The Legend of 432: The Ladakh Episode

Sam looked at the photograph very carefully.This photograph, looking towards the rocky outcrop on which the palace and monastery of Leh, the capital of Ladakh, stand was taken by his grandfather who was also a journalist in 1873 and is from an album which forms part of the collection of Sir James Robert Dunlop Smith. The official purpose of the 1873 mission was to conclude a commercial treaty with the Amir of Yarkand and Kashghar. 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. Just after the photograph was taken, his grandfather went missing because he knew something about the secret of 432. This was the only remain. The monastery in the photo today no longer exists. He always thought of the strange IIIXX mark at the bottom right corner of the photo. Finally the light of wisdom dawned on him.

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