Leh

Leh, the capital of Ladakh is spreading rapidly in all directions. Leh is situated in a fertile side valley of the Indus River at an altitude of 3521 meters, towards the eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Since the 17th century Leh has been the capital of the Ladakh.

Ladakh region. Leh and Indus Valley are earlier capitals of the region. The centre is about 10 km from the river. It was developed as an important trading post and market and attracted a wide variety of merchants from Yarkand, Kashgar, Kashmir, Tibet and northern India. Tea, salt, household articles, wool and semi-precious stones were all sold and bought in the city which became a hub for the business traveler to South Asia. While Leh has come a long way from the time when most of the activities took place on its main street, it still retains its pleasant traditional quality. Due to tourism, there are various hotels and guest houses in the city. Tourism has certainly had the impacts on the society of Leh. The best season to visit Leh is from May to November. From traveler by road we recommend to check if the road is open before to proceed. We recommend to carry plenty of warm clothes. When the sun is up it gets quite hot but in the shade it can still be very cold. Leh 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.

Temperature in Leh
If you are arriving in Leh by air after having spent a few days in Srinagar which is 1768 meter or flying straight from Delhi which is at an altitude of 216 meter or Jammu at 305 meter which means that your body has experienced a substantial increase of altitude. You need to acclimatize yourself by not exerting too much. Taking rest in the first 24 hours is very important. If you have traveled by road from Srinagar you will be acclimatized better. Still, a mild headache is common and can be treated with aspirin or paracetomol. After a couple of days in this area one will feel more energetic as the body gets adjusted and adapted to the local altitude.

History of Leh
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 became the regional capital and very soon the town blossomed into one of the busiest markets on the Silk Route. During the 1920 and 1930, the broad bazaar that still forms its heart received more than a dozen pony and camel trains each day. Leh's prosperity was managedmainly 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. 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 there are very few foreign visitors. The 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. 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 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.

Geography of Leh
The region of Leh 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 for the first time, via the sloping seep of dust and pebbles that divide it 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.

Festivals of Leh
Some of the festivals which are celebrated in Leh are the Hemis Festival and Losar Festival. Hemis Festival is celebrated in the month of June on the occasion of the birth of Guru Padmasambhava. Guru Padmasambhava is believed to have fought local demons to protect the local people. The famous mask dances are the part of the celebrations. Young and old, males and females, Lamas and common people take part in the mask dances. Stalls are also set up selling handicrafts and other wares. For 3 days there is joy and worship. The Losar Festival dates back to the 15th century and is celebrated in the 11th month of the Buddhist year. It was held before a battle against the evil powers protection for the people of Ladakh.

Shopping in Leh
Hand-woven carpets with dragon designs, copper and silver trinkets set with turquoise Thangkas are widely available in Leh. In the colourful bazaar of Leh there are plenty of little shops with everything from semi-precious stones like corals, turquoise, pearls, curios and artifacts.

Adventure in Leh
Trekking in Ladakh is most popular activity at the moment as it goes through very high mountains. However, it is advisable to be fully equipped before starting the trek. We organize porter and ponies from Leh, Lamayuru or Padum and at other places from where the treks commence. Archery contests are also quite popular and competitions are also held in the season.

Tourist Attractions in Leh
The town of Leh is quite small and consists of a main street running up to the palace with small side streets running off it. Within the town of Leh there is a lot to see. One can have an easy walk away through the interesting coppersmith’s quarter, visit the Moravian Church, the Ladakh Ecological Centre, the Leh 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, small statues of pure gold and paintings. An interesting walk brings you to the Ladakh Shanti Stupa. This walk goes through the picturesque village of Changspa. The other tourist attractions in Leh are the Leh Palace, Stok Palace, Tso Moriri Lake and monasteries. The Leh Monastery houses a solid gold statue of Buddha.

Tso Moriri Lake
Tso Moriri Lake is located to the south east of Leh in the middle of the prominent valley of Rupshu. In the changthang area, it is known to the public as Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve. This lake which means ‘the mountain lake’ derives its name from the fact that it gets water from the Changthang Plateau.

The calm environment of the lake takes you to a beautiful world where you can relax in the lapse of the Mother Nature. Adventure lovers will find attractive wildlife in the neighboring regions. Wild Ass, Marmots, Black-necked Geese, Redfox and the highly endangered Snow Leopard are the main attractions of this place.

Pangong Lake
The moment the sunlight falls on Pangong Lake; its crystal clear water refracts a band of violet, blue, green, orange and red colors which can be observed on the surface appearing like a tinted canvas.

As it is situated at a height of approx. 4250 Mts. it becomes the highest lake in the world. Surrounded by beautiful gorges and vistas, this lake will definitely take your heart away. The flora and fauna of the nearby places is highly appreciated by the visitors. With Yaks and Mountain Cows being the easy ones to spot, several other rare species may also be occasionally seen near the lake. Other famous attractions of Pangong Tso are Chang La Pass (the third highest navigable pass in the world), ancient monasteries and the mountaineering school.

How to Reach
By Air
The nearest Airport is Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, Leh - Ladakh which is 03 kms from Hotel Grand Dragon. Leh is directly connected to Delhi through regular flights and it takes about 65 minutes to reach Leh from Delhi. Direct flights also operate once a week from Leh to Srinagar and twice a week to Jammu.

By Rail
There is no train journey route up to Leh Ladakh. The nearest railway station is in Kalka from where you can take a bus or taxi to Manali via Shimla. The other railway station is Jammu railway station which is 734 Kms away from Leh Ladakh.

By Road
The cheapest way to travel within the region is by public buses, which ply on fixed routes regularly. The two popular routes to Leh are from Srinagar via Kargil on the Srinagar-Leh Highway and from Manali via Sarchu and Dharchu on the Manali-Leh Highway. These routes are only open from May to October.