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Fast Facts
Location : 620 kms from Jammu, capital of Jammu and Kashmir
Attractions : Leh Palace, Leh Monasatery, Sankar Gompa, Choglamsar, Shanti Stupa, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Leh Mosque etc.
When To Visit Leh : July to last week of September

Introducing Leh
Shanti StupaLeh Travel
Flanked by the Great Indian Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Ladakh and the Zanskar ranges, Ladakhs is a high-altitude desert and one of the three geo-cultural regions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh is the principal town of Ladakh, also known as the 'land of high passes' having the only airport of the region. Leh is a small town and make finding your way round very easy. The town has a main street with the Leh Palace rising up right at the end of it. Centuries ago Leh was an important halt on the old caravan silk route from China. Today, besides a military base, Leh is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India.

Leh India
During the tourist season of June - September, Leh becomes a melting pot of cultures and nationalities and everything in the town turns tourist-centric. Leh makes a gateway to high-altitude lakes of Ladakh, the valley of Nubra and Lower Indus valley and other surrounding areas. Apart from these, the town of Leh make an ideal base for adventure sports of leh trekking and river rafting. So, plan a trip to this charming land and enjoy a peaceful vacation in the lap of mother nature.

How to Reach Leh
Flights To Leh : Leh has its own airport which is 7 kms from downtown. Jet Airways and Indian Airlines operate flights from Leh to Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu and Srinagar. You can hire a taxi at the airport to reach the Leh city.
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By Train : Leh has not its own railway station and it is not connected by rail to rest of the country. Nearest rail head is Jammu 620 km from Leh, which is served by several express trains from important places of India.

By Road : Leh is connected by National Highway with Srinagar (434 kms) which is main route to reach the hilly town. Srinagar - Leh highway is open between mid June and November. Deluxe and Ordinary buses of J & K State Road Transport Corporation ply regularly on this route. A four-wheel drive is the best vehicle to reach Leh from Srinagar.

Places Where You Can Stay
Leh town offers accommodation option almost every few metres. Leh district has around 72 hotels and 185 guesthouses. Most of the hotels and guesthouses are local family-owned establishments, therefore service is invariably personalised. The most reliable hotels of Leh include Welcomheritage Shambha-La, Hotel Ladakh Sarai, Hotel Omasila, Caravan Centre, Hotel Kanglachan, Hotel Lha-Rimo, Hotel Galdan Continental etc.

What To See in Leh
Leh Palace : Built in the 16th century AD, the Leh Palace is said to have inspired from the Potala in Lhasa. Actually the building had nine storeys, but it is now deserted and badly damaged. Leh Palace was the home of the royal family till 1830s when they were exiled to Stok. Now the palace houses the Ladakhi branch of the Indian Government's archaeological consevation organization. Within the palace are wall paintings of Buddhist, centuries old 'tankas' and other artifacts. Climb up to the palace for superb view of the Zanskar mountains across the Indus river and the spectacular surroundings.

Leh Monasatery (Gompa) : One of the oldest monasteries of Leh-Ladakh, Leh Monastery was built in 1430. Set high above the Leh Palace, the Leh Monastery is overlooking the ruins of the older palace. Leh Gompa or Red Gompa has a fine three-storey high image of Lord Buddha in sitting posture.

Sankar Gompa : Sankar Gompa is located a couple of km up the valley from the town centre. It is an easy stroll to the Sankar Gompa. This monastery belongs to the Gelukspa school of Tibetan Buddhism and is a branch of the Spituk Monastery.

Choglamsar : Choglamsar is home to the Tibetan refugee camp, which has become an important centre for the study of Tibetan literature and history of Buddhist philosophy. Close to Choglamsar a bridge crosses the Indus to Stok and another road along the other bank of the river to Hemis.

Shanti Stupa : Shanti Stupa means the World Peace was constructed by a Japanese in 1985 with aid from the Japanese government. It is located at Changspa atop a hill and was inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 1985. Shanti Stupa is famous for its state of the art work and attracts a lot of tourists ti Ladakh. You can reach the stupa by a motorable road and a steep flight of stairs. From the stupa you can get the spectacular view of the mountains and the village of Changspa.

Namgyal Tsemo Gompa : Namgysi Tsemo Gompa was built by King Namgyal in 1430 AD on Namgyal Tsemo peak. The monastery has a three-storey high idol of Maitrieya Buddha and one-storied statue of Avaloketesvara and Manjushri. Besides, the gompa also has a fine collection of ancient manuscripts and frescoes. Close to the gompa there are associated temples, but they are kept locked except during the morning and evening hours.

Soma Gompa : Soma Gompa was built by the Ladakh Buddhist Association in 1957. Situated opposite to SBI in the main market, the gompa remains open throughout the day for visitors. Soma Gompa has a statue of Joyo Rinpochey.

