Forbes India Rich List 2022

Chilling in Ladakh: A new home for artists in India's frozen north

Chainsawing blocks of ice from a frozen river, so far the Kangsing collective have created what they call a "mini-colosseum", a cafeteria and a sauna near the appropriately named village of Chilling in the northern region of Ladakh

Published: Feb 21, 2022 01:46:53 PM IST
Updated: Feb 21, 2022 02:10:23 PM IST

Chilling in Ladakh: A new home for artists in India's frozen northA man accompanied by a child visits the "mini-colosseum" cafeteria in Chilling village in India's northern region of Ladakh. (Credits: Mohd Arhaan ARCHER / AFP)

So far the Kangsing collective have created what they call a "mini-colosseum", a cafeteria and a sauna near the appropriately named village of Chilling in the northern region of Ladakh.

The installation at 11,000 feet (3,350 metres) serves as the take-off point for the popular seven-day Chadar Trek along the surface of the frozen Zanskar river through breathtaking "frozen desert" scenery that has been shut for two years due to the pandemic.

"We're thinking we might have a festival big enough, grand enough like Harbin International Festival, something where we can ask artists from all over the world to come and participate," group member Tashi, who uses only one name, told AFP.

For now the mini-colosseum stands just a little higher than the average person.

But one day its creators hope to emulate the famous ice hotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden.

The spot was selected for its lack of sunshine that might melt the ice and where whistling icy winds keep temperatures at a bone-chilling minus 17-20 degrees Celsius (plus 1.5 to minus 4 Fahrenheit) throughout the day.

With some support from the local government the group, which includes a doctor, has also built a sauna at the bank of the frozen river, where they manage to raise the temperature up to 60 degrees Celsius.

A hardy handful in their underpants then plunge straight into a pit outside, dug into the frozen Zanskar, to take an ice bath lasting about a minute — if they can take it.

"Its extraordinary and rejuvenating," said an invigorated Tundup Gyaltsan, a local policeman.

"You don't feel the cold at all."

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