Everything Happens For A Reason. Don’t Question It. Trust It (Buddha)

At the base of the incredibly beautiful Stok mountain range lies ensconced the beautiful village of Stok. The mesmerizing Stok kangri peak is visible from everywhere within the village boundaries.  The fertile Stok valley stays blessed by the incessant flow of the Stok chu river. Poplar and willow trees are abundant and the subtle shades of green create a beautiful contrast with the brown-grey snow peaked mountains and cerulean skies. With sun baked mud brick whitewashed houses dispersed on the landscape, this village is a photographer’s delight. The locals in the village have set an example for sustainable living with minimalism as the central theme throughout all houses.

The breathtaking scenery of Stok Village
The bautiful Stok palace
Buddha Looks Over the Village 24/7

As you traverse the by lanes of the village by foot you can’t help falling in love with the colorful prayer flags that flutter in the cozy breeze and carry the message of peace and goodwill along the entire landscape. When your eyes drift from these towards the land you will almost certainly see a stupa or two. The emblems of Ladakh, these stupas create a great background for portrait shots and a wonderful foreground when shot against the sun and the sky.

Stupa. An emblem of Ladakah
The landscape adorned with a hundreds of Stupa’s

We had the good fortune of staying and navigating the Stok village two times over the past few years. The second time we stayed in the Stok Palace that is a Heritage Hotel.

Built by the Ladakhi craftsmen in 1820, the Stok Palace is the abode for the Namgyal dynasty. With blessings bestowed upon it by The Dalai Lama, the Stok Palace was opened to public in 1980. It encapsulates and reflects the lifestyle and history of royalty set in the midst of the valley of Singey Sangpo which is popularly known as the Indus River.

A panorama of Stok Palace
The Central Veranda

Architecturally, the Stok palace displays a high level of attention to detail with very fine craftsmanship. It showcases several important features such as the ingenious system of spatial planning with access passages. The palace is designed with a large central courtyard that leads to several interesting rooms. One of them where the Mother Queen resides has fresco murals that are more than 200 years old; while other rooms are converted from an old granary and a store house. Most rooms have walls painted with traditional Ladakhi and Buddhist scriptures that have vivid colors.  They also have large, decorative projected balconies that provide some expansive views of the Indus  valley along with all the surrounding mountains.

The Hanging Balconies
The Entrance Vista
A beautiful Stairway to Heaven
The Stairway from the Palace to the Stok Village

There is a dedicated central kitchen for guests where the home cooked meals with locally sourced ingredients are served with traditional Ladakhi seating. The demeanor of the service staff is so gentle and endearing that it made us fall in love with the place even more. The open courtyard leads to a staircase that takes you to the palace museum. A tour of the same allowed us some interesting insights into the royal life and their contributions to society overall.

We stayed at the The Royal Suite
The Granary at the Royal Suite
Narrow Spaces with Short Doors
The Silk Awning on the Ceilings

We stayed in the Royal Suite that is at the end of some mysterious hallways and access to all these room is with very short doors that need the people residing within them to bow down and enter. The Royal Suite is a delightful mix of pastel shades and traditional wood and mud-brick stylings. It has a lavish hearth, a dressing area and a cozy bedroom with silk awnings on the ceiling.  The wooden balcony is the highlight, looking out on the palace’s huge front courtyard, dominated by a huge Tarchen, a flagpole that’s commonly found in front of Tibetan Buddhist homes.

Tarchen
An open Courtyard and seating for you to enjoy the Ladakhi Tea

Spaces such as the entry courtyard and yabkhor (veranda) and Lhakchung (temple) on the upper floor, indicate the pivotal role of the palace in the social and religious activities of the Ladakhi’s. The resident monk of the temple performs some mellifluous chants and prayers every evening that is open for observation to all.

The View from The Closed Windows
Peace Prevails in the Stok Village. Go find your “Calm” There…

A stay in the Stok village is a must when you visit Ladakh. It has abundance of peace and calm, some fresh air to soothe your lungs with and endearing vistas that will be a treat to your eyes. And to add to the flavors of the visit try experiencing some royal heritage.