Leh is a town in the Leh district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh district, with an area of 45,110 km2, is the second most expansive district in the country, after Kutch in Gujarat. It was the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, seat of which was in the Leh Palace, the former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace-the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamshala, India, during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Leh is at an altitude of 3,524 metres (11,562 ft), and is connected via National Highway 1 to Srinagar in the southwest and to Manali in the south via the Leh-Manali Highway. In 2010, Leh was heavily damaged by the sudden floods caused by a cloud burst.
Since the 8th century people belonging to different religions, particularly Buddhism and Islam, have been living in harmony in Leh. They co-inhabited the region from the time of early period of Namgyal dynasty and there are no records of any conflict between them.
“This mosque was built by Ibraheem Khan (in the mid 17th century), who was a man of noble family in the service of the descendants of Timoor. In his time the Kalimaks (Calmuck Tartars), having invaded and obtained possession of the greater portion of Thibet [Ladakh], the Raja of that country claimed protection from the Emperor of Hindoostan. Ibraheem Khan was accordingly deputed by that monarch to his assistance, and in a short time succeeded in expelling the invaders and placing the Raja once more on his throne. The Raja embraced the Mahomedan faith, and formally acknowledged himself as a feudatory of the Emperor, who honored him with the title of Raja Akibut Muhmood Khan, which title to the present day is borne by the Ruler of Cashmere.
In recent times, relations between the Buddhist and Muslim communities soured due to the petty conflicts motivated by political interest. With the visit of the Dalai Lama in August 2003 and his strong appeal to the masses regarding religious pluralism and peaceful coexistence, the situation has ameliorated and normalcy has been restored. Thus, Ladakh resumed its age-old tradition of cohesiveness.
Besides these two communities there are people living in the region who belong to other religions such as Christianity, Hinduism, and Sikhism, who too live in harmony and form a vital part of the society. The small Christian community in Leh are descendants of converts from Tibetan Buddhism by German Moravian missionaries who established a church at Keylong in Lahaul in the 1860s, and were allowed to open another mission in Leh in 1885 and had a sub branch in Khalatse. They stayed open until Indian Independence in 1947. In spite of their successful medical and educational activities, they made only a few converts.
Every year Sindhu Darshan Festival is held at Shey, 15 km away from town to promote religious harmony and glory of Indus (Sindhu) river. At this time, Leh is packed with thousands of tourists coming from all over India, as well as foreign countries.
Leh is the former capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, now the Leh district in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. In terms of area it is the second largest district in the country, after Kutch, Gujarat. The town is dominated by the ruined Leh Palace, the former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace. It was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India, during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.
Heavily influenced by Buddhist and Tibetan culture, Leh has an abundance of monastic festivals. Though many festivals feature similar types of celebrations and tend to revolve around the celebration of life and rituals to ward off evil and attract peace, they each possess a deep and rich history of their own often held in memory of the great Monks who founded their monastery.