Leh Palace

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Leh Palace can be reached by walking up through the old town or else by road which winds round the edge of the town and climbs up through desert scenery to the Palace. There are splendid views down on Leh from the Palace. The Palace is surrounded by small Lkakhangs and the newly restored Government Minister’s House.

The Palace is 9 storeys high and dominates Leh.

It was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the early 17thC. The upper floors accommodated the royal family, with stables and store rooms on lower floors. It was abandoned in the mid 19thC when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh and the royal family moved to Stok.

The massive walls taper inwards slightly to improve stability. The lower part of the walls is built of dressed stone blocks with horizontal beams of poplar to give strength. Above, the walls are made of sun dried mud bricks.

Over the years the Palace has become ruinous but the Archaeological Survey of India has begun to restore parts of the it and have put in new window frames. Local labour is used and there were women carrying 3 heavy stone slabs on their backs up the steps and ramps to where needed.

Inside is a rabbit warren of passageways, stairs and rooms. It would be very easy to get lost. It is very dark with little light. We went into the central Lhakhang with a statue of the Buddha of Compassion, old festival masks, sacred books and wall hangings. We climbed up to the main assembly hall where the King would meet with his ministers. This is a large room with a clerestory window. There are the remains of the original wall paintings which were in poor condition. Unfortunately many have graffiti scrawled over them, which is one of the few times we saw graffiti. There was an exhibition in the room showing before and after pictures of restoration work done by the the Archaeological Survey of India.

Our pictures of Leh Palace begin here

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