Leh palace with nice mountain range

Getty Images/Moment Open

Leh Palace

Top choice in Leh

Bearing a passing similarity to the Potala Palace in Lhasa (Tibet), this nine-storey dun-coloured edifice is Leh's dominant structure and architectural icon. It took shape under 17th-century king Singge Namgyal but has been essentially unoccupied since the Ladakhi royals were stripped of power and shuffled off to Stok in 1846. Today the sturdy walls enclose some photo exhibition spaces and a small prayer room, but the most enjoyable part of a visit is venturing to the uppermost rooftops for the view.

Interesting structures ranged around the palace’s base include the prominent Namgyal Stupa, the colourfully muralled Chandazik Gompa and Soma Gompa, once home to the monastic printing press. Also nearby is the 1430 Chamba Lhakhang, with its colourful three-storey Buddha and medieval mural fragments. Don't count on any of these being open though.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Leh attractions

1. Guru Lhakhang

0.04 MILES

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…


0.04 MILES

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…

3. Chamba Lhakhang

0.05 MILES

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…

4. Leh Old Town

0.06 MILES

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…

5. Chandazik Gompa

0.08 MILES

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…

6. Jamia Masjid


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…

7. Central Asian Museum

0.11 MILES

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…

8. Chokhang Vihara

0.16 MILES

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…