The eminent Ladakhi scientist, Mr. Sonam Wangchuk is in Lachen presently as part of a team of scientists and Sikkim state
government officials. They are going on an expedition to South Lhonak Lake, situated in a remote part of North Sikkim.
Mr. Wangchuk was the inspiration behind the character of ‘Phunsuk Wangdu’ played by Aamir Khan in the film, ‘3 Idiots’.
Viewers would remember having been left awe-struck by Aamir Khan‘s many science experiments in the 2009 blockbuster 3 Idiots –
now Sonam Wangchuk, the inspiration behind Aamir Khan’s ‘Phunsukh Wangdu’ character in the film, has gained further global
recognition bagging the prestigious Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2016. The awards were presented on Tuesday in Los Angeles
to those “who have reshaped the world with their innovative thinking and dynamism”. Sonam’s Ice Stupas project is among the
five winners this year at the awards.
Sonam Wangchuk, a 50-year-old Ladakhi engineer, has been attempting to solve the problem of lack of water for agriculture in the
desert landscapes of the western Himalayas by building “Ice Stupas”. The Ladakh region, at the roughly 3,500-metre altitude between
the Kunlun and Great Himalayan mountain ranges, faces acute water shortage during the April-May early crop-growing period.
Wangchuk was certain that access to water in the desert landscapes around many high altitude towns and villages of Ladakh could be
improved if the huge seasonal outflow of glacial water could be frozen.Inspired by the experimental work of a fellow Ladakhi
engineer, Chewang Norphel, Wangchuk developed a simple and effective system, creating what he calls “ice stupas” — conical ice mounds
that behave like mini-glaciers, slowly releasing water for the growing season.