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Ladakh () is a region administered by
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
as a
union territory #REDIRECT Union territory#REDIRECT Union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , ...
, and constitutes a part of the larger
Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr () is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the Kashmir Valley The Kashmir Valley, also known as the ''Vale ...

Kashmir
region, which has been the subject of dispute between India,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
, and
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu and Kashmir, state of India, located in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent in the vicinity of the Karakoram and westernmost Himalayan mountain ranges. From 1947 to 2019, Ladakh was part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947." Quote: "Jammu and Kashmir: Territory in northwestern India, subject to a dispute between India and Pakistan. It has borders with Pakistan and China." Ladakh is bordered by the
Tibet Autonomous Region The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) or Xizang Autonomous Region, often shortened to Tibet or Xizang, is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , count ...
to the east, the Indian state of
Himachal Pradesh Himachal Pradesh (; ; "Province of the Snow-laden Mountains") is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...

Himachal Pradesh
to the south, both the Indian-administered union territory of
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
and the Pakistan-administered
Gilgit-Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (; , : རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by as an administrative territory, and constitutes the northern portion of the larger ...

Gilgit-Baltistan
to the west, and the southwest corner of
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
across the
Karakoram Pass The Karakoram Pass (; hi, काराकोरम दर्रा; ur, درہ قراقرم; ) is a mountain pass A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range or over a ridge A ridge or a mountain ridge is a geogr ...
in the far north. It extends from the
Siachen Glacier The Siachen Glacier is a glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier forms where the accumulation of exceeds its over many years, often . Glaciers slowly deform and ...
in the
Karakoram The Karakoram is a mountain range spanning the borders of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and ...

Karakoram
range to the north to the main Great
Himalaya The Himalayas, or Himalaya (; Sanskrit: , "snow", "dwelling", "abode"), are a mountain range in Asia separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The range has some of the planet's highest peaks, including the ...

Himalaya
s to the south. The eastern end, consisting of the uninhabited
Aksai Chin Aksai Chin is a region administered by China as part of its Xinjiang and Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibet autonomous regions (mostly as part of Hotan County, Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang), and constituting the eastern portion of the larger Kash ...
plains, is claimed by the Indian Government as part of Ladakh, and has been under Chinese control since
1962 Events January * January January is the first month of the year in the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first of seven months to have a length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year's Day. ...
. In the past Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes, but as the Chinese authorities closed the borders between Tibet Autonomous Region and Ladakh in the 1960s, international trade dwindled. Since 1974, the
Government of India The Government of India (ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requiremen ...
has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh. As Ladakh is strategically important, the
Indian military The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between states, go ...
maintains a strong presence in the region. The largest town in Ladakh is
Leh Leh () is the joint capital and largest town of the union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrat ...

Leh
, followed by
Kargil Kargil is a city and a joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh in India. It is also the headquarters of the Kargil district. It is the second-largest city in Ladakh after Leh. Kargil is located to the east of Srinagar in Jammu and Ka ...

Kargil
, each of which headquarters a district. The
Leh district Leh district is a district in the union territory #REDIRECT Union territory#REDIRECT Union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is a type of administrative division Admi ...

Leh district
contains the
Indus#REDIRECT Indus River
{{Redirect category shell, {{R from move {{R from miscapitalisation {{R unprintworthy ...

Indus
,
Shyok The Shyok River () a tributary of the Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangl ...
and
Nubra Nubra, also called Dumra, is a historical region of Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakista ...

Nubra
river valleys. The
Kargil district Kargil district is one of the two districts of Ladakh, a region administered by India as a union territory. It spans the entire length of Ladakh in the north–south direction, with Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir to th ...
contains the Suru,
Dras Dras (also spelt Drass, ISO 15919, ISO transliteration: ') is a hill station in the Kargil district of the union territory of Ladakh in India. It is on the National Highway 1 (India), NH 1 (former name National Highway 1D (India, old numbering) ...
and
Zanskar Zanskar, Zahar (locally) or Zangskar, is a tehsil of the Kargil district, which lies in the Indian union territory of Ladakh. The administrative centre is Padum (former Capital of Zanskar). Zanskar, together with the neighbouring region of Ladak ...

Zanskar
river valleys. The main populated regions are the river valleys, but the mountain slopes also support the pastoral
Changpa The Changpa or Champa are a semi-nomadic Tibetan people found mainly in the Changtang in Ladakh and in Jammu and Kashmir. A smaller number resides in the western regions of the Tibet Autonomous Region The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) ...
nomads. The main religious groups in the region are
Muslims Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...
(mainly
Shia Shia Islam or Shi'ism is the second largest Islamic schools and branches, branch of Islam. It holds that the Prophets and messengers in Islam, Islamic prophet Muhammad in Islam, Muhammad designated Ali, Ali ibn Abi Talib as his Succession to Mu ...
) (46%),
Buddhists Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...

Buddhists
(mainly
Tibetan Buddhists Tibetan Buddhism (also Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and Sino-Indian Buddhism) is the form of Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of t ...
) (40%),
Hindus Hindus (; ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic re ...

Hindus
(12%) and others (2%). Ladakh is one of the most sparsely populated regions in India. Its culture and history are closely related to that of
Tibet Tibet (; ; ) is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa people, Monpa, Tamang people, Tamang, Qia ...

Tibet
. Ladakh was established as a union territory of India on 31 October 2019, following the passage of the
Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 is an act of the Parliament of India The Parliament of India ( IAST: ) is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India. It is a bicameral legislature composed of the President o ...
. Prior to that, it was part of the
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
state. Ladakh is the largest and the second least populous union territory of India.


Names

The classical name means the "land of high passes". ''Ladak'' is its pronunciation in several Tibetan dialects. The English spelling ''Ladakh'' is derived from fa, script=latn, ladāx. Quote: Ladakh, the Persian transliteration of the Tibetan La-dvags, is warranted by the pronunciation of the word in several Tibetan districts. The terminal ''gs'' has the sound of the guttural ''gh'' or even ''kh'' in various Tibetan dialects. (Volume II, page 93) The region was previously known as
Maryul Maryul of Ngari (''Mar-yul'' of ''mNgah-ris'', meaning the "lowland of "), or the Kingdom of Ladakh, was a west an kingdom based in modern-day and . The Maryul kingdom was based in and evolved into the modern Ladakh. The kingdom was founded b ...
. Medieval Islamic scholars called Ladakh the Great Tibet (derived from Turko-Arabic ''Ti-bat'', meaning "highland");
Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, script=Tibt), is a mountainous region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmi ...

Baltistan
and other trans-Himalayan states in Kashmir's vicinity were referred to as "Little Tibets".


History


Ancient history

Rock carvings found in many parts of Ladakh indicate that the area has been inhabited from
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
times. Ladakh's earliest inhabitants consisted of a mixed
Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also

*Aryan invasion theory (disambiguation) *Indo-Aryan tribes (disambigua ...
population of ''Mons'' and ''
Dards The Dards are a group of Indo-Aryan peoples found predominantly in northern Pakistan, northwestern India and eastern Afghanistan. They speak Dardic languages, which belong to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan group of the Indo-European langua ...
'', who find mention in the works of
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
, and classical writers as well as the Indian
Purana Purana (; sa, , '; literally meaning "ancient, old"Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995 Edition), Article on Puranas, , page 915) is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics, particularly about legends an ...
s. Around the 1st century, Ladakh was a part of the
Kushan Empire The Kushan Empire ( grc, Βασιλεία Κοσσανῶν; xbc, Κυϸανο, kus, khasano, ; Brahmi script, Late Brahmi Sanskrit: , ', '; Devanagari sa, कुषाण राजवंश, ; Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, BHS: ; xpr, 𐭊 ...

