Leh is a fascinating labyrinth of winding streets and quaint bazaars. The main street is open and airy, with rows of shops on either side. Leh is very Tibetan; the national dress, ‘stove-pipe’ hats and felt boots with turned-up toes are much in evidence. The Royal Palace, which dominates the town, is very reminiscent of the Potala in Lhasa and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, large chortens, prayer flags and mud brick houses with flat roofs are a dramatic culture change from the hot, teeming frenetic rush of Delhi. This morning you will visit the Snow Leopard Conservancy; here you will see the efforts made by the authority with the help of the local community to conserve the endanger snow leopard.
In the afternoon, visit the Thiksey monastery, the most picturesquely situated monastery in Ladakh, perched high on a hill above the Indus. Its buildings are arranged at various levels, leading up to the private apartments of the incarnate lamas on the summit. From here one commands a magnificent view of the valley. The Gompa possesses a rich and beautiful collection of hundreds of hand-written or painted prayer books. A new temple contains a 15-meter tall Buddha statue, constructed in 1970 to commemorate a visit to Thiksey by the Dalai Lama. The statue, made of clay and covered with gold paint, is the largest Buddha figure in Ladakh and took four years to construct. Inside, the statue is filled with the Kandshur and the Tandshur – volumes of Buddhist canonical texts. The statue was made entirely by local craftsmen and represents Maitreya, (“compassion” in Sanskrit) the Buddha of the Future. The prophecy made of the Future Buddha is that the world will be undergoing such chaos that He will teach compassion to the people.