Interview

Dig Deep into the Beauty of Ladakhi Pearl

The Grand Dragon Ladakh, one of the finest and oldest five-star luxury hotels in Leh Ladakh, is owned and operated by the Abdu family from Leh, Ladakh who have more than four decades of experience welcoming visitors to this beautiful region. Gulam Mustafa, whose father started the family’s first hotel in Leh , with just three rooms, in 1974, is the soul behind the hotel’s amazing art, décor and for preservation of the local architecture.
We share with you the journey of Gulam Mustafa, Proprietor, The Grand Dragon, Ladakh

Grand Dragon is synonymous to uber luxury. Tell us about your journey?

We are a family run enterprise that began way back in the 70’s by our father Late Din Mohd Abdu when he opened a guest house with just three rooms which we later expanded and converted to a fully serviced hotel and named it the Dragon Hotel, in 1984. Till the early 2000’s tourists and visitors continued to enjoy Ladakhi hospitality in various homestays and small guest-houses but we spotted an urgent requirement for a high quality hotel offering international standards and comforts. It was my dream to create a new property that combined traditional Ladakhi architecture with international facilities and service in the region. Both my brother Gulam Mohiuddin and I worked around the infinite roadblocks and challenges to realise this dream. Surmounting all odds, The Grand Dragon Hotel was completed in 2007. Since then there has been no looking back. Open 365 days of the year, even in the sub-zero temperatures of winter, I can proudly say that The Grand Dragon has redefined hospitality in Leh by positioning itself as an eminently successful, international class hotel, thus setting a benchmark for other establishments that have come up subsequently. It continues to play a stellar role in promoting tourism in Ladakh even today.

Ladakhi heritage and conservation is duly seen across the hotel in the traditional architectural elements, such as hand-painted dragon faces, paintings and ancient design motifs. Comment.

The Grand Dragon Hotel is an ode to the famed Ladakhi pride in the land’s ancient cultural heritage. Its architecture incorporates the famous Rabsal tradition of Ladakh, visible in the window treatments and balconies. An imposing entrance in intricately carved wood – ubiquitous in Ladakhi palaces and mansions — welcomes guests to the portals of the hotel. The property is resplendent with hand carved colourful traditional Ladakhi frescos. The paintings that adorn the walls of the property, reflect my deep feelings for Ladakh– the emotions of people and the fragrance of the land. They
provide an insight into local culture, people of different tribes, imposing mountains, traditional buildings, majestic palaces to stupas and homes of Ladakh. A watercolour of Leh Palace painted by me features on the Special Cover issued by the Department of Posts India, on 31st October 2019, to mark the day Ladakh became a Union Territory.

Which is your favourite travelled destination in the world and why?

Over the years I have travelled to many countries, explored many cities, and none come close to Ladakh. My homeland is my greatest inspiration for everything I do.