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Aksai Chin

How Aksai Chin got its name

Now, Aksai is a Turkic name used by Turkic Uighurs of the Xinjiang region, who themselves are newcomers to the region, replacing the earlier Buddhist Uyghurs 800 years ago. Aksai Chin is a relatively recent Chinese sponsored name.

However, this region has a rich Indic heritage. It was known by the name Godana in ancient Sanskrit literature. Until recently, Tibetans used to refer to the region by the name “Gosthana”(गोस्थान) meaning “place of the cows” seemingly because of the large presence of Yaks in the region which were considered a part of “Govamsha”( family of cows). In fact, the name of Aksai Chin’s county survives as “Hotan” even today. This comes directly from Gosthana > Hotan. Even premodern Buddhist Chinese used this name in their Sanskrit works. Even the principal Buddhist monastery of Hotan was known as “Gomati Vihara”

Hence, we must not forget that Gosthāna has been a part of the Indic civilization since time immemorial. We must not give in to Chinese propaganda and refer to the region as Aksai Chin. Why do we have to use recent foreign names instead of Ancient Sanskritic names of our own territory?


  2. India and China: Interactions through Buddhism and Diplomacy Bangwei Wang; Tansen Sen, eds. (1 October 2011. P.186)
  3. Buddhism in Central Asia P.52