ajayjain (ajayjain) wrote in india_travels,

A Sanctuary for Donkeys in Leh

Donkeys (and their cousins asses and mules) are almost as ubiquitous in India as are cows and dogs. And subjects of hard labour and scorn in equal measure. But not even in one’s wildest imagination could one think of a sanctuary for them. It turned out there is one, and in Leh town in Ladakh of all the places. This was the first attraction to catch my attention when I reached this town – and not any monastery or palace this region is more known for.

When I first saw a sign for the sanctuary – created very artistically – I could not believe what I was seeing. I decided to follow my curiosity, but it only led me to a series of more signs till I nearly out of town. I was beginning to wonder if someone was making an ‘ass’ out of me. But eventually I did find it just off the road leading to Khardungla Pass (the highest motorable road in the world at 18,380 feet).

Friendly signs greeted me – I have never seen so much respect for these animals – at the sanctuary, looked after by caretaker Padma Dorje. He told me the same was opened to public only in the first week of July 2008 (that’s a few days before I paid a visit) and is primarily funded by a South African photojournalist Joanne Lefson; the local affairs are looked after by Stany Wangchuk, who works with a travel company. Permission from the local officials to open this sanctuary was received only a short while before it was opened.

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Tags: donkey sanctuary, kashmir, ladakh, leh

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