History of Leh Ladakh - A lost Shangri-la

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The Indus river is the backbone of Ladakh. Most major historical and current towns — Shey, Leh, Basgo and Tingmosgang (but not Kargil), are situated close to the Indus River. After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, the stretch of the Indus flowing through Ladakh is the only part of this river, which is greatly venerated in the Hindu religion and culture, that still flows through India.

The Siachan Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains along the disputed India-Pakistan border. The Karakoram range forms a great watershed that separates China from the Indian subcontinent and is sometimes called the "Third Pole." The glacier lies between the Saltoro Ridge immediately to the west and the main Karakoram range to the east. At 70 km long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world's non-polar areas. It falls from an altitude of 5,753 m (18,875 ft) above sea level at its source at Indira Col on the China border down to 3,620 m (11,875 ft) at its snout. The passes and some dominating heights on the Saltoro ridge, which has a crestline with heights from 5,450 to 7,720 m (17,880 to 25,330 feet), are occupied by troops on both sides.