Panorama at an altitude of 4,094m. The Srinagar-Leh Road was constructed in the 1960’s and descends more than 1,000m to the rugged landscape of Ladakh.
How Buddhism was Brought to Ladakh
Historians state that Dards made West Tibet their home in the 4th and 5th centuries. They say that these people migrated along the course of the Indus River and that they introduced irrigation and settled communities. But who were the Dards? Colonial historians placed almost all peoples and languages of the Upper Indus River into one pot and defined Tibetans as Baltis, later obscuring and simplifying distinct identities by introducing three other terms, “Dard, Dardistan, and Dardic,” which in truth do not occur in classical sources and were never mentioned before. John Mock noted that the word dard “may be a loan word from Persian via Urdu” and means “pain.” He investigated all sources (Herodotus, Strabo, Sanskrit, Puranic, and Kashmiri references) that led modern scholars to make such a mistake and wrote: “This usage of the term is curiously parallel to the Sanskrit usage, where it connoted non-specific ferocious outsiders living in the mountains beyond the borders of civilization.”1
It is not clear when the first Buddhist communities were established in Ladakh. The site of His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje, writes that “Starting about the 3rd century, Buddhism began to grow and spread outside India, adjusting to local cultures and the varying conditions of different countries. Buddhism began to take root in different countries in Asia as they came in contact with Buddhism from the early 2nd century B.C.E. Buddhism became nearly extinct in India, the country of its origin.”2
History books concede that after the eastward propagation of Buddhism in the 7th century, Ladakh and its neighbours were overrun by those fleeing westwards from the early Tibetan Tubo Kings. The chiefs of the Tubo Empire in Yarlung (which is situated in Central Tibet) had established an aristocracy and displaced the native inhabitants who had an independent state with its own language, literature, and culture; these people continue living in remote areas of Zhang Zhung in West Tibet proper, Kashmir, Ladakh, Zanskar, and the Himalayan regions of Nepal.
Under the patronage of King Trison Detsen, Khenpo Shantarakshita from India established a monastic order in Tibet by ordaining the first seven monks at Samye Monastery in the year 791. He called Guru Rinpoche to vanquish all obstructions impeding the construction and to help establish Buddhism on the Tibetan Plateau.
Mid 16th century mural of Guru Padmasambhava, with Yeshe Tsogyal and Princess Mandarava in the Temple in the Citadel of Basgo.
Guru Padmasambhava, the “Second Buddha,” travelled from Northwest India through Lahaul-Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Arunchal Pradesh and firmly established Buddhism in these lands. The site of His Holiness the Karmapa wrote, “If born in the year 732, then he would have been 54 years of age when he made the difficult journey into the Land of Snow”3 - a moment in history that denotes the first coming of Buddhism to the Himalayan region. Furthermore, “One may conclude that a major reason for so many Indian Buddhist sages coming to Central Tibet from Kashmir, and notably, the famous Padmasambhava from Uddiyana, was the simple fact that Tibet then ruled much of this region. Nothing is really reported concerning Padmasambhava’s life in Kashmir. He lived, some say, with wandering yogis and sadhus, in exile from his homeland. Others report that it was during this period that he acquired knowledge and skill in various crafts. In Kashmir he earned the name Sthiramati, ‘the Youthful Genius.’”4
It is often reported that the war-like activity and expansion of the Tubo Empire in Central Tibet pressed the Himalayan peoples living in the west to block their advances on the one hand, while they were forced to fight the Muslims on the other. The Dharma Fellowship notes that between “720 and 726 the King of Baltistan moved his seat to Gilgit out of fear of the Tibetan advance. (…) Although the King of Baltistan remained loyal to his alliance with China, the nobility and peoples of Baltistan are said to have gone over to the Tibetan side. (…) Mention of tribute from the King of Kapisa in 748 ascertains that by that date Uddiyana had become a vassal state.”5
