The capital of the Ladakh district, Leh is towards the
eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Ladakh means the land
of high passes, also known as the land of endless
discoveries, the moon land, little Tibet ...., situated on
the Northern part of India at an altitude of 9000 feet to
Ladakh is bounded by world's two mightiest mountain ranges
bounded by the Great Himalayas, in the Karakoram ranges.
The region is watered by the Zanskar River, which flows
into the Indus River just below. The Stok mountain range
lies just south of Leh, while towards the north one can
find the snow-capped Ladakh range. In the winters, it is
freezing cold with temperatures going below 0°C.
Leh India is one of the favorite tourist destinations
located in the northernmost parts of the country. Lapped
in the snow-covered fringes of the Himalayas, Leh India
has been the center of Tibeto-Buddhist culture since ages.
Its colorful gompas have attracted the devout Buddhists
from all over the globe. Besides, it is also a favorite
hiking locale and is known for some of the best hikes in
Sightseeing in Leh
A miniature version of the Potala in Lhasa, the Leh
Palace is one of the major attractions here. The palace
was built in the 17th century and is now dilapidated and
deserted. It was the home of 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 Kashmir armies
in the early 16th century.
The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, built in 1430, contains a
three-story high Buddha image and 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 center. The gompa belongs to the Gelukpa
order and has an impressive impression of the Buddhist
deity Avalokiteshwara Padmahari or Chenresig, with 1,000
arms and an equal number of heads.
The Shanti Stupa was built by a Japanese order and was
opened by the Dalai Lama in 1985. From the top, one can
view the exotic locales nearby. The stupa is located at a
distance of 3 km from the Fort Road.
The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb commissioned the mosque at
the head of the Leh Bazaar. The Soma gompa lies near the
Seventy kilometers from Leh India, on the banks of
river Indus, is the Alchi gompa dating back to the
11th century. It is one of the largest and a famous
monastery with a widely renowned collection of paintings.
At a distance of 45 km south of Leh, Hemis is one
of the biggest gompas in Ladakh. Built in 1630, it belongs
to the red sect, Brokpa. It is also known as Chang Chub
Sam Ling or "the lone place of the compassionate person."
To commemorate the birth of the renowned Indian sage,
Padmasambhava, the annual Hemis festival is held in
the month of June/July.
Situated on the opposite bank of the Indus across
Thikse, the Matho gompa was established in the first
half of the 16th century and has a valuable collection of
old and beautiful thangkas, some in the form of 'mandalas.'
Its annual festival of oracles in early March is an
important event in the Ladakhi religious calendar.
Until the 16th century, the Shey gompa was the
royal residence. It is located at a distance of 15 km
south of Leh. This Palace Monastery has the largest statue
of Maitreya Buddha (the Buddha to come) in Ladakh. Erected
in the mid-17th century, worked out of gold and gilded
copper sheets with blue hair, it stands 17.5 m high.
At a distance of 8 km from Leh, standing majestically on
top of a hillock overlooking the Indus Valley, lies the
Spituk Gompa. It was built in the 15th century and
houses a collection of ancient masks, antique arms, icons
and thangkas. Higher up the hill is the Mahakal Temple,
containing the shrine of Vajrabhairava.
About 20 km south of Leh, Thikse gompa is an
imposing monastery and one of the finest examples of
Ladakhi architecture. It belongs to the Gelukpa order. The
12-story monastery complex contains numerous stupas,
statues, thangkas, wall paintings, swords and a large
pillar engraved with the Buddha's teachings.
Belonging to the Brokpa sect, the Phyang gompa was
built in the 16th century. Located at a distance of 16 km
from Leh, it houses hundreds of statues, thangkas, old
manuscripts and some old weapons.
The Bagso gompa is located 40 km downstream from
Leh, and was the seat of power of a branch of the Namgyal
family. It is here in AD 1680 that invading Mongol and
Tibetan armies were held in check over a three-year-long
siege. Original 16th-century murals and other arts of
Bagso are worth seeing.
About 45 km from Leh, the Chernry gompa is situated
in a picturesque valley leading to Changia. It was
constructed upon Sengge Namgyal's death in 1645. A large
collection of scriptures with title pages in sterling
silver and the text in gold letters is kept here.
Nubra Valley : Popularly known as the "Ldomra or
the valley of flowers situated at an altitude of about
10000 ft. The major attraction is the world highest road (Khardong
la 18,380 ft) The capital of Nubra, Diskit is 118 km from
Leh has a beautiful monastery(founded in 1420) on the
hilltop just above the village. 7 km from Diskit is the
village of Hunder, very famous for double hump camels
which is only found in Central Asia and Nubra Valley.
Other attractions are the villages of Trith, Sumur, Tegar
(Samstangling Monastery ) and Panamik (hot springs).
Lake is situated at 14,000 feet (4,267 m), one of the
largest brackish-water lakes in Asia, is also considered
as the largest lake in Ladakh.. Pangong Lake lies like a
giant snake is 130 km long. The Pangong Lake is 160 km
from Leh, with Spectacular view colorful mountains and
Changla Pass. The Ladakh range is crossed by the Chang-la
(18,000 feet / 5,475 m), which is the third highest pass
in the world.
Kargil can be
subdivided into two tourist circuits:
KARGIL: The second Largest town of Ladakh, is around
230Km from Leh, was once the trade route that leads to
Kashmir, Baltistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia and
Tibet. It still retains its conservative Balti Shia Muslim
culture and has two fine Mosques built in Turkish style.
Now use as a stop over when going to Srinagar or Zanskar.
ZANSKAR: The land of Religion, it is noted for its
high ranges, fine Gompas and gentle people. It has the
largest number of Gompas in Ladakh region outside the
Indus Valley. The land is virtually untouched until now.
Now a popular destination for adventure treks. The famous
peaks of Nun & Kun also are in Zanskar. Padum is the the
main habitation and subdivisional headquarter. Close by
are two famous Gompas of Stagrimo&Pibithing. A two hour
trek from Padum takes one to Karsha Gompa(16th Century).
This is the largest and the wealthiest Gompa of this
region. Other interesting Gompas of this region
are:-Sani(6Km from Padum),Stongdey(18Km),Bardan(12Km)and
the Phugtal Gompa.
In winter the temp touches as low as minus 30 degree(Leh &
Kargil) and minus 60 degree in (Drass) subzero temp.
prevails from December to February throughout Ladakh,
where as, zero degree temp.'s experienced during rest of
winter months. This result in freezing of all conceivable
water resources. During summer the maximum temp. increases
from 20 degree C to 38 degree C in July and August. The
relative humidity is low and ranges from 31 to 64 percent.