Ghulam Rasool Galwan: All you need to know about the explorer and why Ladakh's Galwan Valley is named after him

The 80 kilometers-long Galwan river, which flows through the valley, in the eastern part of Ladakh, is named after Ghulam Rasool Galwan, a Ladakhi adventurer and explorer who assisted many European explorers at the turn of the 19th century.

FP Staff June 17, 2020 11:17:19 IST
Ghulam Rasool Galwan: All you need to know about the explorer and why Ladakh's Galwan Valley is named after him

On Monday night, a violent escalation took place between the Indian Army and China's People's Liberation Army that cost around 20 Indian Army personnel their lives in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

The Galwan Valley is the flashpoint of a five-week border row which soon turned into a violent confrontation, the first such incident in the last 45 years. The river which originates from the Aksai Chin region, joins the Shyok River inside the territory claimed by India to form an upstream tributary of the Indus River.

The 80 kilometers-long Galwan river, which flows through the valley, in the eastern part of Ladakh, is named after Ghulam Rasool Galwan, a Ladakhi adventurer and explorer who assisted many European explorers at the turn of the 19th century.

According to the book Forsaking Paradise: Stories from Ladakh, Ghulam Rasool Galwan had arrived in Leh in 1895. Galwan has also written a book titled Servant of Sahibs: A Book To Be Read Aloud, where he is said to have written about his life of journeying and adventures, as he assisted Francis Younghusband to scout the region.

Ghulam Rasool Galwan All you need to know about the explorer and why Ladakhs Galwan Valley is named after him

Representational image. PTI

The foreword of this book is written by Younghusband, a British explorer and leading figure in The Great Game between the British and Russia.  The Great Game was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th Century between the British Empire and Russia over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central and South Asia.

At a time when British-ruled India was worried about Russian expansion towards Tibet, Galwam assisted British expeditions in the region as a guide, as troops tried to gather and assess intelligence about Russian intrusion which could pose a threat to British interests in India.

It is believed that his great grandfather was a robber named Kara Galwan, which in Kashmiri language means Karra  (black) and Galwan (robber) or black robber.  Although there are varied views on popular Ladakhi explorer and adventurer and his tribe, the Galawans, the word ‘Galawan’ means horse-keeper in Kashmiri language, according to the Kashmir Observer. 

Galwan for almost 35 years assisted expeditions led by British, Italian, and American explorers, he eventually rose to the ranks of 'aksakal' or chief assistant of the British joint commissioner of Leh in 1917, reports Economic Times.

Born in Leh, which was then a part of the famous Silk Route that was known to be volatile as various kingdom eyeing to take control over the region's lucrative paths, was believed to be swarming with robbers. Galwan book, Servant of Sahibs: A Book To Be Read Aloud offers a glimpse into his early childhood of growing up in such a strategically important and sensitive region.

Meanwhile, the recent confrontation between the armies of India and China was not a one-off incident. For almost the past one month, the Chinese Army has been gradually ramping up its strategic reserves in its rear bases near the LAC by rushing in artillery guns, infantry combat vehicles and heavy military equipment. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.

Although both sides have asserted that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

Updated Date:

also read

Prime Minister Narendra Modi silent on inflation, fuel prices, 'murder of farmers', says Rahul Gandhi
India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi silent on inflation, fuel prices, 'murder of farmers', says Rahul Gandhi

The Congress leader also targeted the government over Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane’s "China was here to stay" remark in the context of stand-off in eastern Ladakh

'Chinese side not agreeable': India-China talks unfruitful after 13th round of discussions on Ladakh row
India

'Chinese side not agreeable': India-China talks unfruitful after 13th round of discussions on Ladakh row

The meeting did not result in a resolution as the Indian side made several constructive suggestions but the Chinese side was not agreeable and also could not provide any forward-looking proposals.

Dragon flaunts ‘firepower’ across LAC to ward off growing internal challenges
World

Dragon flaunts ‘firepower’ across LAC to ward off growing internal challenges

President Xi Jinping has not left China for almost two years; it is not difficult to understand why if one looks at the domestic problems he has on his plate