Yarkund Mission, 1873. - View in Bazar, Leh. 355190
Photographer: Chapman, Edward Francis
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph taken by Edward Francis Chapman in 1873, part of the Dunlop Smith Collection: Sir Charles Aitchison Album of Views in India and Burma. The view
looks across the bazaar towards the Leh Palace in the distance. The Yarkand Mission of 1873-74 was sent by the government of India ostensibly to conclude a commercial treaty with the Amir of Yarkand and Kashghar. The Amir, Yakub Beg, had set up an independent kingdom within Chinese Turkestan, which was to be short-lived. The mission was under the command of Sir T. D. Forsyth of the Bengal Civil Service, who wrote an accompanying report, Forsyth, T.D., 'Report of a Mission to Yarkund in 1873' (Calcutta 1875). The mission had a deeper purpose, it was also to gather sufficient intelligence about this largely unknown area so as to be a step ahead of the Russians in what came to be called the Great Game, the struggle between Great Britain and Russia for mastery over Central Asia. The Mission would obtain geographical and historical information on the area, as well as survey its natural resources, while pressing diplomatic relations on the principalities that they traversed via Kashmir through Tibet into Chinese Turkestan. Situated on an ancient trade route at the crossroads of Asia in the high Himalayas near the Indus river, Leh is the capital of the cold desert region of Ladakh, in the eastern part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.