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View from Shey Palace
View from Shey Palace
Shey is located in India
Location in Ladakh, India
Shey is located in Ladakh
Shey (Ladakh)
Coordinates: 34°04′23″N 77°38′21″E / 34.0731818°N 77.6392939°E / 34.0731818; 77.6392939Coordinates: 34°04′23″N 77°38′21″E / 34.0731818°N 77.6392939°E / 34.0731818; 77.6392939
Union TerritoryLadakh
3,250 m (10,660 ft)
 • Total2,238
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
2011 census code858
Sculptures of Maitreya at Shey, possibly raised by king Nyimagon circa 975 AD.[1]

Shey is a village in the Leh district of Ladakh, India.[2] It is located in the Leh tehsil, 15 km from Leh towards Hemis.

Shey was founded as the capital of Ladakh (then called Maryul), by the king Lhachen Palgyigon in the 10th century. It was gradually eclipsed by Leh around the 17th century after the growth of Central Asian trade.


Towards the end of the 9th century, the Tibetan prince Kyide Nyimagon (Skyid lde nyima gon), a great-grandson of the Tibetan king, Langdarma, established a small kingdom in Guge, which eventually grew to encompass the whole of western Tibet up to the Zoji La mountain pass. His eldest son, Lhachen Palgyigon, is credited with much of the conquest in the northwest. After his father's death, he inherited the region of Maryul ("lowland"), as Ladakh was then called.

Several towns and castles are said to have been founded by Nyimagon, and he apparently ordered the construction of the main sculptures at Shey. In an inscription, he says he had them made for the religious benefit of the Tsanpo (the dynastical name of his father and ancestors), and of all the people of Ngari (Western Tibet). This shows that already in this generation Langdarma's opposition to Buddhism had disappeared.[3] Shey, just 15 km east of modern Leh, was the ancient seat of the Ladakhi kings.


Shey is located in the upper Indus Valley, just 15 km east of the modern capital of Ladakh, Leh. It has an average elevation of 3,415 metres (11,204 feet).

Every year Sindhu Darshan Festival, is held here on the banks of the Indus River.


According to the 2011 census of India, Shey has 398 households. The effective literacy rate (i.e. the literacy rate of population excluding children aged 6 and below) is 78.95%.[4]

Demographics (2011 Census)[4]
Total Male Female
Population 2238 1057 1181
Children aged below 6 years 257 146 111
Scheduled caste 0 0 0
Scheduled tribe 1935 931 1004
Literates 1564 750 814
Workers (all) 581 390 191
Main workers (total) 381 245 136
Main workers: Cultivators 9 9 0
Main workers: Agricultural labourers 8 6 2
Main workers: Household industry workers 1 1 0
Main workers: Other 363 229 134
Marginal workers (total) 200 145 55
Marginal workers: Cultivators 79 73 6
Marginal workers: Agricultural labourers 1 1 0
Marginal workers: Household industry workers 5 5 0
Marginal workers: Others 115 66 49
Non-workers 1657 667 990


The Druk White Lotus School, whose patrons include the 14th Dalai Lama and Richard Gere, is also located in Shey.


  1. ^ Francke, A. H. (1907). A History of Western Tibet: One of the Unknown Empires. S. W. Partridge & Co. (London). p. 63.
  2. ^ "Blockwise Village Amenity Directory" (PDF). Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  3. ^ Francke (1914), pp. 89-90.
  4. ^ a b "Leh district census". 2011 Census of India. Directorate of Census Operations. Retrieved 23 July 2015.


  • Francke, A. H. (1977). A History of Ladakh. A. H. Francke (Originally published as, A History of Western Tibet, (1907). 1977 Edition with critical introduction and annotations by S. S. Gergan & F. M. Hassnain. Sterling Publishers, New Delhi.
  • Francke, A. H. (1914). Antiquities of Indian Tibet. Two Volumes. Calcutta. 1972 reprint: S. Chand, New Delhi.
  • Hill, John E. (2009). Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.