Thursday, October 1, 2015

Here hear the battle of Basgo




View of plans of Basgo (Bazgu) village with Zangla castle at top of a hill, about 4 miles further of Nimo, about 42 kilometer west of Leh.


Here was fought the battle of Basgo that ended with Ladakh coming under to sphere of Mughal influence.

Zangla Castle

In the middle of 17th century, Tibet was under the control of Mongol Gushi Khan who supported the 5th Dalai Lama to take control of the region that was seeing quarrels between different sects of Buddhism. This is the Dalai (meaning 'Ocean' in Mongolian) who built Potala (Skrt. Potalaka meaning 'celestial residence') in Lhasa.

Ladakh at the time was under a new Dynasty, Namgyal who had defeated the king of Leh and moved the capital to Basgo. In a dispute between Tibet and Bhutan, Namgyals of Ladakh, given the head of their sect was based in Bhutan, decided to support Bhutan. In return, in the Dalai Lama of Tibet sent Mongol and Tibetan forces on an expedition to Ladakh under one warrior monk Lama Sang (Ganden Tshewangpel Sangpo of Ganden (Skrt. Tushita)) monastery). Tibetans forces also had the support of Kehari Singh (1639-1696) of Bushar state in upper Satluj Valley as he wanted to recover some part of Kinnaur area which had been earlier claimed by Namgyas. 

When Gyalpo Delek Namgyal (1640(5)-1680 A.D) of Ladakh found Tibetan-Mongols on his heel, from Basgo he wrote for help to Kashmir. Kashmir at the time was under Mughal governor Ibrahim Khan (reign: 1678-1885) son of famous Kurdish administrator Ali Mardan Khan. Already, during the time of Shah Jahan, Namgyals and their territorial ambitions in Trans-Himalayas were not unnoticed by the Mughal court. But, Namgyals on being notified, did tender submission to Mughal court. Now, that Namgyals needed help, they looked to Mughals. 

Ibrahim Khan forwarded the request to Mugal Emperor Aurangzeb at Aurangabad (August Hermann Francke mistakenly mentions 'bigot' Shah Jahan). Mughal historian Mir Izzet Ullah (1812) mentions an army of six lakh men from Kashmir was sent and lead by Ibrahim Khan's son Fidai Khan (Alexander Cunningham pegs the number at a more believable 6000, Francke mistakenly gives the name as Fateh Khan). In return for this help, Delek was to become Muslim and promise to give Kashmir monopoly over the pashmina trade. 

Mughal crossed the Indus at Khalatsi (Khalatse) on two wooden bridges and marched to Bargu village. Bidhi Singh of Kullu Kingdom  (Lahul and Kullu tributary were tributary of Ladakh since AD 1125-50 ) supported Mughals but plundered Zanskar valley nevertheless when he entered it. 

The Mongols had taken position on the plain of Jargyal between Bazgu and Nemo. In the battle that ensured, the Tibet-Mongol were defeated and chased till Spituk. 

After the war, Ladakhi source do not mention the conversion of Namgyal to Islam, but Mughal sources do. As was the norm of the time, Fidai Khan took some of the royal family members to Kashmir as 'hostages' while Delek Namgyal changed his name to Akbat Mahmud Khan.

However, after the Mughals returned to Kashmir, the Mongols again came in 1684 and the king of Ladakh had to submit and pay yearly tribute to Tibet. Dalai Lama wasn't pleased with the interference of foreigners in Himalayas. A peace treaty was signed between Tibet and Ladakh which ensured Tibet will never attack Ladakh and among other things ensured Kashmiri Pashmina traders will only be allowed till Spituk.

However, after the battle of Basgo, Ladakh continued to remain in sphere of Mughals, then Durranis, Sikhs and the Dogras.

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Based on info. in 'Buddhist Western Himalaya: A politico-religious history' by O.C. Handa. According to the author, the exact year of the event is much disputed and is given as 1650 by Francke, 1680 by Hutchison and Vogel and 1687 by Cunningham. This was also the time when first mosque was erected in Leh in 1699.

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The Zangla castle was where stayed the famous Hungarian Alexander Csoma de Kőrös (1784-1842) and brought out the first Tibetan-English dictionary and grammar book. The castle was renovated by a Hungarian team in around 2006.

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