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The Ladakh Region

Ladakh constitutes the eastern-most part of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. This is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful parts of the state and its surreal landscape has often been termed as "moonscape". Ladakh covers about 117,000 square km and includes the Karakoram Range and the upper Indus River valley. Ladakh is one of the highest places on earth with average altitude being above 12,000 feet. It hardly rains here because of the lofty surrounding mountain ranges. People live a very traditional life, herding sheep and yak, and growing barley near the river beds in summer. Most of the people here are Lamaistic Buddhist. Another section of people in the northern part of Ladakh, called Kargil, the people are mostly Shia Muslims. Neither the Shias nor the Buddhists support the militancy in the Valley. This spectacular place is connected by air to the regional capital, Leh. Road routes exist from Srinagar and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh).

Leh
Topography:
The district is the northern as well as the eastern most part of J&K State. It is linked with the Kashmir valley by the Zojila (10,098 feet) pass and forms part of the outer Himalayas. It is one of the highest regions of the earth (altitude 8,800 feet to 18,000 feet approx. ) with mountains running along parallel ranges. The climate is very cold and in winter, temperatures dip to  minus 40 degrees Centigrade. The district is bounded by the international border or Line of Actual Control with China in the north and east, and with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in the north. The geographical area of the district is 45,110 sq. km. with Leh as the district Headquarters. The district has two assembly constituencies, namely Nobra and Leh and five blocks namely, Leh, Khaisi, Nobra, Nyoma and Durbuk. The literacy rate is 24.18 per cent - male 35.37 per cent and female 11.77 per cent.
Economy: Agriculture and animal husbandry are the main sources of livelyhood. Cultivation is only possible during summer with barley, vegetables and fruits like apple and apricot being the main crops. Forestry is also one source of income and Leh abounds in medicinal herbs. The district is also rich in water resources like ponds, streams and rivers which can be utilised for fisheries.
Important places:
1. Hemis Gumpa (36 kms. south of Leh)
2. Tsemo Gumpa (known for Chamba Buddha statue)
3. Mashro Gumpa
4. Chemmrey Gumpa
5. Alchie Gumpa
6. Lomayuru Gumpa (oldest monastry in the distt.)
7. Likir Gumpa
8. Shey Palaces & monastry
9. Spituk monastry
10. Thiksay & Sankar monastery
11. Leh monastery
12. Leh Khar Palace
13. Leh mosque (in main Bazar)
Political scenario: The Congress is the main political party and its candidates won the Leh assembly seat in the 1977, 1983 and 1987 assembly elections. Tsering Samphal, ex-MLA of Congress, won from Leh assembly constituency in the 1987 elections and is the most important political figure of the district. Buddhists constitute more than 80 per cent of the district population and the Ladakh Buddhist Association has been agitating for district Autonomy. Consequently, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) was constituted and elections to this body were held on 28 Aug,1995. The newly elected and nominated members of the LAHDC took oath on 3 September 1995. P. Namgyal (Ex-MP, Congress), Stanzin Chamba Gambo (Head Lama), Thupsten Chhewang (Executive Counsellor) are the important political figures in the district. Chantan Namgyal (NCF) and Tsering Doiji Larook (Congress) won the Assembly elections. P.Namgyal was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996, while Agha Sayeed Hussain (NC/F) was elected to the Lok Sabha elections in 1998.
Influence of Militancy: Militancy has not established roots in the district.

Kargil
Topography:
Kargil town is located at a distance of 204 km from Srinagar, almost midway on the Srinagar-leh National Highway. Most of the villages of the district are located at an average height of 10,000 feet above sea level. It shares the Line of Control (LoC) with POK in the north and borders with Leh in the east and the Kashmir valley in the west. The geographical area of the district is 14,036 sq kms. The district has two tehsils as well as two assembly constituencies, namely Kargil and Zanskar. The climate is very cold and in winter, the highway is blocked for more than six months from Dec. to June every year. The snowfall around Zojila passand Drass region is very heavy. The literacy rate is 17.06 per cent - male 29-49 per cent and female 3.21 per cent.
Economy: Agriculture is the main occupation and about 91per cent of the population is engaged in it. Wheat and millet are the major crops. Though the district is devoid of industrial units, the development of handicraft has added to jobs and income. The Baltel-Kargil road, linking Kargil with Srinagar is the life-line of the district. Construction of the 230 kms. Kargil-Padam and Bodh Khushboochaktan road are in progress. Tourism is being promoted as an industry after Ladakh was opened to foreign tourists in 1974. Horticulture and forestry are being given special attention. Co-operative movement is also active in the district.
Important places
1. Sami Gumpa, Zanskar Tehsil
Political scenario: Shia Muslims constitute more than 78 per cent of the population and the NC(F) is the most influential party here. Its candidate Qamar Alt, NC(F) won the seat in 1987. However, younger generation of Shias feel discriminated in matters of employment, and they have rallied under the banner of 'Imam Khomeim Memorial Trust' which has been fanning anti-India feelings. Commander Hassan (Ind.), Kachru Ali Mohd. (Congress, ex-Deputy Minister) are prominent political leaders. Kamar Ali Akhoon and Haji Md. Abbas (both NCF) won the Assembly elections in 1996.
Influence of Militancy: Though there is no local militancy, Pakistan has twice tried to push in militants into the area. Both times the militants were pushed back.

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