Leh is set amongst dramatic surroundings: in a fertile side valley of the Indus River and rigned by high mountains of the Stok and Ladakh range in the East & West. Leh has a character unique to itself; old world charm at its best – friendly, hospitable yet mindful of its dignity and culture.
Day 4 : Reaching Leh
After descending the gorge for several miles, we last opened out the broad valley of Indus, up which our road was to lie for the rest of the journey to Leh, and we saw for the first time that mighty river, even here of considerable volume, swollen and discoloured with melting snows of regions of Tibet.
Here two spurs of the mountain range to the north of the Indus open out, leaving a great sand plain between them. At the head of this plain, about five miles from the Indus and at the point where the hills approach again to form a narrow valley, stands the city of Leh, surrounded by cultivated fields, groves of lofty poplars and other trees.
We reached Leh late evening around 3. 30pm and checked into Oriental Guest House, This is a highly recommended place to stay in Leh – the owner/family, Phunchok/Dawa Tsering, being an extremely hospitable host with a wealth of information on the region. We stayed at this place for 4 days (it was our base while we visited the nearby Khardungla Pass and Chan La). My friend Phunchok also organised permits for all the destinations we planned to visit.
Day 5 : Leh’d Around
Spent the day planning our itinerary and pottering around Leh. We also took our Car to Maruti Authorised Service Centre in Leh, asked them to check everything silencer etc etc.. Aaha!! Nothing serious jus 2 dents (we got one a Zozi La and another one at Hanniskoti), then shopped a bit and generally relaxed. We went up to the Shanti Stupa from where the view of Leh and the mountains was simply stupendous.
Yes, you heard it right, On our way to Shanti Stupa, we noticed this small board and got curious to see what it is all about
We decided to follow my curiosity, but it only led us to a series of more signs till I nearly out of town. We were beginning to wonder if someone was making us fool (read Donkey).. but no there we were at a real “Donkey Sanctuary” and primarily providing shelter, food to those who are not capable of any work, due to old age or disabilities, and have been abandoned by their owners.
Anyway we moved back to main street and as planned paid a visit to Famous Leh Palace, built by King Singe Namgyal in 17th Century. The Palace is nine storeys high. The upper floors accommodated the royal family, while the stables and store rooms were located in the lower floors. We also saw “World’s Highest Polo Ground” clearly visible from the Leh Palace.
Above the Palace, on the top of the Namgyal Tsemo Hill, stands the ancient Leh Fort built in early sixteenth century.
Shey Palace & Gompa
Gompa is the term in Ladakhi for “Temple” and there are countless Gompas around (or in little distance) from Leh. So we decided to visit “Shey” Palace and Gompa on this day. These Gompas belong to different sects of Tibetan Buddhism. Located on the road, 15km from Leh , Shey was our pick of the day. This was built in 1655 and above it there is even older and ruined fortress.
There was 12m high Budhha statue in the Gompa, made of copper glided with gold and was the largest of its kind in Ladakh.
There were exquisite fresco all around the wall but getting damaged by water
And for perfect end we paid a short visit to Thiskey Gompa..