Leh is the capital of Ladakh, a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India on the crossroads of the historic “Silk Route” from Sinkiang to West Asia and to the plains of India. Leh valley attracts tourists from all over the world to its lap all through the year. The major part of the Leh city is covered by ancient Buddhist monuments, Mosques dating back to 16th and 17th centuries and a nine storied palace Sengge Namgyal constructed in Tibetan architectural style.
Best Season / Best time to visit Leh
- Winter (October to March) are the coldest months when the temperature can dip as low as -15°C. Due to the rarefied air, the effect of the sun during the winter months is much harsher and as a result can cause sun burns. The area experiences heavy snowfall during the winter.
- Summer (April to September) are the best season and are apt for visiting the city of Leh. The temperature is cool and can go up to 33°C. Summers are the ideal time to go to Leh as the skies are clear and offer panoramic views of the mountains. The average day temperature ranges from 20° to 30°C.
- Monsoon is not confined to any particular season as sporadic rainfall may occur at any time.
How to reach Leh
Leh By Train
Jammu is the nearest railway station, which is about 734 km from Leh. Leh does not have railway station. Tourists will have to take a bus or hire a cab both of which will take approximately 2 days to reach Leh. Tourists can also hire a bus from Manali (453 km), however, the Manali – Leh road is open only from the months from mid-June to mid-October, due to weather conditions.
Leh By Air
The Leh Airport provides regular return flights from Leh to other cities of the country including Jammu, Delhi, and Srinagar. The Delhi airport is in turn well connected to other major cities in India. Leh is also connected internationally through the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.
Leh by Road
The two popular routes to Leh are from Srinagar via Kargil on the Srinagar-Leh Highway and from Manali via Sarchu and Dharchu on the Manali-Leh Highway. These routes are only open from June to October. The respective night halts on the two routes are Kargil and Sarchu. There are regular bus and taxi services to Leh
Tourist Attraction in Leh
SHEY PALACE – Around 12 kms south of Leh, it was the centre 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. Its main image is the three-story statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, made of Copper guilt.
STOK PALACE – This has been the Royal Palace since the King was dethroned by the Dogras and is now the home of the last king\’s widow. There is an appealing museum that contains an odd collection of exhibits of old Royal times.
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.
RI – DZONG- , situated a few kms up a side-valley from Uley-Tokpo, was founded only a century and a quarter ago by a devout layman-turned-lama.
Tso Moriri Lake – located to the south east of Leh in the middle of the prominent valley of Rupshu. In the changthang area, it is known to the public as Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. This lake which means ‘the mountain lake’ derives its name from the fact that it gets water from the Changthang Plateau.
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa
The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, was constructed in 1430. This historic gompa has a rich collection of Buddhist art and manuscripts and an image of Buddha, which is 3 stories high. There is a ruined fort ahead of the monastery, from where you can see panoramic views of Leh Town.
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 Lamayuru monastery is located on a high rocky outcrop, which overlooks a valley and the village of Lamayuru, 125 Km west of Leh. It is also called the Yung Drung or Swastika monastery and its stunning location makes this monastery a must visit on a tour to Ladakh. The monastery has a many Thangka paintings in its main hall. The annual festival of Lamayuru Monastery is held every summer on the 28th and 29th days, of the 2nd month of the Tibetan Buddhist calendar.
Situated on a hillock 15 km south of Leh, Shey Gompa was previously the summer palace of the Ladakhi kings. A prince of Ladakh installed the 12 m tall gold-plated copper statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, which can be seen here. The Shey Gompa celebrates its annual festival on the 30th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan Buddhist calendar.
The Alchi Gompa is situated on the bank of the River Indus and is easily accessible since it is the only Gompa in Ladakh, which is located on flat ground. Founded by Ringchen Zangpo, the Great Translator, the Alchi Gompa displays a Kashmiri influence in its art and architecture. Within the monastery you can see many beautiful images of Buddha. Photography is not permitted within the Alchi Monastery.
The Likir Monastery is also called the Klu-Kkhjil or “water spirits” gompa and is situated 52 Km from Leh. Built over an earlier Gompa burnt down in the 15th century, the present Gompa is an 18th century construction and houses monks of the Gyalukpa sect. The Likir monastery has a rich collection of paintings, robes and artifacts. The Likir Festival is held from the 17th to 19th of the 12th month of the Tibetan Buddhist calendar.
The Spituk Gompa is perched on a high hill overlooking the Indus river about 18 Km from Leh. Rinchen Zangpo the Great Translator who helped spread Buddhism in Ladakh named the monastery. (Spituk means exemplary). The Spituk monastery is known for its collection of Buddhist artifacts and for the Spituk festival held from the 17th to 19th days of the 11th month of the Buddhist calendar. Further up the hill is a Mahakal Temple, where a fearsome image of Vajrabhairava is unveiled once a year at its annual festival.