Kushan Empire
.
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
spread into western Ladakh from Kashmir in the 2nd century. The 7th-century Buddhist traveller
Xuanzang Xuanzang (; fl. 602 – 664), born Chen Hui / Chen Yi (), also known as Hiuen Tsang, was a 7th-century Chinese Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a cla ...

Xuanzang
describes the region in his accounts. Xuanzang's term of Ladakh is ''Mo-lo-so'', which has been reconstructed by academics as ''*Malasa'', ''*Marāsa'', or ''*Mrāsa'', which is believed to have been the original name of the region. For much of the first millennium, the western Tibet comprised
Zhangzhung Zhangzhung or Shangshung was an ancient culture and kingdom of western and northwestern Tibet Tibet (; ; ) is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people ...
kingdom(s), which practised the
Bon religion Bon, also spelled Bön () is considered to be the native pre-Buddhist religious tradition of Tibet. A distinction is sometimes made between: # the Old Bon or Bön nying (), dating back to the pre-dynastic era; # the Eternal Bon or Yungdrung B ...
. Sandwiched between Kashmir and Zhangzhung, Ladakh is believed to have been alternatively under the control of one or other of these powers. Academics find strong influences of Zhangzhung language and culture in "upper Ladakh" (from the middle section of the Indus valley to the southeast). The penultimate king of Zhangzhung is said to have been from Ladakh. From around 660 CE, Central Tibet and China started contesting the "four garrisons" of the
Tarim Basin The Tarim Basin is an endorheic basin An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans ...
(present day
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
), a struggle that lasted three centuries. Zhangzhung fell victim to Tibet's ambitions in and disappeared for ever. Kashmir's
Karkota Empire Karkota Dynasty (c. 625 - 855 CE) ruled over the Kashmir valley The Kashmir Valley, also known as the ''Vale of Kashmir'', is an intermontane valley in Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr is the northernmost geographical r ...
and the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under ...
too joined the contest for Xinjiang soon afterwards. Baltistan and Ladakh were at the centre of these struggles. Academics infer from the slant of Ladakhi chronicles that Ladakh may have owed its primary allegiance to Tibet during this time, but that it was more political than cultural. Ladakh remained Buddhist and its culture was not yet Tibetan.


Early medieval history

In the 9th century, Tibet's ruler
Langdarma Langdarma ( "Mature Bull" or "Dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, (Pali : ''dhamma'')) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions, such as Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of ...
was assassinated and Tibet
fragmented
fragmented
.
Kyide Nyimagon Image:The_Empire_of_King_Nyimagon_with_three_divisions_about_975_A._D.-_1000_A.D..jpg, 260px, Empire of king Nyimagon in 975 Kyide Nyimagon (died ) (; ), whose original name was Khri-skyid-lding, was a member of the Yarlung dynasty of Tibetan Empir ...
, Langdarma's great grandson, fled to West Tibet , and founded a new West Tibetan kingdom at the heart of the old Zhangzhung, now called
Ngari Ngari Prefecture (; ) is a prefecture of China's Tibet Autonomous Region The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) or Xizang Autonomous Region, called Tibet or Xizang for short, is a province A province is almost always an administrative division ...
in the Tibetan language. Nyimagon's eldest son,
Lhachen Palgyigon Lhachen Palgyigon (, ) was the founding king of the Kingdom of Maryul, based in modern Ladakh Ladakh is a region administered by India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the ...
, is believed to have conquered the regions to the north, including Ladakh and
Rutog
Rutog
. After the death of Nyimagon, his kingdom was divided among his three sons, Palgyigon receiving Ladakh, Rutog, Thok Jalung and an area referred to as Demchok Karpo (a holy mountain near the present day Demchok village). The second son received Guge–Purang (called "Ngari Korsum") and the third son received
Zanskar Zanskar, Zahar (locally) or Zangskar, is a tehsil A tehsil also known as tahsil, taluka, or taluk) is a local unit of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative ...

Zanskar
and
Spiti Spiti Valley (pronounced as Piti in Bhoti Language) is a cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayas The Himalayas, or Himalaya (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical ...

Spiti
(to the southwest of Ladakh). This three-way division of Nyimagon's empire was recognised as historic and remembered in the chronicles of all the three regions as a founding narrative.
He gave to each of his sons a separate kingdom, viz., to the eldest ''Dpal-gyi-gon'', ''Maryul'' of ''Mngah-ris'', the inhabitants using black bows; ''ru-thogs'' utogof the east and the Gold-mine of ''Hgog'' ossibly Thok Jalung nearer this way ''Lde-mchog-dkar-po'' emchok Karpo ...
The first West Tibetan dynasty of Maryul founded by Palgyigon lasted five centuries, being weakened towards its end by the conquests of the Mongol/Mughal noble
Mirza Haidar DughlatMirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat Beg (1499 or 1500–1551) was a Chagatai Turco-Mongol military general, ruler of Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19 ...
. Throughout this period the region was called "Maryul", possibly from the original proper name ''*Mrasa'' (Xuangzhang's, ''Mo-lo-so''), but in the Tibetan language it was interpreted to mean "lowland" (the lowland of Ngari). Maryul remained staunchly Buddhist during this period, having participated in the second diffusion of Buddhism from India to Tibet via Kashmir and Zanskar. File:Alchi Rajputs.jpg, Ladakh horsemen, depicted in
Alchi Monastery Alchi Monastery or Alchi Gompa is a Buddhist monastery, known more as a monastic complex (chos-'khor) of temples in Alchi village in the Leh District, under the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development ...

Alchi Monastery
, circa 13th century CE File:The 9 Stupas.jpg, The nine stupas at File:Likir Buddha.jpg, Statue of
Maitreya Maitreya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia aft ...

Maitreya
at
Likir Monastery Likir Monastery or Likir Gompa (Klud-kyil) is a Buddhism, Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, Northern India. It is located at 3700m elevation, approximately in the west of Leh. It is picturesquely situated on a little hill in the valley, in Likir v ...

Likir Monastery
,
Leh district Leh district is a district in the union territory #REDIRECT Union territory#REDIRECT Union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is a type of administrative division Admi ...

Leh district


Medieval history

Between the 1380s and early 1510s, many Islamic missionaries propagated
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
and proselytised the Ladakhi people. Sayyid Ali Hamadani, Sayyid Muhammad Nur Baksh and
Mir Shamsuddin Iraqi Mir Shams-ud-Din Muhammad Araqi (; CE), also known as ''Mir Syed Muhammad Musavi Isfahani'', was an Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, ...
were three important Sufi missionaries who propagated Islam to the locals. Mir Sayyid Ali was the first one to make Muslim converts in Ladakh and is often described as the founder of Islam in Ladakh. Several mosques were built in Ladakh during this period, including in Mulbhe,
Padum Padum (also known as Padam) is a town named after Padmasambhava. It is the only town and administrative centre in Zanskar. It was historically one of the two main capitals of the Zanskar Kingdom, the other being Zangla. It is 240 km away v ...
and
Shey Shey is a village in the Leh district Leh district is a district in the union territory #REDIRECT Union territory#REDIRECT Union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is ...

