First published in London in 1854, this book by Alexander Cunningham is a comprehensive book on Ladakh. Cunningham travelled to Ladakh twice, once in 1846, and the second time in the following year, 1847 – and by a different route on each occasion.
Presented in lucid language, Cunningham has well depicted the people and region of Ladakh. The book covers a wide spectrum that ranges from the Tibetan language and its alphabet and pronunciation; a concise account of the religious beliefs and practices of Tibetan Buddhists, and the rise of Lamas; the people`s habitat, lifestyle, rites, ceremonies and social customs; a description of the physical appearance of the population; of the flora and fauna; and their commerce and history. This book is also a treasure house of information on the geography of the area: lakes, springs, rivers, mountains, moisture, radiation, winds, rain and snow; the principal roads, passes and bridges; boundaries, districts and neighbouring countries; and the government and administration.
The book has superb sketches of the landscape and people, and line drawings of religious objects, as well as human and animal skulls. Cunningham has also included tables on comparison of dialects, and on magnetic as well as meteorological observations noted over a period of time.
About the Author
Major General Alexander Cunningham (1814-93) a prolific writer, served in the British India government as a British Army engineer and later became an archaeological surveyor. He founded the famous Archaeological Survey of India.