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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Ladakh (Hindi: लद्दाख़; Ladakhi: ལ་དྭགས ; Urdu: لَدّاخ‎) is a region in extreme north of India, bordering Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Lit. meaning "land of high passes". It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Himalayan region of north India. The population of Ladakh is mostly follower of Buddhism and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet which is its bordering region.

Variants of name


Ladakh is the highest plateau in the state of Jammu & Kashmir with much of it being over 3,000 m. It currently extends from the Kunlun mountain range to the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys (now mostly in Pakistan), the entire upper Indus Valley, the remote Zanskar, Lahaul and Spiti to the south, much of Ngari including the Rudok region and Guge in the east, Aksai Chin in the northeast (extending to the Kun Lun Mountains), and the Nubra Valley to the north over Khardong La in the Ladakh Range. Contemporary Ladakh borders 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 across the Karakoram Pass in the far north.

Ladakh got the statehood

Since Indian independence, Ladakh had been a part of J&K state. On 31 October 2019, via a notification[1], the Government of India has split the J&K state in two centrally-administered states (Union Territories) - Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The state of J&K would have a Vidhan Sabha (Assembly) with its summer capital in Srinagar and the winter capital, in Jammu. Ladakh will function without an Assembly because of its low population, and the Lt.-Governor, appointed by Central Government will act as Chief Minister, with residence in its capital city, Leh which is located at a very high plateau, with a small airport too.


V. S. Agrawala[2] writes that Panini mentions Pura (IV.2.122) ending names of towns like Lalatapura (Lalāṭapura) - probably in the region called Lalāṭāksha, modern Ladakh, Sabhaparva (47.15)

Rock carvings found in many parts of Ladakh indicate that the area has been inhabited from Neolithic times.[3] Ladakh's earliest inhabitants consisted of a mixed Indo-Aryan population of Mons and Dards,[4] who find mention in the works of Herodotus, who mentions twice a people called Dadikai, first along with the Gandarioi, and again in the catalogue of king Xerxes's army invading Greece. Herodotus also mentions the gold-digging ants of Central Asia.

Pliny, In the 1st century, repeats that the Dards were great producers of gold.

Ptolemy situates the Daradrai on the upper reaches of the Indus.

Dards find mention by Nearchus, Megasthenes and in the geographical lists of the Puranas.[5] Around the 1st century, Ladakh was a part of the Kushana empire.

Buddhism spread into western Ladakh from Kashmir in the 2nd century when much of eastern Ladakh and western Tibet was still practising the Bon religion. The 7th century Buddhist traveler Xuanzang describes the region in his accounts. [6] Xuanzang describes a journey from Ch'u-lu-to (Kuluta, Kullu) to Lo-hu-lo (Lahul), then goes on saying that "from there to the north, for over 2000 li, the road is very difficult, with cold wind and flying snow"; thus one arrives in the kingdom of Mo-lo-so, or Mar-sa, synonymous with Mar-yul, a common name for Ladakh. Elsewhere, the text remarks that Mo-lo-so, also called San-po-ho borders with Suvarnagotra or Suvarnabhumi (Land of Gold), identical with the Kingdom of Women (Strirajya). According to Tucci, the Zan-zun kingdom, or at least its southern districts were known by this name by the 7th century Indians.

Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. Aksai Chin is one of the disputed border areas between China and India.[6] It is administered by China as part of Hotan County but is also claimed by India as a part of the Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1962, China and India fought a brief war over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, but in 1993 and 1996 the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control.[7]

In the past Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes,[8] but since the Chinese authorities closed the borders with Tibet and Central Asia in the 1960s, international trade has dwindled except for tourism. Since 1974, the Government of India has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh. Since Ladakh is a part of strategically important Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian military maintains a strong presence in the region.

The largest town in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil.[9] Almost half of Ladakhis are Shia Muslims and the rest are mostly Tibetan Buddhists.[10]

In terms of pronunciation, the use of ..."Ladakh, the Persian transliteration of the Tibetan La-dvags, is warranted by the pronunciation of the word in several Tibetan districts."[11]

In Mahabharata

Lalataksha (ललाटाक्ष) in Mahabharata (II.47.15)

Sabha Parva, Mahabharata/Book II Chapter 47 mentions the Kings who brought tributes to Yudhishthira. Lalataksha (ललाटाक्ष) is mentioned in Mahabharata (II.47.15) [12]

