Enchanting Leh is one of North India’s more laidback destinations, framed by mountains and punctuated by whitewashed houses and stupas (mound-like Buddhist structures used for meditation). Once you acclimatise to the high altitude, there’s a wealth of treasures to explore, from the enchanting Old Town to the grand Leh Palace and a multitude of religious venues.
Offering amazing views of Leh from its hilltop heights is Shanti Stupa, a white-domed monument built by Japanese monks to promote world peace between 1983 and 1991. Visit in the evening to watch the gentle golden glow of the setting sun over the landscape.
Dominating the skyline of Leh is the magnificent nine-storeyed Leh Palace, dating back to the 17th century and unoccupied since 1846. Around the base of the palace you’ll find the Namgyal Stupa along with Gompas (Buddhist forts of learning) and Inside is a photo exhibition and a prayer room. However, it’s the rooftop view that is the main attraction for panoramas over the city.
Alleys and stairways meander beneath old brick Ladakhi houses and eroded chortens (another word for stupas) in the Old Town (known locally as ‘Skyanos Gogsum’). Here you’ll see the influence of Tibetan and Asian architecture, including the 17th-century mansions that now are home to the fascinating LAMO arts centre. In the heart of the town is Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in the Ladakh region.
45km from Leh is Hemis Monastery, the largest and wealthiest of its kind in Ladakh. A short drive from Hemis is the hilltop Thiksey Monastery, offering amazing views of the Indus valley and known for its gigantic seated statue of the Maitreya Buddha and enormous assembly hall (Dukhang) housing hundreds of rectangular prayer books. Shey Palace is nearby, the former summer residence of the King of Ladakh.
If you would like to discover Leh please contact our travel experts on 01792 315499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Our recommended tour including Leh is our Monasteries, Lakes and High Passes of Ladakh Tour.