Radhika is highly passionate of traveling and keen in observing things for penning them into a travel article.
Having enjoyed the prestigious status as Ladakh’s capital once, Leh is now a district in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It was one of the stop over on trade routes between China and India along the Indus valley. Spanning over a large area in Ladakh, Leh is a historical kingdom of Tibet. With the major population being Tibetans, Leh has a wonderful list of Buddhist gompas and palaces that illuminate this remote land with lights and colors. Let’s have a look at them.
This hub is a continuation of Ladakh; the Land of High Passes or Little Tibet.
1. Leh Palace
The ruined royal mansion of Leh still stands tantalizingly overlooking the town with grace. Built in the same style as that of Potola Palace of Lhasa, Tibet, this marvelous architecture is the primary attraction of Leh. Built by the Ladakhi ruler Sengge Namgyal, the palace got abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh. This 9-storeyed Leh palace dispenses the view of the vast landscape of Leh from its roof. The royal family’s ceremonial dresses, crown, jewelry, centuries-old Thangkas (Chinese paintings) are all stored in the palace museum which is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
2. Victory Tower
This was built to commemorate the victory of Ladakh over Balti Kashmir forces. Perched on the peak of Namgyal Hill, it is at a height of about 200 feet above the Leh palace. The entire landscape of mountainous, desert land of Leh can be explored by watching from this tower.
3. Shanti Stupa
This white-domed chorten(Stupa) is a tourist attraction on a hilltop in Changspa not only because of its religious significance, but also owing to the classic panorama where it is situated. Founded by the Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura, Ladakh Buddhists also took part in its construction. This chorten holds the relics of Buddha at the base of its two-level structure.
Sunset and sunrise view of Leh is best in Shanti Stupa. The chorten is illuminated with lights at night.
4. Chamba temple
Dedicated to Maitreya in Sanskrit, Chamba temple is situated on the way to Leh palace in the city of Leh. According to a perspective, the final events of history in Buddhism include the expiry of all the teachings of Buddha on moral conduct after 5000 years of their commencement. Then the ‘future Buddha’ would come re-incarnating Buddha who is going to be popularly known as Maitreya. He would attain enlightenment and re-teach all his knowledge to the world. This white Chamba Temple was built by King Tragspa Bumde in the 15th Century.
5. Soma gompa
The Ladakh Buddhist Association in 1957 built this small gompa opposite to SBI, in the main bazaar, which is open throughout the day for visitors. The gompa contains a statue of Joyo Rimpochey (crowned Buddha).
6. Sankar gompa
A half-an-hour walk from Leh, leads to this Buddhist monastery that is a daughter establishment of Spituk. It is also the residence of the Abbot of Spituk Monastery, the lama of ancient lineage. Situated in the lee of Khardung La pass behind Leh, Sankar gompa is a cluster of buildings built amongst the trees, relatively in modern style. Only 20 monks live here and so visiting hours are limited to morning and evening. The steps lead directly to the double doors of the Assembly Hall whose walls and doors are richly painted. The presiding deity Avalokitesvara is in the next floor with 1000 arms and 1000 heads.
7. Jama Masjid
The heart of Leh city nestles the Jama Masjid, the favorite mosque of Sunni Muslims of Leh and surrounding villages. Constructed during Mughal period as per agreement between the then ruler of Ladakh, Deldan Namgyal and the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the mosque is believed to be an ancient heritage in Leh. Jama Masjid is a marvel of architecture with beautiful stone carvings. The mosque is open only for men.
8. Zorawar fort
Zorawar fort is named after the brave warrior ruler Zorawar Singh Kahluria of Dogra Rajput royal family. To admire his legacy of conquests in Himalayas including Ladakh, he is referenced as the ‘Conqueror of Ladakh’ or the Napoleon of India by historians. The fort occupies about 27 acres of land with a natural, a temple and one mosque built by the General himself. The fort built with local materials is surrounded by a moat. The entrance to the fort is through a modern wooden bridge. The fort was home to a large number of Dogra soldiers and artilleries.
9. Leh trekking trails
These treks on the Himalayas explore different kinds of mountainous landscapes, valleys and wildlife in the wilderness. Camping is another opportunity to spare sometime in the serene, remote uplands that is suitable for meditation. Leh trekking trails are longer that require considerable amount of time to put in. Rupshu Valley trek, Markha Valley trek and Zanskar trek are the popular ones in this divine land of the Lamas.
10. Magnetic hill (gravity hill)
About 30 km from Leh on the Leh-Kargil NH, magnetic hill becomes visible that is said to have alleged magnetic properties. It’s a mystery spot that produces an optical illusion of a slight downhill slope appearing to be an uphill slope. Thus a car would be seen rolling uphill against gravity when its engine is off.
Leh district with a vast area, chortens and flags scattered everywhere with a diverse look of the mosques is an ideal travel destination for those who’re interested in history, exoticism and nature. The Buddhist gompas, their paintings and prayers would add their influence in enlightening you with knowledge and wisdom.
Prayer flags of Soma gompa
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Radhika Sreekanth (author) from Mumbai,India on September 18, 2014:
Thanks ecogranny once again. It's a pleasure to know that you're interested in reading about Ladakh and its landscapes.
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on September 17, 2014:
I am fascinated by the Ladakhi and their land. Thank you for compiling this information and all these photographs. I especially enjoyed getting a glimpse of the landscape in several of them.
Radhika Sreekanth (author) from Mumbai,India on September 24, 2013:
Thanks prasadjain sir for such a beautiful comment. I'm glad that you found it educative.
Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD from Tumkur on September 24, 2013:
A very beautiful article, with properly organized content and suitable pictures and video clippings. Highly educative.keep it up!
Radhika Sreekanth (author) from Mumbai,India on September 12, 2013:
Glad to hear that you're impressed with my country's places and thanks for commenting, for voting this up and for sharing.
Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on September 12, 2013:
Another great article Radhikasree! Voted up, useful, beautiful, interesting, and shared on FB. I loved the photos, very beautiful and stunning. I enjoy learning about new places and India is so pretty. I would certainly visit Leh. The Magnetic hill is so interesting, would love to experience that. Very well done. Best wishes
Radhika Sreekanth (author) from Mumbai,India on September 03, 2013:
Thanks Ruby for making comments.......they're very valuable for me.
Radhika Sreekanth (author) from Mumbai,India on September 03, 2013:
Thanks srsddn for that nice comment and votes. Leh has the unseen presence of God everywhere.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 02, 2013:
This is truly beautiful radhikasree! I especially like the Shanti Stupa. As i've told you many times, i would love to visit your part of our world. Thank you for sharing again...
Sukhdev Shukla from Dehra Dun, India on September 02, 2013:
radhikasree, I am glad you have focused on a beautiful state. I understand Leh is very peaceful area and it must be attracting tourists who love solitude for some period in their lives. Thanks for sharing this wonderful part of India. Voted up and interesting.