(Last Updated on : 29/04/2014)
Beyond the Tibetan refugee camp at Choglamsar, at the head of a huge moraine, there lays a graceful four storey Stok palace, standing tall in the shadow of an intermediating TV mast, facing barley terraces filled with whitewashed farmhouses. Stok palace was built in the early nineteenth century by the last ruler of independent Ladakh. Then it became the official residence of the Ladakhi royal family, since they were expelled out of Leh and Shey approximately 200 year's ago.
The present Gyalmo or Queen, Deskit Angmo, a former member of the Parliament, lives here during the summer and has converted one wing of her 77-roomed palace into a small museum. The awe-inspiring collection in the museum comprises of some of the precious heirlooms, including exquisite sixteenth-century Thangkas enlightened with paint made up of crushed rubies, emeralds and sapphires. The ancient headdresses are still worn on important occasions and are thought to have originated in Tibet. These are coated with slabs of flawless turquoise, polished coral, lapis lazuli and nuggets of pure gold. Stok gompa possesses a collection of dance-drama masks, and some heavily ornate modern murals painted by lamas from Lingshet gompa in Zanskar, the artists responsible for creating the Maitreya statue in Tikse.
Accommodation in Stok
Spending half day in stok is enough to speculate its beauty and its side-valley. Buses leave Leh for Stok at 8am, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm. The last bus returning to Leh leaves at 5pm and if you miss it or are excited to stay there, try the Hotel High land. It is a splendid two-storey house with fine views that presents well-furnished and good rooms. Around 2km down the road towards Leh is the grand Hotel Skittsal, which offers picturesque views over the Indus Valley.