Ladakh has a beautifully rich and diverse heritage, which points to a long, mostly unknown history. This heritage is however difficult to access, and very little-studied. The purpose of this catalogue is to enable more research on Ladakh’s past, by unlocking access to a uniquely vast database.
This website was launched in a first version in 2016, providing access to about 30,000 images of fortifications and temple ruins. The second (current) version was released in 2023, with a library of 160,000+ images encompassing all types of heritage sites. In the early state of this second release, the images are provided raw; descriptions, bibliography and maps of the sites will be added over time. In the meantime, basic descriptions and bibliographies can already be found in the book series edited with INTACH. This database is intended to grow over time by including images of further sites and from further contributors.
The archive is meant for research as well as conservation by preserving the memory of this heritage: over the years, a number of sites presented in it have been destroyed or heavily damaged. Facing destructions that are ever wider, faster and unrelenting, it is our duty to document to the best of our abilities and in a promptly manner as many sites as possible, before they vanish under the attack of sledgehammers and pneumatic drills: a site destroyed before it could be documented is doomed to remain unknown forever.
This material is an open access effort distributed under the Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0): images are freely accessible for as long as 1) their source is properly cited, 2) it is for non-commercial projects, 3) the images and their derived content are also distributed under the same open-access terms.
Quentin Devers is a researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CRNS, Paris), within the Research Centre for East Asian Civilisations (CRCAO, Paris) & the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP). He heads the research programme Archaeological Exploration of Ladakh (AEL), which aims at documenting all the types of monuments & remains, from all the periods, in all the regions, valleys and villages of Ladakh. The AEL comprises five components:
- The publication of a series of volumes on the heritage of Ladakh in collaboration with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH, Delhi).
- The study of the funerary cave of the Old Lady Spider, in co-direction with Veena Mushrif-Tripathy.
- The documentation and study of the rock art sites of Ladakh in collaboration with Tashi Ldawa, Viraf Mehta, Choldan Gasha, and Sonam Wangchuk.
- Research into the overall heritage of Ladakh through close collaborations (Nils Martin, Samara Broglia de Moura, Ai Nishida, etc) in order to understand its rich past.
- The publication of the present online archive.