Leh, the capital of Ladakh • India

Venture into the heart of the Himalayas with our short visual journey to Leh, Ladakh, India. Traverse the bustling streets of the modern city, gaze upon ancient religious structures, and wander through the storied alleys of the old town. With each chapter, delve into Leh's rich tapestry of history, from the grandeur of the Leh Palace to the sacred stupas dotting its landscape. This city, a confluence of lunar landscapes, vibrant Tibetan Buddhist culture, and a legacy of the Silk Road, unveils its mysteries and charms in less than 19 minutes. Don't miss this enlightening voyage!
00:00 • intro | 00:47 • in the streets of the modern city | 01:54 • some religious buildings | 05:00 • Leh Palace | 05:52 • in the alleys of the old town | 08:03 • some shops in the old town | 12:13 • some street vendors | 16:18 • Gompa Tsemo Maitreya

made with photos and videos taken during the trip Unknown India • Ladakh, Karnataka, Telangana,

Leh, Capital of Ladakh • India: A Historical and Geographical Gem Nestled in the Heart of the Himalayas

 

Located in the high-altitude Indus Valley, at an elevation exceeding 3,500 meters, Leh is the capital of Ladakh in India. This gem of a city combines lunar landscapes, a rich history, and a vibrant Tibetan Buddhist culture, making it a must-visit spot for travelers exploring the Himalayas.

 

A Unique Geographical Setting

 

Leh is set in an extraordinary geographical context. The towering Himalayan mountains that surround it, turquoise rivers, and harsh climate contribute to the raw beauty of this region. The sky is deep blue, contrasting with the snow-capped peaks that dominate the landscape. The scenery is scattered with stupas, Buddhist monuments reaching towards the sky, highlighting the sacred nature of this land.

 

Leh's History and Heritage

 

Leh has a rich history, marked by the passage of Silk Road traders, Mongolian invasions, and Tibetan cultural influences. Its architectural heritage is impressive, with palaces and monasteries dating back several centuries. The Leh Palace, dating from the 17th century, overlooks the city from its hilltop. Now converted into a museum, it bears witness to the grandeur of the former kingdom of Ladakh.

 

Life in the Alleys of Leh

 

The narrow, winding alleys of Leh are a veritable maze worth getting lost in. They are filled with small shops, street vendors, and fruit and vegetable stalls. An authentic atmosphere unfolds, far removed from India's bustling metropolises.

 

Street vendors offer a wide variety of products: handmade jewelry, locally woven fabrics, spices, souvenirs... Each shop is an invitation to discover, where every item tells a story. The vendors, often dressed in the traditional Goncha, are always ready to share a piece of their culture.

 

Fruit and vegetable vendors present a burst of color and flavor. Despite the harsh climate, the Leh region produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Stalls are filled with red apples, juicy cherries, leafy vegetables... It's a true celebration of Ladakhi land's richness.

 

Stupas, Symbols of Buddhist Spirituality

 

The landscape of Leh is dotted with stupas, these Buddhist monuments that symbolize enlightenment. Often whitewashed, they stand out against the mountain scenery. Each stupa houses sacred relics and is a place of prayer for the faithful. Their constant presence reminds of the importance of spirituality in the daily lives of Leh's inhabitants.

 

Conclusion

 

Leh, the capital of Ladakh in India, captivates with its natural beauty, rich historical heritage, and vibrant Buddhist culture. Whether wandering through its narrow alleys, visiting its stupas, or exploring local flavors at vendor stalls, every moment spent in Leh invites discovery and awe. An unmissable stop for any traveler seeking authenticity and a change of scenery in the heart of the Himalayas.

about the place, Leh:

Located more than 3500 meters above sea level, Leh, the former capital of Ladakh in India, is a charming city with a population of around 30,000. Its population is a fascinating mix of different ethnicities, mainly Tibetans, Ladakhi and North Indians. This diversity is reflected in the city's unique cultural ambience. Leh Royal Palace, an emblem of its rich past, offers breathtaking views of the city. Leh's bustling markets offer a wealth of local handicrafts, spices and traditional dishes. The city is subject to a high mountain climate with long and harsh winters, where temperatures can drop to -20°C, while summers, from June to September, are short and mild with maximum temperatures around 25°C. It is during this summer period that Leh reveals itself in all its splendor, welcoming many tourists.

 

a street in Leh, Leh, Ladakh • India

What's the weather like in Leh?

Spoken comments in the film: 

Formerly a stopover on one of the silk roads in the Indus Valley, at an altitude of 3500 meters, Leh was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Ladakh and is today a city with a rich cultural past. It is nonetheless a very small city on an Indian scale, with some 30,000 inhabitants, which does not prevent it from being the most important city in Ladakh, which became a Union Territory in 2019, whereas until then was part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Like all historic cities, Leh has a modern district with shopping streets where locals, but especially tourists, like to stroll.

 

In Leh, there are also many religious buildings. Since Ladakh is predominantly Buddhist, it is not surprising that there are many stupas (called "chorten" in the region) and a few Buddhist temples. The city also has several mosques as well as a Gurdwara. 

On the other hand, there are no Hindu temples, even if in recent years a large Indian military contingent has been based at the gates of the city. It is likely that the Hindu temples found in Leh are more discreet than those of other religions.

 

Wherever one is in Leh, the Old Royal Palace (known as Leh Palace, or "Lhachen Palkhar"), built in the early 17th century, and in ruins today, is ubiquitous. The location of this palace was not chosen at random. Its dominant position, perched on top of a steep hill, gave it a panoramic view of the city, which offered defensive advantages.

 

But the old town of Leh is not only made of narrow and deserted alleys. The city has kept the memory of the trade of yesteryear, when it was an important stop on the Silk Road.

 

During the harvest season, the farmers of the region come to offer their products in town. It is mostly women who sell their fruits and vegetables in the busy streets of the modern city, sitting on the sidewalk and telling each other the latest gossip between two customers.

 

On one of the hills surrounding Leh, near the old Royal Palace is a monastery dating from the same period as the palace, in the 15th century, the Gompa Tsemo Maitreya. In the Buddhist religion, we speak of Maitreya to designate the future Buddha. If Siddhartha Gautama is known as the current Buddha, Buddhism teaches that the world will know many Buddhas. Maitreya is therefore the Buddha "on standby" in the world of the gods, in case men forget the teaching of universal truth, called Dharma in Buddhism.

stupa in town, Leh • India • Ladakh

stupa in town

fruit seller, Leh • India • Ladakh

fruit seller

taylor shop in the old town, Leh • India • Ladakh

taylor shop in the old town

hardware store in the old town, Leh • India • Ladakh

hardware store in the old town

Lehm Ladakh • India

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