Indian Subcontinent | India | Leh
Leh the town nestled in the midst of the Zanskar, Karakoram and Ladakh mountain ranges is a one of the most sought after tourist destinations with its own unique culture, history, monasteries and of course, the splendidness of the mountains and valleys that make it an enchanting and captivating stay. At an altitude of 3542m Leh, a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, is a mesmerizing simple town that warms your heart and makes you fall in love with it.
WHAT TO SEE
An important stopover on the ancient trade routes that cut across northern India, Leh was ruled by various dynasties, the most popular being the Namgyal kings who have left a mark on the architecture and monasteries of the town.
The Old Town of Leh is situated on the ridge with narrow pathways and staircases leading up and down the alleys and homes. However, moving below to the bustling markets, shops and restaurants and further away the landscape opens up to the green fields and old Ladakhi homes with their flat roofs and welcoming inhabitants.
How to reach
Air: Leh has its own airport and is connected to major cities by air.
Rail: Jammu is the nearest railway station, 700 km away
Road: Leh is well connected by more than one road routes that make way through the different ranges of the Himalayas. The Leh-Manali highway is a wonderful route and a favorite amongst bikers as well. Leh is also connected to Srinagar by road.
Things to do
Old Town – The old town of Leh is notable for its Jamia Masjid from behind which the stairways and alleyways wind their way into the heart of the homes and old town. With many buildings restored, such as the 17th century mansions that are now art centers, other attractions of the old town include the Guru Lhakhang, Chandazik Gompa, Soma Gompa and Chamba Lhakhang. The Leh Palace is situated in the old town.
Leh Palace – The most important architectural landmark of Leh, the palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal sometime around 1931.The nine storey high structure, was the home of the royals with stables and store rooms on the lower levels. The small prayer room and exhibitions are part of the palace today; however, the stunning view from the top floor is what makes the palace a true attraction.
Spituk Gompa – Build in the 14th century this stirring monastery is located atop a steep hill overlooking the Indus valley below and its varied settlements. The guardian deity is kept in the gonkhang that can be reached on a climb that is worth the effort.
Tisseru Stupa – The largest stupa of Ladakh, was built by King Gragspa Bumlde. With restoration work of this mud brick structure makes for a good photograph and memory.
Shanti Stupa – Perched on a climb of 500 steps this impressive domed stupa can be seen from the Leh city though it is 5 km away from it. Built as a two level structure, the first level reaches the Dharmachakra with two deer on each side whereas the second level depicts the image of the birth of Buddha. Built to commemorate world peace the stupa offers magnificent views of the surrounding snowcapped mountains and the valley.
Food, Festival and Shopping
Leh is a tourist hub and hence its hotels and restaurants cater to the global taste. However, there are some special Ladakhi dishes that should be tried in Leh, such as, the Thukpa a noodle variant, the hot butter tea, thentuk another noodle variety, skieu made from flour and the momos.
The popular Ladakh festival is celebrated each year in Leh where a large procession with different troupes traverses through the Leh market. Dancing, singing, music and people dressed in traditional Ladakhi clothes as well as the masked dances are all a part of the festival.
Finally, the Leh Bazaar is a great shopping destination, with souvenirs, clothes, shawls all laid out for the shoppers delight.
Leh acts as the starting point for many wonderful destinations around, such as, the spectacular Pangong Tso Lake, Nubra Valley, Hemis Monastery, Thikse monastery, Stok Gompa, Chang La Pass.
Leh is a great tourist destination because it is set in a fantastic mountainous terrain, surrounded with snow clad mountains and lush green valleys. The picturesque Ladakhi homes, their distinct architecture, the festival and food all make Leh the ideal holiday destination.