Shey
, the capital of Ladakh. His principal disciple, Sayyid Muhammad Nur Baksh also propagated Islam to Ladakhis and the Balti people rapidly converted to Islam.
Noorbakshia Islam Noorbakhshia is a school of Islamic jurisprudence that emphasizes the Muslim Unity. Its very foundations rests on the belief in Allah, Angels, Prophets, Day of Judgement, Holy Quran and other Holy Islamic Scriptures revealed upon previous Prophets. ...
is named after him and his followers are only found in Baltistan and Ladakh. During his youth,
Sultan Sultan (; ar, سلطان ', ) is a position with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic abstract noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phone ...

Sultan
Zain-ul-Abidin , spouse = , issue = Haider Shah , issue-link = , issue-pipe = , house = Shah Mir dynasty The Shah Mir dynasty was a dynasty that ruled the region of Kashmir in the Indian subcontinent. The dynasty is named aft ...
expelled the mystic Sheikh Zain Shahwalli for showing disrespect to him. The sheikh then went to Ladakh and proselytised many people to Islam. In 1505, Shamsuddin Iraqi, a noted Shia scholar, visited Kashmir and Baltistan. He helped in spreading Shia Islam in Kashmir and converted the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Baltistan to his school of thought. It is unclear what happened to Islam after this period and it seems to have received a setback.
Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat Beg (born 1499 or 1500, died 1551) was a Chagatai Turco-Mongol military general, ruler of Kashmir, and a historical writer. He was a Turkic languages, Turkic speaking Dughlats, Dughlat prince who wrote in the Persian ...
who invaded and briefly conquered Ladakh in 1532, 1545 and 1548, does not record any presence of Islam in
Leh Leh () is the joint capital and largest town of the union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrat ...

Leh
during his invasion although Shia Islam and Noorbakshia Islam continued to flourish in other regions of Ladakh. King Bhagan reunited and strengthened Ladakh and founded the Namgyal dynasty (''Namgyal'' means "victorious" in several Tibetan languages). The Namgyals repelled most Central Asian raiders and temporarily extended the kingdom as far as Nepal. During the Balti invasion led by
Raja ''Raja'' (; from sa, राजन्, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguis ...

Raja
Ali Sher Khan Anchan Ali Sher Khan Anchan (1590-1625) (Balti language, Balti: علی شیر خان انچن) (also called Ali Rai, Ray Alī, Alī Rai, Raja Sher Ali Mir, Mir Ali, Sher Ali and Ali Zad) was a famous Balti people, Balti king. He was a Maqpon dynasty kin ...
, many Buddhist temples and artefacts were damaged. Ali Sher Khan took the king and his soldiers as captives. Jamyang Namgyal was later restored to the throne by Ali Sher Khan and given the hand of a Muslim princess in marriage. Her name was Gyal Khatun or Argyal Khatoom. She was to be the first queen and her son was to become the next ruler. Historical accounts differ upon who her father was. Some identify Ali's ally and Raja of
Khaplu Khaplu (Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organi ...

Khaplu
Yabgo Shey Gilazi as her father, while others identify Ali himself as the father. In the early 17th century efforts were made to restore the destroyed artefacts and ''gonpas'' by
Sengge Namgyal Sengge Namgyal (''Sen-ge-rnam-rgyal'', c. 1570–1642) was a 17th-century Namgyal dynasty King of Ladakh Ladakh is a region administered by India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asi ...
, the son of Jamyang and Gyal. He expanded the kingdom into and
Spiti Spiti Valley (pronounced as Piti in Bhoti Language) is a cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayas The Himalayas, or Himalaya (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical ...

Spiti
. Despite a defeat of Ladakh by the
Mughals The Mughal, Mogul, or Moghul Empire was an early modern The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of 's past. It is understood through , , , and , and since the , from and s. ...

Mughals
, who had already annexed Kashmir and Baltistan, Ladakh retained its independence. Islam begins to take root in the Leh area in the beginning of the 17th century after the Balti invasion and the marriage of Gyal to Jamyang. A large group of Muslim servants and musicians were sent along with Gyal to Ladakh and private mosques were built where they could pray. The Muslim musicians later settled in Leh. Several hundred Baltis migrated to the kingdom and according to oral tradition many Muslim traders were granted land to settle. Many other Muslims were invited over the following years for various purposes. In the late 17th century, Ladakh sided with
Bhutan Bhutan (; dz, འབྲུག་ཡུལ་, Druk Yul, ), officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan ( dz, འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་, Druk Gyal Khap), is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas. It is bordered by Chin ...

Bhutan
in its dispute with Tibet which, among other reasons, resulted in its invasion by the Tibetan Central Government. This event is known as the
Tibet–Ladakh–Mughal war The Tibet–Ladakh–Mughal War of 1679–1684 was fought between the Central Tibetan Ganden Phodrang government, with the assistance of Mongol khanates, and the Namgyal dynasty of Ladakh with assistance from the Mughal Empire in Kashmir. Backg ...
of 1679–1684. Kashmiri historians assert that the king converted to Islam in return for the assistance by Mughal Empire after this, however, Ladakhi chronicles do not mention such a thing. The king agreed to pay tribute to the Mughals in return for defending the kingdom. The Mughals, however, withdrew after being paid off by the
5th Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (; ; 1617–1682) was the 5th Dalai Lama , coatofarms = , coatofarms_article = , coatofarms_link = , incumbent = Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama The 14th Dalai Lama (spiritual name Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsan ...

5th Dalai Lama
. With the help of reinforcements from
Galdan Boshugtu Khan Choros Choros or Tsoros ( mn, Цорос, ; ) was the ruling clan of the Dzungar people, Dzungars and Dörbet Oirat and once ruled the whole Four Oirat. They founded the Dzungar Khanate in the 17th century. Their chiefs reckoned their descen ...
, Khan of the Zungar Empire, the Tibetans attacked again in 1684. The Tibetans were victorious and concluded a treaty with Ladakh then they retreated back to
Lhasa Lhasa (; Lhasa dialect: ; bo, text=ལྷ་ས, translation=Place of Gods) is the urban center of the prefecture-level city, prefecture-level Lhasa (prefecture-level city), Lhasa City and the administrative capital of Tibet. The inner urban ...

Lhasa
in December 1684. The Treaty of Tingmosgang in 1684 settled the dispute between Tibet and Ladakh but severely restricted Ladakh's independence. File:View of the Lakir Monastery.JPG,
Likir Monastery Likir Monastery or Likir Gompa (Klud-kyil) is a Buddhism, Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, Northern India. It is located at 3700m elevation, approximately in the west of Leh. It is picturesquely situated on a little hill in the valley, in Likir v ...

Likir Monastery
, Ladakh File:Phyang Monastery 01.jpg, , Ladakh File:Hemis Monastery Ladakh 1876.jpg,
Hemis Monastery Hemis Monastery is a Himalayan Buddhist monastery (''gompa A Gompa or Gönpa ( "remote place", Sanskrit ''araṇya''), also known as ling (), is a Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a socia ...

Hemis Monastery
in the 1870s


Princely state of Jammu and Kashmir

In 1834, the
Sikh Sikhs ( or ; pa, ਸਿੱਖ, ', ) are people who adhere to Sikhism, a Monotheism, monotheistic religion that originated in the late 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, based on the revelation of Guru Nanak. The te ...

Sikh
Zorawar Singh, a general of , invaded and annexed Ladakh to Jammu under the suzerainty of the
Sikh Empire The Sikh Empire ( fa, , Sarkār-ē-Khālsā, lit=Government of the Khalsa; pa, , ਸਿੱਖ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਰਾਜ , Sikkh Khālsā Rāj, lit=Sikh Khalsa rule), also known as the Punjab Empire, was a state originating in the Indian ...

