Balay House

Balay house before restoration. Balay house in June 2021, ongoing restoration. Balay Masjid house dates back to three generations ago when the grandfather of the current owner, Abdul Masjid, bought the house.

The family is related to the famous Ghulam Rassul Galwan, a famous caravan leader who staged and led numerous European expeditions to Central Asia and Tibet in the early 20th century and wrote a memoir, “Servant of Sahibs”, with an introduction by Sir Francis Younghusband.

The Balay Masjid House is located on Stalam street, with the main facade facing to the west, in the direction of Leh Palace. The house has three stories, with a large traditional kitchen and open courtyard. It has two entrances access, one on the ground level and the other on the top floor level.

In 2013, Danish, the youngest grandson of the owner approached THF/LOTI for help with restoration of the house, after the Symposium "the Future of Leh old town" organised by THF and Prince Claus Fund, in Central Asian Museum, Leh. Danish wanted to preserve his family heritage and house.

In 2019 with the support of How Man Wong and Virginia and Wellington Yee we could start the restoration of the Balay house.

The restoration of Balay house started with a small prayer for the safety of construction and the preparation of the building materials. As we started the restoration, we observed that the extent of the damage was greater that we had expected. Some of the walls were weaker and hollow in the inside and we had to rebuild them. Also, the neighbour located on the south side told us that there was a big crack and water leakage in her shared wall with Balay house. We then had to open the wall and repair it before we could continue. Sometimes things like this happens when restoring buildings and the restoration plan needs to be adjust to these changes. In the North side of the house we had to build a new wall after the neighbour objected to sharing the old wall of the house.

The timber structure was repaired and the damaged wood replaced. The wood that was in good condition was washed and put back.
To bring more natural light into the middle floor, we built a skylight in the courtyard above the kitchen and opened a window in a room in the middle floor.

In 2019, most of the structural restoration was completed and in 2020 the work continued with rough plastering of walls and finishing work on the roof, parapets, and the construction of the toilet area.

In 2021, the works continues with interior finishing work and the smooth plastering of the wall called "Gobri". We hope to complete Balay house by end of 2021 or early 2022.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions many of our artisans could not travel, or was to risky for then to travel, this delay the project considerably. Best slow and everyone safe. Currently, most of THF/LOTI team have been vaccinated.

We would like to thank How Man Wong and Virginia and Wellington Yee for supporting this project.
Copyright, Tibet Heritage Fund