Tibet–Ladakh–Mughal War

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Tibet–Ladakh–Mughal War
Result Treaty of Tingmosgang
Ladakh reduced to its present day borders
Central Tibet
Khoshut Khanate
Dzungar Khanate
Mughal Empire
Commanders and leaders
Galdan Chhewang
Tenzin Dalai Khan
Galdan Boshugtu Khan
Fidai Khan
Delek Namgyal
Shakya Gyatso

The Tibet–Ladakh–Mughal War of 1679–1684 was fought between the Central Tibetan Ganden Phodrang government, with the assistance of Mongol khanates, and the Namgyal dynasty of Ladakh with assistance from the Mughal Empire in Kashmir.


In the late 17th century, Ladakh sided with Bhutan in its dispute with Tibet. The Tibetans decided to punish Ladakh for interfering in their relations with Bhutan and the oppression of Gelug monasteries in Ladakh.[1]


In 1679 the 5th Dalai Lama appointed the lama of the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the Koshut Golden Chhewang (Wylie: Dga' ldan Tshe dbang[2]), as the commander of the Tibeto-Mongol expedition to Ladakh.[1] He is said to have done so against the advice of his prime minister not to send the expedition.[3] Galdan Chhewang first secured his flanks when he made a treaty with Raja Kehri Singh of Bashahr, granting him trade rights with Tibet.[1]

Galdan Chhewang's first campaign resulted in the defeat of the Ladakhi army led by Shakya Gyatso (Wylie: Sakya rGya-mTsho, at Khan-dMar.[4] The following year he defeated the Ladakhis again at Chang La (Byan-la) and occupied the country with the exception of the fortresses of Basgo, and Tinggmosgang, which held out against the Tibetan attacks for the next three years.[4]

The stalemate was broken with the Mughal Empire's intervention in the war. Kashmir was a Mughal province at this time and included Ladakh in its sphere of influence.[1] In 1683 an army led by Fidai Khan, son of governor Ibrahim Khan of Kashmir, defeated the Tibeto-Mongol army and lifted the siege of Basgo, continuing the pursuit until Lake Pangong. The Kashmiris helped restore Ladakhi rule on the condition that a mosque be built in Leh and that the Ladakhi king convert to Islam. The Mughals retreated after signing a treaty with the Ladakhis. Kashmiri historians assert that, after this, the Ladakhi king converted to Islam in return. However, the Ladakhi chronicles do not mention such a thing and the Ladakhi people refute it. The king agreed to give tribute to the Mughals in return for their help.[5][6]

Johan Eleverskog writes that in his struggle for power over Tibet, the Fifth Dalai Lama employed fear and violence over the Tibetan territories.[7]

Treaty of Tingmosgang[edit]

In 1684, the Ganden Phodrang Prime Minister Desi Sangye Gyatso[8] and the King Delek Namgyal of Ladakh signed the 1684 Treaty of Tingmosgang to end the war.[9][10][11] According to the Ladakh Chronicles, the treaty fixed the Tibet-Ladakh border at the Lhari stream near Demchok, and regulated trade and tribute missions between Ladakh to Tibet.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d Rahul, March of Central Asia (2000), p. 51.
  2. ^ Emmer, the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War 2007, p. 81.
  3. ^ Ahmad, New Light on the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War (1968), p. 349: "Firstly, from the passage dated 5 July 1679, it seems that the decision to send the expedition to Ladakh was taken by the 5th Dalai Lama himself who, concurring with the advice given by dGa'-lDan Tshe-dBan dPal bZan (that an expedition be sent), over-ruled the advice given by the sDe-pa Blo-bZan sByin-pa (that the expedition be postponed). It should be remembered that the sDe-pa Blo bZan sByin-pa was, at this time, in the very last days of his tenure of office as sDe-pa. Already on 27 June 1679, a notice had been issued, naming Sans-rGyas rGya-mTsho as sDe-pa."
  4. ^ a b Ahmad, New Light on the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War (1968), p. 349.
  5. ^ Sali, M. L. (20 April 1998). India-China Border Dispute: A Case Study of the Eastern Sector. APH Publishing. ISBN 9788170249641. Retrieved 20 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Kaul, H. N. (20 April 1998). Rediscovery of Ladakh. Indus Publishing. ISBN 9788173870866. Retrieved 20 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Johan Elverskog (6 June 2011). Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 222–. ISBN 978-0-8122-0531-2.
  8. ^ Ahmad, New Light on the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War (1968) p. 342: "Sans-rGyas rGya-mTsho (1653-1705), sDe-pa or Prime Minister of Tibet 1679-1705". p. 351: "Now, in 1684, the government of Tibet, headed by the sDe-pa Sans-rGyas rGya-mTsho, annexed Gu-ge to Tibet, and fixed the frontier between Ladakh and Tibet at the lHa-ri stream at bDe-mChog."
  9. ^ Ahmad, New Light on the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War (1968), pp. 351–353: "We produce now a new translation of the Ladakh Chronicles [...] bDe-legs rNam-rGyal, came to the kingship [of Ladakh] [...] Thereupon, the Government of Tibet, being afraid that the King of Ladakh and his troops might, once again, make war (on Tibet), ordered the 'Brug-pa Mi-'pham dBaii-po that he ought to go (to Ladakh) in order to establish peace. [...] With this exception, the frontier (of Ladakh) was fixed as from the IHa-ri stream at bDe-mChog."
  10. ^ Petech, Luciano (1977). The Kingdom of Ladakh: C. 950-1842 A.D. Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente. pp. 171–172.: "bDe-legs-n.g. co-regent (1680-1691)" The original text of the Treaty of Tingmosgang no longer survives, but its contents are summarized in the Ladakh Chronicles.
  11. ^ Lamb, Treaties, Maps and the Western Sector (1965): p. 37: "No text of this agreement between Tibet and Ladakh survives, but there are references to it in chronicles." p. 38: "There can be no doubt that the 1684 (or 1683) agreement between Ladakh and the authorities then controlling Tibet did in fact take place. Unfortunately, no original text of it has survived and its terms can only be deduced. In its surviving form there seems to be a reference to a boundary point at "the Lhari stream at Demchok", a stream which would appear to flow into the Indus at Demchok and divide that village into two halves." p. 40: "The treaty that could have given this information, that of 1684, has not survived in ...its full text, and we have no means of determining exactly what line of frontier was contemplated in 1684. The chronicles which refer to this treaty are singularly deficient in precise geographical details."
  12. ^ Rahul, March of Central Asia (2000), p. 51; Ahmad, New Light on the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War (1968), p. 356; Francke, August Hermann (1926). Thomas, F. W. (ed.). Antiquities of Indian Tibet, Part (Volume) II. pp. 115–118.