Leh Palace : Facts, History and Complete Travel Guide

Leh Palace which is located in the city of Leh is a former royal palace that overlooks the town of Leh. Constructed in the 17th Century, the palace’s base had been set down by the creator of the Namgyal Dynasty, Tsewang Namgyal. However, it had been Sengge Namgyal who finished its structure.
The palace had been built to function as the royal household’s house but had been subsequently invaded and seized from Zorawar Singh Kahluria. Despite getting exploded as a witness into the years of unrest and wars, even the palace managed to keep its splendor which amuses everyone.

Leh Palace

The Leh palace complex comprises nine stories, all of which had different functions to serve back into the times of glory. This palace’s structure is inspired by the Potala Palace of Lhasa, which makes it an excellent illustration of the medieval botanical system. The construction appears all the more imposing when viewed from a distance through the nighttime.

Another remedy the palace retains for history fans is that the museum stores a fantastic assortment of artifacts shedding light on the ethnic heritage of the area. Even the 450-year-old paintings, jewelry, and crown are all on display. Although photography isn’t permitted within the palace, catching the remnants of this past in your eyes is every bit as mesmerizing.

History of Leh Palace

Leh Palace, a rare jewel in the magical kingdom of Ladakh, has a fascinating history that’s gloomy for many parts. The creator of the Namgyal Dynasty, Tsewang Namgyal, has laid the base for the building of Leh palace in 1553. However, the building of this palace was afterward resumed and finished in the 17th Century.

The big, nine-storeyed complex was constructed to be occupied by the royal household. While the top floors were reserved for the royal family, this palace’s lower floors were utilized as steady and storerooms. Nonetheless, in the mid 19th Century, the area had been inhabited by Dogra forces, and along the palace had been seized from the troops, forcing the imperial family.

The palace remained in the control of General Zorawar Singh and the forces of the Dogra Dynasty for a while. However, another destiny awaited the royal Leh Palace. Since the troops maintained conquest to the other Tibet and Baltistan areas, the palace was once more abandoned by their occupants. That’s why Leh Palace is also called the deserted monument.

The Architecture of Leh Palace

The royal Leh Palace is a sizable, fine-looking construction that plots in towering pre-eminence across the entire city. The outside walls have a significant slope because their depth diminishes quickly with their growth of elevation.

The top stories are supplied with long open balconies into the southeast, and also, the walls have been pierced with a substantial variety of windows. The roof beams have been supported on carved wooden columns and covered with boards painted in a variety of patterns to the exterior. The construction is direct and substantial, but its height and size give it a very imposing look.

Narrative architecture

Alexander Cunningham supplied among the first comprehensive descriptions of this palace when he first saw Leh in 1854. It was nearly every traveler because he commented about the building’s dimensions and splendor.

In oral traditions, it’s stated that Stagsang Raspa indicated the palace had been constructed in the form of his robes that were of a Tibetan monk’s. The robe has two folds in the center and two on both sides, and also, the plan of this apparel will be upwardly tapering, having a thick and wide foundation. Further, it’s thought that on the conclusion of each ground, Stagsang Raspa would bless it with his footprint and beg for your construction’s strength and lifetime.

Leh Palace Sketch
Leh Palace : colour by Alexander Cunningham

The nine-storeyed towering construction’s architectural design indicates that it had been an administrative construction rather than a warrior’s residential place. Among the vital contributions to this palace design and structure was produced by a skilled craftsman named Chandan Ali Singge.

He had been a Balti Muslim that was also called Shinkan Chandan or carpenter Chandan. Ahead of Leh Palace, Chandan has constructed the palace at Chigtan, which now stands in ruins.

Local dental sources state Leh Palace took three decades to finish, and also, the king had been so happy with the structure that, not needing Chandan to have the ability to replicate the effort, he amputated his right hand. It’s said that Chandan went to develop palatial buildings in Hanle, Rudok, and other areas.

Architectural materials

The palace is constructed from locally available materials like rock, timber (juniper, poplar, and willow), sun-dried sand bricks, along markalak (waterproofing clay). It’s stated that the stones had been made from Phyang village using a system referred to as warfare len’, whereas folks would line up at a long single line from 1 stage to another, then transfer things from 1 individual to another.