Sikh Empire
. After the defeat of the Sikhs in the
First Anglo-Sikh War The First Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire The Sikh Empire ( fa, , Sarkār-ē-Khālsā, lit=Government of the Khalsa; pa, , ਸਿੱਖ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਰਾਜ , Sikkh Khālsā Rāj, lit=Sikh Khalsa rule), al ...
, the state of
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
was established as a separate
princely state A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a vassal state under a local or indigenous or regional ruler in a subsidiary alliance with the East India Company and af ...
under British
suzerainty Suzerainty () is a relationship in which one state or other polity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized soci ...

suzerainty
. The Namgyal family was given the ''
jagir A jagir ( fa, , translit=Jāgir), also spelled as jageer, was a type of feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between ...
'' of , which it nominally retains to this day. European influence began in Ladakh in the 1850s and increased. Geologists, sportsmen, and tourists began exploring Ladakh. In 1885, Leh became the headquarters of a mission of the
Moravian Church , image = AgnusDeiWindow.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , caption = Church emblem featuring the Agnus Dei is the Latin name under which the "Lamb of God" is honoured within the Roman Rite Mass, Roman Catholic Mass and, by extension, other Christ ...

Moravian Church
. Ladakh was administered as a ''wazarat'' during the Dogra rule, with a governor termed ''wazir-e-wazarat''. It had three tehsils, based at Leh,
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
and
Kargil Kargil is a city and a joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh in India. It is also the headquarters of the Kargil district. It is the second-largest city in Ladakh after Leh. Kargil is located to the east of Srinagar in Jammu and Ka ...

Kargil
. The headquarters of the ''wazarat'' was at Leh for six months of the year and at
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
for six months. When the legislative assembly called ''Praja Sabha'' was established in 1934, Ladakh was given two nominated seats in the assembly. Ladakh was claimed as part of Tibet by
Phuntsok Wangyal Phüntsok Wangyal Goranangpa (2 January 1922 – 30 March 2014), also known as Phüntsog Wangyal, Bapa Phüntsok Wangyal or Phünwang, was a Tibetan people, Tibetan politician. A major figure in modern Sino-Tibetan relations, he is best known f ...
, a Tibetan Communist leader.


Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir

At the time of the partition of India in 1947, the Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession (Jammu and Kashmir), Instrument of Accession to India. Pakistani raiders from Gilgit Agency, Gilgit had reached Ladakh and military operations were initiated to evict them. The wartime conversion of the pony trail from Sonamarg to Zoji La by army engineers permitted tanks to move up and successfully capture the pass. The advance continued. Dras, Kargil and Leh were liberated and Ladakh cleared of the infiltrators.Menon, P.M & Proudfoot, C.L., ''The Madras Sappers, 1947–1980'', 1989, Thomson Press, Faridabad, India. In 1949, China closed the border between Nubra Valley, Nubra and
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
, blocking old trade routes. In 1955 China began to build roads connecting Xinjiang and Tibet through the
Aksai Chin Aksai Chin is a region administered by China as part of its Xinjiang and Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibet autonomous regions (mostly as part of Hotan County, Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang), and constituting the eastern portion of the larger Kash ...
area. The Indian effort to retain control of Aksai Chin led to the Sino-Indian War of 1962, which India lost. China also built the Karakoram highway jointly with Pakistan. India built the Srinagar-Leh Highway during this period, cutting the journey time between Srinagar and Leh from 16 days to two. The route, however, remains closed during the winter months due to heavy snowfall. Construction of a tunnel across Zoji La pass is under consideration to make the route functional throughout the year. The Kargil War of 1999, codenamed "Operation Vijay" by the Indian Army, saw infiltration by Pakistani troops into parts of Western Ladakh, namely Kargil, Dras, Mushkoh Valley, Mushkoh, Batalik and Chorbatla, overlooking key locations on the National Highway 1 (India), Srinagar-Leh highway. Extensive operations were launched in high altitudes by the Indian Army with considerable artillery and air force support. Pakistani troops were evicted from the Indian side of the Line of Control which the Indian government ordered was to be respected and which was not crossed by Indian troops. The Indian government was criticised by the Indian public because India respected geographical co-ordinates more than India's opponents: Pakistan and China.Bammi, Y.M., ''Kargil 1999 – the impregnable conquered.'' (2002) Natraj Publishers, Dehradun. The Ladakh region was divided into the Kargil and Leh districts in 1979. In 1989, there were violent riots between Buddhists and Muslims. Following demands for autonomy from the Kashmiris, Kashmiri-dominated state government, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council was created in the 1990s. Leh district, Leh and Kargil district, Kargil districts now each have their own locally elected Hill Councils with some control over local policy and development funds. In 1991, a Peace Pagoda was erected in Leh by Nipponzan Myohoji. There was a heavy presence of Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police forces in Ladakh. These forces and People's Liberation Army forces from China have, since the 1962 Sino-Indian War, had frequent stand-offs along the Lakakh portion of the Line of Actual Control. Out of the border in Ladakh, only is the International Border, and the remaining is the Line of Actual Control. The stand-off involving the most troops was in September 2014 in the disputed Chumar region when 800 to 1,000 Indian troops and 1,500 Chinese troops came into close proximity to each other.


Ladakh Division

On 8 February 2019, Ladakh became a separate Divisions of India, Revenue and Administrative Division within Jammu and Kashmir, having previously been part of the Kashmir Division. As a division, Ladakh was granted its own Divisional Commissioner and Inspector General of Police. Leh was initially chosen to be the headquarters of the new division however, following protests, it was announced that Leh and Kargil will jointly serve as the divisional headquarters, each hosting an Additional Divisional Commissioner to assist the Divisional Commissioner and Inspector General of Police who will spend half their time in each town.


Union territory of Ladakh

The people of Ladakh had been demanding Ladakh to be constituted as a separate territory since 1930s, because of perceived unfair treatment by Kashmir and Ladakh's cultural differences with predominantly Muslim Kashmir valley, while some people in Kargil opposed union territory status for Ladakh. The first organized agitation was launched against Kashmir's "dominance" in the year 1964. In late 1980s, a much larger mass agitation was launched to press their demand for
union territory #REDIRECT Union territory#REDIRECT Union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , ...
status. In August 2019, a Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, reorganisation act was passed by the Parliament of India which contained provisions to reconstitute Ladakh as a union territory, separate from the rest of Jammu and Kashmir on 31 October 2019. Under the terms of the act, the union territory is administered by a Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Lieutenant Governor acting on behalf of the Central Government of India and does not have an elected legislative assembly or chief minister. Each district within the union territory continues to elect an autonomous district council as done previously. The demand for Ladakh as separate union territory was first raised by the parliamentarian Kushok Bakula Rinpoche around 1955, which was later carried forward by another parliamentarian Thupstan Chhewang.One year of union territory status: Ladakh brims with hope
Times of India, 3 August 2020.
The former Jammu and Kashmir (state), Jammu and Kashmir state use to obtain large allocation of annual funds from the union government based on the fact that the large geographical area of the Ladakh (comprising 65% of total area), but Ladakh was allocated only 2% of the state budget based on its relative population. Within the first year of the formation of Ladakh as separate union territory, its annual budget allocation has increased 4 times from 57 crore to 232 crore.


