Ladakh, also known as the "land of high passes," is located in the Northern part of India, between the Himalayas and Kunlun, and is recognized as the highest altitude plateau in this region. Because of its location, it is subject to extreme weather conditions - from scorching high temperatures to freezing point. Rainfall in the area is seldom causing scarcity of water for human and agricultural needs, with the months of April and May being particularly challenging for farmers and their agricultural ventures.

'Artificial glacier' resembles a 'sacred mound-like' structure

Due to the occurring issues, a local mechanical engineer, Sonam Wangchuk, invented a two-story model of a 20-feet tall "ice stupa," shaped into a cone resembling sacred mound-like monuments. According to him, it is very easy to come up with the shape, since the ice naturally drips and forms a cone underneath. Wangchuk added that no power or pump is necessary: only physics is needed for it to work.

How is the structure made?

First, the stream of water coming from next villages with a higher altitude (60 meters or more) must travel into a pipe that had been buried. A fountain is created so that a water system from 60 meters upstream will spray 60 meters into the air from the downstream, to maintain its water level.

Then, the chilly and frosty temperature, crystallize the water droplets forming snow that falls back forming a cone. Furthermore, the ice melts very slowly, supplying water from winter until mid-May, which are the times when water is crucial for agricultural purposes.

Pros and cons of the 'artificial glacier'

The innovated "artificial glacier" works efficiently and can withstand the different weathers and temperatures which characterize the region.

However, human and manual maintenance is still needed since the pipes can ice up and freeze the fountains. According to CNN, Wangchuk is continuously improving this invention for the enhancement of the water system in the area. Aside from agricultural purposes, the creator also envisioned to make the "ice stupa" available to the travel industry, supplying water to hotels.

Although the advantages are many, some drawbacks and difficulties might hinder from producing this water system. At the moment, the cost of this type of piping infrastructure is about $125,000 (for one that covers 10 hectares of land for irrigation) and the government cannot afford it. However, Wangchuk was very optimistic about presenting his ideas to big companies and asking for donations. His positive attitude has paid since he has obtained large amounts to fund his project from Indiegogo and Rolex Award.