A well-deserved day off after the tough riding from Manali. Leh sits at a very pleasant 3,500 m (11,480 ft). Well it's pleasant after having been above 4,000 m and up to 5,000 m over the past few days. Leh is set in a very beautiful location, on the northern banks of the Indus River with stunning views of snow-capped mountains. I'm reminded that we're still in India with all the honking and race-car driving habits of everyone but the local people look very different as they have some Tibetan blood in them.
Leh is a very old city, having been a major trading town between Tibet and Kashmir and generally Indian and China. The city itself was founded in the 10th century and Leh Palace dates from the 17th century. People were probably living and thriving here much before then but there's little record of it.
The old goods of pashmina or cashmere wool are still being hawked along the streets of Leh along with new goods such as smartphones. The summer season is very short and a lot of activity takes place during the annual thaw. I was given a ride by a local after getting lost during a walk and Sonam told me that he actually prefers the winter months to the summer months. Winter here starts in September itself and doesn't let up till May, with most of that time spent below freezing temperatures. Sonam said he prefers it cause nothing happens during winter due to the cold, so everyone just socializes and makes the time go by.
I had a nice walk through Old Leh and enjoyed a glass of tasty, fresh lassi and some paneer. After some more wandering, I ended up at the Royal Palace of Leh and soaked in the history of this place.
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