lies 4,000 metres above sea, surrounded by the Zanskar range of the Indian Himalayas. It's one of the most isolated communities in the world, and “Children of Zanskar” is a photography book about its youngest inhabitants.
Nestled within a vast cauldron of mountains, Lingshed valley offers a view not easily forgotten. Strewn with picturesque terracing fields, carefully watered by a network of intricate canals and rivulets carrying fresh meltwater from nearby glaciers, and dotted about on all sides with Ladakhi houses—it seems like a veritable oasis of life, hidden in the heart of a barren mountain desert.
There are no roads leading to the village, and during wintertime, when the only way of approach along the frozen Zanskar river becomes impassable, the entire valley is cut off from the world for six months in a year. Isolation has undoubtedly helped preserve the traditional way of life and the innocence of Lingshed, with its tightly knit community of Buddhist monks and farmers, who have little use of money—and a great store of good cheer.
It is in this setting that we first encountered the small population of children to whom this book is dedicated. Hardened by the harsh climate and rugged geography of their environment, and animated by the simple joy of life, they display a wonderful mixture of curiosity, spontaneity, tactful shyness, rowdy courage, and a brimming, positive energy. It is infectious. It is also inspiring, in a way which was perhaps best expressed by Sir Francis Younghusband over a century ago.
The famous British explorer, who travelled widely in the Himalayas at the turn of the 20th century, once remarked:
"If, while still impressed with the immensity of things as witnessed by the mountains and the stars, we turn our attention to the tiny gentian at our feet, we are moved by the tender graciousness which could have produced so fine a delicacy of beauty from such austere and terrible surroundings."
"Children of Zanskar" was originally conceived as a means to raise money for the children of Lingshed. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, we were able to return to their valley and offer material support, all of which is documented on this website. Throughout our encounters, the book expanded into over 100-pages, bearing record to the beauties of Lingshed and the exceptional lives of its youngest inhabitants.
“The children you find in this book live in one of the remotest places in the world. Such villages as theirs are rare today—the march of progress seems unstoppable. Their life is a hard life but for all that, they live in a paradise where a child’s soul can still develop in peace.
— Kristina Nadler (from the Foreword)