The Stok Palace looks over the valley of Singey Sangpo
The Stok Palace looks over the valley of Singey SangpoStok Palace

Stok Palace: Of Ladakh's Lores And Legacies

A stay at the 200-year-old Stok Palace is akin to living within a museum, where Ladakh's rich heritage echoes in every corner

If Ladakh is on your wishlist this summer, take the experience a notch above by going a little ahead of Leh and booking a stay at the 200-year-old Stok Palace. The Palace, belonging to the Namgyal Dynasty, was built by Ladakhi craftsmen all the way back in 1820. Situated atop a hill and overlooking the serene Singey Sangpo valley, the Palace still exudes a silent power that once echoed throughout the region and even Nepal.

While the Palace continues to be home to the current royal members of the 400-year-old dynasty, a part of the heritage building was carefully restored and opened up to visitors in 2007 by HRH, HRH Gyalpo Jigmed Wangchuk Namgyal, inviting them to explore a side of Ladakh that usually goes undiscovered.

The Space

The Stok Palace Hotel is made up of six restored suites located in the heritage building and three large villas that are spread within the palace grounds, hidden by the surrounding apricot, walnut, and willow trees. However, it is in the former that you are truly transported to the past through the original frescoes and the vernacular architecture that have been painstakingly preserved through the ages. "I first started just offering one room and, based on the response, went on to develop the other suites. I wanted to retain the space's authentic charm so that the guests could relive the past," says Namgyal. But that is not all; Namgyal also wanted to ensure that the Palace is preserved in a way that communicates the importance of understanding vernacular architecture for the generations to come. "Since Ladakh is a dry and arid place, stone and wood are primary materials that work well. However, as the shelf life for everything here is so little, I wanted to show that something like the Stok Palace can survive hundreds of years," says Namgyal. 

The rooms feature original frescoes depicting Buddhist lores
The rooms feature original frescoes depicting Buddhist loresStok Palace

The rooms in the heritage building epitomise Namgyal's vision perfectly. From antique wooden furniture to frescoes depicting Buddhist lores to Ladakh's native textiles used for furnishing, living in one feels like spending time in a museum. However, the villas, featuring two rooms and a common sitting area, infuse traditional Ladakhi architecture and contemporary interiors.

Food

The dining room adorned with rich murals and intricately designed pillars.
The dining room adorned with rich murals and intricately designed pillars. Stok Palace

Stok Palace keeps you rooted in the region through authentic Ladakhi dishes made by following heirloom recipes. The traditional kitchen takes you beyond the usuals, like Thukpa, to treat you to special creations like namthuk, gyathuk, skyu, paba with tsimek and phemar—they are also all made with locally grown ingredients. To complete the experience, the staff at Stok Palace regale you with unique dining locations, from serving one meal under the apricot trees in the orchard to curating a traditional experience in their age-old Ladakhi dining room adorned with rich murals and intricately designed pillars. 

Stok Palace keeps you rooted in the region through authentic Ladakhi dishes made by following heirloom recipes
Stok Palace keeps you rooted in the region through authentic Ladakhi dishes made by following heirloom recipesHajra Ahmad

Experiences

While unfurling the history of the Namgyal Dynasty in itself is an experience, there is a lot that you can do within the palace premises. Visit the Palace's Buddhist Temple and witness the resident monks' enchanting evening and morning prayer rituals. You must also visit the Palace Museum, which houses an extensive collection of costumes, jewellery dating back thousands of years ago, artefacts and household antiques.

Explore the region through an immersive village tour
Explore the region through an immersive village tourStok Palace

You can also see the Royal Throne Room, which is usually out of bounds for day visitors. In addition, the team at Stok Palace are happy to arrange a guided village tour for you, where you can interact with the locals and learn about their sustainable way of living. Moreover, they are always happy to invite you inside and offer you a glass of chhaang.

The Information

Tariff: From INR 20,000 per night

Getting There: The Stok Palace is located about 20 km from Leh Airport, so the best option is to fly into Leh and then hire a private taxi to the hotel. The drive usually lasts up to 45 minutes.

Book here: https://stokpalaceheritage.com/the-palace.html

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