"Across the barren deserts and
towering peaks lies the land of the Mountains and Monasteries which is home
to one of the ancient civilization the Indo Aryan tribes."
The capital of Ladakh is situated towards the eastern parts of Jammu and
Kashmir at an altitude of 3505meters, watered by the Zanskar River, which
flows into the Indus River towards the eroded snow-capped peaks. The Ladakhi
capital ramble from the foot of a ruined Tibetan style palace (a maze of
mud-brick and concrete) and is flanked on one side by cream-colored desert
and on the other by a swathe of lush irrigated farmland.
Leh is the center of Tibeto-Buddhist Culture for ages and its colorful
gompas have attracted the devoted Buddhists from all over the world. King
Sengge Namgyal who ruled Ladakh during 17th century shifted his court from
Shey to Leh, and it very soon blossomed into one of the busiest markets on
the Silk Route.
Age-old monasteries, quaint lanes, colorful markets and stunning views of
the Himalayas make Leh an exotic destination. Trekking through the
mountainous terrains, enjoying the game of polo in a high altitude arena or
watching an archery contest where local residents compete remains unchanged
by time. Mountaineering, white water rafting and wildlife tours are other
adventurous attractions of Leh .
Known as the headquarters of Ladakh district, Leh is located on the east of
Srinagar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The majestic Himalayan peak
surrounds the place which gets rinsed by the Zanskar River.
The temperature remains freezy all round the year, but during the winter it
dips below 0°C. July to September is the best time to visit Leh, India.
Leh Palace -
The captivating Leh Palace that rises from
the hilly edge overlooks the town and stretches out towards the indigo sky.
It is a miniature version of the Potala in Lhasa, built in the 17th century
and has nine storeys. It was the home to the royal family until they were
exiled to Stok in the 1830s. Above the palace, at the top of the Namgyal
hill, is the Victory Tower, built to commemorate Ladakh's victory over the
Balti Kashmiri armies in the early 16th century.
Shanti Stupa -
Shanti Stupa, is one of the finest
monuments built in the recent times. A steep walk takes one to the beautiful
structure that has relics of the Buddha enshrined by the Dalai Lama himself.
Shanti Stupa is one of the few places in Leh from where one can have an
excellent view of the Leh valley.
The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa -
Built in 1430, it consists of
a three-storey high Buddha image along with ancient manuscripts and
frescoes. The fort above this gompa is ruined, but the views of Leh from
here are breathtakingly beautiful. The Sankar gompa is located a couple of
kilometers north of the town. The gompa belongs to the Gelukpa order and has
an impression of the Buddhist deity Avalokiteshwara Padmahari or Chenresig.
Adcenture Sports -
For adventure sports, Leh is an ideal
place. It is counted as one among the few trekking places in north India
that offers wonderful trekking trails on the route to Markha Valley from
Spituk or from Lamayuru gompa to Chilling trek along the Zanskar river. Polo
is another popular sport in Leh. Tuesdays and Saturdays are marked as Polo
playing days.River rafting is another exciting sport that one can enjoy in
Leh. From July to September, one can raft down the Zanskar River.
Tiksey is considered as one of the most
imposing monastery in Ladakh situated about 25 kms from Leh. It is a
12-storey monastery painted in red and white, surrounded by 10 temples with
typical tapering walls. The complex contains numerous stupas, wall
paintings, thangkas, statues and a large pillar engraved with Buddha's
teachings. The interior of one of the temple is decorated by a giant 15
meters high Buddha stupa.
How to Reach
By Air -
There are regular flights from Delhi to Leh run
by the Indian Airlines. There are direct flights once a week from Leh to
Srinagar and twice a week to Jammu.
By Rail -
The nearest railway station is at Jammu.
Either one can travel to Jammu and take the Srinagar route to Leh or get
down at Kalka and head to Shimla and take the Manali route.
By Road -
There are two overland routes to Leh- the
roads from Srinagar and Manali. The Leh-Srinagar road is usually open from
June to October, while the Leh-Manali route is open from July to September.
From Jammu to Srinagar by road and then to Leh is about 430 kilometers. It
is about a two-day journey from Srinagar with a night halt at Kargil.