ललाटाक्ष = ललाताक्ष

ललाटाक्ष = ललाताक्ष = लदाख (AS, p.812): विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[13] ने लेख किया है ..... ललाटाक्ष अथवा 'ललाताक्ष' नामक प्राचीन स्थान का उल्लेख महाभारत, सभापर्व में हुआ है- 'द्वयक्षांस्त्र्यक्षाल्लंलाटाक्षान् (=ललाताक्षान्) नानादिग्भ्य: समागतान्, औष्णीकानन्त वासांश्च रोमकान् पुरुषाकान्।'महाभारत, सभापर्व 51,17. इस प्रसंग में युधिष्ठिर के राजसूय यज्ञ में विदेशों से भांति-भांति के उपहार लेकर आने वाले विभिन्न लोगों के वर्णन में 'ललाटाक्षों' (ललाताक्षों) का उल्लेख भी किया गया है। विद्वानों के मत में द्वय्क्ष, बदख्शां, त्र्यक्ष, तरखान तथा ललाटाक्ष 'लदाख' या 'लद्दाख' है। ऐसा प्रतीत होता है कि महाभारतकार ने यहाँ विदेशी नामों को संस्कृत में रूपांतरित करके लिखा है। वैसे इन शब्दों को टीकाकारों ने सार्थक बनाने का प्रयत्न किया है, जैसे- ललाटाक्ष को ललाट पर आंखों वाले [p.813]: मनुष्य कहा गया है। उपर्युक्त श्लोक में संभवतः इन सभी विदेशी लोगों को पगड़ी धारण करने वाला कहा गया है। (दे. द्वय्क्ष, त्र्यक्ष)


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[14] ने लेख किया है ...द्वय्क्ष (AS, p.461) महाभारतकालीन एक प्रदेश था। महाभारत के उपायन अनुपर्व में युधिष्ठिर के राजसूय यज्ञ में नाना प्रकार के उपहार लाने वाले विदेशियों में 'द्वय्क्ष' तथा 'त्र्यक्ष' नाम के लोग भी हैं- 'द्वय्क्षांस्त्र्क्षाल्ललाटाक्षान् नानादिग्भ्य: समागतान्, औष्णीकान त्तवासांश्च रोमकान् पुरुषादकान्'। उपर्युक्त प्रसंगानुसार द्वय्क्ष भारत की उत्तर-पश्चिमी सीमा के परवर्ती प्रदेशों में रहने वाले लोग जान पड़ते हैं। कुछ विद्वानों का मत है कि द्वय्क्ष बदख्शाँ का और त्र्यक्ष तरखान का प्राचीन भारतीय नाम है। ये प्रदेश आजकल अफ़ग़ानिस्तान तथा दक्षिणी रूस में हैं। इन्हें उपर्युक्त उल्लेख में संभवत: औष्णीष या पगड़ी धारण करने वाला कहा गया है। ललाटाक्ष संभवत: लद्दाख का नाम है। (दे. त्र्यक्ष, ललाटाक्ष)


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[15] ने लेख किया है ...त्र्यक्ष (AS, p.419): त्र्यक्ष तथा 'द्वय्क्ष' देशों से आये हुए लोगों का उल्लेख महाभारत में हुआ है। ये लोग पाण्डव युधिष्ठिर के राजसूय यज्ञ में भाग लेने आये थे। प्रसंग से ये लोग भारत की उत्तर-पश्चिमी सीमा के परिवर्ती प्रदेशों के निवासी जान पड़ते हैं। 'द्वय्क्षांस्त्रयक्षार्ल्लेटाक्षान् नानादिग्भ्य: समागतान् औष्णीकानन्तवासांश्च रोमकान् पुरुषादकान्। एकपादांश्चतत्राहमपश्यं द्वारिवातितान्'। महाभारत, सभापर्व 51, 17-18. यहाँ दुर्योधन ने युधिष्ठिर के राजसूय यज्ञ में विदेशों से उपहार लेकर आने वाले विभिन्न देशवासियों का वर्णन किया है। इनमें 'द्वय्क्ष' तथा 'त्र्यक्ष' देशों से आए हुए लोग भी शामिल थे। ये लोग भारत की उत्तर-पश्चिमी सीमा के परिवर्ती प्रदेशों के निवासी माने गये हैं। कुछ विद्वानों के मत में त्र्यक्ष, 'तरखान' (दक्षिणी रूस में स्थित) का नाम है और 'द्वय्क्ष' बदख़शां का। उपर्युक्त उद्धरण में इन लोगों को औष्णीय या पगड़ी धारण करने वाला बताया गया है, जो इन ठंडे प्रदेशों के निवासियों के लिए स्वाभाविक बात मानी जा सकती है। (दे. द्वय्क्ष, ललाटाक्ष)

External links


  1. [1]
  2. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.64
  3. Loram, Charlie (2004) [2000]. Trekking in Ladakh (2nd ed.). Trailblazer Publications.
  4. Ray, John (2005). Ladakhi Histories — Local and Regional Perspectives. Leiden, Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV.
  5. Petech, Luciano (1977). The Kingdom of Ladakh c. 950–1842 A.D. Istituto Italiano per il media ed Estremo Oriente.
  6. See The Kingdom of Ladakh c. 950–1842 A.D., Istituto Italiano per il media ed Estremo Oriente, 1977.
  7. "India-China Border Dispute".
  8. Rizvi, Janet (2001). Trans-Himalayan Caravans – Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh. Oxford India Paperbacks.
  9. Osada et al. (2000), p. 298.
  10. Rizvi, Janet (1996). Ladakh — Crossroads of High Asia. Oxford University Press.
  11. Francke(1926) Vol. I, p. 93, notes.
  12. द्वयक्षांस त्र्यक्षाँल ललाटाक्षान नानादिग्भ्य: समागतान्, औष्णीषान अनिवासांश च बाहुकान पुरुषादकान (II.47.15)
  13. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.812
  14. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.461
  15. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.419

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