Ladakh History, Geography, Economy, Polity and Districts
Through this chapter, we will know the detailed and important information of Ladakh, in which important and interesting information like history, geography, economy, education, culture and world famous tourist places located in the state have been added. Apart from this, the recent developments and changes in the state of Ladakh have also been explained in detail. This chapter is full of interesting facts for the competitive aspirants as well as the readers.
Ladakh is a Union Territory of India located in the northern side of India and in the past it has been a part of a large area of Kashmir. It is bordered by Tibet in the east, and is situated between the Karakoram mountain in the north and the Himalayan mountain in the south. It extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range in the north to the main Great Himalayas in the south. The eastern end of Ladakh, consisting of the uninhabited Aksai Chin plains, has been under Chinese control since 1962. The area of Ladakh is 97,776 square kilometers. The region is of great importance from a strategic point of view due to the border situation. It is bordered by China in the north and Tibet in the east. The north-western region of Ladakh falls in the mountainous order of the Himalayas, due to which most of the land area here is not arable. Godwin Austin, the highest mountain peak in Ladakh, also known as K2, has an elevation of 8,611 meters, followed by Gashrubroom I, with an altitude of 8,068 meters, the two highest peaks in Ladakh.
The largest city of Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil, both of which have headquarters in each district. The Leh district consists of Indus, Shyok and Nubra river valleys. Kargil district consists of Suru, Dras and Zanskar river valleys. The main populated area, also has river valleys, but the slopes of the mountain support the rustic Changpa nomads. The main religious groups in the region are Muslims (mainly Shia) (46%), Tibetan Buddhists (40%), Hindus (12%) and others (2%). Hemis Gompa is the largest religious institution of Buddhists. Ladakh is one of the most populous regions in India and its culture and history are closely related to Tibet. It is famous for its remote hill beauty and culture.
As of 2019, Ladakh was a region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In August 2019, the Parliament of India passed an Act by which Ladakh became a Union Territory on 31 October 2019.
The name Ladakh in Ladakhi means "land of high passes", it connected India with the Silk Road. Ladakh is pronounced in many Tibetan districts and Ladakh is a transliteration of the Persian spelling. This region was earlier known as Maryam. Rock carvings found in many parts of Ladakh suggest that the region has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. The earliest inhabitants of Ladakh included a mixed Indo-Aryan population of Mons and Dards, which are noted in the works of Herodotus and classical writers as well as the Indian Puranas. Around the first century, Ladakh used to be a part of the Kushan Empire. Buddhism spread from Kashmir to western Ladakh in the second century. The 7th century Buddhist traveler Xuanzang describes the region in his accounts. The word Xuanzang of Ladakh is Mo-lo-so, which scholars have reconstructed as Malasa, or Marasa, which is believed to be the original name of the region. Between Kashmir and Zhangjhung, Ladakh is believed to have been alternately under the control of one or the other of these powers. Scholars find strong influences of the Zhangzung language and culture from the central part of the Indus Valley in the southeast. It is said that the king of Ladakh was Zhangzhuang.
In February 2019, Ladakh became a separate revenue and administrative division within Jammu and Kashmir, formerly part of the Kashmir division. As a division, Ladakh was provided its own divisional commissioner and inspector general of police. Leh was initially chosen as the headquarters of the new division, although following protests, it was announced that Leh and Kargil would jointly serve as divisional headquarters, each hosting an additional divisional commissioner who would The Divisional Commissioner and the Inspector General of Police will assist.
The area of Ladakh is 97,776 square kilometer. Due to the border position, this area is of great importance from the strategic point of view. It is bordered by China in the north and Tibet in the east. The north-western region of Ladakh comes in the mountain range of the Himalayas, due to which most of the land area here is not cultivable. The highest mountain peak in Ladakh, Godwin Austin, also known as K2, has an elevation of 8,611 m. The largest city in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil, both of which have the headquarters of each district. Leh district consists of the Indus, Shyok and Nubra river basins. The Kargil district comprises the Suru, Dras and Zanskar river basins. The main populated area, too, has river valleys, but the mountain slopes support the pastoral Changpa nomads.
Ladakh is the highest plateau in India with most of it being over 3,000 meters (9,800 ft). It extends from the Himalayas to the Kunlun range and includes the upper Indus River Valley. It includes Baltistan, Indus Valley, Zanskar, Lahaul and Spiti in the south, Rudok and Gule in the east, Aksaichin and Nubra Valley across Khardungla in the north. Ladakh borders Tibet in the east, Lahaul and Spiti in the south, Jammu and Kashmir and Baltistan in the west and the Trans Kunlun region of Jinjiang on that side of the Karakoram Pass in the far north. The Indus River is the lifeline of Ladakh. Most of the historical and current places such as Leh, She, Basgo, Tingmosgung are situated along the Indus shore. After Indo-Pak war of 1947, only this part of Indus flows from Ladakh.
