Saturday, May 11, 2013

Daulat Beg Oldi

 WikiMap: The Tibetan plateau

Daulat Beg Oldi. The first time I head about this place I readily assumed that it had been named after a soldier who died in action. I thought "Oldi" was a nickname.

Much like the Bana Post on the Siachin Glacier, I pictured a small stone memorial  standing dwarfed by the barren, inhospitable Himalayan heights -- the Karakoram range on one side and the Kunlun mountains on the other.

This picture just fell apart when I came to know that Daulat Beg lived & died long before anybody demarcated India or China on any map, and even a few centuries before the "Great Game".  It turns out that he was a merchant from Yarkand who could not take the stain of crossing the Karakoram pass, sometime in the 16th century...

Somehow this puts the recent India-China standoff in an altogether different context. It opens your mind to a world of silk traders who risked life and limb in search of profit,  and of monks who trekked across these very mountains to introduce Buddhism to Central Asia...

And what does "Oldi" mean? Simple - its just meant to tell you that 'Daulat Beg Died Here'!

WikiMap: DBO is at the junction of the pink and grey zones


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