The high-altitude city of Leh is planted among frosted, saw-edged Himalayan peaks near the Chinese border. The barren landscape here in Ladakh region is home to chalk-white stupas, dizzyingly high passes and gilded Buddhist shrines. In this arid land – one of the driest regions on the planet – colourful prayer flags flutter in the breeze and Tibetan monks chant in remote monasteries. The rivers that do flow glitter with glacial melt, trickling past tiny settlements of stone-and-mud-brick houses. Set at 3,500 metres above sea level, Leh city itself sprawls beneath a nine-storey Tibetan-style palace and fort carved into the rocks that displays panoramic views of this other-worldly landscape.
Now the joint capital of Ladakh, Leh was once a key trading post in the Indus Valley for isolated Himalayan communities, with routes stretching all the way to Tibet and China. Today, trekkers seeking far-flung hikes among moon-like vistas use Leh as a base for their expeditions. In summertime, between July and September, the highways are at their most passable and the city springs to life, its hiking shops and tour agents, pizza restaurants and Internet cafés abuzz in twisty alleys, markets heaving with goods from Kashmir. Make the 15-minute climb to the Shanti Stupa, built by Japanese monks, for the best views over this trek-lovers’ mecca.
Want to experience Leh’s Himalayan wonders? Our destination gurus can organise stays in this isolated region, complete with mountain treks and Tibetan monastery tours.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Malcolm, who's travelled extensively in India. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember.
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