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Places to visit in Leh

Discussion in 'Jammu & Kashmir' started by Jagdish, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. Jagdish

    Jagdish New Member

    I have just got some feedback from the thread I opened about how to reach Leh, and I now have the final dates of my trip to Leh. My duration is not final yet, and it will be once I reach Leh then I will see how things go and decide when I would be making my comeback trip to Delhi.

    Another aspect of the trip I need help with is the places to visit in Leh. I don't just want to know the main places, but all of them. It is not every day that you can go, Leh, so I want to make full use of my free time to see the beautiful destination.
  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there, again!

    Leh was the capital of Ladakh, now known as the Leh district. The Leh district is second largest district in the country, after Kutch in Gujarat. It is about 3,500 metres above sea level. The region is mostly dominated by mountains. Here's a list of all the tourist attractions in Leh:

    • Leh Palace - This palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century. However, the construction of the palace was initiated by Tsewang Namgyal, which was the founder of the Namgyal dynasty in Ladakh. It was modelled after the Potala Palace in Tibet. It was once the residence of the royal family of Ladakh until the Dogras conquered the region and the family was forced to move into the Stok Palace. Now, the palace houses a museum showcasing a collection of the jewelries, costumes and crowns owned by the royal family. There are also Tibetan paintings in the museum, some of which are older than 400 years old.
    • Stok Palace - This palace was built by King Tsepal Tondup Namgyal in 1825, after the invasion of the Sikhs to Leh. It is still the residence of the descendants of the royal family of Ladakh. There's also a museum here showcasing the history, currency and weapons of the royal family during the ancient times. It also has a library, which has 108 volumes of Kangra, a collection of the teachings of Lord Buddha.
    • Hall of Fame - This is located nearby the Leh Airfield, in the Spituk-Kargil Road. This museum was built to commemorate the deaths of the soldiers in the Indo-Pakistan War. The first floor contains the names and information about the soldiers who have died in the war. There's also a small souvenir shop here. In the second floor, you'll find some information about the weapons used during the war as well as the seized arms and amenities of the Pakistani soldiers.
    • Saspol Caves - Saspol is a small village in Leh. Towards the southwest of the village, you'd find the Saspol Caves, just underneath the ruins of an old fort. These are rock-cut caves with Buddhist paintings. There are a total of four caves here. The ceilings of the caves are left unadorned but the walls are plastered with clays and covered with brightly coloured paintings. The caves are believed to have been sculpted during the 13th to 15th centuries by the Tibetan Buddhist school Drikung Kagyu.
    • Riasi Fort - This is also known as General Zorawar's Fort. You can find it above the Leh Palace and the Namgyal Tsemo Gompa. You can ride a car to reach the entrance of the fort or trek for 30 minutes from the Leh City Bazaar. The fort is in ruins now but it was then the capital of General Zorawar Singh, a prominent ruler of Ladakh who had constant struggles with the Chinese rulers. Inside the fort, there's a mosque, a temple and a natural spring. Now though, the fort houses a museum showcasing a collection of ancient coins, treasures of the former ruler and new stamps.
    • Shanti Stupa - This is white-domed chorten located in a hilltop in Chanspa in Leh. It was built in 1983 by Bhikshu Gyomo Nakamura and it was inaugurated in 1991. It was part of the Peace Pagoda mission back then, the main purpose of which was to resurrect Buddhism back in the country. The stupa serves as a symbol of the peace and relationship between the Japanese and the Ladakhis. It houses the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. Aside from its religious significance, the panoramic views from the stupa is also another reason why this is one of the most visited attractions in Leh.
    • Diskit Monastery - This is the oldest and largest monastery in the Nubra Valley in Ladakh. It is in the Diskit village, which is about 150 kms away from Leh. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sector of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded in the 14th century by Changzem Tserab Zangpo. In the main hall, there's a statue of Cho Rinpoche or the Crowned Buddha. In the chamber in the second floor, you can see the images of the fierce guardian deities. The large statue of Maitreya Buddha is located below the monastery as well.
