Leh is situated in the extreme north of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is amidst the snow clad peaks of Himalayas. The Tibeto-Buddist culture is prominent here. Hiking is a famous activity in this part of the country. Gompas or Buddhist monasteries attract thousands of Buddhists to this place every year.
Leh is the capital of the Ladakh district of the state Jammu and Kashmir. It is present in the eastern portion of the state. It is an altitude of 3505 meters. River Zanskar flows through the region. It drains into River Indus. The Stok mountain range and the Ladakh range are present on the southern and northern sides of Leh respectively. The region experiences extreme weather conditions. The temperature goes below 0 degrees during winters.
King Sengge Namgyal shifted his capital from Shey to Leh in the 17th century. This was in view of having proximity the corridor named Khardung La-Karakoram that led into China. It developed into a busy market in the Silk Route. The trade in the region was primarily managed by the Sunni Muslims. The closure of the China border in the 1950s brought the end of the prosperity of the region. The glory of the place was re-ignited after the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971. Tourists were allowed after 1974. They are few in number in winters during which the soldiers and their families can be seen in large numbers.
TOURIST PLACES IN LEH
Leh Palace: Leh Palace is one of the major attractions of the place. It resembles Lhasa’s Potala in many ways. Built in the 17th century, the palace was the home of the royal family. In 1830s, they were exiled to Stok. Hence, the palace was deserted. Behind the palace is the Namgyal hill on top of which is the victory tower built. It marks the victory of Ladakh over Balti Kashmir in the early 16th century.
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa: It was built in the year 1430. It has a three-story high statue of Buddha along with ancient manuscripts and frescoes. The remains of a fort are still found behind the gompa. It offers excellent views of Leh from here.
Sankar Gompa: The Sankar Gompa is found near the center of the town. The Buddhist Deity Avalokiteshwara Padmahari, also known as Chenresig, has majorly influenced this place. The impression contains a thousand arms and equal number of heads.
Shanti Stupa: It was built by a Japanese order. Dalai Lama opened the stupa in the year 1985. Located 3 kilometers from Fort Road, it offers beautiful views of the surrounding places.
HOW TO REACH LEH
By air: Leh has its own airport. Regular flights from Delhi, Chennai, Srinagar and other major cities are available.
By rail: Jammu Tawi is the nearest railway station. It is connected to the other cities of the country by trains.
By road: Two routes lead to Leh. One is the Sringar-Leh road which is open from June to October while the other one is Manali-Leh which is open from July to September.