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Art And Culture, Religious Site, Landmark, Architecture

Famous for it’s architecture and location, and also as the location for the Satrangi Re music video from the critically acclaimed movie, Dil Se, the Thiksey Monastery in the Indus valley is renowned for being the largest among all of the gomphas located in the provinces of Ladakh and Leh. Managed by the Gelighpa sect, it’s extensive architecture is said to imitate the style of the Palace of Potala in Tibet.

Thiksey Monastery

Mountain, Trail, River, Valley

150 kilometres north of Leh, where the Shyok and Siachan rivers meet, in between of Leh and the Karakoram range and the Siachen Glacier, lies Nubra Valley. Made famous by traders and travellers of the Silk Route, the valley is popular for the huge mountain faces, the many trails, the briskly flowing water of the rivers, bactrian camels and Diskit Gompas. Some of the most famous bits of the valley are the Khardungla Pass (the highest pass in the world), the Zimskang Museum, the Samstemling Gompa, the Tsolding Buddha Park, the huge Statue of Chamba, the Panamik Hot Springs, Hunder Gompa and Hunder Fort. The people of the valley speak Ladakhi, Balti, and some Hindi and broken English

Nubra Valley

Art And Culture, Religious Site, Architecture

Twilight is divine from this elevated spot, three miles from Leh. Whether sunrise or sunset, the changing light brings mystic beauty to the panorama of mountains surrounding the Stupa. The striking structure owes its remarkability to both; it’s isolation and its design. It was designed by a Japanese, and thus is greatly different from the orthodox Ladakhi structures

Shanti Stupa

Museum, Military Museum

Right outside the Air Force Base, this two-floor museum explores various themes related to Indian army’s role and presence in Ladakh. Most of it focuses on India-Pakistan conflicts in the 20th century. There are artefacts from the wars, a short film about the Kargil War, the role the army has played in various relief missions, an exhibit on extreme cold military wear, a commemorative wall to the fallen, weapons seized from Pakistan, and most famously, a letter sent by a father to his son before his death.

Hall Of Fame

Palace, Architecture

A lonely, proud structure, the Leh Palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal of Tibet in the 17th century. Once, it was the world’s highest building; now it’s in abandoned disrepair. It’s nine floors, once exotically furnished and decorated are now a dark maze that you must navigate to reach the top. The upper stories were used as the residence for the royal families and were exceptionally adorned with ornamented models, show pieces, and room accessories. The storerooms and other sections constituted the lower stories, yet also extravagantly adorned with patterns of coloured stones and marble and handmade craftworks. Once at the roof, the village of Leh lays spread below you, surrounded by towering white peaks; the Mount of the Stok Kangri and the Zangskar range. Also check out the palace museum, which exhibits large collections of royal jewelry and golden ornaments used over the centuries.

Leh Palace

Waterfront, Lake, Nature

The Pangong Lake is an exquisite and worldwide famous closed drainage lake spread across a vast area in the Himalayas. The major portion of the lake falls in the territory of Tibet. The lake has been categorized under the protocol of the Ramsar Convention as a great wetland reserve with a recognized global importance. Consequently, the lake has attained the status of the inaugural international wetland in South Asia

Pangong Lake

Religious Site, Monastery

A hundred and thirty kilometres from Leh, the thousand-year-old Lamayuru Monastery is a famous traditional Tibetan Gompha following Buddhism, and is situated at an altitude of 3500 meters. The land surrounding the monastery is famously known as The Moonscape, as it strikingly resembles lunar landscapes. The monastery is regarded as the first ever monastery following the customary traditions of the Bonpo along with Buddhism. The monastery was allegedly founded by an ancient Indian scholar Mahasiddhacarya Naropa when the lake here dried up. The dried up bed of the lake is the foundation of the entire spread of the monastery

Lamayuru Monastery

Religious Site, Monastery , Festival

This affluent monastery, the largest in Ladakh, has been around for almost a thousand years, and is only an hour away from Leh by road. It would at times fall into disuse, but King Sengge Namgyain restored it completely in the seventeenth century. The Bropka sects, who are thought to be some of the purest descendants of the original Indo-European stock, manage it. The monastery is particularly famous for it’s annual two day Hemis Festival, celebrated in the honor of the Padmasambhav, or the “Second Buddha”.

During the festival, traditional songs and music are played using the pan drums, large regional trumpets and cymbals, and to this music, a highly esoteric “dance of masks” is performed. The monastery is also infamous; it’s suspected that this was a place Christ visited during his missing years, and there is much speculation that scrolls related to Christ, written in commemoration after the crucifixion, are kept here in secrecy

Hemis Monastery

Religious Site, Gurudwara

25 miles west of Leh is a 16th century Gurudwara built to commemorate the visit of Sikh saint and founder of the Sikh religion Guru Nakak to Ladakh. Legend says a demon attacked the saint here with a rock while he was meditating, and upon contact, the rock melted, forming a depression in the shape of the meditating mystic. The rock was discovered by lamas in 1970 during the construction of the Leh-Nimu highway. Now maintained by the Army, the Gurudwara is a quick but popular stop. All that you have to see here is the stone

Gurudwara Pathar Sahib

Religious Site, Monastery

The Dishkit is more famously known as the Dishkit Gompa or monastery, precisely situated in the Nubra valley of Leh. The sect of the Gelugpa is followed in the Tibetan monastery under the religion of Tibetan Buddhism. The founder of Dishkit was Changzem Tserab Zangpo, who was a follower of the founder of Gelugpa sect- Tsong Khapa. The interior of the monastery features the idol of the Maitreya Buddha placed in the central prayer hall. The adjoining images surrounding the statue of the Buddha feature several guardian gods and goddesses. The cupola is raised upon a platform and it is adorned with an exquisite fresco of the heritage Tibetan monastery of Tashilhunpo

Diskit

Mountain, View Point, Nature

The Khardung La is a famous mountain pass at the junction of the valleys of the Shyok and Nubra. At a height of more than 5300 meters, the Khardung La is one of the highest pass capable of motorized transport for recreational and prioritized functions. The pass is regarded as a heritage also because of the historical caravan route connecting Leh with the province of Kashgar of the Central Asia. Native businessmen have relied on it for centuries, travelling on camels and horses.

