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The main road into Ladakh goes over the famous Zoji La pass. Any Greenwich staff and students who plan to reach Ladakh by road, to assess the Druk White Lotus School DWLS, are likely to come this way.

 

Staff and students from the University of Greenwich Landscape Architecture programmes are offering to help make a garden for the Druk (Dragon) White Lotus School in Ladakh, India. The design of the Druk White Lotus School, by Arup Associates, is based on a Tibetan mandala. ‘Mandala’ is a Sanskrit word. It was used for the sections of the Rig Veda and became associated with a visual symbol, based on a circle and square, used for the layout of temples and the design of stupas and many other sacred objects. DWLS was severely damaged by a mudslide in 2010. The site is in a cold desert and there is a great need for a garden and landscape environment. If a project is seen to be viable, our hope is to pioneer an approach to cold desert landscape design which will have a wider relevance in the Himalayan region. Global warming is causing the glaciers to retreat and putting the whole area at risk.

As part of a landscaping programme, students have started creating miniature gardens in front of their classrooms. A volunteer landscape architect, Yiannis, is currently working at the school and collaborating with landscape architects from the University of Greenwich (UK) on a landscape design for the whole campus.

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HE_Thuksey_Rinpoche_1His Eminence Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche visited Ladakh between 14th and 18th April 2012. He visited Druk White Lotus School to give encouragement and provide advice as well as visiting Hemis Monastery to oversee the preparation works for the forthcoming 4th Annual Drukpa Council to be held there in August.

PrasadandRichardThe school term finished on 15th December 2011 for the long winter break. The school’s Principal, Mr Prasad Eledath, made an educational visit to the United Kingdom during January 2012.

A highlight of the trip was to visit the St Christopher School in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. DWLS has enjoyed a twinning with St Christopher School since 2005 when a group of students and staff from St Christopher first made a visit to Ladakh.

Since then a biennial visit has been established, with the UK students participating in a challenging trek in the Himalaya mountains, and spending time at DWLS delivering workshops and educational sessions.

Mr Eledath and the Head of St Christopher School, Mr Richard Palmer, had the opportunity to meet for the first time. The staff of St Christopher gave a tour of their campus and had discussions about the on-going twinning of the two schools, especially the next visit to DWLS which is scheduled for summer 2013. The students of both schools benefit enormously from the visits.