Lubzin Lolo affectionately called ‘Lolo’ by the tlow team because that’s how he simplifies his name is 55 years old. He works with the Archaeological department of India as a caretaker of different monuments around Ladakh.
His family includes his mother, father, wife, a daughter and three sons. Two of his sons are already settled as an Army person in Leh town and as a professor in Bangalore. Lolo’s third son is also planning to join the Indian Army in sometime.
As Lolo is a local from Ladakh, he has more knowledge about the people, the culture and what there is to see in the area. He started his career in different monasteries across Ladakh. His only intention was to safeguard the local feel of the place.
Due to unfortunate circumstances, Lolo met with an accident while he was riding a bike. He lost his balance and injured his hip. The government was good enough to handle his medi-claim. They offered him a job to sit at the ticket counter of a monastery.
Lolo said, “I have always felt that the culture in Ladakh is slowly but gradually changing into something that we are not. I was always fascinated with local monuments which are symbols of our culture and traditions. I have always felt like their protector.”
He joined the archaeological department in 1992. At that time, he was working in Hemis monastery as a caretaker of the monument. Lolo worked there for seven years. Later, he was in Lamayuru, Phyang and Alchi monasteries which were under his care for one or two years each.
“I was also the head supervisor in charge of Shey and Leh Palace monasteries. The nature of my job is to make sure that the sentiment of the monument is preserved. I love my culture, history and traditions. It’s good to see so many people come to Ladakh just to see the culture,” he said.
Lolo has a guruji in Thiksey monastery who tells him always that whatever happens, never give up because great things and great changes take time. He is the 9th Dalai Lama. “We all call him guruji because of his compassion and belief in peace. I meet so many people who ask for direction or ask about the monastery. They are curious-minded souls who want to explore the Ladakhi culture and their rituals. I have given 26 years of my life to this department protecting the monuments and maintaining the local feel,” he added with pride in his voice.
What changes have you seen in Ladakhi tourism and these monuments?
“When I was in the fifth standard, I noticed that mostly only foreigners came to Ladakh. We hardly saw any Indian tourist at that time. Most people came for various treks in the Himalayas and to enjoy the local feel of the monasteries. After Ladakh was advertised as a tourist hub, Indians started to come. Now the tables have turned, the local feel is fading away,” he said.
Lolo explained that earlier the Ladakhi people used to have a different clothing style. People used to come and buy Ladakhi clothes, wear them and roam around. But now all these are in the past. Ladakh has always been changing because of the army as well as tourists.
“Local people don’t understand that if they continuously change so fast, it will change their culture as well as traditions. Earlier in Ladakh, people from outside used to come and start their own tourism business. Later, following that, even local people started catering to tourists. Education also has helped us grow. There was a time when people used to be kind-hearted and help you genuinely. But now greed has taken over which is a major change. For me, Ladakh is pure and rough. Keep it as it is,” he said.
Have you observed any climate changes?
“Yes, there have been changes. Ladakh has always been one of the coldest place on earth. Earlier, we faced the issue of water getting frozen in the pipeline. Ladakh is a dry region and we always have a shortage of trees in this barren land, which has resulted in increasing heat in the region,” he said.
Water was always a problem for the people of Ladakh. Still, Lolo said they managed somehow. “Earlier from November to January, it used to be – 30 degrees but now it hardly crosses – 15 degrees.This has created a shortage of water as the river was the only source of water for us. Cattle breed has been affected. We all feel tourists are like our guest and we make them comfortable in our homes. My only request to them is to make peace and live in happiness, no point taking the wrong route when you have so much to look forward in life,” he said.
Lubzin Lolo has been there for 26 years in the tourism industry protecting monuments and preserving the local culture of Ladakh. In his heart, he feels he is still connected with his roots and the culture of the region which makes them better people in their own unique way. If Lubzin can think about our environment, what is stopping us?
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