Night scene of Leh city from Shanti stupa

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Few places in India are at once so traveler friendly and enchanting as mountain-framed Leh. Dotted with stupas and whitewashed houses, the Old Town is dominated by a dagger of steep rocky ridge topped by an imposing Tibetan-style palace and fort. Beneath, the bustling bazaar area is draped in a thick veneer of tour agencies, souvenir shops and tandoori-pizza restaurants, but a web of lanes quickly fans out into a green suburban patchwork of irrigated barley fields. Here, gushing streams and narrow footpaths link traditionally styled Ladakhi garden homes that double as charming, inexpensive guesthouses. Leh’s a place that’s all too easy to fall in love with – but take things very easy on arrival as the altitude requires a few days' acclimatization before you can safely start enjoying the area's gamut of adventure activities.

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