Leh is the district headquarters of Leh district in Ladakh in the state of Jammu Kashmir in India. Situated at an altitude of 3524 metres (11,562 ft) above sea level, Leh sports harsh cold desert climate with minimum temperatures dipping to about -40 degrees in winter months between November and March. But in summer you may expect temperature hovering around 30 degrees with clear skies and arid weather as Leh falls in the rain-shadow area of the Himalayas. In fact, also known as the ‘Rooftop of the World’, Leh is probably the only place on earth where one can get a ‘frost-bite’ and a ‘sun-burn’ - both together.
Nestled in the world's highest mountain system – The Himalayas, Leh mixes an interesting and picturesque collage of breath taking snow-capped silvery mountain peaks and flat golden swaying barley farmlands. A seamless landscape of rock and snow - this city's geology and ecology perfectly converge to making Leh a city of adventurous challenges which has whetted the curiosities of thousands of tourists from all over the world each year.
Leh banks on the shore of the much acclaimed river Indus which originates in Tibet, runs through Ladakh right into Pakistan. Leh is bordered by the chain of Karakoram Mountains in the north and Himalayas in the south.
Leh is located at the crossroads of old trading routes from Kashmir, Tibet and China trading in Silk yarn, Cashmere wool, Brocade, Semi precious stones and Resins. This made Leh an important trading stopover for various traders and Tibetan nomads who visited the Leh valley at a time when Dard colonizers had begun irrigating the Leh Valley. Leh derives its name from the encampment of these Tibetan nomads who visited Leh.
Leh boasts of a strong Buddhist influence of Monks, 2nd Century Monuments, Monasteries, Stupas, coupled with 16th Century Mughalai mosques reflecting Mughalai and Tibetan architecture, epitomizing the peaceful coexistence of two different faiths.
Tourists are at home in Leh with all the latest lifestyle amenities like Internet cafes; Hospitals; Post Office; Curio shops; Book stores; Gift shops; Travel agencies; open-air restaurants that serve Israeli, Chinese, Continental; Indian and local Ladakh cuisines.
Leh is also home to VSAT – a satellite communications system which serves business and home users – making Leh the highest VSAT centre in the world since its inception by National Informatics Centre in 1990. The District Administration envisages and is working towards creating a knowledge-based society in Leh where every citizen shall be able to access the benefits of Information Technology such as education; trade and tourism.
The British India Partition slowed down the trade in Leh and the 1962 Sino-Indian war pulled the plug on trade all together with the closure of the border. Today it enjoys being the Himalayan bustling hub of exploring backpackers; veteran and amateur photographers; adventure-sports enthusiasts; geologists and serious mountaineers from all over the world.
The city also has an active military presence with a large military base near the Leh airport in order to patrol the Chinese and Pakistani borders. The Indian Military also help the local government in keeping the roads clear and safe for unobstructed mobility.
A trip to leh is worthwhile, where a traveller can enjoy the natural beauty and scenic hill stations to the maximum extent.