Leh, the capital of Ladakh district, is a fascinating hill station. It is one of the favorite tourist destinations located in the northernmost parts of the country. Leh has been the center of Tibetian-Buddhist culture since ages. It's Gompas have attracted devout Buddhists from all over the world. Besides, it is also a favourite trekking and hiking spot and is known for some of the best hikes and treks in the country.
Lying amidst the snow-capped hills of Himalayas with many monasteries and colorful markets, it is also the Buddhist capital of North India. At a height of 11,000 feet, there are many strikingly beautiful and majestic mountains here, which slowly merge into an oasis of green fields.
Tourist attractions in Leh
Shey Palace : Around 12 kms south of Leh, it was the seat of power for the first king of Ladakh, Lhachen Spalgigon who constructed the hill top fortress. The ruins can be seen from above the present Shey Palace.
Leh Palace : The palace was built in the 17th century and had nine storeys ,Leh has quite a few interesting places on offer. One can always start with the captivating Leh Palace that rises from the edge of a hill overlooking the town and stretches out towards the indigo sky
Thiksey Monastery : In south of Leh the most beautiful of all the monasteries in Ladakh belongs to Gelukspa Order. Around 80 monks reside here at present.
Zanskar Range : The Zanskar range lies to the North of the main Himalaya . It forms the backbone of Ladakh south of the Indus River , stretching from the ridges beyond Lamayuru in the west acrossthe Zanskar region, where it is divided from the main Himalaya by the Stod and Tsarap valleys, the populated districts of the Zanskar valley.
Dras Valley : The Dras Valley is an enchanting valley formed by the Dras River which rises in the Machoi glacier near the famous Zozila Pass. The river is joined in its course by many other rivers and streams flowing in from snowfields in the nearby mountains.
Chamba Temple : One place definitely worth walking through the putrid smelling puddles to visit, however, is the Chamba temple.
Shanti Stupa : A relatively new addition to the rocky skyline around Leh is the toothpaste white Shanti Stupa above Changspa village, 3-km west of the bazaar.
Despite of its high elevation, Leh is almost entirely comprised of a barren land with only a few agricultural districts. At 3,500 meters above sea level, Leh enjoys a highland desert climate will relatively less rainfall. The winter months from October to March are harsh and dry with occasional snowfall. Surprisingly the summer temperature is relatively warm and pleasant with temperatures never exceeding 25 degrees Celsius. Due to the high elevation visitors might be susceptible to altitude sickness and need to beware if they are not used to highland climates.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Leh is during the summer months between March and mid-October when the temperatures range between 25 degrees to 3 degrees Celsius. Winters in Leh are harsh and the terrain is prone to landslides and avalanches which can block the roads.
Attractions/Things To Do
Located in the Indus Valley, Leh is placed right between the confluence of the ancient trade routes from Tibet, Kashgar and Kashmir and is known for its high mountains and mountain passes. While it is a small town that can be covered solely on foot, it also houses several historical, cultural and natural attractions that can be visited by tourists and trekkers. It is also a haven for the adventure seekers due to the possibility of trekking, rafting, camping and hiking.
Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Hemis Monastery, Hemis National Park, Chamba Temple, Stok Palace, Zorawar Fort, Pangong Lake, Sand Dunes Nubra, Tsomoriri Lake, Khardongla, Siachin Glacier and Sankar Gompa etc. are the various attractions that must be visited in Leh.
How to Reach
The only way to reach Leh is by road though the winding and time consuming mountain passes from Manali and Srinagar. It the journey to Leh that is considered the greatest adventure in the hill town and attracts thousands of bikers who ride the high altitude mountain passes to reach Leh. Government buses are available from Srinagar and private taxis or jeeps can be availed from Manali. The nearest domestic airports are located in Srinagar and Jammu which are connected via daily flights from Delhi. When biking from Manali to Leh it is advised to ride slow in order to avoid altitude sickness.
Distance from Major Cities
1. Manali to Leh – 475 Kilometers
2. Srinagar to Leh – 416 Kilometers
3. Pahalgam to Leh – 499 Kilometers
4. Shimla to Leh – 725 Kilometers
5. Chandigarh to Leh – 1,003 Kilometers
6. Dehradun to Leh – 1,172 kilometers
7. Delhi to Leh – 1,251 Kilometers
8. Jaipur to Leh – 1,463 Kilometers
9. Lucknow to Leh – 1,681 Kilometers
10. Ahmedabad to Leh – 2,129 Kilometers
11. Mumbai to Leh – 2,600 Kilometers
12. Kolkata to Leh – 2,705 Kilometers
13. Hyderabad to Leh – 2,775 Kilometers
14. Bangalore to Leh – 3,365 Kilometers
15. Chennai to Leh – 3,403 Kilometers
Accommodation and Accessibility
Being a relatively less developed tourist destination finding luxury accommodation in Leh can be a bit hard. However, Leh has plenty of cheap and Mid-ranged accommodation that suit most types of tourist budgets. One can also arrange stay within the local’s houses. Staying in a local house not only allows experiencing the diverse culture and customs of Leh, but can also provide you with some decent suggestions to cope with the harsh environment. The crime rate in Leh is almost negligible but one must beware of tourist touts. Being a small town, places around Leh can be easily covered on foot. One can also hire the dual-humped Bactrian camels to get around places like the Indus Valley and Pangong Lake.