000-1200 rupees per night.

Where to eat in Dah Village?

There are no eateries here so your best bet will be to eat at your home-stay and crack a deal with them. Home cook basic meals such as Dal-Rice, Roti-Omlette is what you can expect. Nothing fancy you will have here as the closest market is in Chiktan, i.e. one and half hour away.

What not to expect in Dah Village?

Aryan Lady at Leh Market
portrait taken at Leh Market

Our knowledge of this Aryan village is all through internet, where we see beautiful local ladies wearing their traditional attire. All the photos and videos of this place had locals wearing their traditional best. hence we assumed they will be donning like that. Alas! they were not. Ha ha. How fool were we to even think that? You need to pay to get them clad in their tradition attire and pose in front of the camera.If you want to do this for free then your best bet would be to be here during the festivities.

The drive to this village is one of the most gorgeous roads I have ever seen in my life (till date). So our expectation rose high as it was perfectly tucked away from the world surrounded by majestic mountains all around. The problem is if your village is just so high above the river bed that you can’t see the river. And on the other hand low enough from the surrounding mountains, that you do not have a perfect view from anywhere. Please don’t get us wrong as it is beautiful, but Ladakh has more such beauties to offer, Turtuk being one perfect example.

This village got commercialized, hence you miss the warmth irrespective you are in a village. I am not saying just based on home-stay experience but when we were out walking, no one was intrigued or interested. Hardly we got any exposure to other villagers apart from our home-stay owners.

Things to do in the Dah Aryan Village?

River Near Dah Village

This place is a portrait photographers paradise. If you are a group pf photographers then I will highly recommend that you book a slot of portrait photography because the attire, head gears and jewellery of the women in this region is unique.

You can go for a village walk. The village has its own organic farm which you can check out. You can even ask the host for organic food not sure if they will agree but better to try your luck.

Unexpected Racial Discrimination in Dah the Aryan Village

Okay now it’s time to address the Elephant in the room, you all might be waiting for that anyway. I will start now. It all started at the night of are arrival, but we could not point the problem then. As we drove long hours and achieved an unthinkable ( rode a scooter from Alchi to Dah). Our riding story is for another time but at night when we told our home-stay owner that we took the route via Chiktan, he started making generic comments like ‘ that route is weird isn’t it?’ or ‘that market is not good at all, we go to Leh market only’ or ‘ You should have taken U turn from Lamayuru and take the another route’. We were clueless what he meant, but thought it might be because of the protests going on for Article 370 ( we saw it on our way) .

Why we know it?

He wanted to show us his house at night. Post dinner, he showed us where he stays with his family and told us he is going to have a party with Mutton curry. I drooled as at dinner time he only offered daal rice, very unlikely for village hosts. This is when he showed his brand new furniture and talked about his new Mahindra truck. He also added that he was unwilling hosting few Government employees at his guesthouse but had to oblige. He is not happy about missing the opportunity of gaining extra bucks by hosting Govt employees. We were dead tired, as it took a while to find the village and both of us fell from the scooter on the way, so we called it a night.

The Event

Next morning, we woke up early as we really don’t want to ride 7-8 hrs straight back to Leh after dark. We asked for roti omlette and chai for breakfast and we sat on the dinner table waiting for the food to arrive. While we were waiting, we checked out and kept all our things on the table and other empty chairs.

Then all a sudden we notice a tall figure came to wash hands near the table we were sitting. As we were almost covering a 6 seater table with our things we quickly got up to remove them. This is when our host walked in mumbling something which we initially didn’t hear. Then our host told us ‘no need to remove your things he is not going to sit’. I looked at the man well dressed, handsome man waved his hand saying he won’t, and got tea from our host.

In this while our host kept mumbling, this is when I heard what he was really saying. In shock! I turned to checked if the man left, No! he is still there. Our host went on, to my disbelief targeting the man standing next to me and if I can hear so can he. Our host snarled and said ” How many times I have told them not to come in front of the guest? Stay in their room I will send the food there. They will still show up and make things uncomfortable. These people should not mingle with my guests.”.

Honestly, I thought by “these people” he meant poor labors who came to his village to dig up natural well to generate water powered electricity. I thought he is so high on his money that he is making it all about a class difference. We were anyway about to leave and turned to see, that man was long gone and we paid our bills and left our home-stay.

The Man

Outside we met the man in his white Nike shoes (rare in these dusty terrain) standing and waiting for something, he smiled at us. Our scooter was parked nearby when we went to take it the man (looked like Kashmiri) smiled and asked “you came in this?”. We laughed as we heard this statement in our entire trip we said “Yes”.

We got into conversation and found out he is the lead engineer of water power project. His work is to make these mountain villages have independent electricity using natural water sources. He came to this site and waiting for his Government provided Innova to visit the project site.

This is when I realized “these people” meant Muslims not poor people. Our host was so completely blinded in his racial believes. It did not not even bother him that the person in-front of him was a Govt. official (on duty), Engineer, came to help his village to get power ( power goes everyday for 4 hrs here). But Alas! All he could see was his religion.

This whole experience all of a sudden opened our eyes about all the last night conversations. As we set out for new destination we promised ourselves not to be blind like our host and blame the entire village for his action. You should visit Dah The Aryan Village, and hopefully the villagers will greet you with open arms and warmth.

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