The capital of the
Ladakh district, Leh is towards the eastern parts of
Jammu and Kashmir. Ladakh means the land of high passes, also
known as the land of endless discoveries, the moon land, little
Tibet ...., situated on the Northern part of India at an
altitude of 9000 feet to 25000 feet.
Ladakh is bounded by world's two mightiest mountain ranges the
bounded by the Great Himalayas, in the Karakoram ranges.
The region is watered
by the Zanskar River, which flows into the Indus River just
below. The Stok mountain range lies just south of Leh, while
towards the north one can find the snow-capped Ladakh range. In
the winters, it is freezing cold with temperatures going below
Sightseeing in Leh
The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, built in 1430, contains a
Buddha image and ancient manuscripts and frescoes. The fort
above this gompa is ruined, but the views of Leh from here are
The Sankar gompa is located a couple of kilometers north of
the town center. The gompa belongs to the Gelukpa order and has
an impressive impression of the Buddhist deity Avalokiteshwara
Padmahari or Chenresig, with 1,000 arms and an equal number of
The Shanti Stupa was built by a Japanese order and was
opened by the
Dalai Lama in 1985. From the top, one can view the exotic
locales nearby. The stupa is located at a distance of 3 km from
the Fort Road.
The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb commissioned the mosque at the head
of the Leh Bazaar. The Soma gompa lies near the mosque.
Seventy kilometers from Leh India, on the banks of river
Indus, is the Alchi gompa dating back to the 11th
century. It is one of the largest and a famous monastery with a
widely renowned collection of paintings.
At a distance of 45 km south of Leh, Hemis is one of the
biggest gompas in Ladakh. Built in 1630, it belongs to the red
sect, Brokpa. It is also known as Chang Chub Sam
Ling or "the lone place of the compassionate person." To
commemorate the birth of the renowned Indian sage, Padmasambhava,
the annual Hemis festival is held in the month of
Situated on the opposite bank of the Indus across Thikse, the
Matho gompa was established in the first half of the 16th
century and has a valuable collection of old and beautiful
thangkas, some in the form of 'mandalas.' Its annual festival of
oracles in early March is an important event in the Ladakhi
Until the 16th century, the Shey gompa was the royal
residence. It is located at a distance of 15 km south of Leh.
This Palace Monastery has the largest statue of Maitreya Buddha
(the Buddha to come) in Ladakh. Erected in the mid-17th century,
worked out of gold and gilded copper sheets with blue hair, it
stands 17.5 m high.
At a distance of 8 km from Leh, standing majestically
on top of a hillock overlooking the Indus Valley, lies the
Spituk Gompa. It was built in the 15th century and houses a
collection of ancient masks, antique arms, icons and thangkas.
Higher up the hill is the Mahakal Temple, containing the shrine
About 20 km south of Leh, Thikse gompa is an imposing
monastery and one of the finest examples of Ladakhi
architecture. It belongs to the Gelukpa order. The 12-story
monastery complex contains numerous stupas, statues, thangkas,
wall paintings, swords and a large pillar engraved with the
Belonging to the Brokpa sect, the Phyang gompa was built
in the 16th century. Located at a distance of 16 km from Leh, it
houses hundreds of statues, thangkas, old manuscripts
and some old weapons.
The Bagso gompa is located 40 km downstream from Leh, and
was the seat of power of a branch of the Namgyal family. It is
here in AD 1680 that invading Mongol and Tibetan armies were
held in check over a three-year-long siege. Original
16th-century murals and other arts of Bagso are worth seeing.
About 45 km from Leh, the Chernry gompa is situated in a
picturesque valley leading to Changia. It was constructed upon
Sengge Namgyal's death in 1645. A large collection of scriptures
with title pages in sterling silver and the text in gold letters
is kept here.
Nubra Valley : Popularly known as the "Ldomra
or the valley of flowers situated at an altitude of about 10000
ft. The major attraction is the world highest road (Khardong la
18,380 ft) The capital of Nubra, Diskit is 118 km from Leh has a
beautiful monastery(founded in 1420) on the hilltop just above
the village. 7 km from Diskit is the village of Hunder, very
famous for double hump camels which is only found in Central
Asia and Nubra Valley. Other attractions are the villages of
Trith, Sumur, Tegar (Samstangling Monastery ) and Panamik (hot
The Pangong Lake
is situated at 14,000 feet (4,267
m), one of the largest brackish-water lakes in Asia, is also
considered as the largest lake in Ladakh.. Pangong Lake lies
like a giant snake is 130 km long. The Pangong Lake is 160 km
from Leh, with Spectacular view colorful mountains and Changla
Pass. The Ladakh range is crossed by the Chang-la (18,000 feet /
5,475 m), which is the third highest pass in the world.
Kargil can be
subdivided into two tourist circuits:
KARGIL: The second Largest town of Ladakh, is around 230Km
from Leh, was once the trade route that leads to Kashmir,
Baltistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia and Tibet. It still
retains its conservative Balti Shia Muslim culture and has two
fine Mosques built in Turkish style. Now use as a stop over when
going to Srinagar or Zanskar.
ZANSKAR: The land of Religion, it is noted
for its high ranges, fine Gompas and gentle people. It has the
largest number of Gompas in Ladakh region outside the Indus
Valley. The land is virtually untouched until now. Now a popular
destination for adventure treks. The famous peaks of Nun & Kun
also are in Zanskar. Padum is the the main habitation and
subdivisional headquarter. Close by are two famous Gompas of
Stagrimo & Pibithing. A two hour trek from Padum takes one to
Karsha Gompa(16th Century). This is the largest and the
wealthiest Gompa of this region. Other interesting Gompas of
this region are:-Sani(6Km from Padum),Stongdey(18Km),Bardan(12Km)and
the Phugtal Gompa.
In winter the temp touches as low as minus 30 degree(Leh &
Kargil) and minus 60 degree in (Drass) subzero temp. prevails
from December to February throughout Ladakh, where as, zero
degree temp.'s experienced during rest of winter months. This
result in freezing of all conceivable water resources. During
summer the maximum temp. increases from 20 degree C to 38 degree
C in July and August. The relative humidity is low and ranges
from 31 to 64 percent.