|Tibetans, under the suzerainty of Qing dynasty||Jammu, under the suzerainty of the Sikh Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Literal meaning||Dogra War|
The Dogra–Tibetan Waror Sino-Sikh War was fought from May 1841 to August 1842, between the forces of the Dogra nobleman Gulab Singh of Jammu, under the suzerainty of the Sikh Empire, and Tibet under the suzerainty of Qing China. Gulab Singh's commander was the able general Zorawar Singh Kahluria, who, after the conquest of Ladakh, attempted to extend its boundaries in order to control the trade routes into Ladakh. Zorawar Singh's campaign, suffering from the effects of inclement weather, suffered a defeat at Minsar (or Missar) and Singh was killed. The Tibetans then advanced on Ladakh. Gulab Singh sent reinforcements under the command of his nephew Jawahir Singh. A subsequent battle near Leh in 1842 led to a Tibetan defeat. The Treaty of Chushul was signed in 1842 maintaining the status quo ante bellum .
In the 19th century, Ladakh was the hub of trade routes that branched out into Turkestan and Tibet. Its trade with Tibet was governed by the 1684 Treaty of Tingmosgang, by which Ladakh had the exclusive right to receive the pashmina wool produced in Tibet, in exchange for brick-tea.The world-renowned Kashmir shawl industry received its pashm wool supplies from Ladakh.
In the early 1800s, the Kashmir Valley and the adjoining Jammu area were part of the Sikh Empire. But the Dogras of Jammu were virtually autonomous under the rule of Raja Gulab Singh, who was positioning himself to take control of Kashmir and all the surrounding areas after the passing of Sikh monarch Ranjit Singh.In 1834, Gulab Singh sent his ablest general Zorawar Singh to take control of all the territory between Jammu and the Tibet border. By 1840, Ladakh and Baltistan were firmly under Dogra control, subject to the suzerainty of the Sikh Empire.
The British East India Company was the predominant power in the Indian subcontinent. It tolerated the Sikh Empire as a valuable ally against the Afghans, but it also had designs for its own pashmina trade with Tibet. Zorawar Singh's conquest of Ladakh broke the Kashmiri–Ladakhi monopoly on Tibet trade, and the Tibetan pashmina wool started finding its way into British territory. To regain the monopoly, Gulab Singh and Zorawar Singh turned their eyes towards Tibet.
From the early 18th century, the Manchu-led Qing dynasty had consolidated its control of Tibet after defeating the Dzungar Khanate. From then until late into the 19th century, the Qing rule of the region remained unchallenged.[ citation needed ]
Zorawar Singh led a 4,000 men-strong force consisting of Ladakhis, Baltis and Kishtwaris with a Dogra core.The Tibetan estimate was 6,000 men. They were armed with guns and cannon whereas the Tibetans were mostly armed with bows, swords and spears.
Zorawar Singh divided his forces into three divisions, sending one via the Rupshu valley via Hanle, one along the Indus valley towards Tashigang (Zhaxigang) and another along the Pangong lake towards Rudok (Rutog). The first two contingents plundered the Buddhist monasteries at Hanle and Tashigang.The third division, commanded by Zorawar Singh, captured Rudok and then moved south, joining the other branches to attack Gartok.
The Tibetan border officials had, by then, sent an alert to Lhasa.The Tibetan government dispatched a force under the command of cabinet minister Pellhün. Meanwhile, Zorawar Singh had captured Gartok as well as Taklakot (Burang) near Nepal border. The Tibetan general was unable to hold Taklakot and retreated to the Mayum La, the border of West Tibet.
Zorawar Singh invoked the historical claims of Ladakh to western Tibet up to the Mayum Pass (originally called Maryul of Ngari),which were presumably exercised prior to the 1648 Treaty of Tingmosgang. All the captured forts were garrisoned, while the main force was encamped at Tirthapuri to the west of Lake Manasarovar. Administration was set up to rule the occupied territories. Minsar (or Missar, now called Menshixiang), which was a Ladakhi enclave by the 1648 Treaty, was used to store supplies.
The Chinese Amban at Lhasa reported to the emperor on 2 September 1841:
It has been learned that south of Ladakh there is a very large aboriginal tribe named Ren-chi-shen [Ranjit Singh]. Subordinate to this tribe are two smaller tribes-- Sa-re-shen [Sher Singh] and Ko-lang-shen [Gulab Singh], who together are known as the Shen-pa ["Singh people", possibly referring Sikhs and Dogra Rajputs together]. After the death of the Ladakhi ruler [Tshe-pal Nam-gyal], a certain Ladakhi chieftain had secret connections with the Shen-pa, who then occupied Ladakh. Now this Ladakhi chieftain is once again in league with the Shen-pa aborigines who have invaded Tibetan territory, occupied two of our military posts at Gartok and Rudok, and claimed the territory west of the Mayum that had formerly belonged to Ladakh. Actually they intended to occupy more territory than this.
