Leh Palace Ladakh- Everything you should know
Counted among the most famed tourist attractions in the entirety of Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir, 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.
Note: One can explore the beauty of Leh on the bike trip as well. You can plan Manali to Leh bike trip which is one of the most famous road trips to Leh.
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.
Note: There are some trips which are mostly selected by tourists such as Delhi to Leh trip, Manali to Leh, Srinagar to Leh etc.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) When was it built?
The foundation of the palace was laid in the 16th Century. However, the construction was completed in the 17th Century.
2) Who built it?
The construction of Leh Palace was ordered by Tsewang Namgyal but it was Sengge Namgyal who completed the construction in the 17th century.
3) Who was the Architect?
The name of the architect of Leh Palace is not known. The design of the palace is hugely inspired by Potala Palace of Lhasa and is constructed in Medieval Tibetan Architecture. The majestic palace is loved by tourists for its brilliant architecture.
4) What are the visiting hours?
The visiting hours for Leh Palace are 7 am to 4 pm.
5) How many days in the week the visitors are allowed to visit the Palace?
Leh Palace is open during all days of the week, you can plan your Ladakh tour whenever you want.
6) What are the other places I can visit around the Palace?
There are few remarkable tourist attractions in Leh which can be easily reached as they are well-connected by road. Some of the major places that you can visit near Leh Palace are Shanti Stupa which is a hilltop Buddhist stupa with impressive architecture; Thiksey Monastery which is one of the most revered monasteries in Ladakh; General Zorawar Fort; and Hall of Fame Museum which is an army or war museum dedicated to the brave soldiers of India and is maintained by Indian Army; Pangong Tso Lake, which is also one of the most famous place of Leh. Besides, Leh Market is another must visit a place that can be visited during your visit to Leh palace.
7) Where it is located?
The magnificent palace of Leh sits on the top of Tsome Hill, overlooking the charming town laid down below it. One can enjoy the views of Stok Kangri from the terrace of the palace.
8) Is photography allowed inside the palace?
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside Leh Palace. You can only take pictures of the fort from the outside. However, if you have written permission from the ASI, you can click photographs inside the palace.
9) Is there any entry fee?
Yes, you have to pay a minimal entry fee to explore Leh Palace. 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.
Note: If you wish to stay in Leh, there are various hotels to stay in Leh.
10) Why is Leh Palace also known as the forgotten monument?
The name of Leh Palace as the Forgotten Monument is owed to its fate. After its construction, the palace initially served as the residence of the royal family. However, in the 19th Century, due to the invasion by Dogra forces, the residents had to flee and shift to Stok Palace. The palace was captured by the forces of Zorawar Singh and was inhabited by them. And as Zorawar Singh and his forces kept conquering the farther regions like Baltistan, the palace was abandoned and never got any permanent residents back. Over the period, the palace lost its glory and was forgotten. However, this place cannot be forgotten by any of the visitors once they visit Leh Palace.