History of Ladakh Wikitravel "Petroglyphs" From The Neolithic age

Ladakh “petroglyphs” or the rock art "Neolithic age"

The history of Ladakh is accredited by the “petroglyphs” or the rock art found from the Neolithic age. These rock art are dated back to 2000 years ago. The carvings are found in areas like the Zanskar valley depicting hunting scenes that were carved before the kushana period. Historians are persistent on this fact because during the Ashoka and the Kushana period, mons were very well settled in the Zanskar treks. They were Buddhist who did not believe in rock carving.

Another interesting aspect of such art form is the depiction of the social- religious practices of the primitive age. Livestock, which were the main source of tribal livelihood, are often carved in hunting scenes. Such carvings are found in Alchi, where master carvers depict many rituals and imaginary beasts.

There were three dominating ethnic group of Ladakh valley including- Mons, Dards, and Mongols. Mons migrated from upper Kashmir in 2nd century BC and settled in Zangskar region, later Dards too followed.

History of chronology of Buddhist Ladakh

The chronology of Buddhist influences in Ladakh is not clear to the historians. However it was introduced to the other Asian countries since early 2nd century BC and is conventionally practiced even today although in India from where Buddhism originated is nearly on the verge of extinction.

In 8th century Ladakh was in the phase of sporadic turbulences caused due to Tibetan expansion from the east and the continuous Muslim invasion from the Northwest. This was also the period when King Lalitaaditya patronised many craftsmen from the north India for building monasteries in his kingdom. These craftsmen were the escapades from the plunders of Mohammud Ghori and the slave dynasty from Afghan.

Here too, the amazingly rich heritage created under Lalitaditya faced the same ravage and due to the inability of Lalityaaditya`s successors to hold the empire together, this was pushed further to the kingdoms decline due to political turmoil and internal stifles. It became easier for the invaders to crush the once extraordinary civilization and establish Muslim dynasty in 1337 AD.

In the area little far from Ladakh, Lang dharma succeeded the throne of Tubo dynasty in central Tibet, his era came to be regarded as the `Dark Age`-a phase of extensive anti Buddhist persecution in Tibet. Throughout his rule Buddhism was tortured and shattered until the Buddhist monk- Lhalung Palkyi Dorje assassinated Lang dharma.

History of The Kingdom of Nyimagon Ladakh

After His death there were dispute for the succession of throne that continued for ages. Nyimagon the great grand son of Langdharma escaped from these never sorting conflicts for throne and found his niche in Ladakh. The famous “three gons” or “the regions of water, mountains, and grasslands” were basically under the kingdom of Nyimagon who equally distributed them to his three sons. Paldegon received Maryul (Ladakh), Tashigon got the area around Mt. Sangpo( Zanskar & Spiti) while Destsugon received the rocky regions of Guge, with Mt. Kailash as his capital..

After His death there were dispute for the succession of throne that continued for ages. Nyimagon the great grand son of Langdharma escaped from these never sorting conflicts for throne and found his niche in Ladakh. The famous “three gons” or “the regions of water, mountains, and grasslands” were basically under the kingdom of Nyimagon who equally distributed them to his three sons. Paldegon received Maryul (Ladakh), Tashigon got the area around Mt. Sangpo( Zanskar & Spiti) while Destsugon received the rocky regions of Guge, with Mt. Kailash as his capital.

History of the “First King of Ladakh” 

It was only the kingdom of Guge that survived for 16 generations until Muslims invaded and massacred the population in 17th century. Paldegon is considered as the “First King of Ladakh” who ruled from the seat of his bastion at Shey later amasses to form Leh.

Around 17th century there were disputes between Bhutan and Tibet, the Ladakh King Deden Namgyal favoured Bhutan when the troops of Dalai Lama invaded Drukpa. This act of Ladakh in favour of Bhutan caused animosity between Ladakh and Tibet. As Tibet prepared for the attack and marched towards Ladakh, King Namgyal had to seek help from the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. In return to this favour a compromise was met where the King of Ladakh agreed to build a mosque in Leh and himself get converted to Islam.

The Mughal as per their commitments ceased fire between Ladakh and Tibet by the treaty of Temisgam 1684 as per which Ladakh independence was restricted, while Guge and purang territories went to Tibet.

Although Ladakh managed to sustain its independence, it had to pay tribute to the Mughals and also send his son as hostage for a Muslim upbringing. In 1834 under King Sepal Nagoya Ladakh faced invasions from the Dogras and the Sikh ruler. During the domination of East India Company, to settle the disputes of the Dogras and the Tibetan Ladakh was sold to Gulab Singh Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir and friendly Ladakhis were eventually turned into slaves.

History of 1947 Ladakh divided between Pakistan and India

In 1947, Ladakh was equally divided between Pakistan and India but disputes continued. UN resolution to stop the persisting battle gave Muslim territories of Baltistan, Gilgit and Heenza to Pakistan and Ladakh to India. Here too the peace was not restored and border conflicts continued between India, Pakistan, and China. This led to the closing of Ladakh and Zanskar for foreigners. During these wars original territories of Balistan went to Pakistan and Aksai chin to China. It was only in 1974 that Ladakh was reopened for tourists.