Leh

 
 
Shanti_Stupa__Leh.jpgLeh is the the largest town of Ladakh withan area of 45110 Sq Km. The district is bounded by Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the West, China in the north and eastern part, and Lahul Spiti of Himachal  Pradesh  in  South East.

For a long time Leh remained the capital of the Rajas of Ladakh. It lies at an altitude of 10,800 ft above sea level. Leh district comprises of Leh town and 112 inhabited villages






Fact Files

Area of Ladakh :     45,110 Sq Kms.
Altitude Range :     2,500 To 4,500m
Population :     1,17 lacs
Attractions :     Trekking, Mountaineering, Camping, Water Rafting, And Buddhist Monasteries.
Climate :     
Dry cold during winter and dry hot during summer. Light woollens are required during summers.
Best time to visit :     June To End September
Staple food :     Barley( Sattu)
Delicious soft drink :     Gurgur Tea
Important Distance :     434 Kms from Srinagar,   474 Kms from  Manali.

Sight Seeing In Leh

Leh has quite a few interesting places on offer. The main attractions of this area include the captivating Leh Palace, Leh Monastery, Leh Mosque, Tsemo Gompa, Stok Palace Museum and beautiful valleys.

Leh Palace - A building in the grand tradition of Tibetan architecture said to have inspired from the famous Potala in Lhasa, which was built half a century later. The palace was built in the 17th century and had nine storeys , but it is now dilapidated and deserted. It was the home of the royal family until they were exiled to Stok in the 1830s. Within the palace are Buddhist wall paintings, centuries old 'tankas' or painted scrolls and other artefacts. Above the palace, at the top of the Namgyal hill, is the Victory Tower, built to commemorate Ladakh's victory over the Balti Kashmir armies in the early 16th century. This palace built for King Singge Namgyal, now houses the Ladakhi branch of the Indian Government's archaeological conservation organisation.

Leh Monastery and Gompa - The central area of Ladakh has the greatest concentration of major Buddhist monasteries or gompas. Of the twelve situated on or near the Indus, the oldest monastery is that of Lamayuru, which is believed to have been a sacred site for the pre-Buddhist religion known as Bon. The monasteries of Phiyang, Hemis and Chemrey were all founded under the direct patronage of members of the ruling Namgyal dynasty. Phyang represents an act of penance by the 16th century King Tashi Namgyal for the violence and treachery by which he reached the throne.

Spituk Monastery

Spituk Monastery - The gompa stands prominently on the top of a hillock, 8 Kms. from Leh, and commands a panaoramic view of the Indus Valley for miles. Many icons of Buddha and five thankas are found in 15th century monastery. There is also a collection of ancient masks, antique arms, and an awe inspiring image of Mahakal

Shanti Stupa, LehShanti Stupa - Shanti Stupa (means 'World Peace' in Japanese) was built by a Japanese who harboured the ambition of spreading Buddhism across the world, in 1985 with aid from the Japanese Government. It is located at Changspa, on the hilltop, and was inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 1985. Its state of the art work attracts a lot of tourists to Ladakh and is spectacular to watch. The stupa is connected by a 'motorable' road and a steep flight of stairs. Once on top, you can stop for a snack in the tea shop, then relax and enjoy the panoramic view of the chain of mountains and the peaceful little village of Changspa with typical Ladakhi houses built along a gushing stream, and the towering Namgyal Tsemo in the distance.

Namgyal Tsemo Gompa - The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa was built in 1430 by King Tashi Namgyal on Namgyal Tsemo peak overlooking the town. The monastery contains a three-story high solid gold idol of Maitrieya Buddha (future Buddha also called laughing buddha) and a one-storied statue of Avaloketesvara and Manjushri along with ancient manuscripts and frescoes. The fort above this gompa is ruined, but the views of Leh from here are breathtakingly beautiful. The associated temples here remain intact, but they are kept locked except during the morning and evening hours when a monk toils up the hills from Sankar Gompa to attend to the butter - lamps in front of the images.

Sankar Gonpa - The Sankar Gonpa is a couple of kilometers away from Leh town. It belongs to the Gelukspa school of Tibetan Buddhism. This small Gonpa is a branch of the Spituk Monastery, founded by the first incarnation of Skyabje Bakula (head monk of Spituk)

Shey Gompa - 15 Kms upstream from Le, . the palace is belived to have been the seat of power of the pre-Tibetan kings. A 7.5 metre high copper statue of Buddha, plated with gold, and the largest of its kind, is installed in the palace.