The Dogra conquest of Ladakh had been previously advantageous to the British. The disturbances in Ladakh caused the Tibetan shawl wool to be diverted to the princely state of Bushahr, a British dependency. But, now with the Dogra conquest of west Tibet, this trade was disrupted.The advance of Zorawar Singh's troops gave rise to vociferous complaints from the British to the Lahore durbar of the Sikh Empire. It was also reported that Zorawar Singh was exacting taxes from Bhotias under British protection in the Byans valley. The British demanded that this should be immediately stopped and the villagers already assessed should be compensated.
Added to these concerns was the possibility of intercourse between the Dogras and the Nepalese, with might have encircled British territory in Kumaon and Garhwal.But such a relationship did not materialise. The Nepalese were sympathetic to the Ladakhis and they also had ongoing relationships with the Tibetans. Even though they sent a mission to Zorawar Singh after his conquest of Taklakot, nothing came of it. Winter sojourn to the Dogras was refused.
Nevertheless, the British were apprehensive. The Governor General brought heavy pressure on the Sikhs to recall Zorawar Singh from Tibet, and set 10 December 1841 as the deadline.
Fisher et al. state that, with the winter approaching, the Dogras were not inimical to withdrawing in strength if they could make a deal with the Tibetans. But they appear to have made too high demands for the Tibetans to accept.Sukhdev Singh Charak states that the Lahore Durbar responded to the British demands and ordered Zorawar Singh to return to Ladakh. In response, Zorawar Singh withdrew officers and troops from "advance posts" and from the British border, and promised to carry out the rest of the withdrawal after the snows cleared. Charak opines that these military movements, made to appease the British, weakened Zorawar Singh's position.
Tibetan reinforcements arrived in November in considerable numbers. Alexander Cunningham estimated 10,000 troops.The Mayum Pass was covered with snow, but the troops bypassed it via Matsang. After severe fighting, Taklakot was retaken on 9 November 1841. Detachments were sent forward to cut Dogra communication lines. Reconnaissance missions sent by Zorawar Singh were annihilated.
Eventually, Zorawar Singh decided to risk everything in an all-out campaign to recapture Taklakot. Fighting raged indecisively for three weeks.In an attempt to cut the supply lines of the Tibetan forces at Taklakot, Zorawar Singh's forces marched on a side route from Minsar, along the upper course of the Ghaghara River, and encamped at Kardung (Kardam). Tibetans calculated that they intended to intercept the supply line at a place called Do-yo slightly to the north of Taklakot. According to the Tibetan report from the battlefield:
During this period, there was a great snowstorm and snow accumulated to the depth of several feet. A well-disguised ambush was carefully laid, in which a road was left open through the middle of our lines up which the enemy could advance. The invaders marched on Do-yo from 7 A.M. to 9 A.M. on the second day, 11th month [14 December 1841]. These forces included the troops stationed at their new fort at Chi-t'ang in addition to the force led by the Wazir [Zorawar Singh], the Shen-pa commander. They advanced in three units with flags flying and drums beating. General Pi-hsi led his troops to resist their advance. The invaders fell into the ambush that had been prepared and their rearguard was cut off and could not maneuver. They were attacked by our forces from all sides.
Zorawar Singh was wounded in the battle, but he continued to fight with a sword. He was beheaded by Tibetan soldiers.Three hundred of the Dogra troops were killed in combat and about seven hundred were captured. The rest fled to Ladakh. The Tibetans pursued them up to Dumra (Nubra Valley, possibly Diskit), a day's journey from Leh, where they encamped.
The Sino-Tibetan force then mopped up the other garrisons of the Dogras and advanced on Ladakh, now determined to conquer it and add it to the Imperial Chinese dominions. However the force under Mehta Basti Ram withstood a siege for several weeks at Chi-T’ang before escaping with 240 men across the Himalayas to the British post of Almora. Within Ladakh the Sino-Tibetan army laid siege to Leh, when reinforcements under Diwan Hari Chand and Wazir Ratnu arrived from Jammu and repulsed them. The Tibetan fortifications at Drangtse were flooded when the Dogras dammed up the river. On open ground, the Chinese and Tibetans were chased to Chushul. The climactic Battle of Chushul (August 1842) was won by the Dogras who killed the Tibetan army's general to avenge the death of Zorawar Singh. [ unreliable source? ]
At this point, neither side wished to continue the conflict, as the Sikhs were embroiled in tensions with the British that would lead up to the First Anglo-Sikh War, while the Qing were in the midst of the First Opium War with the East India Company. Qing China and the Sikh Empire signed a treaty in September 1842 that stipulated no transgressions or interference in the other country's frontiers.
