Leh: Little Tibet of India
As if cut out from a vintage post-card, the rustic, exotic and untouched terrains of Leh in Ladakh?completely changes how you define travelling. Colloquially, it is called as ‘Little Tibet’ as one can easily experience the presence of Tibetan Buddhism in its culture.
Along with the popular Buddhist monasteries, abandoned palaces perched at hilltops, trekking trails, one can also spot the crumbling mud-brick houses, colourful flags fluttering in various corners. Embroidered by the Indus River, Leh trip confers you the larger-than-life possibilities of surprise.
Be it spiritual discovery, adrenaline gushing adventure activities or simply tasting the exoticness of India’s northern-most terrain, travel to Leh is indeed a life changing experience. Very often, the snow-capped Himalayan Mountains along with indigenous natives, lip-smacking cuisines as well as the enormous possibilities of exploration?reveals Leh?which is so very unlike other tourist attractions in India.
History of Leh reveals that it once was an important focal point between India and China trade during ancient history. During the rule of Kings from Sikkim’s Namgyal dynasty, Leh was also under frequent attacks from Kashmiri Muslims. After centuries now, especially with India gaining independence, Leh emerged as a bustling holiday destination.
Following are the main tourist attractions of Leh
Namgyal Tsemo Monastery
One of the majestic tourist attractions of Leh, this Buddhist monastery, perched on the hilltop, was constructed in 1430.? Tashi Namgyal, the 11th ruler of Sikkim’s Namgyal dynasty had played a significant role in the construction of the monastery. In fact, he was one of the ardent devotees of Buddhism.
Bestowing a bird’s eye view of the entire Leh, the main tourist attractions of the monastery includes a three-storey high statue of Maitreya Buddha (or Laughing Buddha) as well as frescos and ancient manuscripts. It is a delight, both for photographers and history connoisseurs.
One can also spot an old fort, now lying in ruins, near to the Namgyal Tsemo Monastery in Leh. Few old statues are preserved inside the fort. Colourful prayer flags are also tied around the poles of the fort. Without a doubt, it is quite interesting to even wonder how the fort survived the test of time.
Quite exquisitely overlooking the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, the palace was built by the 17th century king Sengge Namgyal. Popularly called as the ‘Lion King’, he has been known for building innumerable Buddhist shrines, palaces and monasteries.
This nine-storey high palace was later abandoned when Dogra rulers took over Ladakh by the mid of 19th century. Currently it is being maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. One can spot a rich collection of ceremonial dresses, ornaments and jewellery items in the Palace Museum.
The current abode of the royal ancestors of the Namgyal dynasty, the palace was constructed in 1825. It is known as a ‘getaway for enchanting trekking trails in Himalaya’ along with the presence of a 14th century Buddhist monastery near it.
The nearby location of Indus, Markha and Stok Kangri Valley further adds to the beauty of the palace. The Stok Guru Tsechu Festival, falling in the month of February, is a major crowd puller to Leh.
Locally called as ‘Gravity Hill’, one can spot vehicles moving up a steep hill, especially with their ignition off. The mysterious magnetic properties of the magnetic hill make it one of the most visited tourist attractions in Leh.
One can reach the Magnetic Hill in Leh by crossing over the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway. Over the years, it has become the backdrop of several advertisements and Bollywood movies. Interestingly, this effect is also felt by aircrafts and helicopters.
Shopping in Leh
Definitely an irresistible and exemplary endeavour in itself, it is known for Buddhist artefacts, Ladakhi jewellery, prayer wheels, Thangka paintings as well as carpets, shawls and rugs.
Excursions from Leh
The near-by locations that can be explored by tourists are Thikse Gompa (19 km), Stakhna Gompa (20 km), Hemis National Park (35 km), Chemrey Gompa (45 km) and Hemis Gompa (49 km).
When to Reach
The best time to indulge in Leh Travel is from June to September, as the roadways are submerged with snow during the other months.
How to Reach
Air: Frequent flights connect Leh airport with other parts of India. Being a military airport, strict security checks are followed.
Rail: Currently, the train service to Leh directly is not available. The closest railheads are located at Chandigarh and Pathankot, but are three-day bus ride away. Recently the new station of Udhampur has been added.
Road: A road-trip to Leh is definitely an adventurous trip. In fact, the motorcycle trip between Leh and Manali (475 km) is popularly called as the adventurer’s paradise.
Book your trip to Leh this season and explore the beauty of Buddhist monasteries, palaces and pristine valleys. Get going, right away.
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