Leh Palace is similar in construction to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It was built by Singay Namgyal around the beginning of 17th century AD. By mid-19th century, this place got abandoned due to the annexation of Ladakh by Dogra forces.
This annexation led the royal family living in this palace to move to the famous Stok Palace. This palace is currently ruined, and is undergoing restoration by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
There are nine storeys in this palace. The royal family lives in the upper floors, while store rooms along with stables are present in the lower floors.
Built for world peace by Indian based Japanese monks and inaugurated by H.H.Dalia Lama in 1985. This pillar is located in the Leh District just above Changspa, which is famous for its gilt panels that depict the life stories of Buddha.
In 1983, the construction of this stupa was begun by His Holiness Dalai Lama for spreading the ideologies and preaching of Buddha. After its completion in 1991. It is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and some of the traditional Ladakhi houses.
Built by King Graspa Bum-Lde in 1430 AD. The Gompa has three storied Statue of Maitriya Buddha and a one storied statue of Avalokitesvara and Manjushri. It is presently maintained by the monks of Sankar Gompa. Often known as Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, this gompa is situated to the north of Leh and is considered to be one of the oldest Gompas in the region.
This Gompa has many ancient manuscripts, frescoes and a big golden statue of Maitreya Buddha, which is as high as a 3-storey structure.
Visitors can also see 10 ft high statues of Avalokitesvara and Manjushri at the gompa. There is a fort above this structure, which is partially ruined.
Built by King Tashi Namgyal after the reunification of upper and lower Ladakh and victory over Hor (Central Asian Invaders) and their bodies were placed under the image of Maha Kala. The monastery Namgyal Tsemo Gompa is placed in the backdrop of Leh palace. King Tashi Namgyal, one of the Namgyal rulers constructed this Gompa in 1430.
The Gompa is placed in a steep hill overseeing the whole city. An amazing statue in gold of the Maitreya Buddha as high as three storey together with many idols and Buddhist scriptures are attractive to visitors. It also enshrines nearly 10 feet high of statues of Manjushri and Avaloketesvara. The splendid view from the top is worth viewing and alone is well worth for a tourist.
Bike or a car is a convenient option to reach the Gompa, also one can make a decent trek from Leh market, which approximately will take 30 minutes. An ancient fort, which is in ruins at present, is an attraction nearby.
Shey is around 15km from Leh near the bank of Indus River and got its name due to the reflection of the Shey Palace in the pond just below. The Palace was built by King Deldan Namgyal in the 17th century and was the summer Palace for the royals.
Here you can see the three storied statue of Buddha Shaykamuni made of copper and plated with gold.
Thiksey monastery is around 17kms from Leh and is the principal monastery of the Gelugpa order. At the top of the hill is the residence of Kushok Nawang Chamba Stanzin, the head Lama of the monastery.
The 12 storied monastery is architecturally most impressive and is situated in the most prominent of positions lies on an island mountain. The monastery includes 10 temples, chapels and monks accommodation. Ascending the steps past the restaurant, gift shop and museum, to the left is the school for young monks.
Hemis monastery is one of the most famous and largest of all monasteries in Ladakh, 45kms south of Leh founded in 17th century belongs to the Drukpa order. The monastery was founded by Tagtshang Respa Nawang Gyatsounder the patronage of King Singay Namgyal.
Hemis (festival) is celebrated annually on 10th and 11th day of the 5th month of Tibetan calendar, and after every 12 years a significant Thanka ( scroll painting of Guru Padmasambahva) is displayed.
As this festival is held in the honour of Guru Padmasambhava’s birth anniversary.The Gompa has well preserved Thankas and copper gilt statue of the lord Buddha.
Gompa is on the hill top near Indus, around 7kms from Leh. It was founded in 11th century by Od-Lde and was named by Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo (the great translator).
Initially it belonged to the Kadampa School then during the life time of king Gragspa Bum-Lde made it Gelugpa order. The Spituk or Pe-thup literally means ‘exemplary’.
Phyang monastery is 17kms west of Leh, belongs to Drigunpa order. It was founded in 16th century by Chosje Danma Kunga during the reign of king Jamyang Namgyal. Here the Phyang Tsedup Festival is held during July-August.
During the festival men throng in the Monastery dressed in colorful costumes and also wearing a beautiful smile on their faces. All these seem to brighten up the mood of the carnival and thus the sacred ceremony Phyang Tsedup is celebrated with enthusiasm and vigor all over Jammu.
