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The Kingdom of Ladakh
La Dak
[[]] [[]]
Flag Roundel
Capital Leh
Coordinates latitude: 39° 08' 43" N
longitude: 77° 34' 03" E
Government constitutional hereditary monarchy
Legislature National Council
Head of State His Majesty Jigme Wangchuk Namgyal (1985)
Head of Government ?
Demonym Ladakhi
Foundation 1842
Independence 1842
League of Nations 1981
Himalayan Confederacy 1981
Himalayan Postal Union 1985
Constitution 1990
Area 45,110 km²
17,417 mi²
Population 134,000
Ethnicities Tibetans 72%
Brokpa Dards 15%
Sikhs 8%
Hindus 5%
Official Ladakhi 72%
Hindi 8%
Punjabi 5%
Official Vajrayana Buddhism 87%
Other Krishnaism 8%
Sikhism 5%
Other Dardic 15%
Currency 1 Himalayan Rupee (Rs) = 20 anna (a) = 240 paise (p)
Time zone UTC +6:00
DST not observed
License Plate Code LD
Telephone Code 444
Organizations League of Nations
Himalayan Confederacy


Ladakh, History of

The Yarlung Rajas of Ladakh

Name Relationship Reign Died Notes
Depel Khostsan king of Tibet
Nyima Gon son of preceding 930 flees to w. Tibet; annexes Leh; founds first Ladakh dynasty
1) Palgye Gon son of Nyima Gon
king of Ngari
930-960 990 king of Upper Ladakh
2) Drogon son of 1) 990-1020 1020
3) Lhachen Drakpa De son of 2) 1020-1050 1050
4) Lhachen Changchub Sempa son of 3) 1020-1080 1080
5) Lhachen Gyalpo son of 4) 1050-1080 1080
6) Lhachen Utpala son of 5) 1080-1110 conquers Purang, Purig, Kulu, Mustang, and parts of Baltistan
7) Lhachen Baglug son of 6) 1110-1140 1140 builds first castle in Ladakh
8) Lachen Gebhe son of 7) 1140-1170 1170
9) Lhachan Jospal son of 8) 1170-1200 1200
10) Lhachen Tashi Gon son of 9) 1200-1230 1230 survives invasion of Genghis Khan
11) Kunga Namgyal son of 10) 1230-1260 1260
12) Lhachen Jopal son of 11) 1260-1290 1290
13) Lhachen Dongrub son of 12) 1290-1340 1340
14) Lhachen Sherab son of 14) 1340-1380 1380
15) Lhachen Te-Chuk-De son of 14) 1380-1400 1440
16) Lhachen Trakpa Bum-De son of 15) 1400-1440 1440 king of Leh
Lhachen Drakpa Bum son of 15) 1459-1470 1470 king of Rabten Lhatse
17) Lodro Chogden son of 16) 1440-1470 ? annexes Guge; deposed in 1470
Lhachen Bhara son of Lhachen Drakpa Bum 1440. ? king of Rabten Lhatse

The Namgyal Rajas of Ladakh

Name Relationship Reign Died Notes
18) Lhachen Bhagan son of Lhachen Bara 1440-1500 annexes Leh in 1470
19) Lhachen Lawang Namgyal son of 18) 1500-1532 ? deposed
20) Lhachen Tashi Namgyal son of 19) 1500-1551 1595 repels Central Asian invaders; Ladakh annexed by Kashmir 1548-1551.
21) Tsewang Namgyal I son of 20) 1532-1560 1560 extends kingdom as far as Nepal.
22) Jamyang Namgyal son of 21) 1560-1590 1590 unsuccessful efforts by Kashmir to convert nation to Islam; loses annexed kingdoms to Skardu.
23) Senge Namgyal son of 22) 1590-1620 1620 son of 2nd wife, a Muslim; annexes Zanskar, Spiti and Guge; Nar River fixed as boundary between Tibet and Ladakh; defeats Mughals in Baltistan; acknowledges suzerainty of Mughal Empire; sides with Bhutan against Tibet; settles dispute with Tibet; independence restricted.
24) Deden Namgyal son of 23) 1620-40 1640
25) Delak Namgyal Son of 24) 1640-1680 1680 builds mosque in Leh; 1665 treaty with Tibet; loses Guge.
26) Nyima Namgyal son of 25) 1680-1720 1739 institutes council of state officers and elders; block printing press introduced.
27) Dekyong Namgyal son of 26) 1720-1740 1760
28) Phuntsok Namgyal son of 27) 1740-60 1760
29) Tsewang Namgyal II son of 27) 1760-1780 1780
30) Tseten Namgyal son of 29) 1780-1790 1790 dies of smallpox at age of 24. Gyalmo was pregnant.
31) Tsepal Tundup Namgyal son of 29) 1790-1840 1856 treaty with Jammu in 1834; deposed by Jammu; receives jagir of Stok; restored 1839;
32) Tsewang Rabten Namgyal son of 31) 1856-1873 co-ruler 1830-1837
33) Tsepal Namgyal son of 32) 1840-1842 1842 to Sikh Kashmir 1839-1840; restored.
34) Sonam Namgyal son of 33) nominal king.
35) Dadul son of 34) nominal king.
36) Kunga Namgyal son of 35) 1842 1859 nominal king; deposed; to Sikh Kashmir 1842
37) Kun Zang Namgyal great-grandson of 36) 1946-1985 1985 monarchy restored
38) Jigme Wangchuk Namgyal son of 37 1985-
Stanzin Jigme Namgyal son of 38)


