A one-time highly flourishing trade center along the historic Silk Route, Leh has forever been romancing with awe and mystery. With enough fantastic elements to conjure up a swashbuckling story by someone like Robert E. Howard, this city spins a web of attractions that you would seldom find anywhere else. With colorful prayer flags fluttering on rooftops, lofty mountains walling the city from foreign winds, sprawling valleys cradling opulent meadows of green, mud brick houses that seem to emerge right off the face of the mountains, a silence broken only occasionally by somber ritualistic chants, Leh is your earthly ground for a cosmic experience. It is here that you will break your shackles from the outside world and become a true wanderlust.
If you love collecting souvenirs, Leh has much to offer. There are numerous shops sprawled throughout the Main Bazaar, which have a huge collection of Tibetan curios.
Interestingly, books are also aplenty and available at around six decently stocked bookshops. Ranging from travel guides to Buddhist philosophies, these books are sought after by tourists who visit Leh.
Since Leh can be really cold in the evenings, you can check out the second hand clothes bazaar that�s located near the taxi/jeep stand and buy some handy warm clothes at throwaway prices.
Visit the Kashmiri shops if you are looking for Pashmina shawls, blankets and even heavy woolen socks, although you will need to bargain a lot to refrain from being cheated.
Leh stands at a lofty height of 3,500 meters (null,483 feet) with a coordinate of 34�10' 12' N 77�34' 48 E. It is bound by Ghanche District to the north, Aksai Chin and Tibet to the east, Kargil district to the west and Lahaul and Spiti to the south.
As a city with a cold and arid climate, characterized through long, hard winters, the winter temperature can very well dip to -28 �C (null-18.4�F). Snowfall is common in winters and paralyzes its link with the rest of India by road. Summers are usually pleasant with the maximum temperature rising to as much as 33 �C (null.4�F).
Belonging to the Drugpa order of Buddhism, the Chemrey Monastery was founded in the early 17th century by Lama Tagsang Raschen under the tutelage of King Sengge Namgyal, although a theory presented by acclaimed historian Luciano Petech declares it as a monument built in 1664 to honor the king after his death. The monastery holds, among many relics, the famed one-storey high statue of Padmasambhava who was also known as Guru Rinpoche and even regarded as the second Buddha by the Nyingma school followers.
Takthok Monastery, variably known as Thag Thog and even Thak Thak, is a mid-16th century monastery, which is the only one in Leh to follow the Nyingma school of Buddhism. Interestingly, the literal meaning of Takthok is �rock-roof,� named so because of the discovery of a cave inside the monastery, which was believed to have been inhabited by Padmasambhava for three years to meditate during the 8th century.
Surface - Leh can be reached either through Manali in the south or Srinagar in the west, both of which are uniquely adventurous. The road from Srinagar to Leh is around 434 kilometers (null miles) and smoother because of the lower (nullsafer) altitude. State transport operated ordinary and deluxe buses ply through this route, stopping overnight at Kargil and charge anywhere between rupees 370 to rupees 470. The ride from Manali to Leh, which also takes two days, stopping overnight at Keylong for a tent stay is more adventurous. With tent stay, dinner and breakfast included in the cost, HPTDC operated deluxe buses will charge you around rupees 1800, stopping momentarily at various passes so you can enjoy the scintillating views.
Alternatively, shared taxis and jeeps can also be hired from Manali and will cost you around rupees 1000, although the continuous ride of almost 24 hours will wear you out. From Srinagar taxis/jeeps will take you till Kargil for rupees 500 and you will have to stay overnight there. From Kargil you can take another jeep/taxi to Leh for rupees 400.
For the more adventurous travelers, bikes are available on rent and will cost you anywhere between rupees 500 a day for an Enfield to rupees 350 for others like Yamaha and Bajaj Pulsar. Check out the garages and around the main bazaar for these bikes.
Train - The nearest railhead from Leh is at Udhampur. Jammu and Pathankot are other options. Regular train services from Delhi and many other cities to these stations are easily available. However, it will easily take more than a couple of days to reach Leh from any of the two stations by road.
Air - Air India, Kingfisher and Jet Airways connect the Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport with Delhi and most cities of India. Although the flight services are regular, the unpredictable weather conditions, especially around winters can give way to delayed and cancelled flights.
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