The Uighur Hajis
Much has been written about the Trade Route which connected Ladakh with Central Asia across the high passes of the Himalayas, Karakorams and the Pamirs.I have also written on this and mentioned the Route as probably the Worst Trade Route in the World. Crossing the Highest Passes on the Planet over the Highest Mountains could never have been easy. The Men who undertook this Journey were majorly Traders and their hired Men. Well almost all except one Group of people.
This Group of people where Uighur Muslims (mostly older people) on their way down to Kashmir and the Indian Plains and ultimately to Arabia in older to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage. If you think of it that would be one of the most perilous Journey that anyone could ever undertake. For the Traders redemption lay once they reached Ladakh but for these Gentlemen the Journey had only started once they reached Leh.
From there they went onto Srinagar in Kashmir and then took the cart Road to Rawalpindi and then onto Lahore I assume and then they probably took a train Journey down to Mumbai. Once in Mumbai they got onto a Ship headed for Arabia which probably dropped them off at the Port of Aden I would assume. And then through the Arabian Desert all the way to the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina to perform the Haj, one of the pillars of Islam.
And once having done that repeating the perilous Journey on their way back home. Keeping in mind that most of these pilgrims were Men of advanced ages I cannot help but wonder what was the mortality rate of these Pilgrims. And another thing I wonder about is how long did the whole Journey take once they left from Yarkand and returned back to Yarkand. And of course you have to keep in mind that some of them must have come to Yarkand from further afield.
These Men were also Adventurers. The motives were Religious but that doesn't take away from the remarkable Journey that these men undertook. Hats off to them.
The Pic is of a Group of Uighur Hajis in Leh in 1912.