The Dolkhar, a new boutique hotel in Leh, is deeply rooted in the land
A short walk from Leh’s main market, on a street that once lined fields of buckwheat and barley, is Leh’s brand new boutique hotel. The Dolkhar is a property of seven villas around an orchard of apricot and apple trees, on land that once belonged to the grandmother of the owner Rigzin Wangmo Lachic. “I remember her spending nights here in a sleeping bag just to make sure her trees were watered,” Lachic says, a little wistfully, as we sit in the shade of an apricot tree and sip herbal teas; wild lavender for her, sea buckthorn for me.
This connection to the land is found in every aspect of the property, from the menu of the Tsas plant-based restaurant, to the building materials used, to the furnishings and fittings sourced from craft communities across the Union Territory. It’s driven, in part, by Lachic’s life experiences in places like Tokyo and New Delhi and a yearning to connect with a land she calls her own but has never lived in until now. here. His father’s work as an officer in the Indian Air Force led Lachic to live in places across India. Even as an adult, she only visited Leh for short periods on vacation. “My grandmother wanted me to use my education to do something to benefit the local community,” she says. The matriarch’s sudden passing acted as a boost to move from Delhi to Ladakh.
The Dolkhar (a coat rack named after his grandmother Dolkar and khar, meaning palace) is the product of a four-year journey with collaborators, including a seventy-year-old gompa builder, an entrepreneur mastering traditional construction techniques and a chef who has visited remote villages to learn and understand traditional recipes and cooking techniques. The result is a space that feels grounded while giving you a decidedly contemporary experience.
Inside the Dolkhar, Leh
Each of the Dolkhar’s seven villas is built on two levels. The living and dining areas on the lower level are furnished with comfortable seating, including a sofa that doubles as a daybed, a smart TV to play your streaming platforms (there’s no no DTH service) and an outdoor patio, suitable for evening coffee and aperitifs. The upper floor houses the bedroom. Fun design elements include the use of willow and poplar in the roofing, Multani mitti Spituk which is mixed with hay to cover the walls, and Merlot and dark green Chilling stones which are used to create feature walls. What makes the space particularly cozy is the use of yak and sheep wool rugs, cushion covers and throws handmade by craftswomen. In keeping with the local theme, in-room goodies include herbal teas and local cookies called pulli. The only part that deviates from this scenario is the Bili Hu coffee, which comes from the plains.