Singing Sensation from Ladakh, Padma Dolker, Leaves Audience Mesmerised at Kalagram


Good authentic food, soulful music, traditional dance … if you are looking for all these together, the place to be in then is the 11-day traditional food festival at Kalagram, Chandigarh.

For all those who visited the food festival, one of the performers at the event who stole the show and needs special mention here is Padma Dolker, a star folk singer from Ladakh. She left music lovers entranced with her velvety voice on the inaugural day of the 11-day traditional food festival hosted by the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, at Kalagram in Chandigarh.

Hailing from Wanla, a sleepy village in Ladakh, also known as cold desert of India, silhouetted against the snow-spangled hills making a perfect backdrop, Padma, has come a long way since she embarked on her eventful musical journey at a pretty tender age.

Padma Dolker, a star folk singer from Ladakh

Padma, who is a multi-hyphenate singer adept at folk (Himachali, Nepali and Ladakhi, ghazal and filmi), contemporary and other genres of singing, is a self-taught singer who has no music background. Her parents and two siblings love listening to Ladakhi folk, but are not crazy about it like other music buffs. “They are the cornerstone when it comes to pushing me to pursue my innate passion for singing. They have always stood by me and supported me in furthering my long cherished ambition, especially in a typical society where pursuing singing as a profession by girls is still a taboo”, she quips.

Padma’s musical journey started when she was in her primary classes. On the advice of her primary class teacher with an ear for music, teeny-weeny Padma started her baby steps by taking part in the school assembly prayer sessions along with other fellow mates.

“This is how my formal journey into the world of music started. Then on, I started participating in the school functions held from time to time. There was no looking back for me since”, she coyly confides in a no-hold-barred chit chat.

“After finishing my school, I shifted to Leh to pursue my higher studies. As luck would have it, a leading local academy dedicated to the promotion of art and culture, curated a block-level folk-singing contest for children. I bagged the title, ” Padma tells with oodles of oomph.

The Czarina of folk singing gifted with a well-modulated voice, Padma has performed at several national and international folk singing platforms in Dubai, Mongolia, and Nepal, et al.

When asked about who really inspired her to pursue a career in folk singing, Padma says with humility, “I had been greatly inspired by the icons of folk and contemporary singing like Murup Namgail and Dorjay Stakmo, to name a few. I have grown up hearing the songs of the land of snow, immortalised by these legends of our times”

She gives a fair share of the credit for giving a push to her musical career to the Ladakh Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. Padma, aka the ‘Swar Kokila of Ladakh’  has to her credit as many as 30 albums in which she has lent her voice, doling out folksongs, devotional, contemporary and other categories of songs, which became instant hits with music lovers. She is, more often than not, invited to perform at some singing soirees held at Kaza Spiti, Ladakh and Nepal from time to time.

Asked if an opportunity to sing for Bollywood reigning stars lands her, would she accept the offer, she was clear and categorical in her assertion: “I won’t let such a godsend opportunity go, but shall continue to work for the promotion of folk music of Ladakh. I would love to be known as a folk singer of Ladakh rather than a Bollywood singing star, ” she signs off beaming a beatific smile.


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