The Old Raku House in main Tukcha, Leh is the official centre of the Flowering Dharma and the Alphonso Club. Nestled in the midst of quiet and serene poplar grove, Raku House is just at a distance of 15 minute walk from the Leh Market and is an excellent example of traditional Ladakhi House / Architecture.
The foundation of the old Raku House was laid about 150 years ago by the parents of present day owner Abilay (Grandmother) Rigzin Dolma. The name “Raku” means “the one who drank the soup of the goat” and has its origin in an interesting story: it is said that during ancient time when Ladakh was ruled by Kings, the ancestor of the family with some other villagers happened to slaughter a Goat for consumption. When the meat of the Goat was cooked the ancestor was the one who drank the soup and that’s how the family got its name.
The present old Raku House was originally built as an outhouse meant for the livestock and the family lived there briefly only during summers to take care of their livestock and pastures and fields, as it was mandatory by law for all the citizens to live in the vicinity of Palace according to their status.
The first floor was built by the elder brother of Abilay Rigzin Dolma and the top floor was an addition by Memelay (Grandfather) Phuntsok Namgyal, husband of Abilay Rigzin who joined the Raku Family as a Makpa (Son in Law).
The top floor houses a beautifully ornate “Chotkang” (Prayer room) which has been however kept closed as it requires proper renovation.
The Raku Family moved out of the old House some 25 years ago and shifted to the New Raku House built just adjacent to it. Since it stood empty, Memelay Phuntsok Namgyal on the request of the Flowering Dharma members agreed to lease the house for a period of certain years to out their carry out their activities and to set up an office. The Old Raku House was renovated after consultation of an Lstigspon (traditional Ladakhi House Builder) using mostly traditional techniques.
The old Raku House also has a “lato” (a shrine for the protector deity of the family) standing tall on the roof. Latos are sacred and are to be respected: it is worshipped and offered offerings once every year during Losar (Lunar New Year).