The capital of the historic Kingdom of Ladakh, Leh is located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and is also the second largest district in India after Kutch in the state of Gujarat. Since ancient times, Leh was an important stoppage for traders who came from the Indus Valley and Tibet. The region came under the rule of several kingdoms and dynasties over the course of history and is known for its distinctive Tibetan-Muslim culture.
The town of Leh is located at an average elevation of 3,500 meters above sea level and is also referred to as a high elevation desert due to its lack of vegetation. Due to its close proximity to the high mountain passes of the Himalayas is an important stopover for most adventure motorcyclists. Unlike the other tourist hill stations in India, Leh is a haven for bikers who like to travel the high altitude mountain passes.
Despite of its high elevation, Leh is almost entirely comprised of a barren land with only a few agricultural districts. At 3,500 meters above sea level, Leh enjoys a highland desert climate will relatively less rainfall. The winter months from October to March are harsh and dry with occasional snowfall. Surprisingly the summer temperature is relatively warm and pleasant with temperatures never exceeding 25 degrees Celsius. Due to the high elevation visitors might be susceptible to altitude sickness and need to beware if they are not used to highland climates.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Leh is during the summer months between March and mid-October when the temperatures range between 25 degrees to 3 degrees Celsius. Winters in Leh are harsh and the terrain is prone to landslides and avalanches which can block the roads.
Attractions/Things To Do
Located in the Indus Valley, Leh is placed right between the confluence of the ancient trade routes from Tibet, Kashgar and Kashmir and is known for its high mountains and mountain passes. While it is a small town that can be covered solely on foot, it also houses several historical, cultural and natural attractions that can be visited by tourists and trekkers. It is also a haven for the adventure seekers due to the possibility of trekking, rafting, camping and hiking.
Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Hemis Monastery, Hemis National Park, Chamba Temple, Stok Palace, Zorawar Fort, Pangong Lake, Sand Dunes Nubra, Tsomoriri Lake, Khardongla, Siachin Glacier and Sankar Gompa etc. are the various attractions that must be visited in Leh.
How to Reach
The only way to reach Leh is by road though the winding and time consuming mountain passes from Manali and Srinagar. It the journey to Leh that is considered the greatest adventure in the hill town and attracts thousands of bikers who ride the high altitude mountain passes to reach Leh. Government buses are available from Srinagar and private taxis or jeeps can be availed from Manali. The nearest domestic airports are located in Srinagar and Jammu which are connected via daily flights from Delhi. When biking from Manali to Leh it is advised to ride slow in order to avoid altitude sickness.
Distance from Major Cities
1. Manali to Leh – 475 Kilometers
2. Srinagar to Leh – 416 Kilometers
3. Pahalgam to Leh – 499 Kilometers
4. Shimla to Leh – 725 Kilometers
5. Chandigarh to Leh – 1,003 Kilometers
6. Dehradun to Leh – 1,172 kilometers
7. Delhi to Leh – 1,251 Kilometers
8. Jaipur to Leh – 1,463 Kilometers
9. Lucknow to Leh – 1,681 Kilometers
10. Ahmedabad to Leh – 2,129 Kilometers
11. Mumbai to Leh – 2,600 Kilometers
12. Kolkata to Leh – 2,705 Kilometers
13. Hyderabad to Leh – 2,775 Kilometers
14. Bangalore to Leh – 3,365 Kilometers
15. Chennai to Leh – 3,403 Kilometers
Accommodation and Accessibility
Being a relatively less developed tourist destination finding luxury accommodation in Leh can be a bit hard. However, Leh has plenty of cheap and Mid-ranged accommodation that suit most types of tourist budgets. One can also arrange stay within the local’s houses. Staying in a local house not only allows experiencing the diverse culture and customs of Leh, but can also provide you with some decent suggestions to cope with the harsh environment. The crime rate in Leh is almost negligible but one must beware of tourist touts. Being a small town, places around Leh can be easily covered on foot. One can also hire the dual-humped Bactrian camels to get around places like the Indus Valley and Pangong Lake.