The Tibetan name for the region is la-dwags meaning "land of high passes".



The Act of Succession

The Act of Succession according to which the male heirs begotten by His Majesty, the Hereditary Raja of Ladakh, shall have the right to the RoyalTthrone of Ladakh and to accede to the government of Ladakh; adopted and confirmed by His Majesty in Leh on September 26, 1810.

Preamble I, the undersigned Raja of Ladakh, have this day determined and confirmed for the legitimate direct male heirs of the Raja of Ladakh the following order of succession to the crown and government of Ladakh. applicable in the manner and on the conditions expressly set forth below.

  1. The right of succession to the throne of Ladakh is vested in the male descendants of the Raja Kun Zang Namgyal in direct line of descent. In this connection, elder sons and their descendants have precedence over younger sons and their descendants.
  2. In accordance with the express provision of Article 6 of the Constitution of the Ladakhi Kingdom, that the Raja shall always profess the Buddhist religion of the Bön School, princes and princesses of the Royal House shall be brought up in that same religion and within the Kingdom. Any member of the Royal Family not professing this religion shall be excluded from all rights of succession.
  3. A prince or princess of the Royal House may not marry unless His Majesty has given his consent thereto. Should a prince marry without such consent, that prince forfeits the right of succession for himself, his children and their descendants. Should a princess marry without such consent, that princess forfeits the right of succession for her children and their descendants.
  4. The heir to the throne may not embark on foreign travel without His Majesty's knowledge and consent.
  5. A prince or princess of the Royal House of Ladakh may not become the sovereign ruler of a foreign state, whether by election, succession, or marriage, without the consent of His Majesty. Should this occur, neither he nor she nor their descendants shall be entitled to succeed to the throne of Ladakh.


Capital Area Population Prefectures
Leh (L) Leh 45,100 km²
17,413 mi²
117,000 Nubra (LN)
Khalsi (LK)
Leh (LL)
Kharo (LR)
Durabk (LD)
Nyoma (LM)
Kargil (K) Kargil 14,086 km²
5,439 mi²
119,000 Sarku (KS)
Chiktan (KC)
Shargole (KG)
Taisu (KT)
Zanskar (KZ)
Drass (KD)
Kargil (KK)

Thus, the total area of the rajadom is 59,186 km² (22,852 mi²), somewhat smaller than the American state of West Virginia.


  • Based, as much as possible, on World Map 2001.
  • Ladakh is bordered by on the
    • North by Tibet
    • East by Tibet
    • South by Tibet
    • Southwest by Jammu
    • West by Jammu, Kashmir
  • The Kingdom of Ladakh is contiguous with *here's* Ladakh in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Siachen Glacier. It does not include Aksai Chin.

Physical Description






  • Ladakhi culture is similar to Tibetan culture. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa (noodle soup) and ngampe (roasted barley flour). Edible without cooking, ngampe makes useful trekking food.
  • A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is sku, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables.
  • Foods from the plains of India are becoming more common as a result of trade within the Himalayan Confederacy.
  • 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 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.


  • The architecture of Ladakh contains Tibetan and Indian influences and monastic architecture reflects a deeply Buddhist approach.
  • The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, is a common feature on every gompa, e.g., the gompas of Lamayuru, Likir, Thikse, Hemis, Alchi and Ridzong.
  • Many houses and monasteries are built on elevated, sunny sites facing south and, in the past, were made of rocks, earth and wood, but are now more often concrete frames filled in with stones or adobe.


  • The music of Ladakhi Buddhist monastic festivals, like Tibetan music, often involves religious chanting in Tibetan or Sanskrit 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 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. Typical costumes include gonchas of velvet, elaborately embroidered waistcoats and boots and hats.
  • The Ladakh Festival is held every year from September 1 to 15. Performers adorned with gold and silver ornaments and turquoise headgear throng the streets. Monks wear colourful masks and dance to the rhythm of cymbals, flutes and trumpets.
    • The yak, lion and Tashispa dances depict the many legends and fables of Ladakh.
    • Buddhist monasteries sporting prayer flags, displays of thankas, archery competitions, mock marriages and horse polo are some of the highlights of this festival.


