“Little Tibet”: Depicting The Buddhist Influence.
Ladakh, one of the highest, driest and coldest inhabited places on earth, has a mixture of cultures living and working together. This high-altitude desert on the Tibetan Plateau in the northernmost part of India is considered wild and inhospitable. Ladakh, on a major part, is inhabited by Buddhists. One can easily find ancient Buddhist rock engravings, even in Muslim dominated areas, in Ladakh. The culture of the region is clearly revealed by the monasteries that can be seen in almost every village. These monasteries (gompas) can be huge complexes with a number of shrines, prayer halls, etc. or tiny hermitages with only a single image.
People of Ladakh
The Dards - people of Indo-Aryan race from down the Indus - are supposed to be the original inhabitants of Ladakh, but the place came under Buddhist influence in the 7th century. Ladakh is dominated by Buddhists with a small percentage of Hindu, Muslims and Christians. In Kargil, Suru Valley, and the nearby areas, the population is predominantly Baltis as the area was part of Baltistan until 1947. With a diversity in every aspect, the people of Ladakh are dissimilar from the rest of India in their culture, physical appearance etc.
“Little Tibet” was almost totally isolated from the forces of modernization till 1970s, when western education permeated the Ladakhi villages. Later in 1975, the region was opened to foreign tourists. With every phase of development, the Ladakhis grew up learning how to dress, how to provide themselves with shelter, how to make shoes out of yak skin and robes from the wool of sheep and how to build houses out of mud and stone.