During my six weeks in Ladakh, a semi-autonomous region high in the Indian Himalaya, I had the opportunity to work with local artisans on my social entrepreneurship initiative Lanapo.org, trek in the footsteps of my parents over high mountain passes, and volunteer at the Silk Route Festival with the Himalayan Cultural Heritage Foundation.
Working to start my online, nonprofit marketplace Lanapo.org, I challenged myself in ways that I couldn’t have imagined by approaching Ladakhi, Tibetan, and Nepali artisans, building incredible relationships and training the artisans to sell their crafts online. As I interacted with artisans, I listened to their incredible life stories and learned about their craft.
Thirty years after my parents travelled to Ladakh as a part of their trip around the world, I trekked through the Markha Valley, the same trek they had completed, up and over the 18,000 foot Kongmaru Pass—the very same place where my parents were engaged. The role of film my father sent home from that trek had been lost, so I had the opportunity to take the photos they never saw from their own trek.
As I photographed the Silk Route Festival, I filled myself to the point of bursting on traditional meals of momos, vegetable filled dumplings, and drapu, a delicious paste made from apricot seeds, served in the food stalls that lined the festival grounds. I was held spellbound by the intricate, hand-woven dresses worn by dancers who performed traditional, twirling dances throughout the festival and found myself welcomed by the villagers of Sumoor, Ladakh despite our vast cultural differences and, in most cases, lack of a common language.
Ladakh’s mystique—its high mountain passes and wide barren valleys—have enthralled me since I was young and my parents told me stories of their experiences trekking there. The time I spent in Ladakh has forever changed the way I view the world. It has changed the way I look at cultural heritage and the revival and perpetuation of traditions. It has changed the way I view myself as an agent of change, humbled me time and time again, and broadened my knowledge of the human narrative in innumerable ways.
To learn more about Taylor's trip, click here.