  • Archery is a traditional sport in Ladakh, and many villages still hold archery festivals, which are as much about traditional dancing, drinking and gambling as about the sport. The sport is conducted with strict etiquette to the accompaniment of the music of surna and daman (shenai 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 Singge Namgyal, whose mother was a Balti princess.

Social customs

  • A feature of Ladakhi society that distinguishes it from its Himalayan neighbors is the high status and relative emancipation enjoyed by women. Fraternal polyandry and inheritance by primogeniture were common in Ladakh these were made illegal by King Jigme Wangchuk Namgyal in 1943, although they still exist in some areas.
  • 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.
  • It is the custom in Ladakh, to make presents of ibexes made of flour on the occasion of the birth of a child. This is quite interesting information. There are many pre-Buddhist rock carvings of ibex in Ladakh. The people frequent these places to pray to be blessed with children. The flour ibexes are a thank offering after the birth of a child.


  • 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 which was accessible to the people has been the amchi who are traditional doctors following the Tibetan medical tradition. Amchi medicine is still an important component of public health to this day, especially in remote areas. Efforts are being made to preserve the intellectual property rights of amchi medicine for the people of Ladakh.
  • The royal government has also been trying to promote the seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) in the form of juice and jam, as it is believed to possess many medicinal properties. This would also provide employment to the various self-help groups in rural Ladakh.
  • There are many non-governmental organizations actively working to improve the life in Ladakh such as the Ladakh Ecological Development and Environmental Group, the Leh Nutrition Project, and the Women's Alliance. LeDeG has been working actively since 1971 installing hydraulic rams to improve the water supply in the region. It has also been successful in setting up hydropower projects in the otherwise energy-starved region.

National symbols

  • National mammal: Markhor (Capra falconeri)
  • National bird: Scarlet minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus speciosa]
  • National flower: Brahma Kamal (Sausurrea obvallata)
  • National tree: Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodara)
  • National dish: sku (noodle stew, with or without mutton)
  • National emblem:
  • National aviation roundel:
  • National colors: sky blue and green
  • National instrument: Wikipedia:

Ladakhi public holidays

Date Name Notes
18 February 2015 Losar New Year - a 15-day festival of which only the first day is a legal holiday.
5 March 2015 Chotrul Düchen Butter Lamp Festival - a 15-day festival of which only the first day is a legal holiday.
21 March The King's Birthday Father's Day - His Majesty was born in 1950
18 May Founding of the Kingdom In 842, Nyima-Gon annexes Ladakh from Tibet and founds a separate Namgyal dynasty
25 May 2015 Saga Dawa Düchen The Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment, and Parinirvana
13 July The Queen's Birthday Mother's Day - Her Majesty was born in 1954
28 August 2015 Ullambana Ancestor Day
1st Monday in September Election Day In the even-numbered years; local and federal alternating, e.g., local in 2010, federal in 2012.
13 October 2015 Dashain Victory of the Goddess Durga - a 15-day festival of which only the first day is a legal holiday.
24 October Independence Day In 1842, a rebellion against Kashmir re-establishes independence a final time and restores the Namgyal dynasty
8 November Constitution Day The constitution was promulgated in 1990
11 November 2015 Diwali Hindus commemorate the return of Rama from his exile and his vanquishing Ravana; Sikhs celebrate the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind - a 5-day festival of which only the third day is a legal holiday.
19 December Coronation Day His Majesty was crowned in 1978


  • The original inhabitants of Ladakh were Tibetans who immigrated into the region from the east. They still make up 72% of the population. They brought with them the variety of Buddhism known as Bön. An Indo-European people, known as Dards immigrated from the north. They make up about 15% of the population and have become Bön Buddhists.
  • More recent immigrants from the south include Hindus and Sikhs. The Sikhs, 5% of the population, are the remnant of the brief occupation by the Sikh R.S. and are practitioners of the Udasi sect of Sikhism. They live mainly in the northern part of the Province of Kargil, although some live in the capital cities of Kargil and Leh. Most of them work in the business world or are in civil service. Their language Punjabi is one of the official languages of the Rajadom.
  • The other group of immigrants from the south are the Indians, 8% of the population, who remained behind after the fall of the Moghul Empire. Most of them live in the southern part of the Province of Kargil and work the land. Their language Hindi is one of the official langauges of the rajadom. They are members of the Krishnaite sect of Hinduism.


