Bima is one of the famous Dardic Brokpa villages where tourists are allowed. In the tourist circles it is famous as 'Aryan Village'. 'Brokpa' is the word used in Ladakh for the Dardic people. In fact, Tibetan word Brokpa means Highlanders (herdsmen or shepherds). This community has its own distinct culture and language. The villagers even like to claim that they are decedents of Greek soldiers of Alexander's army. There are also stories that German women would come to Brokpa villages secretively just to get 'Aryan' progenies.
In the beginning of August, a flash flood triggered by torrential rain and cloudburst caused a stream to send heavy boulders and rocks to fall into Indus river at Bima village. The resulting blockage caused the river to swell into a lake and submerge the village.
In September, the waters had receded a bit but I found the village almost empty and under water. After the flood, the only motorable access to the village remained from Kargil side. I was arriving from Leh side and at a point the road just simply vanished into the lake.
To get into the village had to climb a 15 feet cliff face.
During peak tourist season, you can find around fifty tourists roaming in the village. I found even most of the villagers missing. They have been provided temporary shelter by Army where they get breakfast, and then they leave for towns to work as porters and do other menial work. With their farms under water, there's not much they can do. I was told it would still take couple of months before any form of measure to remove the blockage in Indus can be tried.
|The stream that rolled boulders into the Indus|
|The blockage point. The river here roars like a waterfall.|
|A Brokpa working in one of the only farms still functional|
|A Brokpa brewer of 'Arrak'|
The village might be under river, but the river of Arrak must continue flowing.
Distilling 'Chang' (local Barley Ale) to get Arrak (Barley wine)