Start your day with the visit of Shey, the King’s old Palace. The Palace was built by King Deldan Namgyal in the beginning of the 17th century AD as a summer residence for the Kings of Ladakh. It is the oldest palace in Ladakh and above it is an even older fortress. The Palace and Fort are in ruins
but the Monastery is in use to this day. Inside is a 39-foot statue made of gilded copper of the Shakyamuni Buddha, which was made by King Deldan Namgail in the memory of his father Singay Namgail. The statue is the only of its kind in the region.
We make our way towards the Thiksey Gompa – an impressive imitation of Lhasa’s Potala Palace dramatically perched on a slope overlooking the Indus Valley. Thiksey is the most beautiful of all monasteries in Ladakh, belonging to the Gelukpa order. The Gompa was first build at Stakmo by Changsem Sherab Zangpo of Stod. Later the nephew of Sherab Zangpo, Spon Paldan Sherab, founded the Thiksey Gompa on a hilltop to the north of the Indus River in 1430 AD. There are sacred shrines and many precious objects to be seen there.
After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Hemis Gompa, the biggest Monastery in Ladakh. Located 45 Km to the south of Leh, it is built on a green hillside surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery and hidden in a gorge. The Monastery belongs to Dugpa Kargyutpa order and houses monks of the Brokpa or Red Hat sect. One can see beautiful frescoes (paintings) on the walls and the largest Thangka painting in Ladakh, which is over 12m in length. Within the Monastery there are to be seen a copper-gilt statue of the Lord Buddha, various stupas made of gold and silver, sacred thankas and many objects. The Monastery was founded by the first incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630, who was invited to Ladakh by King Singay Namgial and offered a religious estate throughout the region.
Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)