(Last Updated on : 21-11-2015)
Leh District is located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir
. The snowy mountainous view, mountains and their peaks, dotted with small villages and picturesque valleys lead the mind to a place which is the centre of Tibeto-Buddhist Culture, Leh district, which rests in the lap of Mother Nature with serene beauty surrounding it.
History of Leh District
Previously, the Leh district was a part of Greater Ladakh spread over from Kailash Mansarover to Swaat (Dardistan). The Greater Ladakh was neither under the domain of Tibet or its influence as per history, though ample information about the ancient History of Ladakh is not available. Leh is governed by the royal palace, known as Leh Palace, which was founded in 17th century by King Sengge Namgyal. It was abandoned in the mid-19th century when Kashmiri forces besieged it. The royal family moved their premises south to their current home in Stok Palace on the southern bank of the Indus. It has also been stated that King Sengge Namgyal ruled Ladakh
during 17th century and took Ladakh to great heights of achievements. Later he shifted his court from Shey to Leh. Leh became the regional capital and very soon the town blossomed into one of the busiest markets on the Silk Route. The prosperity of Leh was managed mainly by the Sunni Muslim merchants but it ended abruptly with the closure of the Chinese border in the 1950's. However, with time the situation of the Leh district has drastically improved.
Geography of Leh District
Leh district lies between 32 to 36 degree North latitude and 75 degree to 80 degree East longitude. The district is bounded by Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the West and China in the north and eastern part and Lahul Spiti of Himachal Pradesh
in South East. It is at a distance of 434 Kms from Srinagar
and 474 Kms from Manali
. Ladakh lies on the rain shadow side of the Himalayan range. Where dry monsoon winds reaches Leh after being robbed of its moisture in plains and the Himalayan Mountain Range
Climate of Leh District
Leh district combines the condition of both arctic and desert climate. Therefore Ladakh is often called Cold Desert. The minimum temperature of the district is -40 degree centigrade and the maximum temperature is 35 degree C. The important rivers of Leh are Astor River, Gurtang River, Shaksgam River, Chang Celmo River, Hispar Glacier, Shigar River, Chapursain River, Hunza River and Shimshal River. The climate of Leh is cold and arid. The winters are long and harsh with freezing temperatures that sometimes drops to minus. The city gets occasional snowfall during winter. The summers are comparatively pleasant and worth enjoying.
Administration of Leh District
In contrast to the other districts of the State, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) also governs the administration in Leh. The Deputy Commissioner, Leh also holds the authority of Chief Executive Officer LAHDC. LAHDC was constituted in 1995. The formation of the council was conceived so as to provide a transparent expansion in the area. It has 30 councillors. Out of 4 are nominated and rest are elected. The Chief Executive Councillor is the head of this council. He is also the Chairman of the council.
Population of Leh District
The beauty of the land is increased by the simple lifestyle and ancient culture of the inhabitants. Leh district comprises of Leh town and 112 inhabited villages and one un-inhabited village. The total population of Leh district is 1.17 lacs.
Culture of Leh District
The society of Leh is reckoned for their culture. The culture of Leh resembles the Tibetan culture because of the region's close proximity with Tibet. Though the cuisines of Leh are mostly of Tibetan origin, in present days the influence of other parts of India and Central Asia have made a dominant place. The social gatherings like festivals in Leh are the major part of the culture of Leh. Festivals like Hemis
, Losar Festival
, Ladakh Festival, Ladakh Harvest Festival, Sindhu Darshan, Tak - Tok festival and some religious festivals held by the monasteries along with Archery festivals are held during the summer times in Leh. These also serve as major tourist attractions and drag a huge number of tourists every year.
Tourism in Leh District
Tourism in Leh District encompasses the nature tourism, pilgrimage tourism and adventure tourism. The land is surrounded with a number of rivers, mountain passes, peaks, valleys and lakes among which some are of great importance and attract a huge number of tourists every year during summer. Several monasteries that are located in Leh are very artistically developed and are made in such a way that they serve the purpose of education, religious works and meditation of the students and the monks. Namgyal Tsemo
Gompa in Leh is a monastery that is clinging over the Shaly Mountain. The red painted Maitreya temple located on the mountain, belonging to the late fourteenth century, houses a gigantic statue of Gautama Buddha
. The white Shanti Stupa is located above the Changspa village, 3 km west to the bazaar. Its sides are embellished with gilt panels that depict scenes from the life of Buddha. Some other monasteries are Chimre Gompa, Likir Monastery, Sankar Gompa
, Shey Monastery
etc. The Mahabodhi Meditation center is well visited by the tourist and devotees of Buddhism
. Leh houses Stok Palace which was built in 1825 by King Tsespal Tondup Namgyal, the last ruler of independent Ladakh. There are some historical monuments which are worth visiting. The tourists visiting here can also indulge in adventure tourism like hiking, trekking, river rafting at the Zanskar River, polo and archery.
Ladakh is called the Hermit Kingdom due to its remoteness and in accessibility. Ladakh is connected to the main land through two roads namely Leh-Srinagar highway and Leh-Manali road. These two roads remains open only during summer months and during the winter it remains closed for more than seven months. Leh District is connected to the Block Headquarter through a network of roads. The average distance of the block headquarter from Leh is 180 Kms. During winter the only route accessible to Leh during the winter is air. Indian Air Lines operates three days in a week. Leh district is the land where a huge variety is found in the land, its people and its culture. The tour to Leh district can lead the mind to enjoy the mystic land with its entire ramification.