Leh, the headquarter of Leh district and the largest town of the region is located to the north of the Indus river at an elevation of 3600m above sea level. Leh experiences arctic cold in winter (i.e. from November till April), the temperature goes down the range of minus 20 – 30 degree Celsius in (Leh & Kargil) and minus 35 degree Celsius in Drass resulting in blockade of National Highway for more than five months. The summer months (i.e. from June till September) experiences hot for most of the days as temperature varies between 25-35 degree Celsius but rarely climbs above 30 degree Celsius. And rainfall seldom visits this cold desert region. Leh (Ladakh) was known in the past by different names. It was called Maryul or low land by some Kha- chumpa by others.
Fa-Hein referred to it as Kia-Chha and Hiuen Tsang as Ma-Lo-Pho. It is said that the first Immigrants to this land appears to have been the Brokpas from Dadarstan who inhabited the lower reaches of the Indus Valley popularly known as Sham. Another wave of Immigrants who came from karja (Kulu) were the Mons an Aryan type who first settled in Gya and spread to Rong, Shayok, Sakti Tangtse and Durbuk, the area extending from Martselang to Khaltsi. Gia was the seat of government of the first Mon ruler having been elected by the whole tribe. His kingdom included the villages mentioned above, all of which was inhabited by the Mons people He was known by the title Gyapacho, derived from his being the master of Gia. The ancient inhabitants of Ladakh were Dards, an Indo- Aryan race. Immigrants of Tibet, Skardo and nearby parts like Purang, Guge settled in Ladakh, whose racial characters and cultures were in consonance with early settlers.
Buddhism traveled from central India to Tibet via Ladakh leaving its imprint in Ladakh. Islamic missionaries also made a peaceful penetration of Islam in the early 16th century. German Moravian Missionaries having cognizance of East India Company also made inroads towards conversion but with little success. In the 10th century AD, Skit Lde Nemagon, the ruler of Tibet, invaded Ladakh where there was no central authority. The lands divided in small principalities were at war with each other. Nemagon defeated them one by one and established a strong kingdom at Shey, 15 kms from Leh, as its capital. Ladakh was an independent country since the middle of the 10th century. King Singge Namgyal had consolidated the Ladakhi Empire into a strong kingdom. He was not only a strong monarch but a statesman, a diplomat and a builder. He built the historic 3 9- storeyed Leh palace and made the other neighboring countries envy of such an elegant palace. He also promoted horse polo in Ladakh.
The District is famous for its rich cultural heritage and Honesty. It is popularly known as land of monks and monasteries. People of all the communities live here with complete harmony, free from any prejudice. Buddhist is the dominant religion in the district followed by Muslim. District has also thin population of Christian and Hindus. Ladakhi language is spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of the district, except the minor tribal community of Aryan race living in the valley of Dha- Hanu. Jabro, Shondol, Marriage Dance and Kampa Sumsak are some of the well known traditional dance and Zunglu, Tallu, Marriage songs and Alley Yato are well known folk songs of Ladakh. Ladakh lies on the rain shadow side of the Himalayan, where dry monsoon winds reaches Leh after being robbed of its moisture in plains and the Himalayas mountain the district combines the condition of both arctic and desert climate. Therefore Ladakh is often called “COLD DESERT”.