Situated at the height of about 3,505 meters above sea level, Leh is the most beautiful and easily accessible place in Ladakh. The town is the most common entry point to Ladakh region. Leh serves as the ideal base to tourists traveling Ladakh, India. Leh has a number of beautiful monasteries and historical monuments that are the biggest draw to Leh. The rugged terrain with snow covered mountains in the backdrop under the clean blue-sky form a stunning picture perfect postcard. Leh is an ideal place for trekking and mountaineering. Its beautiful trekking trails and majestic mountains invite an intrepid traveler to explore the barren beauty that lay scattered in and around Leh.
Leh is the headquarters of Ladakh district and is located on the east of Srinagar. Surrounded by the majestic Himalayan peaks, Leh is rinsed by the Zanskar River, which meets the Indus below. The temperature during the winter dips below zero.
Leh's claim to fame dates back to the 17th century, when King Sengge Namgyal shifted his court to Leh from Shey. Soon after, Leh became an important trade center on the famed Silk Route. Tourism sets its foot in Leh in 1970s, to be precise in 1974, when Leh was opened for tourists.Sites To Visit
Shanti Stupa, the result of joint efforts by the Buddhists from Japan and Ladakh 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 you can have an excellent view of the Leh valley. So don't forget to take your cameras to capture some stunning sights of the barren but beautiful hills and the valley below.
Leh Palace, a distant cousin of the Potala in Lhasa Tibet is another attraction in Leh. The palace, which was built in the 17th century is in a dilapidated condition today. Once home to royal family of Leh, the palace today is under Archaeological Survey of India. Just above the palace on the Namgyal hill is the Victory Tower that was built in memory of Ladakh's victory over the Balti Kashmir armies in the 16th century. Namgyal Tsemo Gompa is another beautiful monastery that houses a three-story high Buddha image and ancient manuscripts. The Gompa was built in 1430. Sankar Gompa is another magnificent gompa that is located about a few kilometers from Leh town. The gompa belongs to the Gelukpa order.Trekking in Leh
If you are the one interested in adventure sports, Leh is an ideal place to tour. Leh is one among the few trekking places in north India that offers wonderful trekking trails. You can hit the route to Markha Valley from Spituk or take the Lamayuru gompa to Chilling trek along the Zanskar river. The another popular trek that can be taken is from Likir to Temisgam. June to October is considered to be the ideal time for trekking in Leh Ladakh. But it is essential to acclimatize before you take out your trekking gear.Other Sports
During summer, Polo is another popular sport in Leh. Tuesdays and Saturdays are marked as Polo playing days. But if you are in Leh during the Festivals, you can enjoy other sports as well. Archery competitions are held during the festival and it is exciting to watch archers from Ladakh and other parts to participate in the event. River rafting is another exciting sport that one can enjoy. From July to September one can raft down the Zanskar River.Shopping in Leh
Shopping is an exciting experience in Leh. You can shop for turquoise and silver jewellery that come from Tibet and Burma. Main Market in Leh is a wonderful place to shop. Two of the places that are worth checking are Ladakh Art Palace and Lhasa Embroidery. Tibetan Refugee Market on Old Leh Road is another ideal place for shopping in Leh. For Tibetan-Ladakhi items of art one can head to Government Emporium. Popular souvenirs picked up by tourists include, Thangka paintings, small prayer wheels, music bowls, Ladakhi carpets, rugs, shawls and stoles.
Leh has a number of hotels and guesthouses that remain open in the peak season. You can choose to stay at the old town, Fort Road or Changspa area. Most of the lodging places are built traditional style. The town also has some high-end and budget accommodation. There are a number of eating joints in Leh and the predominant cuisines are from Tibet and Kashmir. One can also get western cuisine along the Fort Road hotels.
Leh is connected by air from Delhi and it takes about 65 minutes to reach Leh from Delhi. By rail, either you 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.
From Jammu you can head to Srinagar by road and then to Leh, which is over 430 kilometers away. It is about a two-day journey from Srinagar with a night halt at Kargil. On the road from Srinagar to Leh you will cross the high Zoji La Pass, and travel past Mulbek where there is a giant image of the Maitreya Buddha. The Namika La and Fotu La Passes and the Spituk Gompa are scenic attractions on the road from Srinagar to Leh.
You can also approach Leh Ladakh from Manali. On the road from Manali you will cross the Rohtang Pass and the Baralacha La Pass. Stop overnight at Sarchu Serai and on the next day travel through Tanglang La and Lungalacha La passes to Upshi and onward to Leh. Along the way you will see many ancient monasteries and Buddhist structures.
July to September is the best time to visit Leh Ladakh, India.