Leh Mosque : Standing in the main bazaar of Leh, this mosque is a fine work of Turko-Iranian architecture. A historical mosque, Leh mosque was built in 1666-67 AD, following an agreement between the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and the then ruler of Ladakh, Deldan Namgyal.
Spituk Gompa
Nubra Valley : Popularly known as a flowering den, Nubra Valley remains dotted with bushes of yellow and pink wild roses during the season of roses around August. Nubra Valley is also an ideal place for crops and fruits to grow, as it is relatively warmer valley in Ladakh. Diskit village, situated near Khalsar is one of the biggest village of the Nubra Valley. You can spend a quiet and pleasant evening at Nubra Valley amidst the mother nature with snow-capped peaks in the beautiful background.

Tourist Attractions Around Leh
Spituk Gompa : Spituk Gompa (Monastery) lies on a hill top above the Indus valley at a distance of 10 kms from Leh. From the gompa you will find the panoramic view of the Indus valley. Built in the 15th century, the monastery has several icons of Lord Buddha and five thankas. Besides, here you will also find a fine collection of ancient masks, antique arms and an image of Mahakal.
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Pharka Gompa : A small cave gompa, Pharka Gompa lies almost directly opposite the Spituk Gompa on the Stok side of the Indus. You can reach this gompa by crossing the Choglamsar bridge but you have to cover the last few kms on foot.

Matho Gompa : Matho is located five km from Stagna, in a side valley and houses a small gompa. An important festival is held at Matho Gompa every year, where the monks are possessed by spirits and go into a trance.

Shey Gompa : Located 15 kms upstream from Leh, the Shey Gompa was built about 550 years ago. The Shey Gompa was the old summer palace of Kings of Ladakh and mostly in ruins now, but it has a 12 mtr high seated Buddha image.

Phyang Gompa : Phyang Gompa is about 16 kms from Leh, on the road back towards Srinagar. It is a small gompa and has 50 monks. Below the gompa there is an interesting small village.

Stok Palace : Stok Palace is situated at a distance of 17 kms from Leh town. Now the palace is converted into a museum and it has the collection of precious stones, coins, thangkas, royal crowns, dresses and prayer instruments.

Tikse Gompa : Tikse Gompa is visible from Shey and lies at a distance of 17 Km fro Leh. The monastery is very beautiful and magnificently perched on a hilltop overlooking the village and the Indus valley. Tikse Gompa has a rich collection of Tibetan style books in its library and some excellent artwork. Close to the gompa stands the Zan-La temple.

Hemis Gompa : One of the biggest and most important gompas in Ladakh, Hemis Gompa is 45 kms away from Leh. You can easily reach the gompa by car or jeep from Leh and return back on the same day. But on public transport you will have to spend the night at the monastery as it is not possible to return the same day. Hemis Gompa is famous for the Hemis festival which usually falls in second half of June or in early July. The gompa has a good library, well preserved wall paintings and good Buddha figures.

Pangong Lake : Pangong Lake is situated at a distance of 154 kms from Leh across Changla Pass (17,000 ft). Set at a height of 14,000 ft, Pangong Lake is one of the largest and most picturesque natural brackish lakes in the country.

Adventure Options For Leh Trip
Trekking : Leh is a paradise for trekkers and it boasts of a number of thrilling trek routes. Treks in Leh are open from the month of June to mid October and the passes are as high as 5,000 m in elevation. Some of the popular trek routes are Spituk to the Marka valley, Lamayuru gompa to Chiling village along the Zanskar river and Likir to Temisgam. A number of trekking agencies in Leh offer trek packages for tourists with a guide, packhorses, meal and supplies.

Polo : Polo is a very popular adventure option in Leh and the town has a well-maintained polo ground. Regular matches and competitions are organized in Leh, especially during the Ladakh Festival.

River Rafting : River rafting is also a favourite adventure sport for adventure seekers. You may take fun of river rafting in the Zanskar river in the month of July to September.

Shopping in Leh
Although Leh is situated at a far distance from the state capital Jammu but it offers excellent shopping opportunity to travellers. Most of the shopkeepers in Leh belong to Kashmir valley who come up during the season to sell their wares. For traditional items you may visit the Chilling village, 19 km up of Nemo in the Zanskar valley. Here a community of metal workers lives, who work silver, brass and copper to make tea and chang pots, tea cup stands and lids, hookah bases, ladles and bowls and silver chortens. You can also ask for Chilling work in Leh Bazaar. Other traditional buys include pattu, the rough, warm wool used by locals. The Tibetan Refugee centre at Choglamsar village is a good place to buy the Tibetan carpets and the pashmina shawals. You can visit the District Handicraft Centre, which offer carpets and shawls and also has Thangka painting centre. Other reliable shopping outlets of Leh are Jammu & Kashmir Handicraft Showroom, J & K Government Art Emporium and Tibetan Handicraft Shop. For a very Ladakhi memory, don't forget to buy ornate tea kettle and Thangka or gur-gur (buttered tea churner). At many places in Leh you will also find locals selling turquoise and corals.

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