Beautiful Ladakh:  A desert located at the world' highest heights

04 Feb 2018 14:23:59




The area of Ladakh, of which 59,000 is under Indian control, is at a height of 3,000 meter from sea-level. There are Buddhist monasteries in large number in Ladakh, where one can experience the inner peace, away from the humdrum of the external world.


The king Bhagan of Namagyal organised Ladakh and established the rule of Namagyal dynasty. This dynasty bravely countered the barbaric attacks of invaders from Middle Asia. They were defeated in the battle with Moghuls but it was difficult for Moghals to run the administration in Ladakh and therefore Ladakh mostly remained an independent region.


In the year 1834, Jorawar Singh, the commander of Jammu Maharaja Gulab Singh, conquered Ladakh and merged it with Jammu state. The state of Stoke was given to Namagyal family.


During the 1850s some European geologists, tourists and those interested in adventure sports were attracted towards Ladakh. In the year 1885, Morabian church established its headquarters in Leh.


Historically, the areas of Baltistan valley, Sindhu valley, Suru valley, Changthang, Nubra, Leh and Janskar area is known as Ladakh. South of it is Lahaul-Spiti, Tibet in East, Jammu & Kashmir in West and Jinjiyang in north. Situated between the main Himalayas and the Kunlun mountain range, Ladakh has been the place with scattered population. The highest peaks are Godvin Austin (K2, 8611 meter) and Gasherbroom (8068 meter).


The climate here is very dry and hard. The annual rainfall is 3.2 inch and annual average temperature is 5 degree Celsius. The rivers can flow only for a short period of the year, while in the remaining period they are covered with snow. Sindhu is the main river. In the North are Karakorum Mountain and its pass. There are mountain heights from 9000 feet in Kargil to 25,000 feet high in Karakorum.



In the year 1948, the Pakistani invaders reached up to Ladakh and even today its 69,000 land is under illegal occupation of Pakistan. In the action of Indian army, the areas of Drass, Kargil and Leh were freed. In Skardu area, the Army of Maharaja was fighting till August 14, 1948 but did not succeed because the Government of India could not dispatch its troops timely, resulting in this area is stilled occupied by Pakistan.


In the year 1949, China closed the road of Nubra and Jinjiyang. In 1955, it built the road linking Jinjiyang and Tibet. With the help of Pakistan, China also made Karakorum highway. Meanwhile, India also created the Srinagar-Leh highway through which one can reach Leh in just two days, while earlier it would take 16 days to reaching there.


The Kargil area of Ladakh has been the main centre of battle during the year 1947, 1965 and 1971. Situated in north-east of Ladakh the Siachin Glacier has always been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan since 1984. This area is known as the highest battle spot for the longest duration because of the constant presence of Indian and Pakistani Armies here. In the year 1999, the Pakistani soldiers intruded into our strategic Kargil hills and occupied them, for vacation of which India had to engage in a limited war.


Ladakh is one of the deserts located at the world's highest heights. We get the monsoon rains in India due to the Himalayan Mountains, but the same Himalayan Mountains cause draught conditions in Ladakh. There is scarcity of rains here and the only source of drinking water is snowfall in winter. The summer is very short but the temperature during that period is between 5 to 30 degree Celsius. The winter season is longer and the temperature dips to between -5 and -35 degree Celsius.


On July 1, 1979 Ladakh was divided into two districts—Leh and Kargil. Like in Gorkhaland of West Bengal both these districts are governed by local Hills Development Council. The total population of Ladakh is about 3.5 lakh and the area is 59,146 There is one Lok Sabha and four Assembly seats in Ladakh. Kargil has two Assembly seats—Janskar and Kargil. Two Assembly seats—Nobra and Leh are in Leh. Both the districts fall under Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency. The number of voters in Jammu & Kashmir is about 65 lakh, of which 1.5 lakh is in Ladakh.  Leh, Janskar, Changthang, Nubra are the Buddhist-dominated valleys, while Suru is fully Muslim-dominated. China considers Ladakh to be a part of western Tibet and wants to expand its territory till Sindhu River. It has its eyes in this area since 1950.


During the invasion of 1962, China took the illegal possession of 36500 sq. km. area in Ladakh. Later, another 5,500 land was given to it by Pakistan on a platter.


[This article is an extract from the book “Jammu Kashmir: An Analysis of Facts” authored by Sh. Ashutosh. Further chapters of this book will be covered later in a series.]



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