Leh Palace was sculpted in the mold of Potala Palace of Lhasa and is located on the Namgyal Hill in Leh. It overlooks Leh and has many cultural influences, dating back to centuries. As a religious and cultural hub of the Buddhist, Leh Palace is much revered and very much a part of Leh’s popular face of tourism. It is a nine storeyed building that can be seen from most parts of Leh.
Leh Palace was the tallest building in the world when it was built in 1553. At that time, Leh was already a happening place frequented by traders. Today the pace of progress in Leh is too slow.
Though Leh has now become a popular tourist destination and some of it is still rooted in ancient tradition and culture; that’s the beauty of it. The palace is imposing even from a distance. It loomed above Leh, like an omnipresent figure. The city is under its watchful eyes.
Leh Palace is just above the old Leh city. Small, interesting gullies lead up to the base of the palace. From there the palace is just a few minutes climb.
The palace is simple but beautiful. It exudes a grandeur, not daunting but subtle. The palace stood on a rocky hill and is built from stones, mud, woods and sand. The palace looks in a great shape after the renovation efforts by the Archaeological Survey of India.
I visited the palace on a hot scorching day. But once I entered, it was as if I was entering an air conditioned room. The thick wood and mud walls, keep the heat from entering the palace.
Not much remain of the palace. The palace has many small compartments and corridors and some bigger rooms. There was a monastery with the statue of Buddha inside the palace. Today, the corridors and the larger rooms are used as exhibition halls that display old photographs and paintings of Leh. It made the experience a lot richer.
The palace was built by the Ladakh king Sengge Namgyal during the 17th century but was later abandoned in the mid 19th century when the Dongra forces invaded Ladakh. Later they moved to Stok Palace.
The palace roof is made of mud. Do look out for the thick clumps of small woods sandwiched between mud and sand, especially for the roof. Considering the scarcity of wood in the region, it is strange that they used so much of wood.
Not much remain of the palace. There are no grand elements inside, except for its grandeur size and amazing view it offers. It is an architecture wonder to build such a huge building on a slanting rocky hill and more so, for having survived the past 400 years in a good condition.