Has Ladakh been on your bucket list of places to visit at least once in your lifetime? Then no better reason to visit this naturally tranquil land of amazement, than the uniquely conceptualised Ice Cafe on the Leh-Manali National Highway, a restaurant built inside a giant Ice Stupa in Gya Meeru village of Ladakh that is attracting thousands of tourists… this at 14,000 feet above sea level!
This unique cafe has been built by Border Road Organisation officials along with three local youths- Jigmet Tundup, Nawang Punchok and Sonam Chosdup, who took a cue from Rolex Awardee Sonam Wangchuk’s concept of conserving the winter water in form of artificial glacier that was built in a shape of cone known as ‘Ice Stupa’.
This creatively made cafe was created by allowing water to fall on cone-shaped net structure from a certain height and once the water started freezing on the net, more water was added to increase the thickness and size of the cone structure so that it looked like a Buddhist stupa and enough space could be created to serve food inside it.
The winter snowfall in Ladakh forms natural glaciers on the higher reaches of mountains, which melt slowly during summer and melted water is used for irrigation and drinking; but due to the global warming shrinking glaciers forced the people to look for alternate ways to conserve water during winter.
A mound-like structure made of ice acts as an artificial glacier and is one of the most popular forms of conserving winter wastewater in high-desert regions. These structures are formed by running pipes under the frost line or the freezing depth and then pushing water through these pipes into cold air, which causes it to fall as ice on the ground.
The need for a restaurant was felt, as visitors coming to see the Ice Stupa would crave for hot tea, coffee or noodles… and so the Ice Cafe was created inside their Ice Stupa…. with exactly these three most demanded items in the menu. It is expected that this unique cafe will survive until mid-May.… If you’re lucky to catch it a tad later, enjoy every bit of it.
Traditional noodles and hot beverages inside an ice sculpture resembling a Buddhist meditation place, is just the kind of vacay I need!