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Hi Everybody 🙂

Welcome to the fourth and the final part of my “Heaven on Earth: Ladakh” series!

If you’re new here, you can read my earlier posts on Ladakh by clicking on the below links:

Heaven on Earth: Ladakh (Part I – Pangong Tso)

Heaven on Earth: Ladakh (Part II – Tso Moriri)

Heaven on Earth: Ladakh (Part III – Beautiful Nubra Valley)

Today’s post is on Leh, the capital of Ladakh district in the northernmost Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.

Leh, Ladakh

Located in a spectacular valley 11562 feet above sea level, Leh is connected through roads from Srinagar and Manali. Its small airport, built for the Indian Army, welcomes hundreds of domestic as well as international tourists each day in the peak season from May to August.  Tourism is the main industry and hence modern conveniences including ATMs are easily available during the tourist season from April to September. Winters are very extreme with temperatures dropping below -20 degree Celsius and the entire region gets covered in a thick blanket of snow, cutting it off from the outside world.

Leh was an important stopover on trade routes along the Indus Valley between Tibet to the east, Kashmir to the west and also between India and China for centuries. Now it’s a bustling little town with narrow lanes winding up and down the hill and mud-brick homes built around many rivulets.

The people are warm and friendly. “Juley” (welcome, in Ladakhi language) is the first word they use to greet the tourists

Just as the high altitude and thin atmosphere terrain of Ladakh makes its star-lit sky an astronomer’s delight, the untouched beauty and the rare landscape of this region makes it a photographer’s paradise.

I had a tough time selecting just a few photos from out of all the beautiful ones I had taken. Check them out…

The breathtakingly beautiful landscape while travelling from Manali to Leh through the spectacular Rohtang Pass…

1 To Leh through the Rohtang Pass

3 To Leh, Ladakh

4 To Leh, Ladakh

Shades of brown mountains with gashes of white snow merge with the clear blue sky…

2 To Leh, Ladakh

The light and shade caused by passing clouds plays magic on the hills…

24 To Leh, Ladakh

Clustered clouds, barren mountains of different hues and colours with gashes of white snow and green fields in between…

5 Leh, Ladakh

Ladakh is full of ancient gompas or monasteries. From architectural splendour to dimly lit prayer halls, each monastery has its own attraction. Almost all the monasteries are situated on hill tops. Due to the lack of oxygen, one has to take slow small steps and drink plenty of water.

6 Gompas or monasteries in Leh, Ladakh

That’s me with the mighty Indus (also called Sindhu) River…

7 Indus River in Leh, Ladakh

The water gets frozen in winter and one can walk across the river bed to the other side in those months.

The Sangam or confluence of the two mighty rivers – Indus and Zanskar…

8 Confluence of Indus & Zanskar Rivers in Leh, LadakhBoth the rivers quietly meet and mix at the junction point only to become more rapid and gushing fast further down along the road.

Rafting on the rapid waters…

9 Rafting in Leh, Ladakh

Magnetic Hill… a gravity defying phenomenon! Switch off the car engine and in neutral gear, the vehicle with full load will get pulled up along a small slope uphill!

10 Magnetic Hill in Leh, Ladakh

Shanti Stupa at dusk…

11 Shanti Stupa at dusk

It was built by Japanese Buddhists to promote world peace, and contains relics of the Buddha that were enshrined by the Dalai Lama. It can be accessed by car, or by climbing more than 400 steep steps.

Shanti Stupa in Leh, Ladakh

That’s me enjoying a panoramic view of the entire town and its surrounding areas from Shanti Stupa…

13 Swarupa at Shanti Stupa in Leh, Ladakh

The Leh Palace towering over the marketplace…

14 Leh Palace in Ladakh

Leh Palace, mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, was built by the Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal between 1631 and 1642. The Palace was abandoned when Kashmiri forces besieged it in the mid-19th century. The royal family moved their premises south to their current home in Stok Palace on the southern bank of the Indus River.

Shey Palace…

22 Shey Palace in Leh, Ladakh

Located 15 km from Leh, this was the ancient seat of the Ladakhi kings.

Hall of Fame, the Indian Army museum…

15 Hall of Fame in Leh, Ladakh

It is dedicated to the heroic deeds of its soldiers starting from the invasion of Jammu & Kashmir in 1947-48 to the Kargil war of 1999. The display includes photos and documents, seized Pakistani weapons and ammunitions.

Hemis Monastery…

16 Hemis, Ladakh

This monastery is of very ancient origin (much beyond the 11th century) but it was re-established and expanded by the Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal in the late 17th century.

17 Hemis Museum, Ladakh

Hemis escaped ransacking at the hands of invading Turks and Afghans mainly because of its secluded location.

18 Hemis, Ladakh

Its sprawling complex, hidden amongst the sharp turns of the valley, gave it a natural protection that allowed it to retain its treasures, making it the richest monastery in Ladakh.

Thiksey Monastery constructed in the mid-15th century…

19 Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh

 

20 Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh

 

The two-storeyed 15m statue of the Maitreya Buddha (future Buddha) installed to commemorate a visit by the Dalai Lama in 1970…

21 Maitreya Buddha statue at the Thiksey Museum in Ladakh

Now the last photo in the post…so it’s got to be awesome, right? Here it is…

A beautiful view from the Spituk monastery…

23 Spituk monastery in Ladakh

 

Visiting Ladakh is a very exhilarating experience. You feel you have come closer to God and nature. Ladakh means “the land of passes” but it has other names too – “the land of Buddha”, “Roof of the World” and …Heaven on Earth!

Thanks so much for being with me on my series on Ladakh! I’ll be back soon with another series on my travels in India…so do keep visiting for my forthcoming posts on “Travelling through the North East of India”!

See you soon…till then, take care 🙂

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