Leh palace floor plan
A sketch of Leh Palace

Ladakhi buildings accompany regional retreats and Tibetan patterns of enormous timber walls, surrounding a lumber construction of beams and columns supporting a level ground roof.

Floor Plan of Leh Palace

There are two floors to the hall; the elevation of this construction is 58 meters in the bottom of the southern elevation walls towards the peak of the ninth degree. The most crucial entrance porch is located about the floor of this palace, where the administrative offices have been housed.

Dukar Lhakhang can be found here; the temple (Lhakhang) includes a stucco picture of Dukar (gdugs dkar), also called the Lady of the White Parasol’,” who’s the victorious thousand-armed sort of the goddess Tara. Until today, the two temples have been cared for by frequently appointed monks by your Hemis Monastery. A strategy of the numerous heights of this palace can be viewed here.

The queen and king’s critical quarters and a massive kitchen dominate the area’s middle on the first floor. The floor includes a living room and a temple named Samyeling Lhakhang (bsam yasgling that khang). The base consists of seven bedrooms at the corner, and there’s another little shrine area on the floor.

The lha-tho (upper-right corner) of the palace is placed on the highest point of the palace and is marked by prayer flags.

Both enormous building halls on 2 floors are known as Thag-chen Kong-Yog, that literally signifies Upper and Lower homes, akin to some modern-day parliament. Based on oral traditions, this can be where 60 wise guys named Ganmu Tukchu were encouraged from all around Ladakh to talk and discuss institutional matters linked to the socio-cultural frameworks of Ladakh.

Royal Leh Palace Floor plan
Leh Palace Floor Plan

The open patio, along with the halls, at the middle of this building, is known as Kathog Chenmo and also the Large Terrace. It was chiefly used for performances, particularly song recitals, songs, and dancing. Meant for its royal household’s amusement, these were played by the Takshosma (royal sailors ), that had been from 10 individual households of Leh city. 1 such member, Padma Angmo of their Nochung family, is 98 years old in 2018 and is now the sole surviving Takshosma.

She recalls the way the dancers were headed from the Lhardak loved ones and utilized to play ‘Kathog Chenmo’ to your king and the queen mostly through Dosmoche and Losar parties. Although the royal family no longer resided at Leh Palace, they’d come from Stok using a massive entourage to watch the parties.

This palace’s south facades include quite a few latticed and stained wooden balconies called rabsal. Similar word work could be understood from the previous mosques and imambaras and the houses of their chiefs of Baltistan and other sections of Ladakh. In reality, the number of balconies at home, at once in Ladakh, denoted the gardener’s wealth and status.

Main entry to the Leh Palace:

The principal entry to the palace is located on its west side and also is composed of an elaborate wooden porch having three lions, agreeing to Sengge Namgyal’s name and heritage. The canopy and mounts are elaborately carved, still bearing traces of paint, and also their design appears to lie between the temple porch at Wanla and conventional seventeenth-century blossom style.

The lion at the middle may be transferred in and from its box-like market with the assistance of a mechanism inside the palace; dental traditions state that it opened its mouth and roared at undesirable traffic to show that the king’s energy.

Leh Palace Entrance

The picture shows the wooden porch with three lions at the main entrance of Leh Palace.

The king would sit on a large throne in his patio with aristocrats, such as his ministers (including Lonpo and Kalon among others), sat seats lower compared to his to demonstrate their reverence and position. A distinctive dance named Drog-rtses Chenmo could be carried out on Kathog Chenmo, together with all the king’s ministry (Lonpo) directing different aristocrats into the accompaniment of songs from the Kharmons (imperial musicians).

Close-up of the lion in the center; there was a mechanism that moved it in and out of its box.

The building of Leh Palace has been supposedly rather exceptional for its technology methods, for instance, conventional rammed-earth system –that the walls of Leh Palace and also the majority of the monasteries are a testimony to its potency and endurance of this technique. Besides this is the mud-mortared rock technique that’s used uniquely from the palace. This is made up of a wall of mud-mortared rock (instead of, by way of instance, cement-mortared types ). Occasionally, but not during, the rocks are gently dressed.

