Leh Old Town


Behind Leh’s central Jamia Masjid, winding alleys and stairways burrow between and beneath a series of old mud-brick Ladakhi houses and eroded chortens. The alleys themselves are a large part of the attraction, but some buildings have been particularly well restored, notably the pair of 17th-century mansions now housing the interesting LAMO arts centre.

To get a taste, walk past the Dhyani Buddha–fronted building that houses Lala's Art Cafe, turn hard left on an easily missed passageway beside a rigsum gonbo (represented by a trio of yellow, white and blue mini-stupas) and tunnel under a building past a magenta door marked 'Chamba Gonba' (normally locked). Wind up a rocky slope to LAMO and beyond to the Old Town Cafe and the Leh Palace just above.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Leh attractions


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This arts-media trust occupies an adjoining pair of 17th-century Ladakhi mansions, one of which was the home of the munshi (king's secretary) and thus one…

2. Guru Lhakhang

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Restored in 2004 but often locked, this 17th-century shrine to Padmasambhava sits on the edge of the Old Town palace ridge, directly below the palace and…

3. Jamia Masjid

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In the heart of Leh's market area, the first mosque on this site was built in 1666–67, sealing a political agreement between Ladakh's then ruler Deldan…

4. Leh Palace

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Bearing a passing similarity to the Potala Palace in Lhasa (Tibet), this nine-storey dun-coloured edifice is Leh's dominant structure and architectural…

5. Chamba Lhakhang

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The early 15th-century Chamba Lhakhang was one of a trio of Maitreya ('future Buddha') temples built in Leh by King Draspa Bum-lde. The obvious…

6. Central Asian Museum

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One of Leh's most remarkable buildings, this tapered four-storey stone tower is a modern construction based on a historic Lhasa mansion and built on the…

7. Chandazik Gompa

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Till the 1950s, this temple was Leh's main Buddhist place of public worship. It features internal murals celebrating the pantheon of 1000 Buddhas, of…

8. Chokhang Vihara

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With its coppiced willows, the large courtyard of this 20th-century temple offers an oasis of relatively meditative calm just steps from the bustle of…