A nine-storey high building displaying the influence of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, it is the famous Royal Leh Palace which stands with its head on a clifftop overlooking the city of Leh. The Leh Palace is a must-visit for anyone visiting the Ladakh region as it has stood there as a symbol of the old glory days of the royal family who lived here. The upper floors housed members of the royal community and the lower floors were occupied by stables and shops.
Counted amongst the most famous tourist attractions in the entire Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, Leh Palace is a royal palace located in its capital Leh. There is an incomparable aura within the palace which is enough to please the visitors. Built-in the 17th century, the foundation of this palace was laid by Tsewang Namgyal, the founder of the Namgyal dynasty, but it was Sengge Namgyal who completed its construction.
The palace was constructed as the residence of the royal family but was later invaded and captured by Zorawar Singh Kahluria. Despite standing as a witness to decades of unrest and wars, the palace somehow managed to maintain its grandeur that still captivates everyone today.
The Leh palace complex comprises nine storeys, all of which had different purposes to serve in the glory days. The architecture of the palace is inspired by the Potala Palace in Lhasa, making it a fine example of medieval Tibetan architecture. This building looks even grander when viewed from a distance at night. You can enjoy panoramic views of the bustling city and the Stok Kangri mountains below.
Another treat to the palace for history buffs is the museum which houses a large collection of artifacts shedding light on the cultural history of the area. 450 years old paintings, crowns, and ornaments are on display here. Though photography is not allowed inside the palace, capturing the relics of the past in your eyes is equally mesmerizing.
- Best Time To Visit: The best time to visit Leh Palace is during the summer season. The months of May and June offer views of a vivid landscape under clear skies. Moreover, the post-monsoon months of September and October are also considered a good time to visit this grand palace.
- Visiting Hours (Opening and Closing Hours): Leh Palace is open for visitors every day between 7 AM to 4 PM.
- Entry Fee: The entry fee for Indian tourists has been fixed at INR 15 per person. For foreigners, an entry fee of INR 100 per person is charged.
- Height: Leh Palace is situated at an altitude of 17582 feet.
- How to reach Leh Airport: Leh Palace is located at a distance of 4.5 km from Leh airport and is easily accessible by road. You can hire a taxi from the airport to reach Leh Palace.
- Distance between Leh and Leh Palace: Leh Palace is located at a distance of 2.2 km from Leh City Center
History of Leh Palace
A rare gem in the magical region of Ladakh, Leh Palace has a very interesting history that is sad for the most part. The founder of the Namgyal dynasty, Tsewang Namgyal was the man who laid the foundation for the construction of the palace in 1553. But the construction of the palace resumed later and was completed in the 17th century when Ladakh was under the rule of the Seng. Namgyal.
The large, nine-storey complex was built to house the royal family. While the upper floors were reserved for the royal family, the lower floors of the palace were used as stables and storage rooms. Until the 19th century, the palace witnessed a time of prosperity and glory during the reign of the Namgyal dynasty. However, in the mid-19th century, the area was invaded by Dogra forces and the palace was captured by the army, forcing the royal family to flee.
The royal family was moved to Stoke Palace. The palace remained in the hands of General Zorawar Singh and the forces of the Dogra dynasty for some time. But now something else was waiting for the palace.
As the army continued to conquer far-flung areas of Tibet and Baltistan, the palace was once again abandoned by its inhabitants and had no one to claim it. This is the reason why Leh Palace is also known as the forgotten monument.
The architecture of Leh Palace
Leh Palace was built with Lhasa’s Potala Palace as the model structure for its design. The palace is built in medieval Tibetan architecture and is one of the top-notch specimens of architecture in India. There is something about the architecture of Leh Palace that makes it appear modest and grand at the same time.
Unlike many other palaces across the country, the palace is usually not embellished with a lot of glasswork and colorful patterns, but its simplicity hides its grandeur. It was built to serve as the residence of the royal family, so it is natural to have a touch of majesty in its character. The structure of the palace is as majestic as it can be.
When the Leh Palace was built, it was the tallest building in the world. The palace complex has nine stories which makes it grand when viewed from below. Since the upper floors were occupied by the royal family, these parts of the complex are remarkable.
While the lower floors were reserved as stables and storerooms. If you want to see the palace in all its splendor, then visit its structure from afar after sunset as its façade is lit up with golden lights.
