Leh Palace also known as Lachen Palkar Palace is a former royal palace overlooking the city of Leh in Ladakh, India. It was constructed circa 1600 by Sengge Namgyal. The palace was abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh in the mid-19th century and forced the royal family to move to Stok Palace.
It is nine storeys high; the upper floors accommodated the royal family, while the lower floors held stables and store rooms. Much of the palace is in deteriorated condition, and little survives of its interior decorations. The Palace Museum holds a rich collection of jewellery, ornaments, ceremonial dresses and crowns. Tibetan thangka or paintings, which are more than 450 years old, with intricate designs still retain the bright colours derived from crushed and powdered gems and stones. Structures around the palace's base include the prominent Namgyal Stupa, the colourfully muralled Chandazik Gompa and the 1430 Chamba Lhakhang, with medieval mural fragments located between the inner and outer walls.
The palace is 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 Leh Palace is a magnificent example of the Tibetan architecture and attracts tourists from all across the globe, who cannot help but marvel at the grandeur and elegance of this antique structure. Even though the size of Leh Palace is smaller, it closely resembles the Patola Palace of Lhasa. Huge buttressed walls and jutted out wooden balconies are characteristic features of this architectural style.
The Leh Palace has been designed in line with the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The construction of the palace, which began in 1553, was started by one of the rulers of Namgyal dynasty, Tsewang Namgyal. The construction was then completed by his successor, Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century. These rulers later resided in the Leh Palace along with their family. The grand structure of the palace was complete with nine storeys in all, which made it one of the tallest structures of those times. The upper floors were used for accommodation, while the floors below houses stables and storerooms.
The Leh Palace was abandoned by the royal family in the mid 19 century when the Dongra forces took over Ladakh. Consequently, the Namgyal family had to shift to the Stok Palace. The grand edifice is now in a dilapidated condition and has been converted into an archaeological museum that proudly displays the artefacts of the yesteryear's rulers of Leh.