The visual feel of the wall faces is derived from the manner by which the stones are laid. Most of the wall faces reveal an arbitrary feel but a number of different, banded feelings. This banded feel is intentionally made by first placing a row of big rocks, best faces forwards, then utilizing little rocks to package the distances between them and also to make a leveling coating for another row of big stones.

Another interesting approach is using wood of walls, a method widely utilized in many regions of the planet such as the Himalayas–by Hunza into Central Nepal.

Decline of the royal Leh Palace

The Dogra invasion triumphed as well as the Namgyal dynasty slowly lost its significance. The last king of separate Ladakh has been Tsepal Migyur, also called Tsepal Namgyal, who ascended to the throne in 1792. He had been deposed from the Dogras from 1834 and from 1837 had transferred into his palace at Stok, throughout the river Indus out of Leh, where his descendants reside until the date.

Together with the king’s motion from Leh, the regions surrounding the palace quickly dropped their grandeur and significance. Other folks in the region also adopted the king and moved into regions farther beneath Leh Palace which was growing at a quicker rate than the rugged incline more immediately beneath the palace.

Bereft of its occupants and having a lack of normal maintenance, the construction of Leh Palace gradually started dilapidating and sterile. Back in 1995, the ASI began its renovation strategies with a few first repairs to the construction. Subsequently, in 1998 they started major renovation and repair functions (Paul 2009; both Paul and Tshangspa 2010).

Leh Palace as a tourist attraction

Now, Leh Palace is a much-visited tourist destination in Ladakh. Tourists from all over the world like to explore this place to get a sense of the native architectural design and to see the fabulous perspective of Leh city in the cover of the construction. Leh’s Old Town, Leh Palace, the Tsemo, many monasteries, and homes that are made around the palace signify the cultural heritage of Ladakh.

The demand for conservation is crucial since the nineteenth century. These buildings have been a mark of the individuality of these people of Ladakh and the changes which happened inside this entrepôt named Leh, once an expansive gambling city that altered over time.

Leh palace view from old town
Leh palace view from old town

Best Time to visit Leh Palace

The very best time to explore Leh Palace is through summertime. The months of May to September provide the perspectives of a vibrant landscape beneath the crystal clear skies. In any case, the post-monsoon weeks of October are also regarded as a great time to cover this expansive palace trip.

Visiting Hours

Opening Time: 7 am
Closing Time: 4 pm

Entry Fee:

For Indians – INR 15 per person
For Foreigners INR 100 per person

How to reach:

Distance from Leh Airport: 7.5 km
Distance from Leh Bazaar: 1 km

If your hotel is around Leh Bazaar, you can see Leh Palace easily from anywhere. If you are far from the main Leh town, arrive at Leh bazaar and then you can walk towards Leh Palace. You can also reach Leh Palace in your car. Your GPS will guide you to Leh palace. If not, then arrive at Leh polo ground and ask anyone to navigate to the Leh Palace.

Other Essential Info about Royal Leh Palace for your visit:

Mobile Connectivity:

Mobile connectivity is no problem at Leh Palace since it’s found in the capital city of Ladakh. But it’s to be considered that prepaid sims issued in different nations don’t operate in Jammu & Kashmir. Thus, it is possible to just acquire cellular connectivity in case you have a postpaid sim or a prepaid sim issued in Jammu & Kashmir.

Medical Facilities:

There are no health care centers in Leh Palace. However, because the palace can be found in a brief distance of 2.4 kilometers from Leh town center, you’re not from medical centers even though you’re here. There are choices in town such as well-equipped SNM Hospital.


Considering that Leh Palace is located in the town of Leh, there are a few ATMs situated in proximity to it from the primary town. Thus, there won’t be any problem with cash availability around Leh Palace.

Petrol Pumps:

Yup, there’s a gas pump at Leh Town. It’s on the way from Leh airport to Leh Palace. The 2nd nearest gas pump is located in Karu, at a distance of 35 kilometers from town. Consequently, if you’re on a Leh road excursion, fuel isn’t a problem unless you travel far from Leh.

Food Joints:

There are a lot of decent food joints in Leh main market which are easy to discover. Because Leh is the capital city, it’s a bustling marketplace with loads of selections to fulfill your hunger.

Minimum Duration for Seeing Leh Palace:

Considering that photography isn’t permitted within the palace complex, you won’t have a whole lot to do besides admiring the workmanship and checking out the remarkable museum. Therefore, a length of 1 to two hours would be enough.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When was Leh Palace constructed?

