Leh was the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, now Leh District in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh is at an altitude of 3524 metres (11,562 ft) and with an area of 45,110 km2, is the second largest district in India.
Leh was an important stopover on trade routes along the Indus Valley between Tibet to the east, Kashmir to the west and also between India and China for centuries. Its importance as a trading town slowed down with the partition of British India, and ended with the closure of the border in 1962 during the Sino-Indian war. Since opening to tourists in 1974, it has become a bustling tourist town, with large numbers of Kashmiri traders.
It's a small town, easy to get most places by foot. The old town is a compact area of mud brick houses and narrow lanes directly to the east of Main Bazar. Changspa is the agricultural "suburb" northwest of the center, with many guesthouses.
The tourist sights to be enjoyed in Leh are the former Palace of the King of Ladakh (admission 100rps). The most noticeable building in Leh, the palace was built in the 17th century, and now undergoing restoration. There are a few Buddhist temples in the area as well like Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Soma Gompa, Karma Dupgyud Choeling.
The Shanti Stupa built by a Japanese Buddhist group is somewhat kitschy, but still worth a visit.