Leh is a beautiful Himalayan destination in Ladakh, North India. Its a dream destination of almost every biker. Leh is the second largest district in the country. Its elevation is approximately 3555 meters (11,490 feet). Leh is a small town, easy to get most places by foot. The old town is a compact area of mud brick houses and narrow lanes directly to the east of Main Bazar. Changspa is the agricultural "suburb" northwest of the center, with many guesthouses. Leh is in the abode of the rocky paradise of Ladakh. Ladakh is one of the fascinating spots on the face of the earth and the beauty of the region is unbelievingly marvelous. Leh is a treasure of rich culture and natural resources as well as a heaven for adventure enthusiasts.
This land is barren yet colorful mountains, the great ancient Buddhist Monasteries with picturesque locations, the traditional folk songs & dances, colorful masked dances of monastic festivals, fantastic landscapes & clear blue sky, the huge crystal clear lakes, the silence of valleys. The land of Leh is prosperous in culture, history, natural beauty and flora and fauna.
The Ladakhi region is surrounded by Tibet to the east, the Lahul & Spiti to the south and Jammu & Kashmir to the west. To the north of Ladakh lies the central Asia. Wildlife in Ladakh is also worth seeing. Thrilling wildlife, majestic mountains, monasteries gripping to the rocky slopes of hills retain a timeless fascination of the Ladakhi Region. The people of Ladakh are very warm and friendly. This is why the exotic and mystic land of Leh Ladakh appeals everyone to travel here. Ladakh was opened to foreign tourists in 1974.
Leh inaccessible from around October till May/June due to high snowfalls and all the roads being blocked. Leh can be accessed by two main roads. One from Manali in the south, and one from Srinagar in the west. Bikers and travellers most commonly take the Route from Manali to Leh. Its a journey of 475 Kms. There are overnight Mini-busses and jeeps from Manali starting at about 2 Am and reaching Leh at 7PM. Cost Varies from months to months ( 2000Rs – 1000Rs). Bikers normally do this trip in 3 days.
Ladakh was at its greatest in commerce on the Silk Route – (a Trans AsiaTrade Route which traded rock salt, silk and semi-precious stone called Lapiz Lazuli in China, Tibet, Ladakh, Afghanistan and Turkey route) in the 17th Century during the reign of King Sengge Namgyal. His descendant Delegs Namgyal, with the assistance of the then Ruler of Kashmir – Aurangzeb, forced the Mongols out of Ladakh. In exchange, Aurangzeb demanded that a Muslim Sunni Mosque be constructed in the city square of Leh which is currently surrounded by the Leh bazaar. This mosque was certainly not the first in the region as there were two others from a prior period.
Being located in a pivotal geography of Asia which promotes trade and migration through its various well-connected high passes; pristine natural environment and scenic splendour, Ladakh became strategically lucrative and attracted land conquerors for centuries resulting in wars, raids and invasions. Of the many wars, the four prominent ones were the 8th Century clash with Tibet and China; the 13thCentury invasion by the neighbouring Muslim States; the 17thCentury invasion by the Tibetan Central Government and finally the 1834 invasion by the Dogras under Ranjit Singh – the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire who merged Ladakh into Jammu and Kashmir State and gave a small political territory – 'Jagir of Stok' to the Namgyal family which remained thereafter.
The European presence was felt on the scene in 1850s which brought tourists, sportspersons and geologists to explore and experience Ladakh and made Leh the headquarters of a mission of the Moravian Church.
The Partition of India in 1947 brought about the Accession of Jammu & Kashmir State to the Dominion of India causing Pakistani raids and Indian Military Intervention at capturing the Zoji La Pass, ultimately resulting in the liberation of Leh and Kargil from the Pakistani raiding infiltrators.
The 1960s saw wars with China and 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan resulting in closure of both borders and the subsequent development of the Srinagar-Leh highway which reduced travel time from 16 days to 2, and Leh was resurrected into a trade and tourism centre of the Himalayas once again.