Sonam Wangchuk, Who Inspired Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots Character Wins Rolex Award for Enterprise


Sonam Wangchuk, the inspiration behind Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots character – Phunsukh Wangdu has gained global recognition bagging the coveted Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2016 for his project, ‘Ice Stupas’.

The awards were presented 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.

The 50-year-old engineer from Ladakh, 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”.

His ingenious solution is to freeze glacial meltwater into towering conical mounds resembling Tibetan religious stupas. These ice stupas behave like mini-glaciers, slowly releasing irrigation water for the growing season.


With his Rolex Award funds he intends to create up to 20 such ice stupas, each 30 metres high, and initiate a substantial tree-planting programme on the desert. The long-term aim is to build an alternative university and engage youth in the environment.

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