From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Changpa nomad girl with baby animal in Ladakh, 2013 (cropped).jpg
Total population
India: 2,661 (2011)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Ladakh, India

Tibet Autonomous Region, China

Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China

Qinghai, China

Baltistan, Pakistan[2]
Changthang language
Mainly Buddhism (89%)[1]
Minority Islam (10%) and Hinduism (1%)[1]
Related ethnic groups
Baltis, Ladakhis, Purigpa, and other Tibetan People

Changpa nomad
Changpa shepherd girl
Changpa nomadic family, Tibet

The Changpa or Champa (Changthang: ཆངཔ) are a semi-nomadic Tibetan people found mainly in the Changtang in Ladakh, India. A smaller number reside in the western regions of the Tibet Autonomous Region and were partially relocated for the establishment of the Changtang Nature Reserve and Baltistan region of Pakistan. As of 1989, there were half a million nomads living in the Changtang area.[3]

Changpa of the Tibet Autonomous Region[edit]

The homeland of the Changpa is a high altitude plateau known as the Changtang, which forms a portion of western and northern Tibet extending into southeastern Ladakh, and Changpa means "northerners" in Tibetan.[4] Unlike many other nomadic groups in Tibet, the Changpa are not under pressure from settled farmers as the vast majority of land they inhabit is too inhospitable for farming.[5]

Most of the Tibetan Changtang is now protected nature reserves consisting of the Changtang Nature Reserve, the second-largest nature reserve in the world, and four new adjoining smaller reserves totalling 496,000 km2 (191,507 sq. miles) of connected Nature Reserves, which represent an area almost as large as Spain, and bigger than 97 countries. Since the reserves have been established, there has been a welcome increase in the numbers of endangered species. The protected areas stretch across parts of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Xinjiang, and Qinghai in China.[3]

Changpa of Ladakh[edit]

The Changpa of Ladakh are high altitude pastoralists, raising mainly yaks and goats. Among the Ladakh Changpa, those who are still nomadic are known as Phalpa, and they take their herds from the Hanley Valley to the village of Lato. Hanley is home to six isolated settlements, where the sedentary Changpa, the Fangpa, reside. Despite their different lifestyles, both these groups intermarry. The Changpa speak Changskhat, a dialect of Tibetan, and practice Tibetan Buddhism.[6]

Only a small part of Changthang crosses the border into Ladakh, in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is, however, on a historically important route for travelers journeying from Ladakh to Lhasa, and now has many different characteristics due to being part of India. Historically, the Changpa of the Ladakh would migrate with their herds into Tibet, but with the Chinese takeover of Tibet, this route has been closed.[4]

As of 2001, the Changpa were classified as a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian government's reservation program of affirmative action.[7]

Changpas and Their Goats[edit]

For many Changpas, the rearing of animals, and consuming and selling their produce (milk and its products, hair, and meat) is the only means of livelihood.[8]

The Changpas rear the highly pedigreed and prized Changra goats (Capra Hircus) that yield the rare Pashmina (Cashmere) fibre. The Changra goats are not raised for their meat but for their fibre (pashm). The pashmina fibre (Pashm in Persian) is the finest fibre of all goat hair.[8]


A documentary called Riding Solo to the Top of the World was made by Gaurav Jani. Another documentary, "The Nomadic Night", depicting the life of Changpas was made by Marianne Chaud.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "ST-14 Scheduled Tribe Population By Religious Community". Census of India Website. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  2. ^ "Changpa in Pakistan". Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  3. ^ a b Goldstein, Melvyn & Beal, Cynthia (1991). Nomads of Western Tibet. Berkeley, CA, USA: University of California Press. p. 60. ISBN 0-520-07211-1.
  4. ^ a b Rizvi, Janet (1999). Trans-Himalayan Caravans. Oxford University Press. p. 301. ISBN 0-19-564855-2.
  5. ^ "Changtang Plateau". Tibet Travel and Tours - Tibet Vista. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  6. ^ Rizvi, B.R (2003). "Champa". In K.N Pandita; S.D.S Charak & B.R Rizvi (eds.). People of India Jammu and Kashmir. People of India. Vol. XXV. New Delhi: Manohar. pp. 182–184. ISBN 8173041180.
  7. ^ "List of Scheduled Tribes". Census of India: Government of India. 7 March 2007. Archived from the original on 5 June 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Changpa People of Ladakh, India". Atlas Of Humanity. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  9. ^ Jani, Gaurav (1 November 2006), Riding Solo to the Top of the World (Documentary), Dirt Track Productions, retrieved 6 March 2022