Leh Travel Guide

Activities in Leh

Leh is indeed a trekker's paradise in North India. In case adventure excites you then you must take up any of the many treks offered from Leh. The trekking agencies in Leh offer treks inclusive of guide, packhorses, food and supplies.

Polo is another popular activity you may indulge in at the Polo ground of Leh. Polo matches and competitions are regularly held in Leh. For the archers the National Archery Stadium is the place to be at in Leh. Then there is the ravishing adventure sport of river rafting you may try in the Zanskar River. The period from the month of July to September is ideal for river rafting in Leh.

Leh also offers mountain biking to the daring on the second highest motor  able road in the  world . The  adventure in mountain biking from
Leh lies in the most hostile terrains. The entire stretch of 485 km between Leh and Manali offers a challenge to mountain bikers who have the opportunity to cut across the majestic Himalayan ranges through four mountains passes. To the daring adventurers Leh-Manali highway rewards spectacular and picturesque landscapes.

For regular shopping Leh has several markets. For gift items and souvenirs you may check out the Ladakh Art Place in the old town, the Ecology Center and some shops behind the Main Bazaar road. If you happen to be in Leh during the Ladakh festival then you must pick up the local handicrafts and clothes from the captivating stalls.

Events in Leh

In Leh, and many of the villages, archery festivals are held during the summer months, with a lot of fun and fanfare. They are competitive events, the surrounding villages all sending teams, and the shooting takes place according to strict etiquette, to the accompaniment of the music of surna and daman (oboe and drum). As important as the archery are the interludes of dancing and other entertainment. Chang, the local barley beer, flows freely, but there is rarely any rowdiness. The crowd attends in their Sunday best, the men invariable in traditional dress, and the women wearing their brightest brocade mantles and their heaviest jewellery. Archery may be the pretext for the gathering, but the party's thing.

There is an annual Ladakh Festival held in the first two weeks of September where people from all over Ladakh join in, including monks and Tibetan refugees. The march here ends in a cultural display at the Leh Polo grounds. There are also mask dances, polo competitions, concerts and archery competitions.

The Hemis Festival is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) venerated as the representative reincarnate of Buddha. He is believed to have been born on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Monkey year as predicted by the "Sakyamuni Buddha". It is also believed that his mission was, and remains, to improve the spiritual condition of all living beings. And so on this day, which comes once in a cycle of 12 years, the Hemis Monastery observes a major extravaganza in his memory. The observance of these sacred rituals is believed to give spiritual strength and good health.

The Hemis festival is celebrated in the rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery. The space is wide and open save two raised square platforms, three feet high with a sacred pole in the center. A raised dais with a richly cushioned seat with a finely painted small Tibetan table is placed with the ceremonial items - cups full of holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and incense sticks. A number of musicians play the traditional music with four pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large size wind instruments. Next to them, a small space is assigned for the lamas to sit.

The ceremonies begin with an early morning ritual atop the Gompa where, to the beat of drums and the resounding clash of cymbals and the spiritual wail of pipes, the portrait of "Dadmokarpo" or "Rygyalsras Rimpoche" is then ceremoniously put on display for all to admire and worship.

The most esoteric of festivities are the mystic mask dances. The Mask Dances of Ladakh are referred collectively as chams Performance. Chams performance is essentially a part of Tantric tradition, performed only in those gompas which follow the Tantric vajrayana teachings and the monks perform tantric worship.

Getting There & Away to Leh

Flights to Leh
In terms of air transport Leh is well connected with the other important places in India. Regular flights link Leh with Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar.
Car and Bus Service to Leh
For road transport to Leh there are land routes connecting Leh with Srinagar and Manali. The Leh-Srinagar road is generally open from June to October, while the Leh-Manali route is open from July to September.

Getting Around in Leh

From the airport to Leh, one can take a public bus, though schedules, even when available, may be incomplete. Taxis are more convenient and operate on a fixed tariff. Taxis don’t cruise about soliciting customers - you have to hire them at one of three taxi stands named predictably enough as Taxi Stand no. 1, 2 and 3 located at Fort Road, the old bus stand and the new bus stand, respectively. The simplest and perhaps the best means of getting around are mountain bikes and scooters that can easily be hired. Just make sure that you are properly insured.

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