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Brogpa Minaro, Dakpa, Sangtengpa
Kashmir Ladakh women in local costume.jpg
Total population
(20,000 (est.))
Regions with significant populations
Dha-Hanu,Sharchay-Batalik in Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan
Mostly Vajrayana Buddhism with blend of folk animism and minority Shia-Muslims
Related ethnic groups
Dard people

The Brokpa are a small community of Dard people residing in Jammu and Kashmir region, about 163 km (101 mi) northwest of Leh and 62 km (39 mi) north of Kargil in Ladakh.[1]

They are mainly found in Dha, Beama, Garkhone, Darchiks, Batalik, Sharchay and Chulichan.[citation needed] Part of the community are also located in the Deosai plateau just across the LOC in the villages Ganoaks, Morol, Dananusar, and Chechethang in Baltistan. Like the people of Gilgit, they speak a variant of Shina language, Brokskat, unintelligible with other Shina dialects. They are said to have originally come from Chilas and settled in the area generations ago. They are predominantly Vajrayana Buddhists with a blend of folk animaism and minority follow Shia Islam.

Minaro is an alternate ethnic name. 'Brogpa' is the name given by the Ladakhi to the people.[2] It derives from Drukpa, which comes from the Tibetan word 'Drugu' (for an ethnic Turk.) This is an accurate demonym, considering that the Turkic Trakhàn dynasty were once ruling the Karakoram region.


Map of Alexander's empire and his military route, showing modern-day areas of Kalash Valley, Nuristan, Hunza Valley, and Gilgit Valley were occupied by Alexander. The Brokpas had migrated from Chilas in Gilgit Valley to Ladakh.

Studying them, writer Shubham Mansingka says, “Legend says there were four brothers, of whom one settled in Gilgit (across the border from Pakistan), and the other three settled in these villages.”[3] The Brokpa claim to descend from Alexander the Great's army, not uncommon for nearby mountainuous tribes to assert.

Konchuk Thorpa, a local Khaspa (teacher) says, “It's written in our history called 'Dizum Shuzum' is a log of our 2000 year old existence. It is account of that time when there was a big sea in this region from Ladakh to Tibet”.[4] He continues with the story of how three brothers – Galo, Melo and Dulo came to Ladakh and while wandering in search of a new pasture land, they reached the sea. It is said that a grain which had got stuck in the shoe of one of them, fell to ground and multiplied into a good crop of grains. The brothers stayed back on this land.

Because of the focus of attention onto the Brokpa, many have speculated of their origins. From one eye-catching theory perpetuated that they are Aryans has led to a tourism boom in their valley from both India and western countries. Thinley, a local Brokpa and part of the valley's tourism community, changing his last name to 'Aryan' to impress foreigners.[5] “I think the notion of being an Aryan has been put into their constant coming of foreigners and giving them undue importance," Dr. Veena Bhasin, Professor of Anthropology, University of Delhi reflects.[6] “It is claimed that they are the last of the pure Aryans, but they themselves do not know if they are Aryans or not,” writer Subham Mansingka says.[7]


The traditional Brogpa diet is based on locally grown foods such as barley and hardy wheat prepared most often as tsampa/sattu (roasted flour). It takes in different ways.[clarification needed] Other important foods include potatoes, radishes, turnips, and Gur-Gur Cha, a brewed tea made of black tea, butter and salt.

Dairy and poultry sources are not eaten because of religious taboos. Brogpa eat three meals a day: Choalu Unis (breakfast), Beali (lunch) and Rata Unis (dinner). Brogpa vary with respect to the amount of meat (mainly mutton) that they eat. A household's economic position decides the consumption of meat. It is only during festivals and rituals that all have greater access to mutton.[8]

Economy and employment[edit]

The Brogpa economy has shifted from agropastoralism to wage labor, and the division of labor that relied on stratifications of age and gender is now obsolete. The Brogpa transition to private property, monogamy, nuclear families, formal education, wage labor, and their incorporation into a highly militarized economy of soldiering and portering illuminates the complex workings of modernity in Ladakh.[9]

See also[edit]

Other ethnic groups with claimed descent from Alexander the Great's soldiers

Regional Greek kingdoms

Regional Turkic kingdoms



External links[edit]