Ladakh is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. It was established on 31 October 2019, following the passage of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act. Ladakh is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region to the east, the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh to the south, both the Indian-administered union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north. It extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range to the north to the main Great Himalayas to the south. The eastern end, consisting of the uninhabited Aksai Chin plains, is claimed by the Indian Government as part of Ladakh, and has been under Chinese control since 1962.
Kargil district is a district in Ladakh, a region administered by India as a union territory. It spans the entire length of Ladakh in the north–south direction, with Jammu and Kashmir to the west, the Leh district to the east, the Pakistan-administered region of Gilgit–Baltistan to the north and Himachal Pradesh to the south. Encompassing two historical regions known as Purig and Zanskar, the district lies to the northwest of the Great Himalayan range and encompasses the majority of the Zanskar Range. Its population inhabits the river valleys of the Dras, Suru, Kartse, Wakha, and Zanskar rivers.
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The Dogras or Dogra people, are an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group in India and Pakistan consisting of the Dogri language speakers. Dogras ruled Jammu from the 19th century, when Gulab Singh was made a hereditary Raja of Jammu by the Sikh Emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh, whilst his brother Dhian Singh was the empire's prime minister, until October 1947. Through the Treaty of Amritsar (1846), they acquired Kashmir as well. They live predominantly in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, and in adjoining areas of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and northeastern Pakistan.
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Zorawar Singh Kahluria was a military general of ruler Gulab Singh of Jammu, who was a vassal of the Sikh Empire He served as the governor (wazir-e-wazarat) of Kishtwar and extended the territories of the kingdom by conquering Ladakh and Baltistan. He also boldly attempted the conquest of West Tibet but was killed in battle of To-yo during the Sikh-tibetain war. In reference to his legacy of conquests in the Himalaya Mountains including Ladakh, Tibet, Baltistan and Iskardu as General and Wazir, Zorowar Singh has been referred to as the "Napoleon of India", and "Conqueror of Ladakh".
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Moincêr, Mencixiang, Menshi or Menze is a village in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. It is located along Route G219, close to the Tirthapuri Monastery in the Ngari Region of Western Tibet. The village is located south-west of Mount Kailash . Moincêr depends on its small coal-mining industry; from which it once produced large amounts of ore from its nearby mines. The village is small and its villagers live depending heavily on yaks for agriculture and trade.
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The Era of Fragmentation was an era of disunity in Tibetan history lasting from the death of the Tibetan Empire's last emperor, Langdarma, in 842 until Drogön Chögyal Phagpa became the Imperial Preceptor of the three provinces of Tibet in 1253, under the Yuan dynasty. During this period, the political unity of the Tibetan Empire collapsed following a civil war between Yumtän and Ösung (’Od-srung), after which followed numerous rebellions against the remnants of imperial Tibet and the rise of regional warlords.
The Lanak La or Lanak Pass is a mountain pass in the disputed Aksai Chin region, administered by China as part of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is claimed by India as its border pass.
Tangtse (Tanktse or Tankse) is a village in the Leh district of Ladakh, India. It is located in the Durbuk tehsil. Traditionally, it was regarded as the border between the Nubra region to the north and the Pangong region to the south. It was a site of wars between Ladakh and Tibet.
The Charding Nullah, traditionally known as the Lhari stream and called the Demchok River by China, is a small river that originates near the Charding La pass that is also on the border between the two countries and flows northeast to join the Indus River near a peak called "Lhari Karpo". There are villages on both sides of the mouth of the river with the same Tibetan name but romanised as Demchok and Dêmqog. The river serves as the de facto border between China and India in the Demchok sector.
The Demchok sector is a disputed region centered on the villages of Demchok, Ladakh and Dêmqog, Ngari Prefecture, situated near the confluence of the Charding Nullah and Indus River. It is part of the greater Sino-Indian border dispute between China and India. Both India and China claim the disputed region, with a Line of Actual Control between the two nations situated along the Charding Nullah.
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Mehta Basti Ram was a Dogra officer and commander of the Fateh Shibji battalion under Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu. Basti Ram later served as the governor (thanadar) of Leh in Ladakh between 1847 and 1861. Basti Ram joined the service of Raja Gulab Singh in 1821 and became an officer under General Zorawar Singh during his conquest of Ladakh between 1834 and 1841. After holding positions such as the governor of Taklakot (briefly) and thanadar of Zanskar, he became the second governor of Leh under Maharaja Gulab Singh.