During those times, King Lalitaditya-Muktapida, who ruled between approx. 725 and 756 C.E., had united Ladakh and gave craftsmen who fled from northern India the possibility to work and build monasteries in his kingdom. Many rock reliefs from the 8th century onwards can be attributed to King Lalitaditya’s times. David Snellgrove and Tadeusz Skorpuski wrote: “Religious treasures, both Hindu and Buddhist, were plundered from all over northern India and craftsmen brought in from distant lands, thus building up what might have proved an amazingly rich heritage. But even as it was being built up, it was already being ravaged by raiding Tibetans, who were then the main power in Central Asia and scarcely yet converted to Buddhism. Moreover, Lalitaditya’s successors were unable to hold the kingdom together, and several centuries of political turmoil and disruption, of internal strife and foreign invasion must have resulted in the dissipation of what must have been an extraordinary civilization long before the country fell to a Muslim dynasty in 1337 A.D. Little more than the foundations of a Buddhist monastery, a large temple and a stupa, may still be seen at Lalitaditya’s one-time capital of Parihasapura, some 30 km north of Srinagar. Ladakh must surely have been subject to him, and thus it is to the 8th and subsequent centuries that we may attribute the Buddhist rock-reliefs, which represent the most important traces of pre-Tibetan, i.e., direct Indian Buddhist influence in Ladakh.”6
The 9-meter high image carved in the rock is referred to as Maitreya Buddha in most guidebooks, but the image is Avalokiteshvara, Lord of Compassion, since the statue has four arms. It is carved in the late Gupta period of India (8th or 9th century). Mulbek marks the western gateway from Srinagar to Ladakh.7
The Dark Ages
After King Tri Ralpachen of the Tubo Dynasty in Central Tibet was murdered, his older brother Langdarma (born approx. 803) succeeded the throne and initiated what has come to be well-known as the “Dark Age,” i.e., the extensive anti-Buddhist persecution in Tibet. The Dharma Fellowship writes: “What has not been sufficiently emphasized is the coincidence of Langdarma’s persecutions with the occurrence in neighbouring China of a strenuous Confucian purge of Buddhism under the reign of Emperor Wu-Tsung. Thus throughout the huge area consisting of most of Central Asia, China, and Tibet, for a few but nevertheless very disastrous number of years, monasteries were closed, books were burned, and temples were sealed up. The following eras created a void into which obscure and unaccounted for doctrines could be discovered.”8 Langdarma only reigned for six years (838-842) but left Buddhism shattered by the time a Buddhist monk named Lhalung Palkyi Dorje assassinated him.9
Langdarma left behind a jealous queen and a terrified and forlorn mistress. The queen was childless while her rival had a son, so there was a struggle for the throne. The petrified mistress left the palace lit both day and night to protect her son, whose name was therefore Öd Sung, which means “Protected by Light.” The jealous and ambitious queen realized that it wasn’t possible to kill Öd Sung, so she snatched an infant from a relative and told everyone that the child was the posthumous son of Langdarma. Hoping he would inherit the kingdom, the queen named him Yumten, meaning “Relying on the Mother.” Yumten turned Öd Sung into a public disgrace. Öd Sung understood that his father’s persecution of Buddhism had brought the hearts of the people against his family name, so he restored many Buddhist shrines, while Yumten followed in the footsteps of his wicked uncle. People in the region of Kham in East Tibet and Yarlung in Central Tibet rebelled against the infamy and as a result Tibet was disunited into separate states. Hostility between the families of Öd Sung and Yumten ruled the day, and Yumten’s sons managed to kill Öd Sung’s son, whose name was Palkhortsen. Jide Nyimagon and Tashi Tsepal, Palkortsen’s two sons, fled from Lhasa to Ngari in West Tibet. Jide Nyimagon fled to Maryul and joined forces with the tribal chief Tashitsen of the Thi Dyanasty there by marrying his daughter. She had three sons, Paldegon, Tashigon, and Detsugon. When they came of age, Jide Nyimagon divided his kingdom among his three sons: Paldegon received Maryul (Ladakh), Tashigon received the area around Mt. Sangpo (Zanskar and Spiti), and Detsugon received the rocky region of Guge, Mt. Kailash being its capital. These districts became known as the “Three Gons,” or “the region of water, the region of mountains, and the region of grasslands.”10
Stone carving of Vairocana or Maitreya Buddha at Changspa near Leh.
The Kingdom of Guge played a decisive role on the Tibetan Plateau after the fall of the Tubo Dynasty. It was called the heartland of Tibet; Yarlung and Lhasa were thought of as outlying villages or towns. The Kingdom of Guge had stood up to foreign invasions; it had safeguarded the territorial integrity of the entire Himalayan region by defending its western frontier all the way into Ladakh. The Kingdom of Guge lasted 16 generations. Invading Muslim forces overcame the defences and massacred the population in the 17th century.