    • Alchi Choskor Monastery - This is a monastic complex believed to have been built by Guru Rinchen Zangpo between 958 to 1055. However, according to some inscriptions in the monastery, the builder of the monastery is Kal-dan Shes-rab, which was supposed to have built it in the 11th century. The complex has three major shrines: Dukhang, Sumtseg and Majushri. There are also additional newer temples named Lotsabha and Lakhang Soma. The Dukhang is also known as the Assembly Hall. This is where the monks perform worship and ceremonies. It is very ancient and the wooden doors are retained.
    • Likir Monastery - This monastery was established in 1065 by Lama Duwang Chosje. The monastery was built under the reign of King Lhachen Gyalpo. Originally, the monastery was under the order of the Kadampa sect of Tibetan Buddhism but it was later transferred to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is now home to about 120 Buddhist monks and is also a school for about 30 students. The older assembly hall of the monastery houses statues of Bodhisattva, Amitabha, Sakyamuni, Maitreya and Tsong Khapa. The newer assembly hall has a statue of Avalokitesvara
    • Basgo Monastery - This is located in Basgo, about 40 kms from Leh. It was built by the Namgyal rulers in 1680. The monastery is located on top of a hill and is well-known for its Buddha murals and statue. It has three temples, namely: Chamba Maitreya, Serzang Temple and Cham Chung Temple. This is also the only monastery in the region where the 16th century murals are still preserved.
    • Stakna Monastery - This is located on the left bank of the Indus River, about 25 kms from Leh. It was founded in the 16th century by Chosje Jamyang Palkar. Its name means Tiger's Nose, since it was built on a hill resembling the nose of a tiger. The monastery also has an Arya Avalokitesvara statue and is home to about 30 monks.
    • Spituk Monastery - This is located about 8 kms from Leh. This monastery was founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od, in the 11th century. Spituk means exemplary, as a reference to Lotsewa Rinchen Zangpo's comment that an exemplary religious community would arise from here. The monastery was renovated by Lama Lhawang Lodos thereafter. Originally, it belonged to the Red Hat sect of Buddhism but it now belongs to the Yellow Hat sect.
    • Matho Monastery - This is located on the banks of the Indus River, about 26 kms from Leh. This is the only monastery owned by the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh. The monastery was founded by Lama Dugpa Dorje in the 14th century. It is best visited during the annual Oracle Matho Nagrang Festival, wherein two monks are inhabited by two oracles known as Rongtsan. Its newer assembly hall has a Sakyamuni Buddha and colourful paintings.
    • Phyang Monastery - This is located in Fiang village, about 16 kms from Leh. It is unclear who originally established the monastery. Some believe that it's Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial. Others believe the monastery was built during the reign of King Tashi Namgyal. This is also one of the only two monasteries managed by the Drikung Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh. The monastery has a museum housing an extensive collection of idols including a number of fine Kashmiri bronzes dating to the 14th century, thangkas, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian firearms and weapons.
    • Samstanling Monastery - This is located in the Sumlur village, about 124 kms from Leh. It was founded in 1841 by Lama Tsultim Nima. The monastery's entrance is lined with flags. Inside, you can find wall paintings representing Buddha and his teachings. There are also over 50 monks residing in the monastery.
    • Chemrey Monastery - This monastery was founded by Lama Tagsang Raschen in 1664. You can find it about 40 kms of Leh. It belongs to the Drugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is well-known for its notable high Padmasambhava statue. It also has a collection of scriptures, with title pages in silver and the text in gold.
    • Jama Masjid Ladakh - The mosque dates back ato the 1666 to 1667 AD. It is believed to have been built by Raja Deldan Namgail and Aurangzeb. The building of the mosque is sort of an agreement between the two empires, whereas the Mughal Empire would protect the Ladakhi region and as a consequence, they have to pay tribute to the Mughal Emperor yearly. The Shah-I-Hamdan Memorial, dedicated to Sufi saint Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani, can also be found within the mosque. There's a rule though that only men are allowed within the mosque premises.