Other Essential Info about Leh Palace
1) Mobile Connectivity: Mobile connectivity is not a problem in Leh Palace as it is located in the capital of Ladakh. However, it should be kept in mind that prepaid SIMs issued in other states do not work in Jammu and Kashmir. Hence, you can get mobile connectivity only if you have a postpaid SIM or a prepaid SIM issued in Jammu and Kashmir.
2) Medical facilities: There is no medical facility in Leh Palace. But, since the palace is located at a short distance of 2.4 km from Leh city center, you are not far from the medical facilities while you are here. There are options in the city including the well-equipped SNM Hospital.
3) ATM: Since Leh Palace is located in Leh city, there are many ATMs located near it in the main city. Hence, a cash crunch will not be a problem in your Leh Ladakh tour.
4) Petrol Pump: Yes, there is a petrol pump in Leh town. The second nearest petrol pump is at Karu at a distance of 35 km from the city. So, if you are on the Leh-Ladakh road trip, fuel is not an issue.
5) Food Joints: You can find good food joints in the main market area of Leh. Since Leh is the capital city, it has a bustling market with plenty of options to satisfy your hunger.
6) Minimum Duration to Visit Leh Palace: Since photography is not allowed inside the palace complex, you will have nothing more than to admire the craftsmanship and check out the impressive museum. So, a duration of 1 to 2 hours will suffice.
Frequently Asked Questions About Leh Palace
Q. What is Leh palace famous for?
A – The terrace of Leh Palace offers wonderful views of the Ladakh region and Stok Kangri. With towering walls and wooden balconies, it is a fine example of medieval Tibetan architecture and boasts nine storeys. The entrance of the palace is decorated with carved wooden sculptures.
Q. Who built the Leh Palace?
A – King Senge Namgyal built the Leh Palace, also known as Lachen Palkar Palace. The massive nine-story stone structure stands at the base of the Tsemo Ridge and towers above the old town. It was designed in the Tibetan style which was later made famous by the Potala Palace in Lhasa.
Q. Who is the owner of Leh Palace?
A – The Leh Palace was built in the year 1553 by Tsewang Namgyal, the founder of the Namgyal dynasty of Ladakh. The construction of the palace was completed during the reign of Sengge Namgyal, who was popularly known as the Lion King during the 17th century.
Q. In which state is the palace of Leh now?
A – The city is located at an altitude of 11,550 feet (3,520 m) in the upper Indus river valley, surrounded by the high peaks of the Ladakh range (the south-eastern extension of the Karakoram range). Palace of the Kings of Ladakh in Leh, Union Territory of Ladakh, India (center background).
Q. Who lived in Leh Palace?
A – It was built around 1600 by Sengge Namgyal. The palace was abandoned when the Dogra army took control of Ladakh in the mid-19th century and forced the royal family to move to the Stoke Palace.
Q. When was it made?
A – The foundation of the palace was laid in the 16th century. However, the construction was completed in the 17th century.
Q. Who was the architect?
A – The name of the architect of Leh Palace is not known. The design of the palace is highly inspired by the Potala Palace in Lhasa and is built in medieval Tibetan architecture. The majestic palace is loved by tourists for its splendid architecture.
Q. What is the arrival time?
A – Leh Palace visiting hours are from 7 am to 4 pm.
Q. How many days a week are visitors allowed to visit the palace?
A – Leh Palace is open on all days of the week, so you can plan your Ladakh tour whenever you want.
Q. Where is it located?
A – The splendid palace of Leh is situated on the top of Tsom Hill, overlooking the charming city below it. The views of Stok Kangri can be enjoyed from the terrace of the palace.
Q. Is photography allowed inside the palace?
A – Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the Leh Palace. You can take pictures of the fort only from the outside. However, if you have written permission from the ASI, you can click pictures inside the palace.
Q. Is there an admission fee?
A – Yes, you have to pay a minimum entry fee to visit Leh Palace. The entry fee for Indian tourists has been fixed at INR 15 per person. For foreigners, an entry fee of INR 100 per person is charged.
Q. Why is Leh Palace also known as the Forgotten Monument?
A – The name of Leh Palace as a forgotten monument is due to its fate. After its construction, the palace initially served as the residence of the royal family. However, in the 19th century, due to the invasion of Dogra forces, the residents had to flee and move to the Stoke Palace. The palace was captured by the army of Zorawar Singh and was inhabited by them.
And as Zorawar Singh and his army continued to conquer distant regions such as Baltistan, the palace was abandoned and no permanent residents were ever returned. During this period, the palace lost its glory and was forgotten. However, no visitor can forget this place after visiting Leh Palace.