2nd Prize Stories
Slovenia, for National Geographic
Communities in the Ladakh region of northern India are building huge ice cones that provide water into summer. Ladakh is a cold desert that faces acute water shortages, particularly during the planting season. In 2013, Sonam Wangchuk, a Ladakhi engineer, came up with an idea to store winter Himalayan meltwater and release it in spring. Meltwater is carried down from higher ground in underground pipes, and fountains outwards, freezing in subzero temperatures to form a stupa of ice. Stupas were established in 26 villages in 2020, and a pipeline is under construction to create 50 more.
The youth group that built this ice stupa in Gya installed a café in its base.