Soma Gonpa (Jokhang), Leh - The Ladakh Buddhist Association in 1957 built the small Gonpa opposite to SBI, in the main bazaar, which is open throughout the day for visitors. The Gonpa contains a statue of Joyo Rinpochey (crowned Buddha).

Leh Mosque - The striking green and white Leh Mosque, an exquisite work of Turko-Iranian architecture, stand in the Main Bazaar of Leh. This historical mosque was built in 1666-67 A.D. consequent to an agreement between the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and then ruler of Ladakh, Deldan Namgyal. The mosque is open only to men. This is also a good place to find out about the possibility of doing voluntary work with various organizations. If interested, inquire at the reception centre or simply check the information board.

Stok Palace Museum - 17 km from Leh town, this museum exhibits precious stones, thangkas, coins, royal crowns and dresses and prayer instruments.

The Nubra Valley - KnownNubra Valley as a flowering den Nubra valley gets clad in endless bushes of yellow and pink wild roses. Once the valley is through with the season of roses around August, a carpet of wild lavender lies gently on it. Nubra is also a relatively warmer valley in Ladakh making it perfect for crops and fruits to grow. Diskit Village located near Khalsar, dotted with apricot plantations is one of the larger village of the Nubra valley. The road between Diskit and the quaint little Hunder Village winds through a gorgeous stretch of sand dunes. A quiet and pleasant evening can be spent amidst nature with snowcapped peaks in the background
Pangong Lake - This lake is situated at a elevation of 14,000ft.  In the Eastern sector of Ladakh, at a distance of 154km. from Leh across Changla pass (17,000ft.). This lake is one of the largest and most beautiful natural brakish lakes in the country.

Down in the bazaar, the main sites to visit are the Jo-khang, a modern ecumenical Buddhist temple, Chang Gali, behind the main bazaar, is less bustling but has intriguing little shops selling curios and jewellery. Leh offers some delightful walks, especially around Changspa Village. Just take any of the cobbled lanes in the village and feel free to carry on as you please. There are several attractive destinations within a 10-km radius of Leh. Sabu, a charming village with a small gompa, nestles between two southward-stretching spurs of the Ladakh range about 9 km away. In the same direction, but nearer town, is Choglamsar, with the Tibetan refugee settlement including a children's village, a handicrafts centre devoted largely to carpet-weaving, and the Dalai Lama's prayer- ground. And in the opposite direction, about 8 kms on the Srinagar road, is the turning for Spituk village and its imposing monastery.

There are several restaurants, some of them in the open air - in gardens, or on the sidewalk -which serve local, Tibetan, Indian and Continental cuisine. If you feel like you can strike off away from the bazaar, past Zangsti, the old coppersmith's quarter, past the Moravian Church to the Ladakh Ecological Centre.

Excursion

Trekking : Leh is a trekker's paradise. The treks from Spituk to the Markha valley and Lamayuru gompa to Chiling village alongside the Zanskar River are the most popular treks in the region. Another trek route is from Likir to Temisgam. Treks are open from the June end upto mid October. The passes for trekking are as high as 5,000 m in altitude. Many trekking agencies in Leh offer trek packages with a guide, packhorses, food and supplies.

Polo : Polo is also very popular in Leh. Apart from a well-maintained polo ground, regular matches and competitions are organised during the Ladakh festival.

River Rafting : One might also take fun of rafting in the Zanskar River in the month of July to September.

Access

By Air : Leh is the main airport for this area situated 8 km from city center. Direct flights link it to Delhi, Chandigarh, Srinagar and Jammu. For Kargil, Suru and Zanskar valleys - Srinagar and Leh airports are both convenient. Jet Airways also operates services between Jammu, Delhi and Srinagar (Sundays only).

By Rail - The nearest Rail Head is Jammu 620 km. from Leh. Jammu is connected to all parts of India through express trains.

By Roadways : Srinagar-Leh road is the main route with an over night halt at Kargil. The road is open between mid June and November. Ordinary and deluxe buses of the J&K state road transport corporation regularly ply on this route. Taxis can also be hired at Srinagar for this trip. Road communication between Srinagar and Leh is closed between October & May.

For local sight seeing taxis and luxury coaches are available


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