The Greater ladakh was neither under the Domain of Tibet or its influence. Not much information is available about the ancient History of Ladakh. However, reference about the place and its neighbourhood in Arab, Chinese and Mongolian histories gives an idea that in the 7th Century A.D fierce wars were fought by Tibet and China in Baltistan area of the Greater Ladakh in which deserts and barren mountains of Ladakh was turned into battle fields for the warring armies.
In the 8th century A.D Arabs also jumped into these wars and changed their sides between China and Tibet. Around this period, the ruler of Kashmir, Laltadita conquered Ladakh. In the 8th Century A.D itself, The Arabs conquered Kashghar and established their control over Central asia which embraced Islam in the 9th century A.d and thus a buffer state came into being between Tibet and China, terminating the hostilities between the two warring countries. The greater Ladakh also fell into peices.
The ancient inhabitants of Ladakh were Dards, and Indo-Aryan race from down the Indus. But immigration from Tibetmore than a thousand years ago largly overwhelmedthe culture of the Dards and moped up their racial characters. IN eastern and central Ladakh, todays population seems to be mostly of Tibet origin. Budhism reached Tibet from India via Ladakh. The area was the stronghold of Budhism before Islam reached Ladakh.
A thousand years ago before the contol of Tibets rule, Raja Skitde Nemagon, ruled over Ladakh which was known as Muryul (Red Country), as most of the mountains and the soil in Ladakh wears a red tinge. In the 10th Century A.D Skitday Nemagon, along with a couple of hundred men, invaded Ladakh where there was no central authority. The Land was divided in small principalities, which were at war with each other. Nemagon defeated all of them and established a strong central authority. Those days Shey, was the capital of Ladakh became to be known as Nariskorsoom, a country of three provinces. The present Ladakh was divided into two provinces while the third comprised western Tibet. The area of western Tibet slipped away from the kingdom but was reunited in 16th Century A.D. by the famous Ladakhi ruler Sengge Namgyal. Ladakh was an independent country since the middle of 10th century.
In the post-partition senario, Pakistan and China illegally occupied 78,114 sq. km and 37,555 sq.km of the state, respectively while the remaining part of the state acceeded to India. Pakistan also illegally gifted 5180 sq.kms of this area to China. Ladakh, comprising the areas of present Leh and Kargil districts, became one of the seven districts of the State. In 1979 when the reorganisation of the districts was carries out, the Ladakh district was divided into two full fledged of Leh and Kargil. Religious and Historical Places
Buddhism is the religion of the majority of Leh District’s population. The most attractive features of the Landscape of Leh are the Buddhists Gompas ( Monastries). The Gompas are situated on the highest points of the mountain spurs or sprawl over cliffsides, located in vicinity of villages and provide focus for the faith of Buddhists. TheseMany Gompas celebrate their annual festivals in winter marked by gay mask dances. Gompas have a wreath of artifacts. There are also some religious places of Muslims which constitute slightly more than 15% of the district’s population.
The famous religious places include : MONASTERIES
Hemis Situated 40 Kms from Leh, Hemis is the wealthiest, best known and biggest Gompa of Ladakh. The annual festival of the gompa is held in the summer in the honour of Guru Padma Sambhav’s birth anniversary. It also has the largest thanka (scroll painting n silk or brocade) in Ladakh which is unfurled once in 12 years. The next unfurling will take place in 2004. Hemis was built in 1630 A.D. during the reign of Sengge Namgyal and flourished under the Namgyal dynasty.
Alchi The Gompa is situated on the banks of the Indus, 70 kms from Leh and dates a thousand years back. One of its wall features thousands of miniature sized pictures of the Buddha. The focal attraction of the gompa are three large sized images. The gompa is no longer an active religious centre and is looked after by monks from the Likir Monastery.
Spituk The gompa stands prominently on the top of the hillock, 8 km from Leh, and commands a panoramic view of the Indus valley for miles. Many icons of Buddha and five thankas are found in the 15th century monastery. There is also a collection of ancient masks, antique arms, and an awe inspiring of Mahakaal.
Phyang The monastery is situated 17 kms from Leh, on the Leh- Kargil road. It was built by Tashi Namgyal in the later half of the 16th century A.D. and looks like a palace from a distance. The gompa belongs to the Red Cap sect of the Buddhists. Hundreds of icons of Buddha are kept on wooden shelves.
Shey 15 kms upstream from Leh, the palace was once residence of the royal family. The palace is believed to have been the seat of power of the pre-Tibetian kings. A 7.5 metre high copper statue of Buddha, plated with Gold, and the largest of its kind, is installed in the palace.
Thikse The Thikse monastery is spectacularly situated 19 kms from Leh. It is one of the largest and architecturally most impressive gompas. The gompa has images stupas and wall paintings of Buddha which are exquisite.
Other monasteries f equal importance include Chemrey 45 Kms from Leh, Stakna, Matho, Sankar, Stok and above all Lamayuru, the oldest religious centre of Ladakh.
Jama Masjid, Leh The historical mosque is situated in the heart of Leh town. It was built in 1666-67 A.D. consequent to an agreement between the Mugal Emperor Aurangzeb and the then ruler of Ladakh, Deldan namgyal. Since then it has been repaired and extended several times. The Mugals has facilitated withdrawal of Mongol army from Ladakh. Although Muslims had arrived in Ladakh as early as in 15th century, he Muslim shrines were constructed later than that. A couple of years ago, the jama Masjid was dismantled and a