The Land of Sheer Beauty and Imposing Mountains.
Located on the banks of the river Indus, at a height of about 11,000 feet, Leh is popularly known as the 'snow desert'. Leh - the capital, the most adventurous and the largest city of Ladakh- is a good base for longer day trips out into the Indus Valley. The region is nurtured by the Zanskar River that flows further into the Indus River. Declared as the regional capital in the 17th century, Leh has been the center of Tibeto-Buddhist Culture for ages. Besides the lovely landscapes and appealing natural beauty, its colourful Gompas/Monasteries attract the devout Buddhists from all over the globe.
Indian Government declared Leh a tourist destination and opened it to foreign tourists in 1974. Islam and Tibetan Buddhism are the two major religion practiced in Leh. Being a well known hiking locale, Leh is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts too.
Climate and Best Time To Visit
Leh is located at an altitude of about 3500 metres from sea level. In summer, the temperature may reach 33 degree Celcius, while in winters it may drop to -28 degrees even. The average rainfall recorded is 90 mm. The most suitable season to visit Leh is summer, i.e. between the months of June and August. The roads are open in summer and the transportation is smooth.
The Ladakh Art Place in the old town, the Ecology Center and a few shops behind the Main Bazaar road are the popular places to buy gift items and souvenirs. While on a trip during the festivals one can buy unique and traditional handicrafts and textiles. The main market has several small jewellery shops from where one can buy Tibbati/Ladakhi style jewellery.
There are several restaurants and eating joints (open air, garden and the sidewalk restaurants) in the market and residential areas that serve awesome local, Tibetan, Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine. A few of these restaurants are known for special Kashmiri dishes. Bakeries and the sweetmeats are another must checkouts at Leh.
This 17th century royal residence atop the Namgyal hill is close to the Victory Tower. The palace has nine storeys and a museum that is famous for paintings, arms, murals, painted scrolls, old manuscripts and old thankas. There are some religious text inscripted on the walls of the prayer hall. The palace, built for King Singge Namgyal, also houses a huge statue of Buddha made of gold.
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa
Built in 1430 by King Tashi Namgyal, the Namgyal Tsemo Gompa has a three-storey high idol of Maitreya Buddha (future Buddha /laughing Buddha). Situated on Namgyal Tsemo peak overlooking the town, the Gompa has several ancient manuscripts and frescoes.
The Shanti Stupa (World Peace Statue) was built in 1985 with a motive to spread Buddhism across the world. The monument, located at Changspa, on the hilltop, was inaugurated by Dalai Lama.
The Nubra Valley
Full of yellow and pink wild roses, the Nubra Valley is called the flowering den of Leh. After the season of roses (August), the valley showcases a carpet of wild lavender. The place is comparatively warmer and a perfect place for growing crops and fruits. The colourful Nubra Valley is an ideal place to spend evenings with snowcapped peaks in the background.
Leh is world famous for its beautiful monasteries and splendid surroundings. Several other attractions of the city are:
Leh is a dreamland for adventure lovers. High peaks, snow deserts, vast landscapes and rivers form the perfect location for various adventure/sports activities including:
How To get There
Despite being a high altitudinal snow desert, Leh is easily approachable from Srinagar via Leh Highway (434 km) and Manali highway (473 km). Leh-Srinagar road is usually open from June to October, while the Leh-Manali route is open from July to September. Leh also has an airport, which has regular flight links to Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu and Srinagar.