Leh is the capital of the great Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. This mesmerizing land is located between the Great Himalayan ranges in the south and Kunlun mountain range in the north. Along with Upper Indus Valley, Leh is considered as the cultural hub of Ladakh which houses numerous Buddhist monasteries, gompas and breathtaking palaces reflecting traditional Buddhist heritage of this land. In fact, some of the monasteries here were built on second centuries.
Leh is a small town with a laidback very friendly atmosphere. One could easily spend a couple of weeks doing nothing. Dominating the valley is the Tsemo Fort and the Leh Palace which are both situated on the hillside. Walking up the Palace is an easy walk uphill passing through a local village and few gompas on the way.
In my existence, the skies in Ladakh is by far the bluest I have ever seen, not to mention that the sky color is always blue. The road from Kaza to Leh is very scenic and the journey is an experience by itself.
I’ve never been to Tibet but some say that the landscape of Leh resemble that of Tibet. I noticed that there are a lot of Tibetans residing in Leh and there are numerous Tibetan Markets scattered in every street corner. According to some locals that I talked to, Leh was an integral trade route for export and import of Kashmir Wool, Brocade, Silk Yarn, resins and semi precious stones.
One of the outstanding symbol of Leh is the Leh Palace. It was built as a royal residence for King Singe Namgyal in the 17th century. This majestic palace overlooks the Namgyal hill and is nestled amidst the beautiful Leh town. In mid-19th century the royal family abandoned the palace to move to Stok Palace. Now, the Leh Palace is now a ruins. As we get inside the Palace, we can still feel the old sophisticated charm of the palace. The top most level of the palace provides the spectacular views of Leh’s landscape surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
Just like most of the oldest structures in the world, The Leh Palace has been a silent witness to some of the furious wars. In present time, the Palace is being restored under the supervision of the Archeological Survey of India.
Spending time to visit the Palace was worth it. Looking over the city from the top provided a different perspective from Leh Palace, and there were a few different parts of the palace to explore.