Khardung La

Outdoors, River

About 5 kilometres south of Nimmoo Village is the point of confluence of the waters of two differently colored rivers – Indus and Zanskar. The waters of Zanskar are tinged blue; the Indus, green. The point is a four-hour drive by jeep from Leh. If you’re here in the summer (recommended), Zanskar will be flowing swiftly and the Indus, slowly. It’s the opposite in winter. There is not much else to see or do here. However, this is one of the most picturesque locations in Leh, not to be missed. You can also trek till here if you are an adventure enthusiast.

Zanskar River

Religious Site, Monument, Monastery

Buddhist leader Guru Rinchen Zangpo built the monastery in the 11th century, but the monuments record Tibetan Kal-dan Shes-rab doing so in the 12th. This is not any one building but a complex of structures, of which the main ones are:

The Dukhang (Assembly and worship hall): See the frescoes of 1000 buddhas in the main passage, the paintings of Buddhas and other divinities, and the various mandalas.
The Sumtseg (Sum-tsek): A three story stone building of uncertain purpose, with deities depicted on textiles.
Manjushri Lha-Khang: 13th century temple in need of some renovations. It has nice religious carvings and paintings on the wooden doors and ceilin.
Lotsawa Lha-Khang: Small shrine to Rinchen Zangpo, the Translator of Buddhist scripts, with frescoes of Shakyamuni on the walls.
Also in the complex are the chortens with the preserved relics of monks and nuns inside. The drive to the complex is lovely, especially as the Alchi village has comparatively more greenery when compared to other places in Ladakh.

Alchi Monastery

Waterfront, Lake, Valley, Nature

The breathtaking Rushpu Valley cradles the wintery oasis that is Tsomoriri Saltwater Lake. Though the trip from Leh is long and arduous, the sheer majesty of the Ladakh landscape will keep you invested in the ride. Following the river, you’ll know you’re close when the water suddenly widens, delivering you into a green and clue paradise. High peaks loom over the cold, marshy wetlands leading to the lake, feeding it with melting ice, creating the largest among the Ladakhian high lakes. The grass here is bright green, the water is sky blue

Tsomoriri

Museum, Palace, Specialty Museum

Home to the erstwhile Royal Family of Ladakh, the structure has been extensively renovated and extended to suit its new function as a museum of royal history. Artefacts crowns, photos, coins, official articles and jewelry are exhibited. Thankas (Buddhist paintings on silk), representing the teachings and ideologies of Buddha, are also displayed. The palace boasts exquisite gardens within the premises, and an excellent restaurant that faces Leh, offering a lovely dining view. The ginger tea and the bread pakodas at the restaurant come highly recommended

Stok Palace Museum

Religious Site, Monastery

This most well preserved monastery in Likir village was built in 1065 by Lama Duwang Chosje, under the rule of King Lha-chen-rgyal-po. It is said that the monastery is guarded by two serpent spirits: Nanda and Taksako. It is currently home to about 120 monks of the Gelugpa or Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is the official seat of Ngari Rinpoche, the younger brother of the Dalai Lama. There are two main assembly halls with statues of various incarnations of the Buddha. Look out for an incredible collection of statues of precious metals, lovely murals, and other artworks. The monastery also has a library where ancient manuscripts are stored. But the most famous sight here is probably the 75 feet statue of Buddha

Likir Monastery

Outdoors, Mountain, Scenic Drive, Nature

At 5,328 metres, this is one of the highest motorable mountain passes in the world. The drive is very scenic and at odd spots there are various sights of interest. Herdsmen can be seen shepherding along goats; Sarchu and Upshi are two nearby settlements; and there should be an easily spotted small temple on the road. The highest point of the pass is about 111 kilometres from Leh. For bikers, this is one of those dream roads to bike through and feel the wind. This pass is also beautifully characterized by hundreds of Buddhist prayer flag

Taglang La

Hill, Nature

Gravity Hills are a phenomenon in which the shape of the landscape, the light of the day and certain failings in human perception make it seem like what goes up is actually going down. Unwary people coming across this hill often find themselves coming to a stop in complete bewilderment as they slow down for what they think is a downhill ride, or see their parked car rolling uphill on its own. This location is about 30 kilometres from Leh on the road to Kargil. Listen to the locals and you will get to listen their stories that once upon a time here used to be a pathway that led straight to heaven

Magnetic Hill

Religious Site, Historical Site, Statue, Monastery

Founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od, in the 11th century, this monastery is the home of the Tsonkhapa order of Tibetan Buddhism. It is famous for the giant statue it has of the Goddess Kali. The structure rises on a hill overlooking the Indus river, making for some great views. Getting around the complex involves climbing between terraced landings. Make sure to visit the Mahakaal Temple. The main hall has sculptures, chortens, and masks of deities. It also has a statue that purportedly contains the remains of Tsongkhapa’s nose-bleed. The Gustor Festival is held at the monastery from the 27th to 29th day of the 11th month of the Tibetan Calendar

Spituk Monastery

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