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Ladakh लद्दाख़ - ལ་ དྭགས་
Ladakh Government Banner.png
status Union Territory
Capital Leh
surface 59,146 km²
Residents 290,492 (2001)
Population density 4.9 inhabitants per km²
languages Tibetan , Ladakhi , Hindi
governor Radha Krishna Mathur
ISO code IN-LA

Ladakh ( Tibetan ལ་ དྭགས་ Wylie la-dwags ; Hindi लद्दाख़ IAST Laddā kh [ ləd̪.d̪ɑːx ]; Urdu لدّاخ) has been a Union Territory of India since October 31, 2019 . It was previously a division of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and took up almost 40% of its area. Ladakh consists of the administrative districts of Kargil and Leh . The area is largely high mountainous and with 290,000 inhabitants (according to the 2001 census) only sparsely populated. Ladakh is known for the beauty of its remote mountains and the Tibetan Buddhist culture, hence it is also known as Little Tibet .

According to an official Indian point of view, Gilgit-Baltistan , which is under Pakistani control, as well as the Chinese-controlled areas of Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley belong to the Union territory.


Ladakh was an independent Buddhist kingdom. A conflict with Tibet ended in 1681 with an attempted invasion by the fifth Dalai Lama . With the help of the Mughal Empire , the Ladakhi were able to regain control of their land, but Ladakh became a vassal of the Mughal Empire. In the middle of the 18th century, Kashmir replaced the Mughal Empire as the recipient of the tribute, and in 1819 the Punjab . In 1834 the country was conquered by Jammu . As a result, Ladakh and Kashmir became part of British India . The territory of the kingdom is now part of India and Pakistan , the Aksai Chin region is controlled by the People's Republic of China .

A law passed in August 2019 reorganized the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, on October 31, 2019 . The provisions contained in the law created the positions of lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir and lieutenant governor of Ladakh.


Landscape in the highlands of Karakoram

Ladakh stretches between the mountain ranges of the Himalayas (with the Stok Kangri as the most famous mountain) and the Karakoram and the upper valley of the Indus . The valleys are located at an altitude of 3000 m above sea level. d. M., making them the highest lying cashmere. The mountains reach heights of over 7000 m above sea level. d. M. The Nun, climbed for the first time in 1913, with 7135 m, and the neighboring Kun with 7077 m, which could be conquered for the first time in 1906, are the highest mountains in Ladakh. The capital of Ladakh is Leh (about 27,500 inhabitants). Not far from Leh is the Khardong Pass , one of the highest navigable passes in the world.

Ladakh is a very arid area (comparable to the Sahara ) as the main chain of the Himalayas prevents the Indian summer monsoons from penetrating as far as Ladakh. The cold winters are not snowy, but very windy. The lack of precipitation is compensated for by irrigation. In the Indus and Zanskar valleys, as well as in the side valleys of the Suru , Nubra and Shyok , fertile oases have been created that allow grains and vegetables to flourish. The oases are often owned and managed by monasteries. The monasteries are rich by local standards (large landowners receive donations mainly from abroad and from tourists).

The most important river in Ladakh is the Indus . It drains the entire province and is spanned by a few bridges. He gives the region the importance as a hub of the trade routes from northwest India to Tibet and Turkestan . Only some of the most important traffic routes are paved.

In Ladakh there is hardly any tree growth outside of the irrigated zones, but numerous flowering plants that grow at altitudes of over 5000 m above sea level. d. M. still grow. The relatively few trees that can be found in Ladakh were introduced by the Ladakhis themselves. The poplars are the most common.

Climate change in Ladakh

More recent expeditions into the inaccessible high mountain landscape have revealed that rainfall - especially during the monsoons - has decreased dramatically in Ladakh. According to reports from the local population, lakes have dried up heavily in recent decades and have become salt lakes, in which fish no longer live and from which livestock can no longer drink. Ladakh is therefore threatened in the long term by water shortages. Areas away from large rivers such as the Jhelam can no longer be inhabited; Due to the lack of precipitation, glaciers often do not exist any more than the lakes do not fill up sufficiently.


The Ladakhi language is an older version of the Tibetan language in which many earlier forms have been preserved. Numerous consonants are pronounced in Ladakh, which are abraded in the central Tibetan version. Examples: The German word “ja” is written in Tibetan klas and pronounced that way in Ladakh, but la in central Tibet . The original pronunciation of the lama has also been preserved in Ladakh, where they say bla ma . The Ladakhi language has about 100,000 speakers in India and perhaps 12,000 speakers in Tibet. The three most common dialects are Leh, Shamma and Nubra.


Prayer flags connect the two peaks of the "Peak of Victory" above Leh

There are many cultural and religious relationships between Ladakh and Tibet, based on Tibetan Buddhism .
Small Christian churches have existed in Ladakh since the 19th century and the arrival of missionaries from the Evangelical Moravian Brethren in Saxony.


The main source of income today is tourism , especially after it collapsed in Muslim Kashmir due to the Kashmir conflict and the Indian government is promoting it. In the past, agricultural self-sufficiency was the dominant form of economy; today, on the one hand, the proportion of residents who earn money from travelers and, on the other, the number of unemployed is increasing.

In the regions above 4000 meters, the nomads look after their cashmere goats . The main trade item is high-quality cashmere wool . The wool is brought down to the valley on the back of mules, yaks or donkeys.

