Weather :

Label : Top Attraction

Tags : Forts & Palaces

Timings : 7:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Time Required : 2-3 hrs

Entry Fee : Indians- INR 15,
Foreign Nationals- INR 100

Built In : 17th century

Built by : Sengge Namgyal

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Leh Palace, Leh Ladakh Overview

The Leh Palace, also known as 'Lhachen Palkhar,' is a 17th-century former royal palace and one of the central attractions in Leh. Built under the patronage of by King Sengge Namgyal, it used to house his family. The nine-storey dun-coloured palace now houses a museum and a prayer room, while the highlight is the sweeping view of Leh and the surrounding Zanskar mountain from the rooftop.

The Leh Palace is modelled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa (Tibet), and a considerable part is now in ruins due to the Kashmiri invasion that took place in the 19th century. The beauty of the Leh Palace still stands in pride with a lot of ancient Buddha relics, paintings, old utensils, cutlery used by the royal family and artefacts adorning the walls, most of which are almost 450 years old. 

The palace looks even more stunning when it is lighted upon certain special occasions, such as Galdam Namchot festival when locals gather around the palace to celebrate the local festival. The majestic palace is presently under the Archaeological Survey of India, which is working on renovating the ancient structures of that era and striving to keep intact the history of the Namgyal dynasty in Leh.

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History of Leh Palace

The Leh Palace has been designed in line with the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The construction of the palace, which began in 1553, was started by one of the rulers of Namgyal dynasty, Tsewang Namgyal. The construction was then completed by his successor, Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century. These rulers later resided in the Leh Palace along with their family. The grand structure of the palace was complete with nine storeys in all, which made it one of the tallest structures of those times. The upper floors were used for accommodation, while the floors below houses stables and storerooms.

The Leh Palace was abandoned by the royal family in the mid 19 century when the Dongra forces took over Ladakh. Consequently, the Namgyal family had to shift to the Stok Palace. The grand edifice is now in a dilapidated condition and has been converted into an archaeological museum that proudly displays the artefacts of the yesteryear's rulers of Leh.

Architecture of Leh Palace

The Leh Palace is a magnificent example of the Tibetan architecture and attracts tourists from all across the globe, who cannot help but marvel at the grandeur and elegance of this antique structure. Even though the size of Leh Palace is smaller, it closely resembles the Patola Palace of Lhasa. Huge buttressed walls and jutted out wooden balconies are characteristic features of this architectural style.

The structure is entirely made up the hard bricks, mud, wood and sand. The unique style of construction allows the palace to illuminate itself naturally during the day. Also, the material used is such that the temperature inside remains soothing and pleasant. The entrance to the palace is adorned with intricate wood-carved figurines.

The exquisite Leh Palace is nine stories high, and the topmost floor of the palace is called the Victory Tower since it offers a bird's eye view of the entire Leh town as well as the Himalayan ranges. The Victory Tower was constructed to commemorate the Ladakhi soldiers who had fought against the invading Kashmiri soldiers. The base of the palace is embellished with several other Tibetan structures, such as the famous Namgyal Stupa, Chandazik Stupa and Chamba Lhakhang Stupa.

Leh Palace Museum

The Leh Palace is sadly now in ruins, but a few small rooms and corridors still exist. The more substantial rooms and compartments have been turned into exhibition halls, and the museum is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Leh Palace Museum holds a rich collection of utensils that were used by the royal family, ceremonial dresses, jewellery, ornaments and crowns.

Chinese thangka or sooth paintings with intricate designs, which date back to more than 450 years, are undoubtedly one of the best-preserved artefacts in the museum. The bright colours used in the paintings had been derived from crushed and powdered gems and stones, and are intact up to this date.

Need to Know

  • Wear comfortable footwear as you will have to walk around a lot, and the road is full of slopes. Besides, the staircases in the palace are a bit difficult to walk through.
  • The palace is not recommended to be visited by senior citizens because of the amount of walking that has to be done.

How to Reach Leh Palace

The Leh Palace is located in the old Leh city, on the Tsemo hill, at a distance of 5 kilometres from the Leh Air Force Base Airport. To arrive here, you will have to walk through the old town. From the main bazaar in the city, the palace can be reached easily either via Jama Masjid or via the Zangsti Road.

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