Leh is the Capital of Ladakh and one of the most beautiful and tourist-friendly cities in India. For most people, Leh serves as an acclimatization point or just a mandatory night stay, before venturing to other parts of Ladakh eg. Sham Valley, Nubra, Pangong etc…
Yet, this beautiful city set amidst the Indian Himalayan Ranges is a treasure trove for travelers, who are willing to look past the bustling market and the souvenir shops.
I love Leh; I have spent several days there, working on my novel, exploring the beautiful monasteries in and around it or just getting lost in the old Leh town with its narrow alleys and traditional mud houses.
There is something for everyone in Leh, for the foodies, Leh has numerous cafes serving delicious cuisines from all over the world (see 5 Must-Visit Restaurants and Cafes in Leh).
For those interested in religion and architecture; Shanti Stupa (Google Map), Leh Palace (Google Map), Tsemo Gompa and Fort (Google Map) and the Jama Masjid in the Main Market (Google Map) represent the must-visit places that you ought not to skip.
While the Central Asian (Google Map) and Ladakh Rocks and Mineral Museum (Google Map), Chandazik (Google Map) and Sankar Gompa (Google Map), Gomang Stupa (Google Map) and Tibetan Market (Google Map) represent an opportunity to cover a part of Leh seldom visited by tourists. Spituk Monastery (Google Map) on the outskirts of Leh is a perfect place to soak in the panoramic views of Leh and the Spituk Village, along with watching the flights land and take-off from the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport.
For those who are interested in nature and photography, sunrise from the Shanti Stupa is a high that can only be matched by the sunset seen from the Tsemo Gompa. With both providing an unparalleled and panoramic view of Leh and the mountain ranges behind it.
Yet, the real pleasure of Leh lies in slowing down and enjoying your surroundings and food, as if to enter a meditative trance, where happiness is obtained not by ticking a bunch of places off a checklist, rather by enjoying the company you have and experiencing the happiness solitude can bring us, in the midst of this crazy, chaotic world.