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Day 13: Leh

Leh Travel Blog

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Climbing towards Leh Palace.

The solidest joy of Leh is seeing its Palace from every angle and in every light; from below, as it stands in the full dazzle of the morning sun; from the side, in the afternoon from the roof of my hotel, as one of its sheer sides ignites slowly in the dark; from behind, on the road to Leh from Sankar, as it rears, ghostly in the moonlight, hardly distinguishable from the massy dark rock it is built on.

 

A Journey in Ladakh - Andrew Harvey

 

Yesterday's chang had been kind to me.

Inside Leh Palace ... mind the holes in the floor.
Although slightly light-headed I didn't have a hangover ... Or I simply hadn't have time yet to sober up. Getting up at 8:00 AM, first priority was a quick visit to the toilet. Now, since we were still at the camp site of Tak Tok this was far from a normal experience. The crew had put up two toilet tent of one by one meter above a hole in the ground. Since I lack the physical flexibility to remain in a squatted position for long, normally pushing myself off against the side walls of a squat toilet, this was quite an exercise on this early morning. In the meantime I was joking with Paul, who was doing his thing in the other tent. For any spectator this 'conversation between two tents' must have been quite hilarious.

 

Weather had been dreadful again the past night and this morning it was raining again in Tak Tok.

Ancient holy books in Leh Palace.
After breakfast in the big tent where everything was affected by the moisture Judith and I gave Dadul a couple of presents. Not needing my self-inflating sleeping mat anymore I left it for him to either keep for himself or give to a crew member he thought deserved it. We also gave him the Dhammapadda book and told him we hoped to meet him again in the future, whether in Ladakh or Holland.

Then it was time to say goodbye to the rest of the crew and after a series of handshakes and hugs we left this fine bunch behind, making our way back to Leh at 10:00 AM. Passing the now familiar sights of Thiksey and Shey we arrived back at the Mountain Edge hotel 1,5 hours later. Tomorrow we would leave Ladakh and this was the last day to explore Leh, so after repacking some of our stuff we took a taxi to Ladakh's capital city one more time at one o' clock.

Statue of Avalokiteshvara in Leh Palace.

 

One place we hadn't visited yet was Leh's palace. The palace, overlooking Leh from a hill above the old town, was build in the 17th century resembling a mini version of Lhasa's Potala, the former residence of the Dalai Lama's. After the royal family had been banned to exile in Stok by the Kashmiri in the 19th century the palace had fallen in disuse and disrepair. Since it's mostly build from wood and mud bricks, time had not been kind on this nine story building.

After the tiring climb to the entrance we explored the ruined insides of the palace. Unlike others I fortunately knew what to expect: a vast collection of empty corridors, rooms and stairs, dark and damaged and some of them smelling of urine. It was a good thing I brought a flashlight because some corridors had dangerous holes in the ground. Only two rooms in the palace were actually used, one for an exhibition about restorations in the Jammu and Kashmir province and one nice prayer hall with statues of the Buddha and Avalokiteshvara.

Statue of Sakyamuni Buddha in Leh Palace.
It also featured a nasty stuffed boar's head.

Best thing about the whole palace is reaching its roof and being able to see all sides of the town from this amazing height. The roof of the gompa, the minarets of the two mosques, the old decaying part of the city, the big polo field, the many chörtens, the Shanti stupa and all if the rough surrounding mountains spread themselves out before our eyes in the bright sunlight of the afternoon.

 

We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing around Leh's bookshop (so many wonderful books, so little space in my backpack!), Tibetan handicraft markets, relaxing with a coke and cappuccino (read: Nescafe with instant milk powder) and checking our e-mails in a cyber cafe. This specific one had its own power generator which was helpful since there was another power failure in Leh today.

At the roof of Leh Palace, with the gompa in the background.
The guy managing the cyber cafe gave me his own PC to work on, after which he disappeared to play chess outside and have a cup of tea with his neighbour. As a result tourists continued to come up to me, wanting to use a PC or pay their bill. Only thing I could do is say 'Don't ask me, I'm just a customer'.

 

We picked up our laundry at Dzomsa and joined the others that had gathered at Tashi's office at six o' clock to have dinner. We decided to settle for Il Forno's roof restaurant and after devouring our pasta's and pizza's we took the bus Tashi had arranged back to the hotel. Packing our last things and were in bed at half past nine. Tomorrow would be another very early day ...

bamiforall says:
Do you have a Square to spare????
Posted on: Aug 20, 2008
bamiforall says:
The toilet-tent bit should have been in a Seinfeld episode, Jerry in one tent,George in the other,hilarious.Which 1 r U Ed????
Posted on: Aug 19, 2008
Devika1985 says:
ik ben erg benieuwd naar de foto's van dat Leh Palace..
Posted on: Aug 19, 2008
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Climbing towards Leh Palace.
Climbing towards Leh Palace.
Inside Leh Palace ... mind the hol…
Inside Leh Palace ... mind the ho…
Ancient holy books in Leh Palace.
Ancient holy books in Leh Palace.
Statue of Avalokiteshvara in Leh P…
Statue of Avalokiteshvara in Leh …
Statue of Sakyamuni Buddha in Leh …
Statue of Sakyamuni Buddha in Leh…
At the roof of Leh Palace, with th…
At the roof of Leh Palace, with t…
View over Leh from Leh Palace.
View over Leh from Leh Palace.
View over Leh from Leh Palace.
View over Leh from Leh Palace.
View over Leh from Leh Palace.
View over Leh from Leh Palace.
Leh Palace.
Leh Palace.
Leh
photo by: anupa_rk