Ladakh ( ” land of high passes ” ) is a region in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range to the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and Kashmir, and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti regions to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north. In the past, Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes, but since the Chinese authorities closed the borders with Tibet and Central Asia in the 1960s, international trade has dwindled except for tourism. Since 1974, the Government of India has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh. Since Ladakh is a part of strategically important Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian military maintains a strong presence in the region. The largest town in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil. The government of Jammu and Kashmir created a separate administrative division from Kashmir division with headquarters at Leh. Tibetan Buddhists (39.7%) and Hindus (12.1%) collectively represent the majority of the population while a plurality of Ladakhis (46.4%) are Muslims (mainly Shia). Credit: Wikipedia.
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