Places To Visit In Leh
There are a number of places in Leh that are interesting for the travelers. The places to visit in Leh
are mainly of historic and cultural interest but are at the same time magnificently beautiful and fascinating. Taking a mild city tour at the beginning of your Ladakh Himalayan trek adventure is an ideal way of getting acclimatized with the local conditions and the high altitude of LehLadakh. Here is a glimpse of different places to visit in the mini Tibet:
STOK PALACE MUSEUM (17 Km)
The Royal family of Ladakh has been living in the Stok Palace since they were ousted by Zorawar Singh in the aftermath of the Dogra invasion. Now less a palace than a large Himalayan haveli, the palace only has a museum wing open to tourists. One room is devoted to the instrumentsof war: swords, shields, quivers, bows and arrows, and matchlock guns. You can also see old coins and seals, old photographs and fine old thangkas. Stock palace museum is one of the primary places to visit in Leh town.
One of the newer additions to Leh is this pristine white stupa built with Japanese assistance and inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 1985. Walk or drive up to it for its lovely, calm ambience and fabulous views of the Zanskar Range.
GENERAL ZORAWAR'S FORT
Zorawar Singh played a very important role in conquering Ladakh. Had Gulab Singh, Raja of Jammu, not sent his trusted general, Zorawar Singh, to conquer Ladakh in 1834, this northern tip of India would have, in all probability, been part of China. The Zorawar Fort, a mud fort encircled by a shallow moat has only some stables and rooms now. These are occupied by the mules and ponies of the Indian Army. General Zorawar’s Fort is among many of the historic places to visit in Leh.
Directly behind Leh Palace
, the Tsemo Gompa, is one of the royal monasteries built by the ruler. This monstery contains a masterpiece in the Lha-Khang, or room, or God, here is the divine two storey high statue of Chamba in the sitting posture. The proportion of the different parts of the body and the symmetry and beauty of the features, particularly the ecstatic expression of the eyes, which is sheer perfection, overwhelms the visitor who is left breathless in wonderment. The Alchi Lamasery, near Bazgo, also possesses a statue of Chamba, but, as is the rule, Nature saves perfection for one piece alone.
As the road passes and rounds the curve, one is in the teeming city Bazaar, the houses modest, regularly built and uniformly white¬washed. At the far end of the bazar is the old part of town-houses separated by narrow winding passages. In the narrow inner lanes are the small restaurants serving a bowl of boiled noodles, topped with a meat broth, washed down with salted butter tea. In the little shops are handwoven carpets with a dragon design, trinkets of silver and copper, set with torquoise, and exquisite painted scrolls or ‘tankhas’. The main road leads to the old palace of the king, or LehKhar - Ladakh’s answer to the Potala Palace of Tibet.
THE LEH MONASTERY - THE GOLDEN BUDDHA
One of the most beautiful and fascinating places to visit in Leh
is its splendid monastery. Rising from the crags above the palace, expressing the su¬premacy of the Spiritual King over the temporal ruler, the city monastery dominates not only the palace but the town. Large and rambling, with numerous corridors, the ‘Gompa’ houses pricelessscrolls and exquisitely bound manuscripts. Master artists in days gone by, have painted clouds, water forests, heavenly bodies and episodes from the life of Sakya-muni Buddha, besides the ever present dragon, red, gold, and beautifully curling. Housingover200 monks, it has a school for Lama Students. The large monastery is built in an area of 281 square metres (3,000 sqft).
Here, the Namgyal king spared no effort for the greater glory of his maker - in the Lha-Khang is a solid gold statue of the Buddha - it weights slightly over a ton. In the earlier years, Buddhism was a simple and ascetic belief - but with the advent of the Mahayana and Vajrayana forms under the Kushans and the Guptas, the Buddha image took form and became an object of veneration.
THE LEH MOSQUE - A KING’S GIFT
Jamyang Namgyal, brother of Sovang won the heart of AvgyalKhatoon, Muslim princess of Skardu, in 1555 and married her after he had lost the battle to her father Raja Sher Ali. The good queen lived to a ripe old age and was the mother of the famous and valorous Singe Namgyal, who built the Buddhist world’s most famous and venerated monasteries, Hemis, Chimre, Hanle, Ti- jimosgang and the Shay, which he built for himself. The mosque, which he built for his mother in 1594, an exquisite work of Turkish and Iranian architecture, stands in the main bazar. It was here, that his son Deldan, who was routed at Boddhkharbu, avoided disaster by submitting to the Moghuls and swearing allegiance, promising also, to get the holy Khutba recited in the name of the Moghul Emperor. Centuries later, the 14th Dalai Lama was welcomed here by the Muslim community when he visited the city for the Kalachakra Sermon, in 1st week of September 1976. The mosque combines history and splendid architecture and becomes one of the prime attractions among the places to visit in Leh.
TREKS FOR BEGINNERS
Ladakh is the ideal landscape for high- altitude treks, full of trails that connect remote villages spread along ancient trade routes. Beginners should make a first attempt only with a competent operator. Two basic treks to start with are from Likir to Temisgam,a beautiful village trek through a largely flat route. This 4 to 5 day trek is closely followed by a road, enabling good support for the uninitiated. The second, from Stoktomatho, is scenic walk, over three days. Though a high-altitude trek, there are valleys descending to the east from where it is possible to get to it, if need be, by the evening. Leh is a perfect place for beginners to go for mild treks. It is a great way of experiencing and enjoying Ladakh Himalayan treks. Not only beginners, expert trekkers, too, will find Leh a trekking heaven with numerous exciting and fascinating trials.
The beautiful places to visit in Leh are an additional advantage of a trekking tour. It is a beautiful way of acclimatizing yourself at the start of the arduous trekking tour.