Leh Palace overlooks the Ladakhi Himalayan town of Leh, modelled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century, but was later abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh in the mid-19th century. The royal family moved to Stok Palace. Leh Palace is nine storeys high; the upper floors accommodated the royal family, the stables and store rooms were in the lower floors. The palace, a ruin, is currently being restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The palace is open to the public and the roof provides panoramic views of Leh and the surrounding areas. The mountain of Stok Kangri in the Zangskar mountain range is visible across the Indus valley to the south, with the Ladakh mountain range rising behind the palace to the north.
The richest collection of jewellery, ornaments, Thangkas and so on is in the Palace Museum. One finds in the museum ceremonial dresses, crowns, and centuries-old pieces of jewellery. There are Chinese Thangka or sooth paintings which are more than 450 years old. They still look new. The bright and pleasing colours and the intricate designs are breathtaking. The colours are said to have been derived from crushing and powdering gems and stones.
The construction of the palace on the Tsemo Hill was initiated by Tsewang Namgyal, the founder of the Namgyal dynasty of Ladakh in 1553 and was completed by his nephew Sengge Namgyal.
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