India has always carried thousands of years of rich cultural and natural heritage, 86 national parks, 448 wildlife reserves, more than 2.4 million temples, mosques and churches, majestic forts and palaces, the Great Himalayas, vast coastline and many attractions including, one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal. Step into a world of splendid colors, wide-open spaces and exotic cultural treasures. We want to invite you to a dream vacation in India.
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Leh was the capital of Ladakh now the Leh district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh District, with an area of 45,110 km, is the second largest district in the country, after Kutch, Gujrat (in terms of area).
The town is still dominated by the now ruined Leh Palalce former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potola Palalce (the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until fled to Dharamshala). Leh is at an altitude of 3524 metres and connects via Natinal highway 1D to Srinagar in the southwest and to Manali in the south via Leh-Manali Highway.
Defintely the largest monastery in Ladakh, this is located 45 kms from Leh. It was built by the Red Hat sect of Buddhism and the walls are adorned with beautiful frescoes and the largest Thangka painting in the world depicting Guru Padmasambhava, which is over 12 m in length. It also houses a statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha made of precious stones. It is the site of the famous Hemis Festival, which is marked by lamas rejoicing by way of chaams or masked dances. The festival also includes a vibrant bazaar where craftsmen sell handcrafted items.
Located in the Main Bazaar area, this green and white mosque exhibits a striking combination of Turko-Iranian architecture and was built in the 17th-century. Note that women are not within.
Leh Palace is a former royal palace overlooking the Ladhakhi Himalayan town of Leh. Modelled on the Potola Pallace in Lhasa, Tibet, the palace was built by King Sengge Namgayal in the 17th century. It is nine storeys high; the upper floors accommodated the royal family, while the lower floors held stables and store rooms.
The palace was abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh in the mid 19th century, and the royal family moved to Stok Palace. The palace is open to the public and the roof provides panoramic views of Leh and the surrounding areas.
The Palace Museum holds a rich collection of jewellery, ornaments, ceremonial dresses and crowns. Chinese thangka or sooth paintings which are more than 450 years old, with intricate designs, retain bright and pleasing colours derived from crushed and powdered gems and stones.
Constructed in 1430, this gompa has a rich collection of Buddhist art, ancient manuscripts, painted scrolls and wall paintings. Its special feature is the gilded image of Buddha, almost 3-storyes high. A little ahead of the monastery is a fort that allows you panoramic views of the Leh town.
A new addition to the landscape, the Shanti Stupa is a pristine white structure built by the Japanese Buddhist organization to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism. It was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1985. You can walk up to it by a flight of stairs or take a 3km drive from the Fort Road.
Thikse Gompa or Thikse Monastery is a Tibetan Budhist monastery of the Yellow Hat Gelugpa sect, located on top of a hill, approximately 19 kilometres east of Leh. It is noted for its resemblance to the potola Palalce in Tibet and is the largest gompa in central Ladakh.
The monastery is located at an altitude of 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) in the Indus valley. It is a 12-storey complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. One of the main points of interest is the Maitreya (future Buddha) Temple which is installed to commemorate the visit of the 14 Dalai Lama to this monastery in 1970. A 15 metres (49 ft) high statue of Maitreya, the largest such statue in Ladakh, covering two storeys of the building is deified in the monastery. A nunnery is also part of the complex.
One of the coldest inhabited places, Zanskar is best explored on a vehicle, since only a handful of monasteries can be accessed from the single road. Padum was once the capital of Zanskarand today is the headquarters of the Zanskar region. This small township is located on the side of a hillock and has ruins of the erstwhile palace and fort. Ancient rock carvings can also be seen at the river bank. Karsha, is the largest and opulent of all monasteries here. Housing a rich collection of Himalayan art, its highlights include 500-year old frescoes and the chamber where teaching is conducted. Stongdey Monastery is home to the Gon Khang or the temple of guardian deities. At Burdan, you can view the assembly hall of the monastery that houses idols and stupas created in clay, bronze, copper and wood. Phugtal and Zongkhul are two rare caves, with the former housing a few temples. In addition, the Zanskar Lake offers good avenues for river rafting.