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About Leh Ladakh

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Leh - Capital of Ladakh

Leh, the capital of Ladakh is situated at a height of 3505 meters and is towards the eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The region is watered by the Zanskar River, which flows into the Indus River just below. Spilling out of a side valley that tapers north towards eroded snow-capped peaks, the Ladakhi capital sprawls from the foot of a ruined Tibetan style palace - a maze of mud-brick and concrete flanked on one side by cream-coloured desert, and on the other by a swathe of lush irrigated farmland. As one approaches Leh India for the first time, via the sloping seep of dust and pebbles that divide if from the floor of the Indus Valley, one will have little difficulty imagining how the old trans -Himalayan traders must have felt as they plodded in on the caravan routes from Yarkhand and Tibet: a mixture of relief at having crossed the mountains in one piece, and anticipation of a relaxing spell in one of central Asia's most scenic and atmospheric towns. Leh in India is a beautiful destination with so many attractions and is the center of Tibeto-Buddhist Culture for ages. Its colorful gompas have attracted the devout Buddhists from all over the globe. Besides, it is also a favorite hiking locale and is known for some of the best hikes in the country. Travel to leh this vacation to enjoy its mystic beauty, nut before that acquaint yourself a little bit about the past and present of Leh India.

History of Leh India

King Sengge Namgyal who ruled Ladakh during 17th century and during whose rule Ladakh was at its greatest shifted his court from Shey to Leh. Leh in India became the regional capital and very soon the town blossomed into one of the busiest markets on the Silk Route. During the 1920s and 1930s, the broad bazaar that still forms its heart received more than a dozen pony- and camel-trains each day.

Leh's prosperity, managed mainly by the Sunni Muslim merchants whose descendants live in its labyrinthine old quarter, came to an abrupt end with the closure of the Chinese border in the 1950's. However its fortunes begin to look up after India rediscovered the hitherto forgotten capital's strategic value after two wars in quick succession with Pakistan . Today, Khaki-clad Jawans (soldiers) and their families from the nearby military and air force bases are the mainstay of the local economy in winter, when foreign visitors are few and far between.

Gates opened for Tourists

Indian government's decision in 1974 to open Ladakh to foreign tourists was a major shake-up. From the start, Leh bore the brunt of the annual invasion, as busloads of backpackers poured up the road Srinagar. Twenty or so years on, though the main approach is now via Himachal Pradesh rather than Kashmir, the summer influx shows no sign of abating.

Leh India has doubled in size and is a far cry from the sleepy Himalayan town of the early 1970's. During July and August tourists stroll shoulder to shoulder down its main street, most of whose old style outfitters and provision stores have been squeezed out by Kashmiri handicraft shops, art emporiums and Tibetan restaurants.

Around the Leh India

Leh India has nonetheless retained a more tranquil side, and is a pleasant place to unwind after a long bus journey. Attractions in and around the town itself include the former Palace and Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, perched amid strings of prayer flags above the narrow dusty streets of the Old Quarter.

A short walk north across the fields, the small monastery of Sankar harbours accomplished modern Tantric murals and a thousand beaded Avalokitesvara (also spelt as Avalokiteshvara) deity.

Leh is also a good base for longer day trips out into the Indus Valley. Among the string of picturesque villages and Gompas within reach by bus are Shey, site of a derelict 17th century palace, and the Spectacular Tikse Gompa. Until one has adjusted to the altitude, however, the Only sightseeing one will probably feel up to will be from a guesthouse roof terrace or garden, from where the snowy summits of the majestic Stok-Kangri massif (6,120m), magnified in the crystal clear Ladakhi sunshine, look close enough to touch.

Leh India - Monastery Circuit

Leh is usually used as a base to explore the monasteries in and around. There are actually two monastery circuits that have been marked out for the convenience of those who travel to Leh and are keen to visit the monasteries. The first circuit covers monasteries like Shey, Thiksey, Stakna, Matto, Chembray,Tak-Tok and Hemis. The second one, on the other hand will take you to Spituk, Phyang, Likir, Alchi, Ridzong and Lamayuru. It is also noteworthy here that the monasteries of Leh cover all four of the important schools of Buddhism - Nyingmapa, Drukpa, Saskyapa and Gelugspa. On your Leh travel tour, you can pick up any of these circuits and explore them in a timespan of one day each.

Leh India - What to Buy

If you are interested in purchasing sovenirs for you close ones, then head straight towards the Main Bazaar where you will find many shops that sell such items. Tibetan antiques is what you will mostly find here. There is also a Second Hand Clothing Bazaar for those of you who need to purchase some warm good quality clothings. Pashmina shawls are also a good buy on your Leh travel tour. Once in Leh, it is hardly possible that you will miss out a chance to trek. And for your your journey, you will also require a bit of food items. Leh, probably, is one of the best places to buy trekking food. Apart from regular stuffs like instant noodles, biscuits, powdered milk and chocolate, there are also fresh and dry fruit and veggies along with few other luxury foods.

Hotels in Leh India

Before you travel to Leh, you will also want to know about the accommodation option that is available in the town. Well, you can rest assured since Leh India has a number of options for you, from A, B, C and D - Class hotels to Upper, Medium and Economy class guest houses.

A and B class hotels generally serve you all meals in their services. However, there are also options available for AP (room with full boarding), MAP (room with breakfast and dinner), CP (room with breakfast) and EP (room only) for you to choose from. Guest houses are little less formal since mostly families share a room in their house. Guests also share the kitchen for meals. Staying in guest houses is an extremely fruitful experience since interacting with local Ladakhis lets travelers have a real glimpse into the culture of the region.


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