Ladakh is one of the highest and driest inhabited areas of the earth. It is the largest province in the northernmost Indian state Jammu & Kashmir and borders on Tibet and Pakistan. The populated valleys of Ladakh lie at an average altitude of 3,500 m, the capital Leh (15,000 inhabitants) is located in a side valley of the Indus. The area is very sparsely populated; only 230,000 people live on an area of almost 100,000 km2.
Culture and religion
More than 90% of the people living in central Ladakh are Buddhists. This religion was already brought to the Himalayas by India more than 2,000 years ago and has since become deeply rooted. Ladakh is characterised by its Tibetan-Buddhist culture but also contains a Moslem minority.
The original inhabitants of Ladakh were presumably nomad tribes from the Tibetan highlands and Buddhist fugitives from northern India. Later, these two groups were united.
The first independent kingdom was founded In the 9th century. At this point in time, Buddhism had also found its way from India over the Himalayas.
In the 15th century, Ladakh lived through dark ages and was the scene of religious revolution. During this time it was occupied by various foreign nations (13th to 16th century).
Around 1470, the king in Ladakh was deprived of his power and the independence of the Buddhist land was restored.
From 1550 on, Ladakh recovered rapidly and bloomed once more; This only ended when it was conquered at the beginning of the 18th century by the Dogra-Rajas, a hinduistic dynasty.
1947, India became independent once more.
In 1948, after the first Indian-Pakistani war in the region, Ladakh became part of the independent State of India. Even today, neither the international boundary nor the so-called armistice line has been recognized and, therefore, this fact has become a continuous source of tension between Delhi and Islamabad.