Leh India is one of the favorite tourist destinations located in the northernmost parts of the country. Lapped in the snow-covered fringes of the Himalayas, Leh India has been the center of Tibeto-Buddhist culture since 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 India.
The capital of the Ladakh district, Leh is towards the eastern parts of Jammu and Kashmir. It is perched at a height of 3,505 m above sea level. 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 0°C.
Leh India became the regional capital in the 17th century, when King Sengge Namgyal shifted his court here from Shey (15 km southeast) to be closer to the head of the Khardung La-Karakoram corridor into China. Very soon, the town blossomed into one of the busiest markets on the Silk Route. Leh's prosperity, managed mainly by the Sunni Muslim traders, came to an abrupt end with the closure of the Chinese border in the 1950s. Only after the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, when India rediscovered its strategic value, did Leh's fortunes begin to look up. Today, khaki-clad soldiers and their families from the nearby military and air force bases are the mainstay of the local economy in winter, when foreign visitors are few. It was in 1974 that Leh was opened up for tourists.
If you are interested in sightseeing and adventure activities like river rafting, the best time to visit Leh is during summers, that is, between the months of May to October. This is time when a number of festivals are held in the region, and the weather is salubrious with warm days and slightly chilly nights. You can enjoy sightseeing and attend monastery festivals. The monsoon is scarce. The winter months, November to April, make Leh a beauty covered entirely with snow, with snowy roads that cut it off from the rest of the country. The temperatures go below freezing. However, this duration is extremely popular amidst trekking enthusiasts who explore the place for its challenging winter treks.
A miniature version of the Potala in Lhasa, the Leh Palace is one of the major attractions here. The palace was built in the 17th century and is now dilapidated and deserted. It was the home of the royal family until they were exiled to Stok in the 1830s. Above the palace, at the top of the Namgyal hill, is the Victory Tower, built to commemorate Ladakh's victory over the Balti Kashmir armies in the early 16th century.
The most important festival is the 2 days Ladakh festival, which held during the 1st two weeks of September. It starts in Leh with a huge parade through the streets. The villagers turn up in traditional attire and sing folk songs, supported by an orchestra. The masked monks from selected monasteries perform dances which signify demolition of evil spirits. Then there is Hemis festival which takes place in June/July and lasts for 2 days. It held at the Hemis Gompa to commemorate the birth of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tantric Buddhism.
BY AIR - Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport or Leh airport is connected to important cities of India through regular flights. Leh has direct flights from Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu. While for Delhi, there are regular flights, flight for Srinagar is once a week and it is twice a week for Jammu and Kashmir. You can book flights to Leh, all round the year. From the airport, you can hire a taxi to go to your destination.
BY RAIL - Jammu Tawi railway station is the nearest railway station to Leh. State-run buses and private taxis/jeeps can be hired to reach Manali via Shimla. From here, regular taxi/ jeeps and bus services from Manali to Leh are available.
BY ROAD - Road journey to Leh is one of the most popular road journeys in India. Private taxis or jeeps or SUVs and frequent state-run buses are available for your road journey to Leh. For adventure seekers, the best way to reach Leh is on a motorcycle. From Manali or from Jammu and Kashmir, bus journey to Leh is exhilarating. If you start your road journey from New Delhi, you might take around 4 days to reach Leh. To arrive Leh, there are 2 popular routes, one is from Manali via Sarchu and Dharchu on the Manali-Leh Highway (night halt in Sarchu) and the second one is Srinagar via Kargil on the Srinagar-Leh Highway (night halt in Kargil). These two roads are only open between the months of June and October, when there are clear of the winter snow. Taxis and bus services, both are available.