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dah - hanu
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The unique community of Dah and Hanu Villages, 163 kilometers Northwest of Leh, attracts a lot of tourists, especially the foreigners, due to its ancient roots, peculiar ways and a stand out dissimilarity with the other people and places of Ladakh. Amongst some of the interesting theories, one accounts that the People of Dah and Hanu are the ones who came with the army of Alexander two thousand three hundred years ago. Not only they settled here, but kept to themselves by mostly marrying inside the community, hence retaining the originality of their race and their ways. Followers of the customs similar to the ancient Bon religion, the people of Dah and Hanu, called as Drokpa, practice their own ways and are famous for their attractive dresses with excessive use of accessories.


The village of Dah is settled on a hill. You have to park your vehicle at the base and take a stone-built stairway that goes to the village. As you climb up for five to ten minutes, the slope becomes gentle and slowly the strange little houses of Dah start appearing. Built in plane, rough stones, the houses are small, short and have wooden doors. But as you move further into the town, the houses as well as the surroundings improve. Here, you see houses made in modern ways, but the ambience remains almost the same. As the people here do not use vehicles, the roads are narrow and they meander through cozy, homely homes, climbing up and down the slopes over the hill.


During day, it is hard to find anyone on the road. As much as heat is a reason behind this, it is also because men and women go to the farms to work. However, it is not hard to spot women wearing traditional clothes with handmade jewelry and ostentatious head gear. The people of Dah are camera shy and they mostly keep to themselves. However, an odd villager might not mind exchanging a few words and a smile. They might even invite you inside their home for a warm cup of salted tea. However, they usually charge a small amount of money before granting permission for a few photographs, which is one of the very few ways through which the local populace cashes in on the tourism in flow.


The people of Dah proudly call themselves the last of the pure Aryans. They have a fair complexion with faces differentiating from the Ladakhi people, who mostly spread out of Tibet. Though they speak in their own language amongst themselves, they know Ladakhi as well as a little bit of Hindi. The people of Dah use neither cows nor any of the cow milk products. Ibex is their sacred animal. There are nearly five villages in the nearby area inhabited by nearly two thousand natives. However, the visitors can visit only two of these villages.


Dah and Hanu can be visited in a day but the trip is bound to be hectic and the experience will be blemished by the rush to get to Leh before nightfall. Hence, it is a good idea to plan the night stay at one of the lodging facilities at Dah. This can be arranged through your travel agent in Leh. This region of Ladakh is considerably down the slope and hence not very cold. The temperature can touch 40 degree Celsius in summer. The road is mostly fine except for a short patch in between where you run along the Indus River. This being a military area you need a permit to enter the region, which your travel agent in Leh can acquire for you.


The villages of Dah and Hanu do not offer the scenic beauty matching some of the other places in Ladakh. However, if you have an interest in visiting unusual places, Dah is for you. The simple but shy people of Dah, their unique villages and their distinct culture do not fall short in making a strong mark in your memory.


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Quick Reference

The village of Dha-Hanu is settled on a hill, 163 kilometers to the Northwest of Leh. This is a military region so you need a permit to enter Dah-Hanu, it can be acquired from a travel agent in Leh. You need to park your vehicles down the slope and climb towards the settlement. The inhabitants of Dah-Hanu are called Drokpa and are believed to have come to India with Alexander’s army some 2300 years ago. They are unlike the rest of the people of Ladakh in terms of looks and religious beliefs. It is recommended that you plan a night stay at Dah than rather rushing back to Leh in a day. This unusual place can surely impress you.


Destination Grade: B (What is this?)
Rating: 8/10
Airport: Srinagar
Railway station: Jammu
Nearest Major City(s): Leh
How to reach: By road from Leh, 163 kilometers.
Major Tourist Attraction: Nature
Speciality(Famous for): Drokpa Community
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Total Reviews : 3
Reviews by users : (3)
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Dah-Hanu - by Ishmit Dated : 2012-01-19
Well not many know Dah and Hanu as a tourist destination. I went there for some exclusive cultural photography as I had heard a lot about the culture that still exists there. Believe me guys, the people there are very different. They are not tech savvy, nor are they very social. They remain just to themselves, I was happy with some of them allowing me to photograph their houses, their dresses and their fair little children. It is said that they are original Aryans. Whatever, I had the time of my life taking their pictures for my magazine, it was a really worthwhile experience. The women were laden with jewelry and their dresses were very different. Most of the women were very beautiful. I took a two day halt, stayed in a small hotel and left for Leh as soon as I finished my assignment. It was a nice experience.
The Land of the Aryans - by Mehul Rai  Dated : 2011-03-17
The amazing region of Dah-Hanu is around 163 kilometers to the south west of Leh. Leh is always the best option to start your excursion of Ladakh. It is very comfortable to make a choice of a destination in Ladakh that you want to visit; Leh is well connected to every place in Ladakh.

The main attraction of Dah-Hanu is the Drokpa community. The history of these people is very interesting. They are Buddhist by faith but they are racially and culturally distinct from the rest of the Ladakhi population. Some believe the Drokpa people are migrants who came to India from Central Asia thousands of years ago. They are known to be the last race of the Aryans and have pure Indo Aryan features. Their culture and religious practices resemble the ancient pre Buddhist religion, known as Bon- Chos. Apart from these distinct people this region of Ladakh is famous for fruits such as apricots, apples, walnuts and grapes.

For travelling to Dah Hanu from Leh you need a permit which you can easily acquire with the help of your travel agent in Leh. The road connectivity is quite fine. It is better to halt at Dah than going back on the same day of your arrival. Staying options are good.
The Old Civilization of Dha - by Meera Kashyap  Dated : 2011-03-08
I am a student of history and I have always been interested in visiting places that would offer me the excitement of seeing from up close something that has lived for many a century. When I was in Ladakh with my husband and our two year old daughter, I came to know about Dha and Hanu villages near the Batalik region of Jammu and Kashmir. I could not resist the temptation to visit his destination and convinced my husband to reduce one of our days in Leh and go visit Dha and Hanu.

The small settlement that we visited is very peculiar and interesting. After a long drive of nearly five hours from Leh, we pulled up at a random point on the road. The driver told us that he would stay in the car and look after it while we visited the village. We took a stairway that went up from that point. At first I was a little scared to enter a new region, that of the tribal people, with my daughter. But soon we met a local boy who appeared to be shy but friendly. He showed us to the inner part of the village. Here we met another old lady who let us take her pictures and then made a sign asking for money in return. She was quite happy with the small amount we paid her.

We roamed around and saw the old houses here. Here there is a restaurant where we drank the local salted tea that we were told to try by our travel agent in Leh. However, we ate our packed food and only bought some cold beverages from the restaurant. This restaurant is made up of nothing but a few plastic chairs and tables and in the hot atmosphere was a little uncomfortable, especially for my daughter.

Further, we had a chance of meeting some more local people, who were quite talkative and told us about their customs. This, I believe was the best point of our visit and it satisfied me that I made the long journey up here.

I believe to get a real feel of this place one would have to stay here, and be the one who really likes old civilizations. Due to the pressing time, however I could not do it, but I will surely come here the next time with a plan to spend the night, hopefully with one of the locals and eat the food from their home.