Leh Palace: The Abandoned Royal Palace in Ladakh, India

Sometimes referred to as Lachen Palkar Palace, Leh Palace is an abandoned Royal castle overlooking the city of Leh in Ladakh, India. Built in the early years of the 17th century, the royal residence has been deserted since 1834 due to political wrangles. The nine-story building was once the world’s tallest building and has plenty of fascinating history. Here, we look at its history, reason for abandonment, and current state.

Why Was Leh Palace Built?

Sengge Namgyal, famous as the “Lion King,” was a king who ruled over Ladakh, India, in the 17th century. A Buddhist, a part of Sennge’s legacy came from building monasteries, shrines, and palaces. Leh Palace was among the sacred buildings he literally left behind (as you will learn in this article later).

Leh Palace was built under Sengge Namgyal’s orders to house the royal family members. Being a nine-story building, the upper floors housed the royals, while the lower ones were used as store rooms and held stables.

Interestingly, Leh Palace had an almost similar design to Potala Palace, the home of the Dalai Lama located in neighboring Tibet. Despite the similarities and relatively smaller stature, Leh Palace is massively impressive in its own right.

Why Leh Palace Was Abandoned

Unfortunately, Leh Palace was abandoned in the mid-19th century after Dogra forces attacked and took control of Ladakh. The royal family was forced to migrate to Stok Palace, another Buddhist monastery located 15 kilometers south of Leh.

The building remained vacant for a considerable amount of time. Eventually, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) took over the building’s ownership, converting some floors into its offices. Efforts to restore the building have been slow and painful. Today, only the fourth floor seems to have some life; it was converted into the Dukhar temple, a shrine for the goddess Tara.

Leh Palace As a Tourism Destination

Unlike most abandoned buildings, which are usually thought to be haunted or generally unsafe to visit, Leh Palace remains a tourism magnet. Visitors are always treated to fascinating ornaments, crowns, ceremonial dresses, and jewelry collections at the Palace’s Museum. The Tibetan paintings/Thangkas at the palace are believed to be over 450 years old.

The building itself is a masterpiece representing the Indo-Tibetan architecture. That, coupled with its location in the beautiful mountains of Ladakh, makes Leh Place a perfect tourist destination.

Leh Palace is open to the public, and the best time to visit is during the summer months of May and June. You might also want to confirm the entry fees depending on whether you are from India or are a foreigner. Fortunately, you do not have to worry about medical facilities, cash flow, or mobile reception. The place is well-connected, has standard medical facilities, and has ATMs all over.

Here are a few more pictures to give you an idea of what Leh Palace currently looks like.

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