Zorawar Singh Museum Leh

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2016

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Entrance to Zorawar Fort Leh. It is about 10 minutes drive from the main market. Must visit for students of history. It houses a museum which tells about Raja Gulab Singh, General Zorawar Singh, battles fought to capture Tibet, arms used, warrior Mehta Basti Ram, The First Ladakh Campaign, Consolidation of Ladakh 1836-40, Baltistan Campaign 1839-40, Tibetan Campaign 1841, Zorawar reverse in Tibet, Reconquest of Ladakh 1842, Zorawar''s Military System.

Bust of General Zorawar Singh 1786 to 1841. History on white boards, tried to make it easy reading by splitting one board into two pics. Zorawar Singh is known for his Tibet campaign. Lt Gen Panag tweeted that he captured only part of Tibet, laterally from Rudok to Mansarovar.

Fort was made in 1836 on orders of General Zorawar Singh. It is dedicated to the brave Dogra and Ladakhi warriors. Military Veteran tweeted `Tibet has vast area as such these were not Invasions & Capture in the Classical sense. They were Expeditionary Forces that with Superior military strength at a given point of time were able to subjugate the Tibetans and extract suzerainty for limited periods.`

Overview of fort. It is a small fort, now managed by the Indian Army.

Gulab Singh joined the Sikh Army in 1809. For his invaluable services Maharaja Ranjit Singh made him Raja with Raj Tilak being done in 1822. It was done on the banks of the Chenab river in Akhnoor. In 1834 he was assumed to be Raja of Jammu region states. In 1847 he was recognised as Raja of J&K state. To see pics of exact point where it happened Click here

Zorawar Singh was born in Bilaspur in a Rajput family. He was known for high altitude warfare and training. He was a jewel in the court of Raja Gulab Singh, captured Tibet once but failed the second time round. In fact his samadhi is in Tibet.

There are 2 halls in museum, overview of first one.

Left pic is of Col Mehta Ram Basti presenting the captured Tibetan Mantalai flag to Wazir Zorawar Singh after the Battle of Taklakote. Right is Samadhi of General Zorawar Singh in TO-YO in Tibet. The chorten on the samadhi was built by Tibetans in 1841.

Bust of Gialpo Tsepal Namgyal. He was the king of Leh during Zorawar Singh first invasion. On being defeated Namgyal agreed that Ladakh would become a vassal state of Raja Gulab Singh.

Cloth in red is Mantalai flag. It is similar to what was captured by Col Mehta Ram Basti from Tibetans in battle of Taklakote. Jewellery boxes - such boxes are commonly used in hill areas.

Double Barrel Pistol. This is a replica of the pistol used by the Dogra campaign of Tibet in 1841.

This Chest Armour was used by Dogra, Ladakhi and Chinese forces. It is made of hard steel and brass and procured from Turtuk.

Mehta Basti Ram belonged to Kishtwar. He took part in all battles of Zorawar with great distinction. Despite considerable loss of men he would reorganise the team and surprise the enemy. He had a flair for technology and was willing to try new tactical procedures. He became the Governor of Ladakh and built a Haveli Ram Palace in Leh (missed seeing).

View of Leh Palace from the main market.

From now we are in the second hall where boards with all sorts of historic information are displayed. Boards split into 2 for easy reading and care taken to ensure there is continuity. This one is about the First Ladakh Campaign 1834-36. Pic is of Gen Zorawar Singh.

This is part 2 of 1834-36 campaign board.

Consolidation of Ladakh 1836-40. Title in starting is Sikh Dogra rivalry.

Part 2 of Ladakh 1836-40.

The Baltistan Campaign 1839-40. Note that Baltistan is now illegally occupied by Pakistan. Ranges of Baltistan had average height of 18k feet and max number of glaciers outside the Arctic. Zorawar went to capture but lost lot of troops till Mehta Basti Ram came to his rescue. Read in pic. Next Zorawar Singh won over the Balti army. By the summer of 1840 Zorawar had occupied and brought into submission complete Baltistan.

Part 2 of the Baltistan campaign.

About the Tibetan campaign of 1841.

Part 2 of the Tibetan campaign.

Local garments displayed in the museum.

Zorawar''s last struggle, reverse in Tibet.

Part 2 of reverses in Tibet.

Chinese and Tibetan uprising. The DOGRAS defeated them and the rebels of Baltistan too. They thought it was a free for all post the death of Zorawar Singh in 1941 but the Dogras proved them wrong.

Part 2 of the Chinese and Tibetan attack on Ladakh.

Zorawar''s Military System part 1.

Part 2 of Zorawar''s military system.

Shield. Locally known as PHALI. They are made of leather and metal, procured from Turtuk and Basgo. Very well laid out museum. Congrats to those who compiled the data so painstakingly.

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