Leh Palace Ladakh- Everything you should know
Counted among the most famed tourist attractions in the entirety of Ladakh region, Leh Palace is a royal palace located in its capital town, Leh. The palace holds a matchless aura within its that is enough to please the visitors. Constructed in the 17th Century, the foundation of this palace was laid down by the founder of the Namgyal Dynasty, Tsewang Namgyal, but it was Sengge Namgyal who completed its construction.
The palace was constructed to serve as the residence of the royal family but was later on invaded and captured by Zorawar Singh Kahluria. Despite having stood as a witness to the decades of unrest and wars, the palace somehow managed to retain its splendour which still amuses everyone.
The Leh palace complex constitutes nine storeys, all of which had different purposes to serve back in the days of glory. The architecture of the palace is inspired from Potala Palace of Lhasa, making it a fine example of the medieval Tibetan architecture. The building looks all the more imposing when seen from a distance at night. You can enjoy panoramic views of the bustling town below and Stok Kangri mountains laid down in all their majesty.
Another treat that the palace holds for history lovers is the museum that stores a great collection of artefacts shedding light on the cultural history of the region. The 450-year-old paintings, crown and jewellery are on display here. Although photography is not allowed inside the palace, capturing the remnants of the past in your eyes is equally mesmerizing.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit Leh Palace is during the summer season. The months of May and June offer the views of a vivid landscape under the clear sky. Besides, the post-monsoon months of September and October are also considered a good time to pay this grand palace a visit.
Visiting Hours (Opening & Closing hours): Leh palace is open to visitors between 7 am and 4 pm every day.
Entry Fee: The entry fee for Indian tourists is set at INR 15 per person. For foreigners, an entry fee of INR 100 per person is charged.
Altitude: Leh Palace is located at an altitude of 17582 feet.
Distance Between Leh and Leh Palace: Leh palace is located at a distance of 2.2 km from Leh City Centre
How to reach from Leh Airport: Leh Palace lies at a distance of 4.5 km from Leh Airport and can be easily reached by road. You can hire a taxi to reach Leh Palace from the airport.
Also, check how to reach Ladakh.
History of Leh Palace
Leh Palace, a rare gem in the magical realm of Ladakh, has a very interesting history which is gloomy for most parts. The founder of the Namgyal Dynasty, Tsewang Namgyal was the person who laid down the foundation for the construction of the palace in 1553. But the construction of the palace was later on resumed and completed in the 17th Century when Ladakh was under the rule of Sengge Namgyal.
The large, nine-storeyed complex was built to be inhabited by the royal family. While the upper floors were reserved for the royal family, the lower floors of the palace were used as stable and storerooms. Until the 19th Century, the palace witnessed times of prosperity and glory under the reign of the Namgyal Dynasty. However, in the mid 19th Century, the region was invaded by Dogra forces and the palace was captured by the forces, forcing the royal family to flee.
The royal family was shifted to Stok Palace. The palace remained in the hands of General Zorawar Singh and the force of the Dogra Dynasty for some time. But a different fate awaited the palace now.
As the forces kept conquering the farther regions of Tibet and Baltistan, the palace was once again abandoned by its residents with nobody to claim it. That is the reason why Leh Palace is also known as the forgotten monument.
Architecture of Leh Palace
Leh Palace was built with Potala Palace of Lhasa as the model structure for its design. The palace is constructed in the medieval Tibetan architecture and is one of the top-most specimens of the architecture in India. There is something about the architecture of Leh Palace that makes it appear modest and grand at the same time.
Unlike many other palaces around the country, the palace is not typically ornamented with a lot of glasswork and colourful patterns but has it grandeur hidden in its simplicity. It was built to serve as the residence of the royal family, so it is natural to bear a touch of regalness in its character. The structure of the palace is as majestic as it could be.
When Leh Palace was constructed, it was the tallest building in the world. The palace complex has nine storeys that make it look imposing when seen from below. Since the upper storeys were occupied by the royal family, these parts of the complex are noteworthy.
While the lower storeys were reserved as stable and storerooms. If you want to witness the palace in all its majesty, look at its structure from afar after the sunset as its façade is illuminated with golden lights.
Get a cycling tour from Manali to Leh to explore even the small attractions of Leh.
Other Essential Info about Leh Palace
1) Mobile Connectivity: Mobile connectivity is not an issue at Leh Palace as it is located in the capital town of Ladakh. However, it is to be kept in mind that prepaid sims issued in other states do not work in Jammu & Kashmir. So, you can only get mobile connectivity if you either have a postpaid sim or a prepaid sim issued in Jammu & Kashmir.
2) Medical Facilities: There are no medical facilities at Leh Palace. But, since the palace is located at a short distance of 2.4 km from Leh city centre, you are not away from medical facilities while you are here. There are options in the town including well-equipped SNM Hospital.
3) ATM’s: Since Leh Palace is situated in the town of Leh, there are a number of ATMs located in proximity to it in the main town. Hence, cash shortage won’t be a problem in your tour to Leh Ladakh.
4) Petrol Pumps: Yes, there is a petrol pump in Leh Town. The second closest petrol pump is in Karu, at a distance of 35 km from the town. So, if you are on Leh-ladakh road trip, fuel is not an issue.
5) Food Joints: You can find good food joints in Leh main market area. Since Leh is the capital town, it has a bustling market with plenty of options to satisfy your hunger.
6) Minimum Duration for Visiting Leh Palace: Since photography is not allowed inside the palace complex, You will not have a lot to do other than admiring the craftsmanship and checking out the impressive museum. So, a duration of 1 to 2 hours would suffice.