Onpo house

Onpo house is the house of an astrologer’s family who worked for the royal family of Ladakh for many generations. The house is located in the Goksum area, which is so named because it had ‘three gates’ to enter the fortified town. The Onpo house had not been inhabited for several decades and had collapsed in June 2016 due to heavy rainfall.

The Onpo family asked us to help save their ancestor’s house. The house is a three storey building, consisting of cattle stables, compost toilet, storage rooms, winter kitchen, summer kitchen, shrine room and a meditation room in which the astrologer would perform special prayers and rituals. Many parts of the rooms had collapsed due to the heavy rainfall.

With the help and generosity of our sponsors we co-financed together with the owner the emergency restoration of the house and in 2016 the ground floor was stabilized, thereby avoiding the collapse of Onpo house and the adjacent homes.

We started the project by building adequate support to prevent further collapse, and removing the debris. Because the walls were extensively damaged it was necessary to rebuild them from the foundation. The mason made the wall’s foundation and started to build the stone wall from the ground floor. New window frames were fixed in the wall and the Sketching, a wooden reinforcement was placed in the wall, to reduce the damage caused by earthquakes. The toilet was also reconstructed in stone. We placed a new pillar and bracket under the main beam to improve the structural stability. Ceiling rafters and taloo twigs were renewed.

In 2016, we completed the ground floor structural work. In 2017 we built the first and second floors. We raised the ceiling height and created two sunrooms in the house to improve the living space and light. Moreover, Yaps (roofed gallery) was built on the roof-top terrace where you can have a view of Leh’s main bazaar while under the shady gallery.

The facilities were improved by dividing the toilet space into dry toilet and washroom, and all the electricity wiring was laid in the walls. THF successfully completed the Onpo house restoration project and handed it over to the family.

Currently the Onpo house is used by Ladakhi sculptor artist Chimet Dorgay, as an art studio and gallery.

Project co-financed by CERS, Virginia & Wellington Yee and house owner.
Copyright, Tibet Heritage Fund