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Rupshu is a high altitude plateau and valley and an eponymous community development block in southeast Ladakh.


Karzok village on the bank of Tso Moriri
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Frederic Drew describes the Rupshu valley as follows:

From the side of Leh it is approached by leaving the Indus at Upshi (33°49′49″N 77°48′52″E / 33.8302°N 77.8145°E / 33.8302; 77.8145 (Upshi)) and following up the narrow ravine which there joins in from the south.... After 13 or 14 miles we come to Gya (33°38′59″N 77°44′23″E / 33.6498°N 77.7398°E / 33.6498; 77.7398 (Gya)), the last village in this direction, a place elevated 13,500 feet above the sea... we have to cross the Toglung Pass (33°35′19″N 77°44′57″E / 33.5886°N 77.7493°E / 33.5886; 77.7493 (Toglung Pass)), of 17,500 feet elevation, which we approach by continuing up the same valley for some 14 miles more... From the summit we obtain a view which gives us some insight into Rupshu. There is a pretty steep slope beneath us of near 1500 feet, and then a flat valley extending long to the south-east and widening, thus showing us far off, 18 miles distant, the blue waters of one of the lakes which we shall visit—the [Tso Kar] Salt Lake (33°19′N 78°00′E / 33.31°N 78.00°E / 33.31; 78.00 (Tso Kar)). The flat bottom of the valley is bounded by smooth naked hills. It is such valleys as this, varying from a mile to (rarely) six miles in width, and enclosed by mountains rising sometimes 2000 feet and sometimes as much as 5000 feet above them, that make what are called the uplands, or sometimes the table-lands, of Rupshu.[1]

Drew states that the valleys of Rupshu continue beyond the Tso Kar lake until the Tso Moriri lake (32°54′42″N 78°18′36″E / 32.9117°N 78.3101°E / 32.9117; 78.3101 (Tso Moriri)),[2] and also extend to the east to cover the valley of Hanle (32°46′17″N 78°59′00″E / 32.7715°N 78.9832°E / 32.7715; 78.9832 (Hanle)).[3]

At its narrowest definition, the Rupshu valley ranges from 20 km northwest of Tso Moriri to 50 km northwest. The altitude of that valley is between 4,500 metres (14,800 ft) and 5,500 metres (18,000 ft). It is inhabited by the Changpa nomads and contains the Tso Kar salt lake.

More widely, the term "Rupshu" is used for a wider area, ranging from the Manali-Leh Highway region to the west to east of Tso Moriri, incorporating some of the Ladakhi portion of the Changthang Plateau area in which Tso Moriri is found.


  • Drew, Frederic (1875), The Jummoo and Kashmir Territories: A Geographical Account, E. Stanford – via

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