Visible in the distance, at the top of a huge moraine of pebbles swept down from the mountains, the elegant four-storey Stok Palace stands above barley terraces studded with threshing circles and whitewashed farmhouses. Built early in the nineteenth century by the last ruler of independent Ladakh, it has been the official residence of the Ladakhi royal family since they were ousted from Leh and Shey two hundred years ago. A former member of parliament, still lives here during the summer. One of the room is converted into Museum. The fascinating collection comprises some of the family's most precious heirlooms, including antique ritual objects, ceremonial tea paraphernalia, and exquisite sixteenth-century thangkas illuminated with paint made from crushed rubies, emeralds and sapphires. The pieces de resistance, however, are the Gyalmo's peraks. Still worn on important occasions, the ancient headdresses, thought to have originated in Tibet, are encrusted with slabs of flawless turquoise, polished coral, lapis lazuli and nuggets of pure gold. Also of interest are a couple of swords whose blades were allegedly tied in knots as a demonstration of strength by king Tashi Namgyal Phugtal Gompa.