Geography

Ladakh is the highest plateau in India with most of it being over . It extends from the Himalayas, Himalayan to the Kunlun Mountains, Kunlun Ranges and includes the upper Indus River valley. Historically, the region included the
Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, script=Tibt), is a mountainous region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmi ...

Baltistan
(Baltiyul) valleys (now mostly in Pakistani administered part of
Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr () is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the Kashmir Valley The Kashmir Valley, also known as the ''Vale ...

Kashmir
), the entire upper Indus Valley, the remote
Zanskar Zanskar, Zahar (locally) or Zangskar, is a tehsil A tehsil also known as tahsil, taluka, or taluk) is a local unit of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative ...

Zanskar
, Lahaul and Spiti district, Lahaul and Spiti to the south, much of Ngari including the Rudok region and Guge in the east,
Aksai Chin Aksai Chin is a region administered by China as part of its Xinjiang and Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibet autonomous regions (mostly as part of Hotan County, Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang), and constituting the eastern portion of the larger Kash ...
in the northeast, and the Nubra Valley to the north over Khardung La, Khardong La in the Ladakh Range. Contemporary Ladakh borders
Tibet Tibet (; ; ) is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa people, Monpa, Tamang people, Tamang, Qia ...

Tibet
to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti regions to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the southwest corner of
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
across the
Karakoram Pass The Karakoram Pass (; hi, काराकोरम दर्रा; ur, درہ قراقرم; ) is a mountain pass A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range or over a ridge A ridge or a mountain ridge is a geogr ...
in the far north. The historic but imprecise divide between Ladakh and the Tibetan Plateau commences in the north in the intricate maze of ridges east of Rudok including Aling Kangri and Mavang Kangri, and continues southeastward toward northwestern Nepal. Before partition,
Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, script=Tibt), is a mountainous region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmi ...

Baltistan
, now under Pakistani control, was a district in Ladakh. Skardu was the winter capital of Ladakh while Leh was the summer capital. The mountain ranges in this region were formed over 45 million years by the folding of the Indian Plate into the more stationary Eurasian Plate. The drift continues, causing frequent earthquakes in the Himalayan region. The peaks in the Ladakh Range are at a medium altitude close to the Zoji-la () and increase toward southeast, culminating in the twin summits of Nun-Kun (). The Suru and Zanskar valleys form a great trough enclosed by the Himalayas and the Zanskar, Zanskar Range. Rangdum is the highest inhabited region in the Suru valley, after which the valley rises to at Pensi-la, the gateway to Zanskar. Kargil, the only town in the Suru valley, is the second most important town in Ladakh. It was an important staging post on the routes of the trade Caravan (travellers), caravans before 1947, being more or less equidistant, at about 230 kilometres from Srinagar, Leh, Skardu and
Padum Padum (also known as Padam) is a town named after Padmasambhava. It is the only town and administrative centre in Zanskar. It was historically one of the two main capitals of the Zanskar Kingdom, the other being Zangla. It is 240 km away v ...
. The Zangskar valley lies in the troughs of the Stod and the Lungnak rivers. The region experiences heavy snowfall; the Pensi-la is open only between June and mid-October. Dras and the Mushkoh Valley form the western extremity of Ladakh. The Indus River is the backbone of Ladakh. Most major historical and current towns –
Shey Shey is a village in the Leh district Leh district is a district in the union territory #REDIRECT Union territory#REDIRECT Union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is ...

Shey
, Leh, Basgo and Tingmosgang (but not Kargil), are close to the Indus River. After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, the stretch of the Indus flowing through Ladakh became the only part of this river, which is greatly venerated in the Hindu religion and culture, that still flows through India. The
Siachen Glacier The Siachen Glacier is a glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier forms where the accumulation of exceeds its over many years, often . Glaciers slowly deform and ...
is in the eastern Karakoram Range in the Himalaya Mountains along the disputed India-Pakistan border. The Karakoram Range forms a great watershed that separates China from the Indian subcontinent and is sometimes called the "Third Pole." The glacier lies between the Saltoro Ridge immediately to the west and the main Karakoram Range to the east. At long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world's non-polar areas. It falls from an altitude of above sea level at its source at Indira Col on the China border down to at its snout. Saser Kangri is the highest peak in the Saser Muztagh, the easternmost subrange of the Karakoram Range in India, Saser Kangri I having an altitude of . The Ladakh Range has no major peaks; its average height is a little less than , and few of its passes are less than . The Pangong range runs parallel to the Ladakh Range for about northwest from Chushul along the southern shore of the Pangong Tso, Pangong Lake. Its highest point is about and the northern slopes are heavily glaciated. The region comprising the valley of the Shayok and Nubra rivers is known as Nubra. The Karakoram Range in Ladakh is not as mighty as in Baltistan. The massifs to the north and east of the Nubra–Siachen line include the Apsarasas Kangri, Apsarasas Group (highest point at ) the Rimo Muztagh (highest point at ) and the Teram Kangri Group (highest point at ) together with Mamostong Kangri () and Singhi Kangri (). North of the Karakoram lies the Kunlun. Thus, between Leh and eastern Central Asia there is a triple barrier – the Ladakh Range, Karakoram Range, and Kunlun. Nevertheless, a major trade route was established between Leh and Yarkent County, Yarkand. Ladakh is a high altitude desert as the Himalayas create a rain shadow, generally denying entry to monsoon clouds. The main source of water is the winter snowfall on the mountains. Recent flooding in the region (e.g., the 2010 Leh floods, 2010 floods) has been attributed to abnormal rain patterns and retreating glaciers, both of which have been found to be linked to global climate change. The Leh Nutrition Project, headed by Chewang Norphel, also known as the "Glacier Man", creates artificial glaciers as one solution for retreating glaciers. The regions on the north flank of the Himalayas – Dras, the Suru valley and Zangskar – experience heavy snowfall and remain cut off from the rest of the region for several months in the year, as the whole region remains cut off by road from the rest of the country. Summers are short, though they are long enough to grow crops. The summer weather is dry and pleasant. Temperature ranges are from in summer and minimums range from in winter. Zanskar is the main river of the region along with its tributaries. The Zanskar gets frozen during winter and the famous Chadar trek takes place on this magnificent frozen river.