Due to the remote and traffic-hostile location of the region, there are neither mining activities nor industry.


Tikse Monastery

The main travel season for tourists is from June to August. Already from the capital Leh one can undertake numerous trekking tours , some of which can extend over several weeks. For routes over 6000 m above sea level. d. M. approval is required. There are guided climbing tours, also suitable for amateur mountaineers. In terms of profile, they hardly represent any stress. However, the thin air at these heights should not be underestimated. Luggage and food can be transported on animals.

Flora and fauna

In the 1870s, the Austrian Asian researcher, zoologist , botanist and paleontologist Ferdinand Stoliczka set out to research the fauna and flora of Ladakh.

The animal world has a lot in common with that of Central Asia and partly also with Tibet. Migratory birds spend the summer in the cooler Ladakh. Finches , thrushes and redtails as well as the hoopoe can be found. The black-headed gull seeks the waters of the Indus and lakes Changthang .

Snow leopard in Hemis National Park

Rust and bar-headed geese and the rare black-necked crane are located in the waters of Ladakh, as Tibet snowcock , Chukarhühner and corvids . Bearded vultures and golden eagles can be found on birds of prey .

There is an abundance of blue sheep among the cloven-hoofed animals . The well-adapted Siberian ibex occur in the western regions of Ladakh. Argalis are found in a piece thickness of 400 animals. They prefer open terrain because, unlike other species, they do not escape from enemies by climbing. Tibetan antelopes are famous for their royal wool shahtoosh , which is plucked after the animal is killed. Tibetan gazelles live in the eastern border area with Tibet . The Kiang live with the nomads in competition for pasture . Occasional snow leopards , Eurasian lynx and Tibetan wolves live mainly in the Hemis National Park . Whistling hares , voles , marmots and Tibetan foxes as enemies of the former live in close proximity.

Sea buckthorn , caraway , nettles and wild roses prevail on plants . Capers , catnip , spherical thistles , sea ​​pebbles , rhubarb , wild flowers and the steppe rue as well as other succulents grow in Ladakh. Juniper grows wild and in cultivated landscapes. Black and balsam poplars , mulberries , walnuts , willows and elms, as well as locust and cypress trees are common trees.


  • Blanche C. Olschak, Augusto Gansser, Emil M. Bührer: Himalaya - growing mountains, living myths, wandering people. vgs, ISBN 3-8025-2218-4 .
  • Jürgen C. Aschoff: Tibet, Nepal and the cultural area of ​​the Himalaya (with Ladakh, Sikkim and Bhutan ) . Annotated bibliography of German-language books from 1627 to 1990 (essays up to 1900). Garuda Verlag, Dietikon / Switzerland 1992, ISBN 3-906139-07-7 .
  • Anneliese Keilhauer, Peter Keilhauer: Ladakh and Zanskar. Lamaistic monastic culture in the country between India and Tibet . DuMont, Cologne 1987, ISBN 3-7701-1181-8 .
  • Heike Hoppstädter-Borr, Markus Borr: Ladakh. Trekking in the Indian Himalayas, a travel story through the land of high passes. Books on Demand, Norderstedt 2007, ISBN 978-3-8334-9845-9 .
  • Janet Rizvi: Ladakh: Crossroads of High Asia. Oxford University Press, Delhi 1999, ISBN 0-19-564546-4 .
  • Heinrich Harrer: Ladakh: Gods and people behind the Himalayas. First edition 1978. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-548-32016-3 .
  • Helena Norberg-Hodge : Fascination Ladakh. Herder, Freiburg i. Breisgau 2004, ISBN 3-451-05484-1 .
  • Heinrich Harrer: Ladakh. The forecourt to nirvana. In: Geo . 12/1976, pp. 6-32.

Film documentaries

Web links

Commons : Ladakh  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Article 370 revoked Updates: Jammu & Kashmir is now a Union Territory, Lok Sabha passes bifurcation bill .
  2. Bharti Jain: Govt releases new political map of India showing UTs of J&K, Ladakh on of November 2, 2019, accessed on November 24, 2019
  3. Flora & Fauna of Ladakh
  4. T. Namgail, JL Fox, YV Bhatnagar: Habitat segregation between sympatric Tibetan argali Ovis ammon hodgsoni and blue sheep Pseudois nayaur in the Indian Trans-Himalaya. In: Journal of Zoology (London). 262, 2004, pp. 57-63.
  5. T. Namgail: Winter habitat partitioning between Asiatic Ibex and Blue Sheep in Ladakh, Northern India. In: Journal of Mountain Ecology. 8, 2006, pp. 7-13.
  6. T. Namgail: Trans-Himalayan large herbivores: status, conservation and niche relationships. Report submitted to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx Zoo, New York 2006.
  7. T. Namgail, JL Fox, YV Bhatnagar: Habitat shift and time budget of the Tibetan argali: the influence of livestock grazing. In: Ecological Research. 22, 2007, pp. 25-31.
  8. ^ YV Bhatnagar, R. Wangchuk, HH Prins, SE van Wieren, C. Mishra: Perceived conflicts between pastoralism and conservation of the Kiang Equus kiang in the Ladakh Trans-Himalaya. In: Environmental Management. 38, 2006, pp. 934-941.

Coordinates: 34 ° 9 ′  N , 77 ° 31 ′  E