Religion & Culture of Ladakh

Religion & Culture The inhabitants of Ladakh are distinct from other parts of India. The faces and physique of Ladakhis, and the clothes they wear are more akin to those of Tibet and central Asia. In eastern and central Ladakh, today’s population seems to be mostly of Tibetan origin. Further west, in and around Kargil, there is much in the people’s appearance that suggests a mixed origin. The Ladakhi people are a hospitable, smiling, hardy lot, friendly and open.

Buddhism reached Tibet from India via Ladakh, and there are ancient Buddhist rock engravings all over the region, even in areas like Drass and the lower Suru Valley which today are inhabited by an exclusively Muslim population.

Islam came from the west. A peaceful penetration, its success was guaranteed by the early conversion of the sub-rulers of Dras, Kargil and the Suru Valley.

Of the secular culture, the most important element is the rich oral literature of songs and poems for every occasion, as well as local versions of the Kesar Saga, the Tibetan national epic. This literature is common to both Muslims & Buddhists. Among the many social and cultural events of Ladakh, the annual festivals held in the Buddhist monasteries constitute the most important part of the regions living heritage. The architecture of Ladakh contains Tibetan and Indian influences, and reflects a deeply Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, is a common feature on every Gompa. The Chörten have four-sided walls in Ladakh, as opposed to round walls in parts of Tibet. Many of the houses and monasteries are built on elevated, sunny sites facing the south, and are often made out a mixture of rocks, wood, cement and earth.