Leh is a jewel crowning the Himalayas. This high desert city in Jammu and Kashmir was an important trade route of the Indus civilization in the bygone days. One can reach here via road either from Manali or Srinagar. Ladakh hasa high altitude extreme desert climate with the mercury dropping to -20°C in the winter months. Khardung-La boasts of being the highest motorable mountain pass in the world. Situated at an elevation of 17582 feet above sea level, this icy slush covered route has sharp turns and steep drops. Untouched by humans this remote landscape is breathtakingly beautiful.
The most prominent building in Leh is the Palace of the King of Ladakh. This palace was also the residence of Dalai Lama before he moved to Dharamshala. Pangong Lake lies at the Indo China border and is famed for its scenic beauty. Some significant Buddhist places of worship here are The Hemis Monastery, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Soma Gompa, Tak tok Gompa, Thiksey Gompa.
Popular things to do in Leh are white water rafting in the Indus river, yak safari, trekking, mountain biking and photography. Leh may be a small town but it has a good number of shops selling locally made Tibetan handicraft items.
Leh Palace: Leh Palace is one of the most visited sites in Leh, It reflects the Tibetan style of architecture. It is a nine storied grand structure and was a former Royal palace of the Leh kingdom.
Stok Palace: It is now a residence of the descendants of erstwhile King Tsespal Tondup Namgyal, who got the palace built. The palace reflects a beautiful amalgamation of modern and contemporary architecture.
Shanti Stupa: This white coloured stupa was built by a Japanese Buddhist organization as a representation of world peace on completion of 2500 years of Buddhism.
Jama Masjid: It is a historic mosque situated in the centre of the city. It was built as per the agreement between the emperor Aurangzeb and the then ruler of Ladakh.
Tsemo Fort: This small palace known as victory palace is in a dilapidated condition, it contains a number of worship flags. Directly underneath it lies Tsemo monastery that is home to two Buddhist temples.
Drass War Memorial: It was built in the memory of the soldiers who got martyred in Indo-Pak war of 1999.
Gurudwara Pathar Saheb: This Gurudwara is highly revered not only among Sikhs but also Hindus and Tibetans. It is the spot where Guru Nanak ji stayed while on his way to Punjab. Tibetans worship the presiding deity here as Lama Nanak.
Leh-Ladah is also home to a large number of monasteries namely; Hemis Monastery, Matho Monastery, Rangdum Gompa, Lamayuru Monastery, Phugtal Monastery, Alchi Monastery, Diskit Monastery, Spituk Gompa, Likir Gompa, Thiksey Gompa, Shey Monastery, Rizong Gompa, Sankar Monastery, Wanla Gompa, Phyang Gompa, Stakna Monastery and Zongkhu lMonastery
One must visit the historic Tiger Hill located in Drass Valley, which was momentarily captured by Pakistan in the war of 1999 only to be subsequently recaptured by India. Nimu is a beautiful village south of Ladakh that must be visited for its scenic beauty. Drang-Drung glacier can make your visit to Leh Ladakh even more memorable. It’s a great spot for photography enthusiasts. A visit to Magnetic hill will leave you baffled as the road here defies gravity and a parked vehicle can start moving on its own at the speed of 20 km/h. It’s a miraculous place and must be visited. Wildlife enthusiasts must visit Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary to explore the interesting flora and fauna of the great Himalayas. One may also visit Hemis National Park to spot snow leopard and shapu sheep. Ladakh is also famous for its breathtakingly beautiful lakes. Tsomoriri lake is the largest lake in Ladakh region. Cradled between India and China Pangong-Tso lake can steal your breath away. Situated at a height of 4,350 m above sea level, it is the highest salt water lake in the world. Camping at Pangong Tso lake can be an ethereal experience. Tso kar lake is another stunning salt water lake that will leave you mesmerised. The picturesque Tso Yarab lake in Nubra Valley must also be visited. The passes in the region are also known to be the depository of natural beauty for the view they provide can make any nature lover head over heels in love with the region. Khardung La pass is one of the highest motorable passes in India. Photography enthusiasts must visit it for beautiful panoramas and the pure mountain air. Chang La pass is also known for the scenic beauty it provides. Bara-Lacha La is a pass between Leh and Manali. It remains closed during the winter months so in order to visit it one must plan a trip during the summer months. Taglang La pass, Lachulung La pass, Fotu La Pass, Namikala pass, Zojila pass, and Umling La Pass are some of the other famous passes that must be visited for their scenic beauty.
Tourists can try local Ladakhi food such as Thukpa which is also highly nutritious, steaming dumplings can also be tried. One must buy jars of locally made apricot jam to carry with them back home. Most restaurants serve International cuisine as well as Tibetan Cuisine. Himalaya Cafe, Shangri La, Dreamland Restaurant are some of the popular restaurants in Leh.
Leh-Ladakh is a perfect destination for adventure junkies. Jeep Safari from Manali to Leh can give them an experience of a lifetime. Trekking in Ladakh can surely give you an adrenaline rush. Some of the most popular Treks in Ladakh are, Chadar Trek, Stok Kangri Trek, Snow Leopard Trek, etc. One can go for water rafting in swift flowing Indus and Zanskar rivers. One can also go for motor biking in various designated routes. Camping by the famous Pangong lake and watching the stars can make you forget all your problems and fill you with ethereal peace. Camel Safaris across the sand dunes around Hunder in Ladakh is a must try adventure sport. One must try their hands at Archery as it is the traditional sport of Ladakh, and another sport Polo is also highly popular.
Some of the popular markets in Leh are Tibetan Market and Moti Market. In Ladakh one can shop from Ladakh Art Palace, Women’s Alliance, Tibetan Handicraft Community Showroom, or from the Government emporiums. Some popular items to buy are woollen garments, pashmina shawls, handmade woolen sweaters, caps, socks,and also hand woven carpets and rugs.