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A surreal landscape surrounded by the sky-piercing peaks of the snow-capped Himalayan, Zanskar and Karakoram ranges, and adorned with crystal waters of the Shyok, Zanskar and Indus rivers, Leh, in Jammu and Kashmir, is the main city in the Ladakh region, one of the coldest deserts in the world. Perched at a height of over 11,000 ft above sea level, the city of Leh is a haven of adventure sports. Its rugged terrain and gushing rivers provide ripe opportunities for activities like trekking, river rafting, camping, mountain climbing and biking.
As the winter months approach, the city is enveloped in a blanket of snow, making it a paradisiacal setting for winter sports. The renowned Chadar Trek starts from the village of Chilling, 66 km away, and mostly covers the frozen area of River Zanskar. Throughout the adventure, trekkers are walking on precarious icy formations, staying in caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites and encountering other snowy landscape.
Leh is surrounded by three gorgeous high-altitude lakes, Tso Moriri, Tso Kar and Pangong Tso that look like sapphires embedded in the ground. A natural wonder that leaves tourists in awe is the Magnetic Hill on the outskirts of the city. It is said to defy gravity as it tends to pull vehicles upwards. Leh is a prominent Buddhist centre and is dotted with several important monasteries. Tourists can set on a monastery trail and admire the ancient cultures of the region come alive in various paintings adorning the walls while indulging in meditation and other therapeutic and spiritual activities.
Leh was the erstwhile capital of the kingdom of Ladakh and boasts a legacy that is reflective of its rich history. With the 17th-century Leh Palace at its heart, which is a great example of medieval Tibetan architecture, the city enjoys a smattering of heritage sites that stand tall to this day. One of the best ways to experience the culture of Leh is to check into a homestay where the host will leave no stone unturned in immersing guests in Ladakhi culture. Another great way to “taste” the region is by way of its fresh produce: apricots, apples, and other fruits and vegetables that can be found in its orchards and markets.
The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh is connected to Mumbai, New Delhi, Jammu, Srinagar, and Chandigarh by regular flight services.
Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation and Himachal Road Transport Corporation provide regular buses to Leh. It can be accessed from Srinagar (about 421km) and Manali (about 471km) by these bus services.