Rancho’s School (Druk Padma Karpo School or Druk White Lotus School), which is also known as 3 Idiots School, is a Buddhist cultural school located in Shey village, close to Shey palace and monastery, on Leh-Manali highway, in Ladakh, India. The school rose to prominence after the climax scenes of 3 Idiots Bollywood movie were shot in the school.
Now a famous tourist spot, the school came in limelight after shooting of Bollywood super hit film 3 Idiots was held here in September 2008. The movie was released in December 2009, showcasing the Druk White Lotus School and Pangong lake in the second half of the movie. Superhit on the box office, the movie proved out to be a blessing for Ladakh tourism as thousands of people thronged Ladakh to see the high altitude cold deserts and lake as were seen in the movie.
Tourists started reaching the school searching for “Rancho School” or “3 Idiots School”. The building wall where “Chatur” was given an electric shock by young students is now famous as Rancho Wall. Interestingly, the school administration now calls it Rancho School as a nickname. School premises has a “Rancho’s Cafe” as well. Aamir Khan had come back to the school in 2010 after a cloudburst had wreaked havoc in Leh.
Locally the school is known as Druk Padma Karpo School as Padma means Lotus and Karpo means White in local dialect and is named after Mipham Pema Karpo (1527-1592), who is revered as a great scholar. The school is said to be opened on the request of local people who wanted a school in Ladakh that can maintain rich cultural traditions based on Tibetan Buddhism in their children while giving them rich education to match the 21st century as well.
The Rancho’s School is honoured with several national and international awards for its leading-edge environment-friendly design which is effective in the extreme weather conditions of Ladakh. Several national and international NGOs are raising funds for the school where the syllabus is in Ladakhi and English languages. School is managed by Druk Padma Karpo Educational Society. The school is still under construction and is being built in stages with help of international architects.
Rancho School remains open for visitors from 8AM to 6PM. There is no entrance fee. 3 Idiots school is well connected by road. The school management, its teachers and students expect tourists to visit the school peacefully, without disturbing their studies.
The Rancho Wall, with wall graffiti showing how “Chatur” of 3 Idiots film was electrocuted is painted and is the main tourist attraction. Tourists stand in front of the wall to get themselves clicked. However, tourists getting clicked in a pose of peeing at the wall was objected to by many people. According to some fake news, Druk Padma Karpo School management was even planning to raze the Rancho Wall and impose ban on tourist entry as it was distracting the students of the school.
The school management later gave a clarification that this was not true. However, some tourists were causing a disturbance in their studies. Some tourists were peeping inside the classrooms and some were even entering the classrooms without seeking permission. They were taking photographs of the students and teachers without permission. Later, the Rancho school management built a replica of the Rancho Wall at corner of the school campus. The replica is similar to the original wall. Now school took a sigh of relief as this new wall has become the tourist attraction.
How to reach Rancho School
Rancho School (Druk Padma Karpo School) is just 16km from Leh city centre and is reachable after 20 minutes drive on Leh-Manali highway. The school is located in Shey village close to Shey Palace and monastery.
Best time to visit Rancho School
mid April to October
Is inner line permit required to visit Rancho School
No permit is required to visit the Rancho’s School
Important message to tourists
Druk Padma Karpo School is not a public tourist spot but it is a school that allows tourists to visit its eco-friendly state of the art campus due to its prominence. Do not make noise and do not do anything that will disturb the study of the students. Do not take photographs of the students or teachers. Behave like humans and do not litter in the campus.
Also Read: Best Places to Visit in Leh Ladakh