Revival of Buddhism – King Yeshe Öd
A king whose name was Yeshe Öd of Guge thought that it was necessary to purify the Dharma. -- Thrangu Rinpoche11
Mural of Mahasiddhas and Lotsawas, “Great Translators,” in the Tempel of Stakne Citadel.
Buddhism was never a missionary movement, evidenced by the first great diffusion of Buddhism on the Himalayan Plateau. If Buddha Shakyamuni told his students not to follow his teachings out of blind faith, how much less so should people accept the precious teachings out of pressure from missionaries. Guru Rinpoche did what he could when he accepted the invitation he had received from King Trisong Detsen and travelled from Uddiyana in Swat through all kingdoms in the Himalaya on his way to Central Tibet, inspiring everyone he met on the way and establishing Vajrayana Buddhism wherever he stayed.
Thrangu Rinpoche summarized the dark episode that divided the Old and New Translation Schools of Buddhism and wrote, “King Langdarma persecuted the Dharma and it almost vanished from Tibet. People had to flee to high mountain regions of the country. Because of these conditions, the great Indian teachers no longer came to Tibet. This meant that the people who lived there had books and teachings on Buddhism, but they had to sit around and speculate on what these teachings meant. One person would say, ‘Well, I think it means this,’ and then another would say, ‘No, I think it means this.’ They would discuss this way and as a result the Dharma became corrupted and no one really knew what the genuine Dharma was. After Langdarma had ruled, a king whose name was Yeshe Öd of Guge thought that it was necessary to purify the Dharma. He invited the foremost Indian teacher Atisha to come and purify the Dharma in Tibet.”12 So, King Yeshe Öd inaugurated the second diffusion of Buddhism in the western reaches of Tibet, which was called “the backbone of Tibetan Buddhism.” He sent 21 youths to Kashmir to revive the knowledge of Buddhism after its fateful destruction. Lochen Rinchen Sangpo (957-1055) survived the strenuous journey and training and is said to have built 108 monasteries with the help of Kashmiri and Indian monk scholars he met in India and sent to Ngari to help with the work. He visited Kashmir two more times to invite artists to decorate the new monasteries which seemed to have been built overnight. In the meantime, many Buddhists from major trading cities along the Silk Road were fleeing from the aggressive expansion of the Muslim Qarakhanids. The Buddhist refugees in Ngari undoubtedly made the revival of Buddhism on the Tibetan Plateau much easier.
Ruins of the Basgo Citadel, Rab-brtan-lha-rtse, meaning “Divine Peak of Great Stability,” as seen from the trail that passes through a cave.
Small Buddha Vairocana statue and two-storey statute of Chenrezig in the Temple of Basgo.
Central Tibet slowly recovered from the gloom that the Dark Age left in its tracks, but hostility between the families of Öd Sung (the legitimate offspring of King Songtsen Gampo, therefore also of Langdarma) and Yumten (the boy who had been snatched from relatives by the childless queen and widow of the cruel man) was not solved. Yumten’s sons had managed to kill Öd Sung’s son, Palkortsen. Jide Nyimagon and Tashi Tsepal, Palkortsen’s two orphaned sons, fled from Lhasa to Ngari, i.e., West Tibet, to save their skin. Jide Nyimagon fled to Maryul and joined forces with the tribal chief Tashitsen of the Thi Dynasty by marrying the man’s daughter. The couple had three sons, Paldegon, Tashigon, and Detsugon. When his children came of age, Jide Nyimagon divided the territory (that was not prepared and couldn’t defend itself) equally among his sons: Paldegon received Maryul (Ladakh), Tashigon received the area around Mt. Sangpo (Zanskar and Spiti), and Detsugon received the region of Guge. Paldegon is therefore referred to as the “First King of Ladakh.” He ruled Upper Ladakh from the seat of his citadel at Shey (which lies east of the convergence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers), while Lower Ladakh was ruled from Basgo (which lies in the less hospitable area west of the convergence of those two mighty rivers). After the rulers from Basgo usurped the Shey line and united the two parts of the land in the 16th century, the citadel at Leh was built and became the capital of Ladakh.
Shey, seat of King Paldegon and his line. Snellgrove & Skorupski wrote: “What remains is only a small part of former endowments. These were royal foundations.”13
Until it was invaded by Hindu Dogras14 and became a tributary of Jammu and Kashmir State in 1834, all three kingdoms of Ngari - the three Gons - remained on friendly terms with Tibet.
