Through antiquity, India was always seen as a land steeped in unbelievable riches. One of the earliest to propagate this imagery was the Greek Historian Herodotus, who in the 4th century BCE wrote about the land of the Dardai, north of the river Indus, near the modern day area of Kargil. He claimed that here you would find gold digging ants, who threw up gold dust as they burrowed into the land! While this fired up the western imagination, passion and greed over millennia, it is only recently that the mystery of these ‘ants’ was uncovered.
Till 1947, Dardistan and Baltistan regions of Kashmir, now across the LOC (of which Kargil was a part of till 1947) were a part of India. Home of the ‘Balti’ people, named after the Tibetan word Sbal-ti, meaning water gorge, this area bordering Gilgit to the west, the Xinjiang region of China in the north, Ladakh on the southeast and the Kashmir Valley on the southwest, was at an important cross road.
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