The 17th century capital of the Namgyal Empire is the epicenter of Ladakh. The mountains, snow peaks and fortress-like monasteries provide a dramatic backdrop to the many roadside cafes, restaurants and beer bar, and the carpet and curio (antique) shops. The numerous trekking and rafting agencies, and the tourists of all colors and sizes from the globe.
Being in Leh is quite a treat, especially returning from a remote area. Keep Leh as your base, from which you will make short trips to the adjoining valleys.
The lovely land of Leh has several places to see in and around it. The most attractive feature of the landscape of Ladakh are the Buddhist Monasteries situated on the isolated hillock in the vicinity of villages, these aesthetically pleasing, architecturally interesting monasteries provide the focus for the faith of the highly religious Buddhist people.
The Palace Monastery of Shey gompa in Ladakh is another must see.
The approach to the monasteries is lined with mane walls and Chortens. Mane walls are made of votive stones on which prayers and holy figures are inscribed, while Chortens are semi religious shrines or reliquaries, containing relics of holy people or scripts.
Monasteries are the places of worship, isolated meditation and religious instruction for the young. Many monasteries celebrate their annual festivals in winter, which are marked by gay mask dances. Monasteries have a wealth of artifacts, Lamayuru, the oldest religious centre of Ladakh. In its uniqueness of wood carving, statues and frescoes. You must see the paintings at the Alchi Gompa of the 11th century. Alchi offers the highest rewards. While at Leh you may move around and see the beautiful thangkas at theMatho gompa. You must see the biggest gompa in Ladakh- Hemis Gompa and even attend the annual Hemis festival. The wealth of its possession and its annual summer festival make Hemis the most popular, while Thiksay rates high in terms of architectural impact and the beauty of the festival performances at Likir and Phyang with their proximity to Leh are great attractions in their favor while the accessibility of the Shey, Spituk and the Sankar monasteries make them suitable for visitors with time at a premium.
Besides monasteries, the 9 storey Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Stok Palace Museum. Mosque and Moravian Church at Leh are added attraction for the tourists. Most of these can be conveniently visited from Leh as buses ply daily between Leh and those monasteries. Most of the monasteries remain open throughout the day.
National Monuments In Ladakh
The government of India has declared some historical monuments in Ladakh as national importance under Archaeological Survey of India.
- Sculpture in Drass
- Mulbekh Chamba Rock Cut Sculpture at Mulbekh.
- Lamayuru Monastery.
- Likir Monastery.
- Alchi Monastery.
- Phyang Monastery.
- Leh Palace.
- Tsemo Old Castle.
- T- Suru Stupa.
- Shey Palace.
- Hemis Monastery.
Trekking is an excellent option to explore the places around Leh. Spituk, Markha Valley, Lamayuru gompa, Chiling village, Likir and Temisgam are some places that are worth seeing and trekked to around Leh. Rafting in the Zanskar River is another adventurous manner of enjoying in the lap of nature around Leh.