Tashi Chondroling was born in Tangste, a village in the Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir, India which lies 49 km before Pangong Lake. Tashi aunty, as we at TLOW call her affectionately was born and brought up in Tangste only. She completed her high school in Tangste as well. She has two daughters who are both studying in Delhi.
Tashi aunty is the simplest and humblest person we’ve seen. Her nature of taking care of people shows how good-hearted she is. Whenever TLOW travels to Tangste, she loves that a lot because she doesn’t treat us like a company, she thinks of us as family. She’s our saviour in the cold night.
How and when did you start?
Earlier in 2007, random travellers used to come to Tashi aunty’s house and ask for some food. Due to fewer options, she had nothing but Maggi to offer. Maggi is the most cheaply and easy to make food in the mountains. Her daughters also helped her in providing food to travellers. Day by day, more travellers came to aunty and from that she realised, this is the time to start a restaurant and serve food to needy and hungry ones. She started a restaurant named Dothuling.
Later one day in 2009, she constructed two rooms on the ground floor and started a guest house with these. Travellers started coming in and liked the place. They were so happy with the hospitality, that they started suggesting it to fellow travellers.
Tangste had a lot of benefits when crew stayed here, there were tankers of water supply coming for the village and one or two generators had been set up, so for that one week, they got electricity for the full day.
She told a story of how she lost the photographs with the Bollywood actors and actress living in her guest house, she said, “My daughter was living in Delhi, I had a camera where photograph rolls were needed to be developed. I sent all the photos with one local from Tangste and later he lost the photograph roll somewhere before reaching Delhi.” She added, “Whatever happens, happens. But good karma will surely help here and later I got a few photos clicked by a local kid in the village and I got two or three photos back which are framed in the corridor of the guest house.”
How long you have been associated with TLOW?
In 2017, a driver named Stanzin in the month of May got this group of travellers for the night to stay. Sherwin was leading the group at that time and he saw aunty’s hospitality and the way she cared for their travellers. He made it a stop for the travellers in the cold night as it was closer to Pangong Lake. The weather and changing conditions near the lake were factors.
People loved the interiors, food and the way aunty treats people. Now travellers suggest to their friends to stay a night in Tashi aunty’s guest house.
How has tourism changed your life?
Tourism has made a lot of change in her life and she has seen various kinds of travellers now that she tells the stories about them. She says, “I personally saw the change in the culture of people which has been changing constantly and the surroundings are developing. I always felt responsible for nature so I was always against littering. I, therefore, told everybody not to litter and make their home clean and healthy.”
How has the place changed over the years in terms of global warming?
She said, ‘The changes I saw over the years was the changing temperature in our village. Days are getting hotter compared to what it was in the previous years. Nights are getting colder, night by night. Last year it snowed a lot. There are very unusual changes to predict what it’s going to be in winter is tough. People need to be educated enough not to litter in the mountains.”
Learning from Tashi aunty:
People in the mountains care for the environment where they live. But the real question is, do we care for it?
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