Numerous Buddhist monuments, monasteries and study centers s Leh, the land of lamas (Buddhist monks), serves as the capital of the snow desert Ladakh. The city is picturesquely nestled by the Karakoram and the Himalayan ranges. Leh valley is that it draws tourists from all over the world to the amazing scenery alongside the Indus river. The city, at 3505 m from sea level, is dotted with a number of ancient Buddhist monuments, which still retain the age old Buddhist traditions and practices.
Apart from the fascinating Himalayan landscapes, Leh is visited for various monuments and culturally rich sites. Shanti Stupa is the prominent one. It holds a major importance for the Buddhists regarding their age old ritual practices and traditions. It also offers a bird's eye view of the entire valley. Few other attractions at Leh are:
- Stok Gompa (built in 14th century, a subsidiary of Spituk Gompa; displays masks, frescoes, paintings, 108 volumes of Buddha's teachings and other antique Buddhist articles)
- Sankar Gompa (has paintings and murals of the guardian god of the Four Quarters of Heaven, the wheel of Life, the Old Man of Longevity, Sakyamuni Buddha with his 16 sages and the 35 benevolent Buddhas)
- Leh Palace (built in 17th century; houses the office of the Archeological Conservation of the Indian government)
- Shey Monastery (12 m Sakyamuni Buddha statue made of gold-plated copper; also has a small library and a collection of tangkhas)
- Thiksey Monastery (best place around Leh to see a puja; exhibits excellent art works and provides a panoramic view with the Zanskar range in the backdrop)
- Hemis Monastery (most important Gompa in terms of spiritual hierarchy; hosts the Hemis Festival s characterized by masked dance)
Khardung Pass (highest mountain pass in Ladakh), Pangong Tso (largest brackish lake in Asia), Tso Morari (mountain lake), etc. are some of the places that are located at a close proximity to Leh and are highly frequented by the tourists.
Take a trip to the market lanes of Leh. Here you will find various winter woolen clothes and decorated world famous carpets. For women, the pearls, turquoise, coral, malachite, lapis lazuli and many other kinds of semi-precious stones and jewellery is the best buy in Leh. Apart from that, curiously carved yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls, etc. are also available at reasonable prices. The best time to be there is between the months of June and September.