Flora and fauna

Vegetation is extremely sparse in Ladakh except along streambeds and wetlands, on high slopes, and irrigated places. About 1250 plant species, including crops, were reported from Ladakh. The plant ''Ladakiella klimesii'', growing up to above sea level, was first described here and named after this region. The first European to study the wildlife of this region was William Moorcroft (explorer), William Moorcroft in 1820, followed by Ferdinand Stoliczka, an Austrian people, Austrian-Czech people, Czech palaeontologist, who carried out a massive expedition there in the 1870s. There are many lakes in Ladakh such as Kyago Tso. The bharal or blue sheep is the most abundant mountain ungulate in the Ladakh region, although it is not found in some parts of Zangskar and Sham areas. The Asiatic ibex is a very elegant mountain goat that is distributed in the western part of Ladakh. It is the second most abundant mountain ungulate in the region with a population of about 6000 individuals. It is adapted to rugged areas where it easily climbs when threatened. The Ladakhi Urial is another unique mountain sheep that inhabits the mountains of Ladakh. The population is declining, however, and there are not more than 3000 individuals left in Ladakh. The urial is endemic to Ladakh, where it is distributed only along two major river valleys: the Indus and Shayok. The animal is often persecuted by farmers whose crops are allegedly damaged by it. Its population declined precipitously in the last century due to indiscriminate shooting by hunters along the Leh-Srinagar highway. The argali, Tibetan argali or Nyan is the largest wild sheep in the world, standing at the shoulder with the horn measuring . It is distributed on the Tibetan plateau and its marginal mountains encompassing a total area of . There is only a small population of about 400 animals in Ladakh. The animal prefers open and rolling terrain as it runs, unlike wild goats that climb into steep cliffs, to escape from predators. The endangered Tibetan antelope, known as ''chiru'' in Indian English, or Ladakhi ''tsos'', has traditionally been hunted for its wool (''shahtoosh'') which is a natural fibre of the finest quality and thus valued for its light weight and warmth and as a status symbol. The wool of chiru must be pulled out by hand, a process done after the animal is killed. The fibre is smuggled into Kashmir and woven into exquisite shawls by Kashmiri workers. Ladakh is also home to the Tibetan gazelle, which inhabits the vast rangelands in eastern Ladakh bordering Tibet. The kiang, or Tibetan wild ass, is common in the grasslands of Changthang, numbering about 2,500 individuals. These animals are in conflict with the nomadic people of Changthang who hold the Kiang responsible for pasture degradation. There are about 200 snow leopards in Ladakh of an estimated 7,000 worldwide. The Hemis High Altitude National Park in central Ladakh is an especially good habitat for this predator as it has abundant prey populations. The Eurasian lynx, is another rare cat that preys on smaller herbivores in Ladakh. It is mostly found in Nubra, Changthang and Zangskar. The Pallas's cat, which looks somewhat like a house cat, is very rare in Ladakh and not much is known about the species. The Tibetan wolf, which sometimes preys on the livestock of the Ladakhis, is the most persecuted amongst the predators. There are also a few brown bears in the Suru Valley and the area around Dras. The Vulpes ferrilata, Tibetan sand fox has been discovered in this region. Among smaller animals, marmots, hares, and several types of pika and vole are common.


Flora

Scant precipitation makes Ladakh a high-altitude desert with extremely scarce vegetation over most of its area. Natural vegetation mainly occurs along water courses and on high altitude areas that receive more snow and cooler summer temperatures. Human settlements, however, are richly vegetated due to irrigation. Natural vegetation commonly seen along watercourses includes seabuckthorn (''Hippophae'' spp.), wild roses of pink or yellow varieties, tamarisk (''Myricaria'' spp.), caraway, Urtica dioica, stinging nettles, mint, ''Physochlaina praealta'', and various grasses.


Administration

Under the terms of the
Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 is an act of the Parliament of India The Parliament of India ( IAST: ) is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India. It is a bicameral legislature composed of the President o ...
, Ladakh is administered as a union territory without a State Legislative Assembly (India), legislative assembly or elected government. The head of government is a List of lieutenant governors of Ladakh, Lieutenant Governor appointed by the President of India who is assisted by civil servants of the Indian Administrative Service.


Districts

Ladakh is divided into two Districts of India, districts:


Autonomous District Councils

Each district of Ladakh is administered by an autonomous district council, they are: *Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil *Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh The two autonomous district councils work with village panchayats to take decisions on economic development, healthcare, education, land use, taxation, and local governance which are further reviewed at the block headquarters in the presence of the chief executive councillor and executive councillors. The government of Jammu and Kashmir looks after law and order, the judicial system, communications and the higher education in the region. The two autonomous district councils continue to exist following the formation of the union territory of Ladakh on 31 October 2019.


Law enforcement and justice

Ladakh is under the jurisdiction of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The union territory of Ladakh has its own Ladakh Police, police force headed by a director general of police.


Ladakh in the Parliament of India

Ladakh sends one member (MP) to the lower house of the Indian parliament the Lok Sabha. The MP for the Ladakh (Lok Sabha constituency), Ladakh constituency in the current Lok Sabha is Jamyang Tsering Namgyal from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).


Economy

The land is irrigated by a system of channels which funnel water from the ice and snow of the mountains. The principal crops are barley and wheat. Rice was previously a luxury in the Ladakhi diet, but, subsidised by the government, has now become a cheap staple. Naked barley (Ladakhi: ''nas'', Urdu: ''grim'') was traditionally a staple crop all over Ladakh. Growing times vary considerably with altitude. The extreme limit of cultivation is at Korzok, on the Tso-moriri lake, at , which has what are widely considered to be the highest fields in the world. A minority of Ladakhi people were also employed as merchants and caravan traders, facilitating trade in textiles, carpets, dyestuffs and narcotics between Punjab and
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
. However, since the Chinese Government closed the borders between Tibet Autonomous Region and Ladakh, this international trade has completely dried up. Indus river flowing in the Ladakh region is endowed with vast hydropower potential. Solar and wind power potentials are also substantial. Though the region is a remote hilly area without all-weather roads, the area is also rich in limestone deposits to manufacture cement from the locally available cheap electricity for various construction needs. Since 1974, the Indian Government has encouraged a shift in trekking and other tourist activities from the troubled Kashmir region to the relatively unaffected areas of Ladakh. Although tourism employs only 4% of Ladakh's working population, it now accounts for 50% of the region's Gross National Product, GNP. This era is recorded in Arthur Neves ''The Tourist's Guide to Kashmir, Ladakh, and Skardo'', first published in 1911.


Transportation

There are about of roads in Ladakh of which are surfaced. The majority of roads in Ladakh are looked after by the Border Roads Organisation. There are two main roads that connect Ladakh, National Highway 1 (India), NH1 connecting Srinagar to Kargil and Leh, and National Highway 3 (India), NH3 connecting Manali, Himachal Pradesh, Manali to Leh. A third road to Ladakh is the Nimmu–Padam–Darcha road, which is under construction. There is an airport in Leh, Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, from which there are daily flights to Delhi and weekly flights to Srinagar and Jammu. There are two airstrips at Daulat Beg Oldie and Fukche for military transport. The airport at Kargil, Kargil Airport, was intended for civilian flights but is currently used by the Indian Army. The airport is a political issue for the locals who argue that the airport should serve its original purpose, i.e., should open up for civilian flights. Since past few years the Indian Air Force has been operating AN-32 air courier service to transport the locals during the winter seasons to Jammu, Srinagar and Chandigarh. A private aeroplane company Air Mantra landed a 17-seater aircraft at the airport, in presence of dignitaries like the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, marking the first ever landing by a civilian airline company at Kargil Airport.


Demographics

The sex ratio for Leh district declined from 1011 females per 1000 males in 1951 to 805 in 2001, while for Kargil district it declined from 970 to 901. The urban sex ratio in both the districts is about 640. The adult sex ratio reflects large numbers of mostly male seasonal and migrant labourers and merchants. About 84% of Ladakh's population lives in villages. The average annual population growth rate from 1981 to 2001 was 2.75% in Leh District and 2.83% in Kargil district.


Religion

The Dras and Dha-Hanu regions are Shina, locally known as the Dards. People of Shina people, Dard (sometimes called Shina) descent predominate in Dras and Dha-Hanu areas. The residents of the Dha-Hanu area, known as Brokpa, are predominately followers of Islam while small minorities follow Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism and most Brokpa have preserved much of their original Dardic traditions and customs. The Dards of Dras have converted to Islam and have been strongly influenced by their Kashmiri neighbours. The Mons are believed to be descendants of earlier Indian settlers in Ladakh, and traditionally worked as musicians, blacksmiths, and carpenters. The region's population is split roughly in half between the districts of Leh and Kargil district, Kargil. 76.87% population of Kargil is Muslim (mostly Shia), with a total population of 140,802, while that of
Leh Leh () is the joint capital and largest town of the union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrat ...

