Leh, India: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

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Leh used to be the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh. It became the regional capital in the 17th century, when King Sengge Namgyal shifted his court here from Shey to be closer to the head of Kardung La-Karakoram corridor into China. Afterwards, the town became one of the busiest markets on the Silk Route. The prosperity of the town was managed by the Sunni Muslim traders and it came to an abrupt end with the closure of the Chinese border in the 1950s. After the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, the town started to develop again. Nowadays, it is the capital of the Lef District in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The town is dominated by the ruined Leh Palace, the former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh which was built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace-the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Leh has been the center of Tibeto-Buddhist culture since ages. Leh is at an altitude of 3524 meters. It is also a favorite hiking are and is known for some of the best hikes in India. For the ones who are interested in sightseeing and adventure activities such as river rafting, the best time to visit Leh is during summer which is between the months of May to October. There are also numerous festivals held in the region during this time. The weather is warm during days and slightly chilly at nights. The monsoon is scarce. During the winter months, November to April, Leh is covered entirely with snow. The temperatures go below freezing. On the other hand, this period is extremely popular for trekking enthusiasts who want to explore the place for its challenging winter treks.