Amid the wonderfully white and arid mountains, sits the Buddhist city of Leh. The northernmost point of India gets interesting when you take a look at its centuries-old architecture, white stupas, gold prayer wheels and some unexplainable science defying nature. When you plan a trip to Ladakh, the focus always is more on the journey than the destination. As you spend days travelling from one town to another, you continue coming across sights that will leave you mesmerized.
Here are 8 places that you must see in Leh.
Sitting amidst the beautiful landscape of trees and snow-covered mountains is the Royal Palace of Leh. A perfect example of medieval Tibet architecture, Leh Palace overlooks the whole city.
Established in the 17th century, it is one of the tallest structures of that era. This 9 storey building offers a panoramic view of Stok Kangri Mountains and the forests nearby. The architecture of this building is so done that the inside of the building remains cool in hot days and warm in cold days.
Some of the spacious halls and corridors are converted to museums that are a must-see. The stunning Buddha statue in the back adds more to its charms. Although a ruin, it still attracts a lot of tourists from all corner of the world.
The white dazzling building is located atop a hill of 11,841 ft. It is one of the landmarks of the city. Ladakhi and Japanese built this monument to mark 2500 years of Buddhism and as a sign of world peace.
There are two levels. The first level houses the gold embellished statue of the Buddha and the Dharmachakra, where the devotees move the wheels while they pray to God for their prosperity. The second level of the stupa depicts the life, nirvana and the death of Buddha.
This dome-shaped building the relics of Buddha and is therefore holy to the Buddhists. Sunset and sunrise from this spot are breathtaking. But what is even more beautiful is when the moonlight bathes the whole area in an ethereal glow. Visit the place to feel calm and serene with one of the best view of Leh.
Gurudwara Pathar Sahib
Situated 25 miles away from Leh, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is situated at the place where Guru Nanak Dev was believed to have defeated a demon. Although the area of Leh is filled with Buddhists, they worship Guru Nanak Dev equally. He is more popular with the name of ‘Guru Gompa Maharaja’ and ‘Namak Lama’.
Located 12,000 ft above sea level, it is one of the highest gurudwaras in the world. The interior and atmosphere are the same as any other gurudwara. The ‘Langar’ feasts and sewa are also religiously appreciated here.
Built 65 km away from Leh, Alchi Monastery sits near the River Indus. Unlike any other monastery, it is situated on flat ground rather than on a hilltop. It is considered to be one of the most important monasteries of the Buddhist culture. The Alchi Monastery was established in the 12th and the 13th century by Hindu rulers. Even though the architecture is highly dominated by Tibetan art, there is also a touch of Hindu architecture.
There are five shrines in the Choskhor Temple Complex which are also adorned by wall paintings. Sone of these paintings depicts Buddha. Three large sized brightly coloured clay paintings are the major attractions. The atmosphere around the monastery is so calm that you can sit around and relax after a long trip. There are also tea stalls, small restaurants and few gift shops around.
Past 500 years, Alchi Monastery no longer serves religious purposes. The monks of Likhir Monastery takes care of this oldest monastery in the region.
Everybody has heard of gravity, right? The force that pulls everything downward, no matter how up you go. But amidst the barren land of Leh, there is a region that openly defies gravity. Rather than going downwards or at least staying where you are, you will be pulled up! Sitting at 14,00 ft, Magnetic Hill is found at the Leh-Kargil-Baltic Highway.
While driving to Leh, a signboard appears saying – “Magnetic Hill – The Phenomenon That Defies Gravity”. A few metres ahead, on the road, appears a white box that asks you to park your vehicle. Keep your vehicles in neutral and feel it move up the hill at the speed of 10-20 km/hr.
This phenomenon is a sensation and attracts hundreds of tourists every month. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Record videos, click pictures and relax in the tranquillity. You can also rent mountain bikes or ride the hill up to experience the phenomenon on your own.
Nestled in the laps of arid mountains at the height of almost 5000 ft, is the Pangong Lake. The lake is blissfully blue, a stark contrast to the white mountains that surround it.
The name Pangong is derived from the Tibetan word ‘Pangong Tso’ which means ‘high grassland lake’. Pangong is the highest saltwater lake in the whole world. It is also said that the colour of the lake varies from blue, green and red.
If you remember the 3 Idiots movie, few of its scenes were shot here. The one where Kareena Kapoor reunites with Aamir Khan took place here. The beauty of this lake is unmatched of for. Sit around to rejuvenate your soul and feel the pleasure take over as you comprehend it’s attraction.
Zanskar: The Virgin Valley
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Leh is the Zanskar Valley. During the winters, it is covered with snow and thus inaccessible to the tourists. The road to the valley is hard terrain and requires you to trek for the most part.
Even though it is amidst a desert and arid land, the panoramic view around the valley is one of the best nature has to offer. The sky touching mountains, the gurgling Zanskar River, the aromatic meadows, the sound of birds singing will definitely work as therapy for anyone. The activities that are quite popular are mountaineering and rafting in the river.
The village of the valley is so simple yet so alluring, so raw and beautiful that it seems like it has not been touched by the civilizations in years. Hence, the name The Virgin Valley.
It is situated on a hilltop, north to the Indus River. Belonging to the Gelukpa Order of Buddhism, it was built in the 1400s. The architecture of the building resembles a typical Tibetan architecture. It is a 12 storey building with a few shrines, a temple, monastic residences, stupas and prayer halls.
The Maitreya Buddha statue here is probably the most photographed statue of the Buddha of the future! The 49 ft magnificent high statue took over 4 years to craft. Thiksey Gompa hosts the Gustor ritual, organized from the 17th to 19th day of September. Celebrated on an annual basis the sacred mask dance is also performed during the Gustor ritual.