The Hidden Paradise
Achina thang is situated at a distance of 135kms west of Leh district towards Kargil on the right side of the Indus river. It is the last village of mongoloid race in Leh district. From there we can enter in the Aryan valley where we can find a group of villages with a unique culture and identity different from rest of Ladakh.
The village is on an altitude of 2910mt (9545feet) above sea level and 34.30 north latitude and 76.37 degree east longitude. An NGO named 'Ladakh Environment and Health Organization (L.E.H.O)' has adopted the village to produce 100% organic production from the agricultural lands. Pesticides and fertilizers are totally banned in the village. Unlike the upper areas of Ladakh, the village can grow two times crop in a year. Barley is the staple crop with buckwheat and varieties of fruits like Apricot, Seabuckthrone, Apple, Mulberry, Pears, Grapes, Peach, Walnut, Cherry, Almond, Strawberry, Elagnus etc. are also grown as well as many kinds of vegetables.
The population of the village is around 500 comprises of both Buddhist and Muslim. The government has provided the village with electricity, school, medical facilities and mobile communication. The source of water for the village is crystal ice melt water and spring water coming from the upper ridges of the mountains inside the valley called Achina lungba. A very famous and old monastery is also located in that valley at a walking distance of about 3 hours (10kms). The valley is very quiet place and mountain slope are full of vegetation of juniper trees. Ibex, Snow Leopard, Wolf, Fox, Marmot, Lizard, Rabbit, Lynx, Partridges, Eagle, Golden Eagle, Snow Cock, Pigeon, Dove, Hoopoe, Choughs, Crow, Magpie etc. are wild animals and birds find in the mountains. A beautiful bird with sweet voice called golden oriale migrates to the village from other hot regions for about three months in summer season.
Historical Importance of the Village
In 18th century, the than Ladakhi king Tsewang Namgyal-II had a skirmish with Baltistan King at Chorbat area in Pakistan. Tsewang Spalbar of Ayu Kalon bravely entered the in the fort of Chorbat and managed to kill some enemies to set victory for the Ladakhi King. King Tsewang Namgyal was very happy and to commemorate the incident, he called all the subjects from lower Ladakh to dig a water channel for the existing Achina thang which was barren and deserted land. The king rewarded the land to Ayu Kalon Tsewang Spalbar for his extraordinary valour shown in the battle with chief of Chorbat.
He brought people from surrounding villages to establish a village there. He was not in a need of land that time and offered the land to the cultivators but with the condition that a share from the apricot oil production would be offered to Phyang monastery particularly to offer prayer lamp to silver made Avalokishawara which was funded by himself in the memory of his deceased mother. Finally the King issued a decree stating that the inhabitant of the village will be fully exempted from the tax etc., the original copy of the decree is preserved in the Phyang monastery.
Attractions Around Achina thang
Achina thang village has a unique identity and distinct culture. Both Buddhist and Muslim culture has flourished in the village. It’s a confluence of Buddhist, Muslim and Aryan culture. There is a beautiful Muslim village belong to the Kargil district viz Dargo just opposite of the village on the other side of the Indus river. From there a motorable road goes to historic village of Kukshow, Chiktan and finally joins with Leh-Kargil highway. Kukshow is very interesting village because there had been mix of both Buddhist and Muslim family members in the some of the families till 1970s. Inter religion marriages were common till few years back in the village.
An about 1000 years old monastery located inside the valley of Achina Lungba at a distance of 10kms in the midst of Juniper trees. One day trek can be done via this monastery to Hanu or Skurbuchan through very panoramic and spectacular sceneries.
There are rare kinds of petroglyphs and rock inscriptions which dates back to about more than 1000 years. One of the inscriptions clearly show period of Ladakhi King Nyima Namgyal in the year 1729. The rock arts are valuable sources for historians. Ancient people and their way of life can be imagined from these petroglyphs. Ancient hunting scene of ibex with bow and arrow, caravan scenes and dancing scenes can be noticed from those petroglyph. Either side of river banks are full of pits dug by ancient people for search of gold they used for ornaments and currency. Ruins of Tisuk-Gangasuk castle built in the 8th century can be seen just opposite of the village on a mountainous hill locks.
There is another 7th century Buddha Statue curved on a rock just in front of the Achina Traveller’s Home.