The basis of the palace has been set from the 16th Century. On the other hand, the building was finished in the 17th Century.

Who built the Leh Palace?

The building of Leh Palace has been arranged by Tsewang Namgyal however, it had been Sengge Namgyal who finished the building in the 17th century.

Who was that the Architect of Leh Palace?

The title of this architect of Leh Palace isn’t known. The plan of this palace is enormously motivated by Potala Palace of Lhasa and can be built in Tibetan Architecture. The royal palace is adored by tourists because of its vibrant architecture.

Can we visit Leh Palace on a Sunday?

Leh Palace is available at all times of the week, so it is possible to organize your Leh trip on your convenient day of the week.

Which are the other tourist attractions around the Leh Palace?

There are not many notable tourist attractions in Leh that may be readily reached since they are well-connected by the street. A number of the largest locations which you are able to visit near Leh Palace are Shanti Stupa which’s a hilltop Buddhist stupa with remarkable structure.

Thiksey Monastery is among the most respected monasteries in Ladakh; General Zorawar Fort; along with the Hall of Fame Museum that’s a military or war museum devoted to the courageous soldiers of India and can be preserved by the Indian Army. Leh Market is also very close to Leh Palace where you can go walking.

Where is Leh Palace Located?

The glorious palace of Leh is in main Leh town sitting on the very top of Tsemo Hill, overlooking the enchanting city laid down beneath it. An individual can appreciate the perspectives of Stok Kangri on the patio of the palace.

Is photography allowed within the palace?

Unfortunately, photography isn’t permitted within Leh Palace. You may just take photos of the fort by the exterior. But when you’ve written consent in the ASI, then you are able to click photos within the palace.

Can there be any entrance fee?

It’s true, you need to pay a minimum entrance fee to explore Leh Palace. The entrance fee for Indian tourists is put in INR 15 per individual. For thieves, an entrance charge of INR 100 an individual is billed.

What’s Leh Palace also called the Forgotten Monument?

The title of Leh Palace since the Forgotten Monument has been because of its own fate. Following its building, the palace originally served as the home of the royal household. Nonetheless, in the 19th Century, on account of the invasion from Dogra compels, the inhabitants had to flee and change into Stok Palace.

As Zorawar Singh along with his forces maintained beating the further areas like Baltistanthe palace has been left and never obtained any permanent occupants back. Over the period of time, the palace dropped its glory and has been abandoned. But this place cannot be forgotten by some of those people as soon as they see Leh Palace.

Nearby Attractions

Stakna Monastery25 km40 min
Shey Monastery15 km30 min
Thiksey Monastery20 km30 min 
Hemis Monastery35 km53 min
Zorawar Fort02 km06 min
Hall of Fame06 km15 min
Jama Masjid700 m3 min
Central Asian Museum350 m2 min
Sankar Monastery1.4 km5 min
Shanti Stupa3 km7 hr 
Leh Main Market700 km02 min

Book References:

  1. Cunningham, Alexander. Ladak: Physical, Statistical and Historical. New Delhi: Pilgrims Book House. 1854.
  2. Ahmed, Monisha and Clare Harris (eds). Ladakh: Culture at the Crossroads. Mumbai: Marg Publications, 2005.
  3. Howard, Neil F. ‘The Development of the Fortresses of Ladakh c.950 to c.1650 AD’. East and West 39 (1–4): 217–288. 1989.
  4. Harrison, John. The LAMO Centre: Restoration and Adaptive Reuse in Leh Old Town. Leh: The LAMO Trust. 2017.
  5. Jest, Corneille and John Sanday. ‘The Palace of Leh in Ladakh: An Example of Himalayan Architecture in Need of Preservation.’ Mountain Research and Development 3(1): 1–11. 1983.
  6. Rabgais, Tashi. History of Ladakh Called the Mirror Which Illuminates All. New Delhi: C Namgyal and Tsewang Taru. 1984.
  7. Sheikh, Abdul Ghani. ‘Islamic Architecture in Ladakh.’ Ladakh: Culture at the Crossroads. Edited by Monisha Ahmed and Clare Harris, 34–43. Mumbai: Marg Publications. 2005.
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