The Victory Tower on the summit of Namgyal Peak was built to commemorate victory over the Balti armies in the early 16th century. The nine-storey Palace of Leh was completed in the 17th century by Senge Namgyal but is now deserted. It was once the winter home of the royal family until they were exiled to Stok in the 1830’s.
Senge Namgyal’s son, Deden Namgyal, inherited all of what was the ancient territory of Ngari, which had been divided into Ladakh, Guge with Purang, and Zanskar with Spiti. The Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb claimed Ladakh as his own, built a mosque at the end of the main street and directly below the palace of Leh, but he could never take over the land.
Deden Namgyal maintained peace in Ladakh, both politically and religiously. The King of Ladakh intervened on Bhutan’s behalf when the Fifth Dalai Lama’s troops attacked the Drukpa stronghold there. In response, the Dalai Lama’s troops marched into Ladakh. An army relief from the Mogul empire arrived in 1683 to help the Ladakhis and made a peace treaty with the Dalai Lama’s representatives. As a result, the entirely ruined regions of Guge and Purang went to the Tibetans and Ladakh’s eastern frontier was fixed ever since.
The “main Sunni mosque in Leh was constructed in the latter half of the 17th century as part of an agreement with the Moghul rulers in Delhi and Srinagar, who had assisted the Ladakhis in driving from their country the Tibeto-Mongol army which carried war and destruction to Ladakh at the behest of the Fifth Dalai Lama. From now on the Ladakhis were increasingly beholden to their Moslem neighbours to the west, who, having come to their assistance, were not so easily disposed of.”15 As a consequence, “King Deden Namgyal was forced to convert to Islam (at least in words) and send one of his sons to Kashmir as a hostage to be brought up as a Muslim. The King also had to concede a monopoly to Kashmir on the purchase of pashmina wool for their shawl industry.”16 Even though the royal family of Ladakh was forced to pay tribute to the Moslem rulers in Kashmir, Ladakh managed to remain independent; the male members of the royal family became heads of monasteries. The Mogul Empire disintegrated in the 19th century. Ladakh was then subjugated by Ahmed Shah Durrani from Afghanistan, who even brought discord among the Muslim population, one against the other.
King Tsepal Namgyal of Ladakh was disinterested in politics, while his three wives supervised the construction of the new palace at Stok, the home of the royal family to this day. Weakened, the country became an easy prey for the invading Dogras (Rajput, Brahman, and Jat recruits from North India), who took over the rule in 1834 and pushed the royal family out of the way. Then the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh invaded Ladakh. To settle the differences, General Cunningham from England drew the Indian-Tibetan demarcation-line between the fighting Dogras and Tibetans in 1842; Ladakh was simply handed over to the Maharaja of Jammu-Kashmir State. Troops from the East India Company thought they could resolve the ongoing disputes by defeating the Sikhs in 1846. They sold the country to Gulab Singh, Maharaja of Jammu, for a few cents. And so, the friendly Ladakhis were turned into slaves.
After Indian independence in 1947, Ladakh was divided unequally between India and Pakistan, Jammu mainly Hindu and Kashmir predominantly Muslim. A UN resolution needed to stop the persisting battles by giving the Muslim territories of Baltistan, Gilgit, and Hunza to Pakistan and Ladakh to India, but peace has not been restored. In the mid-20th century, “border conflicts between India, Pakistan and China caused Ladakh and Zanskar to be closed to foreigners. During these wars, Ladakh lost two thirds of its original territory, leaving Baltistan to Pakistan and Aksai Chin to China.”17
The Buddhist culture once extended from Mongolia and Tibet into the Manchu Dynasty of China and is now driven into isolated corners on the Himalayan Plateau. Buddhism is at home in Ladakh and represents the greater Tibetan culture that once existed.