Leh
is 66.40% Buddhist, with a total population of 133,487, as per the 2011 census. An increasing number of Muslim men are marrying Ladakhi people, Ladakhi Buddhist women in Ladakh due to economic opportunities attracting locals and outsiders alike to Ladakh and a decline in the population of Buddhist men, leaving more Buddhist women without a male partner.


Language

The predominant mother-tongue in Leh district is Ladakhi language, Ladakhi (also called Bauti), a Tibetic languages, Tibetic language. Purgi language, Purkhi, sometimes considered a dialect of Balti language, Balti, is the predominant mother-tongue of Kargil district. Educated Ladakhis usually know Hindi, Urdu and often English. Within Ladakh, there is a range of dialects, so that the language of the Changpa, Chang-pa people may differ markedly from that of the Purigpa, Purig-pa in Kargil, or the Zangskaris, but they are all mutually comprehensible.


Culture

Ladakhi culture is similar to Tibetan culture.


Cuisine

Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being ''thukpa'' (noodle soup) and ''tsampa'', known in Ladakhi as ''ngampe'' (roasted barley flour). Edible without cooking, ''tsampa'' makes useful trekking food. Strictly Ladakhi dishes include ''skyu'' and ''chutagi'', both heavy and rich soup pasta dishes, ''skyu'' being made with root vegetables and meat, and ''chutagi'' with leafy greens and vegetables. As Ladakh moves toward a cash-based economy, foods from the plains of India are becoming more common. As in other parts of Central Asia, tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn and known as ''Butter tea, gurgur cha'', after the sound it makes when mixed. Sweet tea (''cha ngarmo'') is common now, made in the Indian style with milk and sugar. Most of the surplus barley that is produced is fermented into ''chang'', an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive occasions.


Music and dance

The music of Ladakhi Buddhist monastic festivals, like Music of Tibet, Tibetan music, often involves religious chanting in Classical Tibetan, Tibetan as an integral part of the religion. These chants are complex, often recitations of sacred texts or in celebration of various festivals. ''Yang'' chanting, performed without metrical timing, is accompanied by resonant drums and low, sustained syllables. Religious mask dances are an important part of Ladakh's cultural life. Hemis monastery, a leading centre of the Drukpa Lineage, Drukpa tradition of Buddhism, holds an annual masked dance festival, as do all major Ladakhi monasteries. The dances typically narrate a story of the fight between good and evil, ending with the eventual victory of the former. Weaving is an important part of traditional life in eastern Ladakh. Both women and men weave, on different looms.


Sport

The most popular sport in Ladakh is Ice hockey in India, ice hockey, which is played only on natural ice generally mid-December through mid-February. Cricket is also very popular. Archery is a traditional sport in Ladakh, and many villages hold archery festivals, which are as much about traditional dancing, drinking and gambling, as they are about the sport. The sport is conducted with strict etiquette, to the accompaniment of the music of ''surna'' and ''daman'' (shehnai and drum). Polo, the other traditional sport of Ladakh, is indigenous to Baltistan and Gilgit, and was probably introduced into Ladakh in the mid-17th century by King Sengge Namgyal, Singge Namgyal, whose mother was a Balti princess. Polo, popular among the Baltis, is an annual affair in Drass region of Kargil district. The Ladakh Marathon is a high-altitude marathon held in Leh every year since 2012. Held at a height of , it is one of the world's highest marathons.


Social status of women

A feature of Ladakhi society that distinguishes it from the rest of the state is the high status and relative emancipation enjoyed by women compared to other rural parts of India. Fraternal polyandry and inheritance by primogeniture were common in Ladakh until the early 1940s when these were made illegal by the government of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the practice remained in existence into the 1990s especially among the elderly and the more isolated rural populations. Another custom is known as ''khang-bu'', or 'little house', in which the elders of a family, as soon as the eldest son has sufficiently matured, retire from participation in affairs, yielding the headship of the family to him and taking only enough of the property for their own sustenance.


Traditional medicine

Tibetan medicine has been the traditional health system of Ladakh for over a thousand years. This school of traditional healing contains elements of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, combined with the philosophy and cosmology of Tibetan Buddhism. For centuries, the only medical system accessible to the people have been the ''Sowa Rigpa, amchi'', traditional doctors following the Tibetan medical tradition. ''Sowa Rigpa, Amchi'' medicine remains a component of public health, especially in remote areas. Programmes by the government, local and international organisations are working to develop and rejuvenate this traditional system of healing. Efforts are underway to preserve the intellectual property rights of Sowa Rigpa, ''amchi'' medicine for the people of Ladakh. The government has also been trying to promote the Hippophae, sea buckthorn in the form of juice and jam, as some claim it possess medicinal properties. The National Research Institute for Sowa-Rigpa in Leh is an institute for research into traditional medicine and a hospital providing traditional treatments.


Education

According to the 2001 census, the overall literacy rate in Leh District is 62% (72% for males and 50% for females), and in Kargil District 58% (74% for males and 41% for females). Traditionally there was little or nothing by way of formal education except in the monasteries. Usually, one son from every family was obliged to master the Tibetan script in order to read the holy books. The Moravian Church, Moravian Mission opened a school in Leh in October 1889, and the ''Wazir-i Wazarat'' (''ex officio'' Joint Commissioner with a British officer) of Baltistan and Ladakh ordered that every family with more than one child should send one of them to school. This order met with great resistance from the local people who feared that the children would be forced to convert to Christianity. The school taught Tibetan, Urdu, English, Geography, Sciences, Nature study, Arithmetic, Geometry and Bible study. It is still in existence today. The first local school to provide western education was opened by a local Society called "Lamdon Social Welfare Society" in 1973. Later, with support from Dalai Lama and some international organisations, the school, now known as Lamdon Model Senior Secondary School, has grown to accommodate approximately two thousand pupils in several branches. It prides itself on preserving Ladakhi tradition and culture. Schools are well distributed throughout Ladakh but 75% of them provide only primary education. 65% of children attend school, but absenteeism of both students and teachers remains high. In both districts the failure rate at school-leaving level (Education in India, class X) had for many years been around 85%–95%, while of those managing to scrape through, barely half succeeded in qualifying for college entrance (class XII). Before 1993, students were taught in Urdu until they were 14, after which the medium of instruction shifted to English. In 1994 the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) launched Operation New Hope (ONH), a campaign to provide "culturally appropriate and locally relevant education" and make government schools more functional and effective. University of Ladakh and Eliezer Joldan Memorial College Leh, Ladakh, Eliezer Joldan Memorial College, a government degree college, enables students to pursue higher education without having to leave Ladakh. The Indian Astronomical Observatory is located in Hanle (village), Hanle and is operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. In December 2019, the union minister of state for home affairs Mr G. Kishan Reddy, G Kishan Reddy, in a written response has stated in Parliament that the Government of India has approved to establish a Medical College and National Research Institute for Sowa-Rigpa in the district of Leh. In August 2021, the Parliament of India amended the Central university (India), Central Universities Act to establish a central university in Ladakh named "Sindhu Central University".


Media

The government radio broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) and government television station Doordarshan have stations in Leh that broadcast local content for a few hours a day. Beyond that, Ladakhis produce feature films that are screened in auditoriums and community halls. They are often made on fairly modest budgets. On 14 December 2021, the first FM radio station in Ladakh was established in
Leh Leh () is the joint capital and largest town of the union territory A union territory ( hi, script=latn, kendraśāsit pradeś, , centrally administered province) is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrat ...