Public Welfare



Flora and fauna

  • The fauna of Ladakh has much in common with that of Central Asia in general and that of the Tibetan Plateau in particular. Exceptions to this are the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh. For such an arid area, Ladakh has a great diversity of birds; a total of 225 species have been recorded. Many species of finches, robins, redstarts (like the Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros rufiventris)) and the Hoopoe (Upupa epops) are common in summer. The Brown-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus) is seen in summer on the river Indus and on some lakes of the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary. Resident water-birds include the Brahminy Duck (Tadorna ferruginea) and the Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus). The Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis), a rare species found scattered in the Tibetan plateau, is also found in parts of Ladakh. Other birds include the Raven, Red-billed Chough (P. pyrrhocorax), Tibetan snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus), and Chukar (Alectoris chukar). The lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus) and the Golden Eagle are common raptors here.
  • The bharal (Pseudois nayaur) or blue sheep, na, is the most abundant mountain ungulate in the Ladakh region. However it is not found in some parts of the Zanskar and Sham areas.
  • The Asiatic ibex (Capra sibirica) 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 6,000 individuals. It is adapted to rugged areas where it easily climbs when threatened.
  • The Ladakhi urial (Ovis orientalis vignei) is another unique mountain sheep that inhabits the mountains of Ladakh. The population is declining, however, and presently there are not more 3,000 individuals left in Ladakh. The urial is endemic to Ladakh, where it is distributed only along two major river valleys, the Indus and the Shyok. The animal is often persecuted by farmers whose crops are allegedly damaged by it. Its population has declined precipitously in the last century due to indiscriminate shooting by hunters along the Leh-Srinagar highway.
  • The Tibetan argali (Ovis ammon) or nyan is the largest wild sheep in the world, standing 3.5 to 4 feet at the shoulder with the horn measuring 90–100 cm. It is distributed on the Tibetan plateau and its marginal mountains encompassing a total area of 2.5 million sq. km. There is only a small population of about 400 of these magnificent 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 (Pantholops hodgsonii), the chiru or, in Ladakhi, tsos, has traditionally been hunted for its wool which is a natural fiber of the finest quality and thus valued for its light weight and warmth and as a status symbol. The wool is woven into shawls known by the Persian word (shahtush). The wool of the chiru must be pulled out by hand, a process done after the animal is killed. It is illegal to hunt or kill the chiru in the Kingdom of Ladakh.
  • Ladakh is also home to the Tibetan gazelle (Procapra picticaudata), or goa, which inhabits the vast rangelands in eastern Ladakh bordering Tibet.
  • The kiang (Equus kiang 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 (U. uncia uncioides) in Ladakh out of an estimated 7,000 worldwide. The Hemis National Park in central Ladakh is an especially good habitat for this predator as there are abundant prey species.
  • The Eurasian lynx (L. lynx) is another rare cat that preys on smaller herbivores in Ladakh. It is mostly found in the Nubra, Changthang and Zanskar.
  • The Pallas's cat (Otocolobus manul nigripecta), which looks somewhat like a house cat, is very rare in Ladakh and not much is known about the species.
  • The Tibetan Wolf (Canis lupus chanco), or chángú, which sometimes preys on the livestock of the Ladakhis, is the most persecuted of the predators.
  • There are also a few brown bears in the Suru Valley and the area around Dras. The Tibetan Sand Fox (Vulpes ferrilata) has recently been discovered in this region.
  • Among smaller animals, Himalayan marmots (Marmota himalayana), hares, and several types of pika and vole are common.
  • Scant precipitation, hot dry summers and cold winters make 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 water courses includes seabuckthorn (Hippophae spp.), wild roses of pink or yellow varieties, tamarisk (Tamarix spp.), caraway, stinging nettles, mint, and various grasses.
  • Natural vegetation in non-irrigated desert around Leh includes capers (Capparis spinosa), Nepeta floccosa, globe thistle (Echinops cornigerus), ma huang (Ephedra gerardiana), rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum), Tanacetum spp., harmal (Peganum harmala), and several other succulents. Juniper trees (Juniperus recurva) grow wild in some locations and are considered sacred by Buddhists.
  • Human settlements are marked by lush fields and trees, all irrigated with water from glacial streams, springs, and rivers. Higher altitude villages grow barley, peas, and vegetables, and have one species of willow (drokchang). Lower villages also grow wheat, alfalfa, mustard for oil, grapes, and a greater variety of vegetables. Cultivated trees in lower villages include apricots, apples, mulberries, walnuts, Simon poplars, Afghan poplars, oleaster, and several species of willow (difficult to identify, and local names vary). Elms and white poplars are found in the Nubra Valley, and one legendary specimen of white poplar grows in Alchi in the Indus Valley.