We had literally erased the very thought of Durga Puja celebrations during the last four days of continuous road trips in and around the high mountains and virgin valleys of Ladakh. Khardungla had taken our breadth away, we dared not to complain! Nubra had mesmerized us with its vibrant shades.
The Leh Palace..mysterious and formidable…
It was fun to be lost in the sheer wilderness at the Shyok Safari. And spending the night beside the perpetual blueness of Pangong Tso was an experience of lifetime. If I had to speak of thrills, raiding the snow-world of Chang La was an awesome experience.
Back to Leh
The fresh memoirs of the Thiksey Monastery and the aura of the Indus were cut short, as our SUV sped its way into the busy streets of city of Leh.
Busy streets of Leh..on the way to Leh Palace
On the way to Leh Palace
Dussera would have been entirely missed out if we would not have been back to Leh that evening. The Leh market grounds had already been making huge preparations for erecting the statues of the demon king Raavan and his brothers to be burnt marking the defeat of evil and victory of the Divine.
Dussera Celebrations at Leh Market Grounds
We were already on our way up to the monumental Leh palace and were awestruck by the enthusiasm of the people of Leh celebrating Dussera.
The Leh Palace
It took us hardly another three minutes from the Leh market to climb to the parking space in front of the Leh palace. With the evening knocking at the doors the huge palace looked truly enigmatic and mysterious like a ghost house. Probably with hardly any tourists around, it was foolish of me to find resemblance of this monumental structure with Count Drakula’s fabled castle seen in the movie Van Helsing.
The mysterious Leh Palace
On the way to Leh Palace..The city of Leh was looking fabulous
Talking about the origin of the palace, a huge billboard erected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said it all. The palace had its inspiration from the design of the famous Potola Palace of the forbidden city of Lhasa, Tibet. Leh Palace was built by Sengge Namgyal the monarch of the Namgyal dynasty of Ladakh during the 17th century. The nine storied palace was an architectural beauty of its own. Probably the upper floors were used by the members of the royal family with the lower ones being occupied by the nobles, ministers and other officers in the royal hierarchy. The basement floor was probably used as store houses.
The formidable Leh Palace
The entrance..Leh Palace
Inside the palace
A small entrance door led me into the huge palace. I could hardly fathom the sheer magnitude of the palace by simply managing to grope my way upstairs leading to the upper floor. It was dark and there was an unusual mysterious ancient smell all around me. The corridors located in the first floor were huge which were lined up by gigantic halls. The same patterns were followed by upper floors. A small photo exhibition featuring the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh and the Namgyal dynasty was showcased in one of the halls. One of the doors from this hall led to a huge roof-top that brought me to an amazing view of the city of Leh
The royal chambers..Leh palace
The Royal Gate
The Roof-top Leh View
The entire city was bathed in the brilliance of the golden evening light. The distant snow-capped mountains were exuberating their pomp and grandeur towering their magnificence over the valley floor housing the city of Leh. Although there was a pervasive dominance of dull grey in the landscape, the valley floor was beautifully touched by tinges of greenery that made the view amazing.
View of the Leh Market..from Leh Palace
Roofscape from Leh Palace..and the distant kite..
A shrieking kite was gracefully gliding its way over the valley. Probably it was looking for its way back home. There was a sharp bite of severe coldness with the fading daylight. With the cold winds picking up suddenly, I decided to rush back to the exhibition hall.
The Leh View…An Ahh Moment
I decided to take the stairs leading all the way to the royal quarters above. Unfortunately the entire complex was locked up due to maintenance and repair work. My long cherished desire to witness the relics of the royal quarters of the palace remained incomplete as one of the maintenance staffs politely requested me to return to the entrance gate as it was already near to the closure time.
The sheer magnitude of the Leh palace took my breath away. It is mysterious, ancient, secluded and one may suddenly start feeling that you had entered a whole new world way back in the lap of time. My trance was cut short by a roll of thunderous fire crackers and drums way down below from the Leh Market grounds. The gigantic paper statues of Raavana were being torched. There was elation in the air. The sun had already rolled back making the way for evening darkness. The stars had already appeared twinkling brilliantly in the violet evening sky. I realized that the Ladakh trip had opened up a whole new chapter in my life. The difficulties of breathlessness and bone cracking chills of the mountains had made me stronger. The sheer beauty of mother nature had made me humble. I realized somewhere deep inside me that Ladakh had made a lifelong relation with my heart.