Despite a tumultuous history of internal wars and external aggression, Ladakh and Zanskar “never lost their cultural and religious heritage since the 8th century. Thanks to its adherence to the Indian Union, it is also one of the rare regions in the Himalaya where the traditional Tibetan culture, society, and buildings survived the Chinese Revolution. In the last 20 years, the opening of a road and the massive influx of tourists and researchers, however, caused many changes in the traditional social organization. In response to the attacks by China and skirmishes with Pakistan, India began to establish a large military presence in Ladakh. In 1974, Ladakh was opened for tourists, and, along with the army, tourism provides employment and other opportunities for the local people.“With the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir located in Srinagar since independence from Britain and dominated by Muslims, Ladakhis felt that they were neglected and demanded a Union Territory governed directly from New Delhi. Separating Ladakh into two districts in 1979 (the Buddhist Leh District and the Muslim Kargil District) did not help, particularly since Buddhist Zanskar was part of the Kargil District. In 1995, the Indian Government approved the formation of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, which gave Ladakhis in the Leh District some administrative and financial powers to develop their old and rich culture.”18
Ladakhis enjoy the warm summer sun on Main Street and are always open for a friendly chat -
- while their young ones are off to school.
May virtue increase!All photos taken in Ladakh in 1984 by Gaby Hollmann, compiled and written in 2007.
1 See John Mock, Dards, Dardistan, and Dardic: an Ethnographic, Geographic, and Linguistic Conundrum, in the site: Mockandoneil.com, Jan. 2006. - It sounds as though Encyclopedia.com (2006) was not very friendly when trying to solve the riddle by replacing the word “Dardistan” with “Nuristan,” and wrote that it is “a term derived from Persian, meaning ‘land of light or the enlightenment,’ region on the southern slopes of the Hindukush. Formerly called Kafiristan (land of the infidels), it is inhabited by an ethnically distinctive people, who practiced animism until their forcible conversion to Islam. The Nuristanis, divided into several tribes, speak Dardic dialects (often mutually unintelligible) belonging to a distant branch of the Indo-European language family.” Nuristan, in the site: Encyclopedia.com, Jan. 2006. Wikipedia recognized the bashing and wrote, “Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner (1840-1899), Anglo-Hungarian orientalist, became principal of the Government College University in 1864 in Lahore and there originated the term Dardistan for a portion of the mountains on the north-west frontier, which was subsequently recognized to be a purely artificial distinction.”2 The Dharma Fellowship of H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa, History of Buddhism, in the site: Kaguoffice.org, Feb. 2006.3 The Dharma Fellowship of H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa, Lord Padmasambhava. Embodiment of all the Buddhas, in the site: Kagyuoffice.org, Feb. 2006.4 Benoy K. Behl, Treasures in Monasteries, in the site: Hinduonnet.com, Feb. 2006. See especially the Dharma Fellowship of H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa for a full account of the life of Guru Rinpoche in the link, Lord Padmasambhava. Embodiment of all the Buddhas, ibid. See also Advice from the Lotus-Born. A Collection of Padmasambhava’s Advice to the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal and Other Close Disciples, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, Boudhanath.5 The Dharma Fellowship of H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa, Biographies: Lord Padmasambhava, in: Kagyuoffice.org, Feb. 2006.6 David L. Snellgrove & Tadeusz Skorupski, The Cultural Heritage of Ladakh, Prajna Press, Boulder, 1977, pp. 7-8.7 The Gupta period is referred to as the “Classical Age” when most of North India was reunited under the Gupta Empire (ca. 320-550 C.E.). It has also been described as a “Golden Age,” because of the peace, law and order, and cultural achievements, which are best known from the excavations of the rock-cut temples at Ajanta and Ellora. The late Gupta period (8th-11 century) is a synthesis of the Mahayana, which concentrates on the Dhyani-Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, with the introduction of the crowned Buddhas as symbols of the Chakravartin or of the Buddhas with finely decorated halos as symbols of supreme Siddhis. The Gupta art style spread throughout major areas along the traditional Silk Road. See the sites: Askasia.org and Ignea.nic.in, Feb. 2006.8 The Dharma Fellowship of H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa, The Cuckoo of Awareness. An