Time has wiped out grandeur of Shey Fort and Palace but the ruins on a strategic hill command views of Shey, Stok, and Thiksey villages and trans-Himalayan mountain ranges. More than 550 years old fort and palace complex still houses a two-storey-tall statue of Buddha in a dark temple whose walls are covered with ancient murals. The murals are dying under a sheet of lamp soot or have almost faded. The statue of gilded copper sheets and gold lead was sculpted during the reign of King Dalden Namgyal in the seventeenth century.
The historic complex, approximately fifteen kilometers from Leh town, is located on the right bank of the Indus River in Shey village, the ancient capital of the Ladakh Region. The complex on Leh-Manali highway was being repaired and renovated by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during September 2013 when we visited. From the highway a ramp connects to steep staircase leading to the main door of the fort, a protected public monument. Residential buildings of the palace have been abandoned. The palace with an L-shaped plan is younger to the fort.
The palace buildings made of mud blocks are two to four stories high. An elaborate design adorns the main wooden gateway. The Shey Palace shares many features with Leh Palace. However, Shey Palace is smaller in size. The small rooms with small doors and large windows afford lovely views of the Indus Valley.
The Stupa of Enlightenment still stands tall in the national monument complex. Another noticeable feature of the complex is a group of eight impaired stupas. The rock carvings at the foot of the complex are age-old and have historic significance. For example, a Maitreya Buddha image is engraved on a boulder along the road.
Entry Fee to the Complex: Free
Photography: Allowed within complex. Photography with flash is prohibited within the temple.
Entry Fee to Temple: INR 20 per person
Public Conveniences: Gender-specific public conveniences are located at the rear of the complex.