Leh
. There are a handful of private news outlets. * ''Reach Ladakh Bulletin'', a biweekly newspaper in English, is the only print media published by and for Ladakhis. * ''Rangyul'' or ''Kargil Number'' is a newspaper published from Kashmir covering Ladakh in English and Urdu. * ''Ladags Melong'', an initiative of SECMOL, was published from 1992 to 2005 in English and Ladakhi. * ''Sintic Magazine'', a lifestyle and tourist magazine of Ladakh, was started in 2018 in English. Some publications that cover Jammu and Kashmir as a whole provide some coverage of Ladakh. * ''The Daily Excelsior'' claims to be "The largest circulated daily of Jammu and Kashmir". * ''Epilogue'', a monthly magazine covering Jammu and Kashmir. * ''Kashmir Times'', a daily newspaper covering Jammu and Kashmir.


Gallery

File:Pensi La-Stod.JPG, Pensi La File:Lake-on-shingo-la.jpg, Shingo La File:Shanti Stupa, Leh, 20180814.jpg, Shanti Stupa, Leh File:Front of the Thiksey Monastery.jpg, Front of the Thiksey Monastery File:Likir (224).jpg, Likir Monastery File:Himalayan Backdrop near Leh.jpg, Trees nestled in front of the Himalayas near Leh File:Nubra Valley view with Reflection.jpg, Nubra Valley view with reflection File:Mune wall col.jpg, Carved stone tablets, each with the inscription "Om Mani Padme Hum" along the paths of Zanskar


See also

* Balti language * Ladakh Buddhist Association * Ladakh (Lok Sabha constituency) * Ladakh Police * Ladakh Scouts * Ladakh Union Territory Front * Polyandry in Tibet


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * ** ** * *


Further reading

* Allan, Nigel J. R. 1995 ''Karakorum Himalaya: Sourcebook for a Protected Area''.
IUCN
* Alexander Cunningham, Cunningham, Alexander. 1854. ''Ladak: Physical, Statistical, and Historical; with notices of the surrounding countries''. Reprint: Sagar Publications, New Delhi. 1977. * Ippolito Desideri, Desideri, Ippolito (1932). ''An Account of Tibet: The Travels of Ippolito Desideri 1712–1727''. Ippolito Desideri. Edited by Filippo De Filippi (explorer), Filippo De Filippi. Introduction by C. Wessels. Reproduced by Rupa & Co, New Delhi. 2005 * Drew, Federic. 1877. ''The Northern Barrier of India: a popular account of the Jammoo and Kashmir Territories with Illustrations.'' 1st edition: Edward Stanford, London. Reprint: Light & Life Publishers, Jammu. 1971. * Francke, A. H. (1914), 1920, 1926. ''Antiquities of Indian Tibet. Vol. 1: Personal Narrative; Vol. 2: The Chronicles of Ladak and Minor Chronicles, texts and translations, with Notes and Maps''. Reprint: 1972. S. Chand & Co., New Delhi.
Google Books
* Gielen, U. P. 1998. "Gender roles in traditional Tibetan cultures". In L. L. Adler (Ed.), ''International handbook on gender roles'' (pp. 413–437). Westport, CT: Greenwood. * Gillespie, A. (2007)
Time, Self and the Other: The striving tourist in Ladakh, north India
In Livia Simao and Jaan Valsiner (eds) ''Otherness in question: Development of the self''. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, Inc. * Gillespie, A. (2007)
In the other we trust: Buying souvenirs in Ladakh, north India
In Ivana Markova and Alex Gillespie (Eds.), ''Trust and distrust: Sociocultural perspectives''. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, Inc. * ''The Road to Lamaland'' by Louis Gompertz, Martin Louis Alan Gompertz * ''Magic Ladakh'' by Louis Gompertz, Martin Louis Alan Gompertz * Gordon, T. E. 1876. ''The Roof of the World: Being the Narrative of a Journey over the high plateau of Tibet to the Russian Frontier and the Oxus sources on Pamir.'' Edinburgh. Edmonston and Douglas. Reprint: Ch'eng Wen Publishing Company. Tapei. 1971. * Ham, Peter Van. 2015. '' Indian Tibet Tibetan India: The Cultural Legacy of the Western Himalayas''. Niyogi Books. . * Halkias, Georgios (2009) "Until the Feathers of the Winged Black Raven Turn White: Sources for the Tibet-Bashahr Treaty of 1679–1684", in ''Mountains, Monasteries and Mosques'', ed. John Bray. Supplement to Rivista Orientali, pp. 59–7
Until the Feathers of the Winged Black Raven Turn White: Sources for the Tibet-Bashahr Treaty of 1679–1684
* Halkias, Georgios (2010). ''The Muslim Queens of the Himalayas: Princess Exchange in Ladakh and Baltistan.'' In Islam-Tibet: Interactions along the Musk Routes, eds. Anna Akasoy et al. Ashgate Publications, 231–252
The Muslim Queens of the Himalayas: Princess Exchanges in Baltistan and Ladakh
* Andrew Harvey (religious writer), Harvey, Andrew. 1983. ''A Journey in Ladakh''. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York. * K. N. Pandit, Pandit, K. N. (1986). ''Ladakh, life & culture.'' Srinagar, Kashmir, India: Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University. * Knight, E. F. 1893. ''Where Three Empires Meet: A Narrative of Recent Travel in: Kashmir, Western Tibet, Gilgit, and the adjoining countries''. Longmans, Green, and Co., London. Reprint: Ch'eng Wen Publishing Company, Taipei. 1971. * Knight, William, Henry. 1863. ''Diary of a Pedestrian in Cashmere and Thibet''. Richard Bentley, London. Reprint 1998: Asian Educational Services, New Delhi. * William Moorcroft (explorer), Moorcroft, William and Trebeck, George. 1841. ''Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Panjab; in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz, and Bokhara ... from 1819 to 1825'', Vol. II. Reprint: New Delhi, Sagar Publications, 1971. * Norberg-Hodge, Helena. 2000. ''Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh''. Rider Books, London. * Peissel, Michel. 1984. ''The Ants' Gold: The Discovery of the Greek El Dorado in the Himalayas''. Harvill Press, London. * Rizvi, Janet. 1998. ''Ladakh, Crossroads of High Asia''. Oxford University Press. 1st edition 1963. 2nd revised edition 1996. 3rd impression 2001. . * Sen, Sohini. 2015. ''Ladakh: A Photo Travelogue''. Niyogi Books. . * ''Trekking in Zanskar & Ladakh: Nubra Valley, Tso Moriri & Pangong Lake, Step By step Details of Every Trek: a Most Authentic & Colourful Trekkers' guide with maps 2001–2002'' * Zeisler, Bettina. (2010). "East of the Moon and West of the Sun? Approaches to a Land with Many Names, North of Ancient India and South of Khotan." In: ''The Tibet Journal'', Special issue. Autumn 2009 vol XXXIV n. 3-Summer 2010 vol XXXV n. 2. "The Earth Ox Papers", edited by Roberto Vitali, pp. 371–463.


External links


Government of Ladakh official website
{{Authority control Ladakh, States and territories established in 2019 Union territories of India North India, * History of the Republic of India 2019 establishments in India Territorial disputes of Pakistan Territorial disputes of China Disputed territories in Asia States and union territories of India