People from India and abroad throng the grounds of the Phyang Tsedup Festival and enjoy the Phyang Tsedup Festival to their heart’s content.
Likir is situated around 55kms west of Leh. Lama Durwang Chosje founded this monastery in 1065 AD and belongs to Gelugpa order. The site of the monastery was encircled by the bodies of two great spent spirits.
Therefore, name became widely renowned as Likir. Likir Monastery is one of the best maintained monasteries in Ladakh. This magnificent monastery stands on a small hillock in the valley, about 10 km from Saspol village near Indus River.
The monastery is known for housing a 23 m high gilded gold statue of Maitreya Buddha.
Alchi is 69km west of Leh and is the only monastery in the Ladakh on flat ground. Largest and most famous of all of the temples built by the great translator Lotsava Ringchen Zangpo. The sculptors and wood carvers are said to be brought from Kashmir around in 11th century.
it is one of the oldest well preserved dates back to about 1000 years, main attraction is thousands of minature paintings of lord Budha on a wall three large clay images of Budha in bright colours, past 500 years no religious activity has taken place here it is looked after by a monk from the Likir monastery.
Rizong is also known as Yuma Changchubling about 73 Kms from Leh and around 6 Kms from main road, founded about 138 years ago by the great Lama Tsultim Nima. Gompa belong to Gelugpa order.
The monastery is sited in a most solitary positions and there is a nunnery place called chulichan down the monastery. Lamayuru Gonpa: This Gonpa is built on natural pillar like composition of sandstone about 125km west of Leh. The Gonpa belongs to Drigunpa order.
The Nubra valley lies (10,000 ft) in the north of Leh and is accessible over the Khardungla pass 5600 mtrs which is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. The Nubra valley has opened for Foreign Tourists in 1994 by the Govt. of India to expand tourist activities in Ladakh region.
The main village is Diskit, the valley have several Buddhist Gompas Diskit Gompa is 350 years old and is situated on the highest point near the village in which there are about 120 Resident Buddhist Monks.
Nubra valley is also known for its double humped Bactrian camels, visitors can take a camel safari out into the dunes from Hundar, which is located 7km from Diskit. Sumur is opposite to Diskit on the other side of the river Shayok, where Samstanling Gonpa is located. And further away from Sumur lies a village called Panamik which is known for the natural hot spring.
The land of Nomads Changthang is located in the east of Leh on the Chinese border. The average altitude of the area is around 14600 m above sea level. The main attraction of this area is Changpa nomads, wild animals, Lakes and rare birds.
Two famous lakes of this area are Pangong and Tsomoriri Lake. Pangong Lake is 160kms from Leh with spectacular view of dark bluish mountains and Changla pass (17,350 ft). 75% of the lake is in China and only 25% (40 miles) is in India.
Tsomoriri Lake is around 240km from Leh. This lake is about 19 km long and 7 km wide at an altitude of 4595 metres.
Dhahanu is situated to the south west of Leh at the distance of 165 kms. This area is along the Indus between Khalatse and the Shayok – Indus confluence. Out of many villages only Dha and Beema are open to tourists.
The people living here are known as Drokhpa who are considered as last race of Aryans. They are culturally distinct from the rest of the Ladakhis.
Kargil town is 230km from Leh. It is located on the bank of Suru River. Kargil is inhabited by Muslims of Shai sect. On a way to Kargil at a village called Mulbek there is rock cut image of Maitreya Buddha, this is 9 m in height.
Suru Valley: The valley expands from Kargil town up to Penzila watershed from where Suru River rises. The valley is inhabited by Tibetan Dards Muslims who converted Islam in 15th century.
Two mountain peaks Nun (7135m) and Kun (7035m) are the mountaineer’s popular peaks to climb.
Drass: To the west of Kargil lies a village called Drass which is the second coldest inhabited place in the world, where the temperature goes as low as -35 degree Celsius in winters.
Zanskar lies to south west of Leh, which is the most isolated Trans Himalayan valley. It takes two days with a night halt at Kargil. Stod and Lungnak are the two main valleys of Zanskar. All the high passes are close in winter so the valley remains inaccessible for nearly 8 months in a year.
The only alternate route is a week long walk on frozen river from Zanskar to reach Leh, which is popular for winter tourist hikers and is famously known as Chadar trek. Sani monastery has a stupa which is said to be built during Kanishka period.