Ladakh: India first fell in love with the Druk White Lotus School in Ladakh because of a fictitious alumnus - Aamir Khan's character, Rancho, in the blockbuster '3 Idiots'.
And when flash floods struck Ladakh two months ago, Aamir Khan fronted the campaign to bring the school back to its feet.
The 9-year old school is run by the Live to Love Foundation, a global charity that builds eco-friendly schools in remote areas to empower young women, and to raise awareness about saving the environment.
Now, the UN has honoured the school for the opportunities it provides to its 500 students, and for the methods it adopts.
The emphasis is on activity-based learning which includes vocational training. The cultural and ecological heritage of the area helps guide the curriculum. Ladakhi language and tradition are nurtured. The school largely runs on solar-powered electricity. The entire material used in building the school was sourced locally.
"People are slowly recognising the efforts, even the UN. But back in India, I'm still struggling because of less education," says His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, who set up the Live to Love Foundation in 1992. His Holiness belongs to the Drukpa Lineage established in 1206. He wants to build similar schools in the hills of Sikkim and Darjeeling and the Spiti Valley.
Fund-raising for that could be easier now that Aamir Khan has officially become the Foundation's Ambassador.
The innovative architecture of the Ladakh school has won several international design awards, including the 2002 World Architecture Awards for Best Education Building, Best Building in Asia, and joint winner for Best Green Building. Designed by international architects Arup Associates, the buildings combine the best of traditional Ladakhi architecture with contemporary engineering - it's been cited a model for appropriate, cost-effective and sustainable development.
The Foundation recently also set a new Guinness world record for 'Most trees planted simultaneously' in a single day on 10/10/2010 at 10:10:10.
If you'd like to donate to the Foundation, please log onto www.live2love.org