Leh and Kargil are the two districts in the Ladakh region. But this two districts are in sharp contrast with each other in terms of geography and climate. The whold of Ladakh region is landlocked in winter as the Srinagar-Ladakh and Ladakh-Manali Highways remain closed due to heavy snowfall and rigorous winter. The altitude in Ladakh varies from region to region and is the main factor affecting the local climate.
Places of Interest
This historic mosque built in 1666-67AD, is located in the heart of Leh town.
Built in the 17th century by Sengge Namgyal, an illustrious ruler of Ladakh, this historic nine-storeyed palace is a distinguished monument.
This is the wealthiest, largest and most famous gompa of Ladakh, built in 1630AD. It houses the largest thanka (scroll painting on silk or brocade) in Ladakh, which is unfurled once in 12 years. The annual festival of the gompa is a colourful event, held in June-July in honour of Guru Padma sambhav’s birth anniversary.
This gompa on the banks of the river Indus, is nearly a thousand years old. Though it is no longer an active religious center, the gompa is looked after by the monks from the Likir monastery.
Perched prominently on a hillock, commanding a panoramic view of the Indus valley for miles around, this 15th century gompa has many icons of Buddha and 5 thankas (scrolls). A good collection of ancient masks, antique arms and an awe-inspiring image of Mahakali can be found here.
Situated on the Leh-Kargil road, this monastery which looks like a palace from a distance was built by Tashi Namgyal in the later half of the 16th century AD. This gomap belongs to the Red Cap sect of Buddhism and has an impressive collection of hundreds of icons of Buddha on wooden shelves.
The palace here is believed to have been the seat of power of the pre-Tibetan kings. A 7.5m high copper statue of Buddha plated with gold, the largest of its kind, can be found in this palace.
The Thikse monastery is one of the largest and architecturally most impressive gompas. It has an exquisite collection of images, stupas and well paintings of Buddha.
Leh district has immense potential for trekking, be it short day-long walks up and down mountain slopes just to enjoy the scenery or to visit isolated villages and camping in the wilderness. The 10-day Markha valley trek and the 11-day Lamayuru-Padam trek and the 13-day Hemis-Markha-Padum trek are a few of the most popular treks in this region. The tourist offices at Leh, Padum or Kargil can be approached for further details.
River rafting is possible here in the Indus River and its major tributaries. The best stretch for professionally guided runs in white water is on the Indus between Spituk and Saspol. A challenging yet exciting option for river running is one the Zanskar along its spectacular course through the gorge in the Zanskar Mountains between Padam and Nimo.
The most popular Nun-Kun Massif in the great Himalayan range is easily accessible from the kargil Padum road. Areas in the Zanskar Mountains and the Karakoram range are also ideal for climbing, and can be reached form Leh. The climbing season extends from mid-May to mid-October, and the ideal period is from June to September.
How to get there
Leh has an airport which connects it with the rest of the country. There are regular bus services from Srinagar during summer, through the Srinagar-Leh highway or the Manali-Leh Highway.