Indus is a revered river in Hinduism, which flows only in Ladakh. The Siachen Glacier is in the eastern Karakoram borderline in the Himalayan Mountains along the Indo-Pakistan border. The Karakoram border forms a great water zone that separates China from the Indian subcontinent and is also known as the "Third Pole". The 70-km-long glacier is the longest in Karakoram and the second longest glacier on earth except the poles. It rises from 3620 meters at its mouth to 5753 meters high at the Indira point on the China border. The pass and some high peaks near it are in the possession of both countries.
Radhakrishna Mathur is the current Deputy Governor of Ladakh. Under the terms of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, Ladakh is administered as a union territory without a legislative assembly or an elected government. The head of the government is a Lieutenant Governor appointed by the President of India, assisted by civil servants of the Indian Administrative Service. Ladakh is under the jurisdiction of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The Union Territory of Ladakh has its own police force headed by the Director General of Police.
Ladakh is a biomass based economy. Crops like barley, wheat and peas are grown. Western farming practices like heavy use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers have increased the quality of agriculture which has affected the economy of Ladakh. Ladakh is an exporter of pashmina products and dried apricots.
The main crop is barley, which is roasted and ground into a powder called tsampa. It was the staple food of Ladakh. Barley is also used to make a local beer called Chang. Other crops are wheat, vegetables, mustard, apples and apricots.
According to the 2001 census, Leh district has an overall literacy rate of 62%, with males at 72% and females at 50%, and Kargil district at 58% with males at 74% and females at 41%. Traditionally there was little or nothing through formal education except in monasteries. Usually, a son of every family was obliged to master the Tibetan script to read the holy books. The Moravian Mission opened a school in Leh in October 1889, and Wazir-e Wazarat of Baltistan and Ladakh ordered that each family with more than one child should send one of them to school.
Minerals such as arsenic ores, borax, gold, granite, limestone, marble and sulfur. These minerals are found in Ladakh which provide the basis for the formation of various mineral based industries in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
The population of Ladakh in 2020 is estimated to be 289 thousand (2.8 lakhs), as per Unique Identification Aadhaar India, updated on 31 May 2020, Ladakh has an estimated population of 289,023 as of mid-year 2020.
Goncha (Traditional Ladakhi Robe) Talking about the costumes of Ladakh, people wear a thick woolen garment called Goncha (Traditional Gown) like tipi (cap), lokpa (a thick cloak worn only by women to provide extra warmth) is), bok, shawl or tsa-tsar for men.
Ladakh's most prominent food items are thukpa (noodle soup) and tsampa, known as napkins (roasted barley flour) in Ladakhi as Ladakh moves towards a cash-based economy, from the plains of India. Foods are becoming common. Like other parts of Central Asia, tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter and salt.
Religious mask dances are an important part of the cultural life of Ladakh. The Hemis Math is a major center of the Drukpa tradition of Buddhism, which hosts an annual mask dance ceremony in the form of all the major Ladakhi monasteries. The dances usually tell the story of the battle between good and evil, ending with the former's final victory. Weaving is an important part of traditional life in eastern Ladakh. Both women and men weave on looms separately.
Ladakhi language is the predominant language in the Buddhist majority district of Leh. Ladakhi has about 30,000 speakers in India, and perhaps 20,000 speakers in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, mostly in the Qiantang region. Shamskat spoken in the north-west of Leh; Stotskat, spoken in the Indus Valley and which is tonal unlike the others; and Nubra is spoken north of Leh. It is a distinct language from the related Purigi and Balti spoken in the adjacent Kargil district.
The most prominent foods of Ladakh are thukpa (noodle soup) and tsampa, known as napkin (roasted barley flour) in Ladakhi. As Ladakh moves towards a cash-based economy, from the plains of India Food items are becoming more common. Like other parts of Central Asia, tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter and salt.
Ladakh Harvest Festival is celebrated every year from 1st to 15th September. The festival begins in Leh with a procession of cultural troupes through the Leh Market. People wear bright traditional clothes and a range of music and dance performances take place. Apart from this, there are important festivals like Stok Guru Tsechu, Matho Nagrang, Shak Dawa, Sindhu Darshan etc. in Ladakh.
The tribes constitute 90% of the population of Ladakh - made up of Leh and Kargil districts. The Gurjars, Bakarwals, Bots, Changpas, Baltis and Purigpas have played important roles in the various wars that have been fought, and have been displaced by border tensions.
Ladakh is quite famous for its scintillating mountains and lascivious valleys; All these make it a favorite destination among travellers. Some of the top places for trekking and camping include Tso Moriri, Stok Kangri, Chadar and Markha Valley. Some of the famous places in Ladakh are Pangong Tso Lake, Thiksey Monastery, Khardung-La Pass, Markha Valley, Nubra Valley, Tso Moriri Lake, Hemis National Park, Diskit Monastery, to name a few.
The Union Territory of Ladakh, consists of two districts. Each district elects an autonomous district council. As of 31 October 2019, these districts were part of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir. Two districts of Ladakh: Kargil and Leh.