Leh: Capital of Ladakh, Leh the centre of Ladakh. It is picturesquely bound by snow-laden peaks of the Himalayas and numerous monasteries. Adding to its charm is the numerous roadside restaurants, cafÃ©s, local shops selling curios and several trekking and rafting options. In fact Leh could be your base for exploring the rest of the areas. Ideally, you should take a couple of days easy in Leh, till your body gets used to the dip in oxygen. The 16th-century Leh Palaceoverlooking the town's lanes and markets is its most recognized attraction. This nine-storey Tibetan construction was once home to the royal family (who still own it). Within you would find walls decorated by old Buddha paintings, buttresses and jutting wooden balconies. A part of the palace has been converted to a museum and has on display thangkas, paintings and arms. The central prayer room usually remains closed and has religious texts lining the wall. Since the palace interiors are more or less dark, remember to carry a flashlight for better visibility.
Open from: Summer - 7.00 am-9.30 am; occasionally open from 3.00 pm-6.00 pm
Entry fee: Indians - Rs 5; Non-Indians - Rs 100
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa: Constructed in 1430, this gompa has a rich collection of Buddhist art, ancient manuscripts, painted scrolls and wall paintings. Its special feature is the gilded image of Buddha, almost 3-storyes high. A little ahead of the monastery is a fort that allows you panoramic views of the Leh town.
Open from: 7.00 am-9.00 am from prayers;