After a long relaxing lunch, Christian & I left Michelle to potter at the bookshop while we headed up to Leh Palace, winding our way up & up through the tiny alleys in the Old Town, devoid of tourists. It was a challenging climb up along dirt trails with my 9kg photography pack, in the dry afternoon heat. Some of the smells are truly feral within the city (sewerage, deisel fumes, garbage, urine), & when you’re walking up a strenuous hill, sucking up air with your mouth open, it seems to stick in your mouth & lungs & you just want to hack it all back out, but you can’t cause you desperately need the air.
Architecturally, the palace was fairly impressive on the outside, at least from an old world perspective. It’s styled on the Potala Palace in Tibet – a rather imposing structure. While Christian waited outside reading, I paid 100Rps (@ AUD$2) to go in & see what was really only a mixture of small & large sized rooms with dirt floors & nothing in them. The only thing of any interest to me, apart from the spectacular views of Leh city from the windows, was the incredibly beautiful meditation room – the energy inside was serene amongst the large Buddha statues & devotional relics.
The option was there of climbing further to a gompa sitting high on an adjacent hill – no way, Jose, enough for today. We walked back mostly along the roadway, where we saw a giant Buddha painted on the side of the hill, before venturing once again through the back alleys of the Old Town, & experiencing some authentic Leh community living.