    • Wanla Gompa - This Buddhist monastery is believed to have been built around 1,000 AD. It is 1 of the 108 monasteries built under the reign of the King of Ladakh. The main attraction of the monastery is the three-storied image of the 11-headed Mahakaruna or Avalokiteshwara. Aside from that, you can also see different paintings here of Buddha, Bodhisattvas and Mandalas.
    • Hemis Monastery - The Hemis Monastery is believed to have existed since the 11th century. This is evidenced by the manuscript found in the monastery connecting it to Naropa, a pupil of Tilopa and also the teacher of Marpa. It is mainly a monastery of the Drukpa Lineage in Leh. This is also the venue for the annual Hemis Festival, a festival dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava.
    • Rangdum Gompa - You can find this in Suru Valley in Ladakh. This monastery is believed to have been built by Gelek Yashy Takpa about 200 years ago. The monastery is the home to about 30 monks and donkeys. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sector of Buddhism.
    • Lamayuru Monastery - This is the oldest monastery in Ladakh, built around the 11th century. It was also Naropa who founded this monastery. It is the home to about 150 monks, although at one point in time, it was about 400 monks even. It is also the venue for the two masked festivals held during the second and fifth months of the Tibetan lunar calendar.
    • Thiksey Gompa - This monastery is connected to the Gelug sector of Buddhism. You can find it in Thiksey, just before you reach Leh. It's a large monastery with about 12 storeys. Inside, there are stupas, paintings, statues and swords. It was established in 1433 by Sherab Zangpo, with the help of the King of Ladakh. Back then, it was called the Lhakhang Serpo and was located in Stagmo. By the midddle of the 15th century, Palden Zangpo continued Sherab Zanpo's work and built a larger monastery about a few kms away from the former Lhakhang Serpo. This is now the Thiksey Gompa.
    • Shey Monastery - The Shey Monastery is located on the Shey Palace Complex. It was built in 1655 under King Deldon Namgyal, in the memory of his late father, Singay Namgyal. The main attraction of the monastery is the gilded gold statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.
    • Sankar Monastery - This is within Leh itself. It is a monastery and the abode of Abbot of Spituk, the Venerable Kushok Bakula, who is the senior incarnate lama of Ladakh. It is also the home to a few monks, about 20 of them. There's an image of Avalokitesvara here, with 1,000 arms holding weapons and also 1,000 heads.
    • Namgyal Monastery - This monastery/fort was founded by Tashi Namgyal in the early 15th century. It is famous for the three-storey golden idol of Maitrieya Buddha. There are also statues of Avalokitesvara and Manjushri within the temple. It's just beside the Leh Palace as well so it's easy to find.
    • Pangong Tso - Pangong Tso means High Grassland Lake. The lake is about 4,350 metres above sea level and it extends from India to China, although about 60% of it lies in the latter. The lake is home to several species of birds but not fishes. During summer, you might be able to spot the bar-headed goose and Brahmini duck here. You need a permit though to visit the lake as it's in the Sino-Indian Line.
    • Tso Moriri Lake - You can find this lake in the Changthang area of Ladakh. The lake is home to about 34 species of birds like the brown-headed gulls and bar-headed geese. The Korzok Monastery can also be visited as it's nearby the lake.
    • Tso Kar Lake - You can find this in the Rupshu Plateau of Ladakh. It is a fluctuating salt lake connected to the Startsapuk Tso. Its tributary, Startsapuk Tso is the home to a variety of birds and other species of animals.
    • Magnetic Hill - This is a gravity hill located in Leh. The layout of the hill makes it seem like you're going uphill, when in reality, you're going downhill. So as a consequence, it seems like cars are going uphill, when really, they're going downhill.
    • Donkey Sanctuary - You can find this in Leh, near the Korean Temple Road. This is where the abandoned and retired donkeys go to. You can feed them carrots and enjoy the mesmerising views of the valleys around.
    • Nubra Valley - This is about 150 kms North of Leh. The valley is about 3,048 metres above sea level. Foreigners need a permit to enter this region but Indian nationals don't need any permit at all. The Nubra Valley is a high altitude cold desert with rare precipitation and almost no vegetation. You can visit the surrounding villages here mostly inhabited by Nubra Buddhists. The Siachen Glacier can also be visited in this region, which is the main source of the Nubra River.
    I hope this helps!

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