Ornament for Acquiring Realization known as the Six Diamond Stanzas, in the site: Kagyuoffice.org, Jan. 2006.9 According to research carried out by Matthieu Ricard, Langdarma was assassinated either in 846 or 906. Chronology of Buddhism by Matthieu Ricard, in the site: RangjungYesheWiki, Dec. 2005, p. 3. Matthieu Ricard went into great detail defining the holy places of Guru Rinpoche, so we learn what happened to the man who assassinated Langdarma: “Trak Yerpa (brag yer pa) is the holy place of Guru Padmasambhava related to the speech aspect. In this place of scenic beauty there are over 80 caves where many great beings from all lineages meditated. On the top are the caves of Guru Padmasambhava and of Yeshe Tsogyal. Below is the Drubthop Phug, the great cave where 80 siddhas of Yerpa (Guru Padmasambhava’s disciples) meditated together. There is also Lord Atisha’s cave.“There is also Dawa Phug, a cave blessed by Guru Padmasambhava who left an imprint of his foot in the rock. Padampa Sangye, too, meditated in this cave. Nyima Phug is another cave, uphill, blessed by Guru Rinpoche. Dorje Phug is the cave where Lhalung Palkyi Dorje is said to have hid himself after assassinating King Langdarma in 842 (!).“At the invitation of Ngok Changchug Dorje, Jowo Atisha, accompanied by Drom Tonpa, came in 1047 and taught extensively at Yerpa, and established there the second Kadampa Monastery, Yerpa Drubde.” Geographical Glossary of Matthieu Ricard, in the site: RangjungYesheWiki, Feb. 2006.10 See Snellgrove & Skorupski, ibid. - The three regions are called stod-mnga-ri-skor-gsum, the “Lands of Ngari in sTod.” Matthieu Ricard translated annals at hand to list the districts, the following simply an orientation: “gu ge gya’ yi sKor, ‘the Slate Land of Gugey,’ spu rang gangs kyi sKor, ‘the Snow Land of Phurang,’ ru thop chab kyi sKor, ‘the Water Land of Ruthop.’“ Geographical Glossary of Matthieu Ricard, ibid.11 Thrangu Rinpoche, The Four Dharmas of Gampopa, Namo Buddha Publications, Boulder, 1st ed., 2000, p. 4.12 Thrangu Rinpoche, The Four Dharmas of Gampopa, ibid., p. 4. Ken McLeod wrote: “Later in his life, Atisha committed a serious fault by permitting an advanced practitioner of esoteric teachings to be expelled from a temple for seemingly inappropriate behaviour. When Atisha consulted Tara on the matter, she advised him to teach the Dharma in Tibet to clear away the karmic residues of that action. Thus, with some reluctance, Atisha finally accepted Rinchen Sangpo’s invitations.” The Great Path of Awakening, translated by Ken McLeod, Shambhala, Boston & London, 1987, p. 52. Keith Dowman explained the charge and wrote: “The Abbot Atisa had given his former Guru, the yogin Maitripa, a room at his monastery of Vikramasila, and later was astonished to discover that Maitripa had been performing puja with meat and wine within the monastery's confines. Atisa asked him to leave, whereupon with a sniff Maitripa took up his bed and walked off through a wall. Later, Atisa apologised to Maitripa who told him that the way to expiate his sin was to go to Tibet and reform Tibetan monasticism.” Keith Dowman, Nagarjuna, in the site: Keithdowman.net/essays, Feb. 2006.13 Snellgrove & Skorupski, ibid., p. 89.14 „Kashmir passed from the control of the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan and centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals, Persians, and Afghans to the conquering Sikh armies of the mid-19th century. During the latter part of the 19th century, Kashmir was ruled by the Dogras, who are a predominantly Hindu people in the area around Jammu and who were installed as rulers by the Sikhs. Their kings paid tribute to the Sikhs and were part of the Sikh Empire that arose following the collapse of the Durrani Empire. Under the Sikhs, as feudatories, the Dogras sought and obtained permission to push further into the north, including regions of Ladakh. With the sudden collapse of the Sikh Empire before the English forces, the Dogras purchased from the British their independence, and thus also assured themselves of their feudal hold over the subsidiary kingdoms of Kashmir, Ladakh, and the emirates of the north. The Dogra kings, who originally ruled only from Jammu, also began to operate in summer from Srinagar, the metropolis of Kashmir.” Wikipedia site: Dogras, Feb. 2006.15 Snellgrove & Skorupski, ibid., p. xiii.16 The Administrator of Yama Tours, History of Ladakh, in the site: YamaAdventures, 2005.17 History, in the site: Compl.geol.unibads.ch, January 2006. - Again, Ladakh was once an independent Buddhist kingdom. Today, the kingdom’s former land is divided between India, Pakistan, and China at Aksai Chin. There is no question as to why the Chinese built an expensive highway from Yarkand to western Tibet in the 1950’s, connecting Sinkiang with Tibet; this is the reason why the Tibetan-Ladakh border is closed.18 History, ibid.