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Leh (IXL)

The city of Leh has the only airport in the remote Indian state of Ladakh, situated in the very north of the country in the heart of the Himalaya, next to the Tibetan border. The airport itself is modern enough but pretty small and basic, although this is unlikely to cause many problems with the limited number of flights here. On an average day movements are likely to consist of just one or two Indian Airlines flights and a similar number of Indian Air Force operations. These all take place in the morning, generally pretty early, as the weather here can be extremely unpredictable, and the mountainous terrain means that it's simply too dangerous to attempt any flying in the afternoons when the weather could close in at any time. It is possible to get here by road at certain times of the year, but, since this normally takes about two days from either of the two adjoining states, not surprisingly most people elect to fly here! The views are truly spectacular.

Since Ladakh borders the disputed and seriously strife-torn area of Kashmir, security here is even tighter than in the rest of India - the number of checks you have to go through when flying out from here is quite amazing. Don't even think of trying to get a photo anywhere near the airport itself - you will regret it!
However, there is a possibility for some great photos if you're prepared to make a bit of effort. Spitok Gompa (a Tibetan-style temple/monastery found throughout the area) is situated on the top of a hill (mountain anywhere else in the world!) near the end of the runway. Luckily the surrounding terrain dictates that there's only one approach path, to Runway 07, no matter what the wind direction is, and all aircraft therefore have to go past this point on landing (rather reminiscent of the old Kai Tak approach in many ways). Climb up the hill (much easier said than done at this altitude!) to find a suitable spot for some spectacular photos. Don't forget to take a book, though - you'll probably have a long wait between movements! You should also keep yourself as inconspicuous as possible - I believe that it's officially illegal to take photographs in the direction of the actual airport from here (the approach is in the opposite direction), and, although it's highly unlikely that anyone would see you up here, I certainly don't recommend 'testing the rules'!

K2670 K2712
K2670
Indian Air Force An-32
K2712
Indian Air Force An-32
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Last visited on 9 June 1995 Top of page
 
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Maps

Click on the icons below to see maps relating to Leh airport. Note that these are all external links to other sites, and will open in a new window.

Area Map  
General map of the Leh area

Courtesy of:
Maps by Expedia.com Travel
maps.expedia.com

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