We’ll get to the snow in a bit, but first to Leh Palace! Built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 16th century and abandoned by the royal family in the mid nineteenth century due to a little local difficulty, it is quite the thing. It’s nine stories high and dominates Leh like a giant brooding on the hillside.
These days it is perhaps more interesting on the outside as for the most part the many rooms are empty and abandoned, though one or two still have preserved remnants of the old murals. The royal shrine still has brightly painted Buddhas behind an ornate glass case, and colourful wooden pillars, and there were a couple of interesting photographic exhibitions too but these days it’s hard to imagine the royal family living on the dusty upper floors and the stables and soldiers down below.
The view is terrific though and we watched a snowstorm on one of the high passes in the distance.
The man who owned the restaurant where we had lunch said “that storm won’t come here. It will stay over Kardung-la” and he was right. We got a few speckles of rain but nothing to make a real difference.
Remarkably, we woke up to rain this morning. It hardly ever rains in Leh and not at this time of year but there we are. We walked back down to the centre of Leh through old buildings associated with the palace.
We headed for the main bazaar to pick up some bits and pieces and crucially some dried fruit!
When I popped into see our travel company, Stanzin looked at me regretfully and said “We have a big problem. There is too much snow”. It turns out that it is still so deep that most of the higher passes are still closed, even though they would usually be open by mid June. That means that we can’t do our Nubra Valley trek as planned, which is a real shame. We‘d wanted to see the Bactrian camels and sand dunes, but they will have to wait. We’ve been able to arrange a replacement (we think) and it won’t affect the trek we start tomorrow so fingers crossed.
Tomorrow we get a taxi to Chilling, a couple of hours away and head into the Markha Valley, sleeping and eating in village houses along the way. Our guide Sonam stopped by the guesthouse this evening to see if we had any questions. He seems like a nice chap and it was good to see who we will be spending the next six days with.