Mountains, Monasteries and Monks of Ladakh
THE TOUR AT THE GLANCE
Ladakh is one of those rare places where people are few and far between. While high passes and spectacular mountains dominate the region, it is also a place that speaks of the thousands of years that travellers, craftsmen, religious dignitaries and nomads have come upon. A jewel in the crown of India, Ladakh not just amazes with its landscape and people, but also hides unique Wildlife. While many passes make up for what it is and what it means grammatically, yet experiencing a place like this is bound to leave every traveller breathless both spiritually and by altitude.
While Buddhism is Central to this part of the world, and uniformity of barren high-altitude mountains are constant, yet subtle differences between landscapes, people, history and wildlife in niches can throw up many surprises. From high passes, to border villages, secretive wildlife, to ancient monasteries and ruins, this journey takes you not just into Ladakh and its remoteness but also into insights of how fragile it still is environmentally and geographically. Yet, every step and every drive add to experiences unmatched and incomparable.
EXPERIENCES AND VISITS IN THIS TOUR JOURNEY
- Take in glacial rivers, fruit orchards, Buddhist monasteries and festivals at your own pace
- Drive through some of the most stunning mountain passes of the Karakoram, Zanskar and Indus ranges
- Visit ancient monasteries, ruins and forts that speak of beliefs and lives of yesteryear
- Glimpse rare wildlife in the trans Himalayan region such as marmots, pikas, woolly hare, blue sheep and golden eagles
- Walk through the modern bazaars of Leh which was once a bustling stopover on ancient trade routes
- Attend a prayer ceremony followed by a traditional breakfast with monks at a colourful Buddhist monastery
- Explore trails linking whitewashed settlements and tiny monasteries to the vast pastures of Rupshu
- Head off the beaten track and traverse the Zalung La to remote Tibetan borderlands
- Traverse passes where prayer flags reflect a deep Buddhist heritage
- Visit ancient monasteries and forts in the upper Indus Valley
- Walking and rickshaw tour of Old Delhi
- Trip escorted by our expert whose passion for this region will add further depth and enoyment to your trip
- Get the chance to explore the multi-hued Tibetan markets and historically rich Buddhist monasteries
- Witness some of the most sublime Himalayan sceneries throughout the picturesque trek
- Get the opportunity to stay at remote mountain villages and interact with its sweet and simple inhabitants
- Camp at scenic locations under the starry sky
VIEW FULL ITINERARY
Arrive Delhi, After completing immigration and custom formalities, meet our representative at the arrival gate. After introductions, you will be transferred to the hotel.
DELHI, the capital of India, is home to 16 million people, making it the third largest city in India. The strategic location of the city made it an attractive location for invading armies, and it served as the capital for many great empires that ruled India. Many of these Empires built significant monuments, and whilst the Mughal and the British are the most visible, while driving through the city you will see ruins from previous capitals, the earliest dating back to the 12th century.
Morning your tour will begin with a visit to Raj Ghat, a simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. He is also famously known as the “father of the nation”. Continue your tour to Jama Masjid, one of Asia’s largest mosques. People stream in and out of the mosque continuously and the presence of a nearby bazaar means that the area is rarely quiet. Enjoy the rickshaw ride at Old Delhi peddling through the narrow by lanes of Chandani Chowk and visit spices market is one of the largest wholesale spice markets in Asia, It is well worth a visit for the intensity of its sights and smells alone. Along with fresh spices of all shapes, sizes, and colors, this market sells myriad nuts, herbs, dry fruits, and grains.
In the afternoon visit the Qutb Minar complex which dominates the historic site where Qutb-ud-Din-Aibak laid the foundation of Delhi Sultanate. Its sandstone minaret, 72.5 m high, has a staircase of 379 steps to reach the summit. It is the tallest stone tower in India and one of the most successful Muslim buildings. You will then discover the Humayun Mausoleum, the 2nd Mughal emperor. Built in the middle of the 16th century at the request of Hamida Banu Begum (the widow of Emperor Humayun), the mausoleum is a fine example of early Mughal architecture.
Drive past British Architect by Edward Lutyens, with the task of building the new capital in Delhi. Lutyen’s Delhi primarily consists of the administrative area of the capital, India Gate and the Viceroy’s House (which is now known as Rashtrapati Bhawan). A visit to Delhi is incomplete without going to Lutyen’s Delhi which one can say, is the place where the Central Government of India currently resides and works from.
Arrive at Leh airport where our executive would welcome you and accompany you to the hotel. Check-in and acclimatise. Rest of the day is for relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Later visit to the Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa and Leh Market. Leh Palace was the former palace of the king of Leh. Shanti Stupa is a mesmerising Buddhist Monastery. you can visit the colorful market of Leh for beautiful curios and souvenirs.The vivacious market offers the most tangible memories meant for everyone’s taste of goods for you to carry back home.
Today, you will depart for the exploration of Indus Valley monasteries.
The first monastery would be Hemis Gompa, the largest monastic foundation of Drukpa Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Existed before the 11th century, the monastery was re-established in 1672 by Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal. Thiksey Monastery, perched beautifully in White,Red and Ochre at a height of 3,600m in the Thiksey village.It bears a strong resemblance to Potala Palace in Lahasa in Tibet. Thiksey Monastery is a great place for learning about the several facets of Buddhism. Shey Monastery: The monastery is known for its giant copper with gilded gold statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, which is said to be the second-largest statue in Ladakh and a must-see.
Continue to Matho Monastery, right across the Indus River Valley. This monastery was founded in 16th century, and it is the only monastery in Ladakh that belongs to the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism. You'll learn all about these different sects from your guide.
Optional:In the morning you'll be taken to the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, about half an hour's drive out of town. Attend an hour-long yoga and meditation class,
Then return to your hotel for breakfast.
Then drive down the Indus Valley to the confluence of the Zanskar River before continuing to the village of Skiu (3435 metres)We then commence our trek following the course of the Markha River to our comfortable campsite at . Narding (3530m) and a comfortable, grassy campsite.
The trail gradually ascends the Markha Valley passing a few small settlements en route to Markha (3770m) the largest village in the valley where we will visit the derelict fort above the village and the gompa that has recently been renovated by funds from trekkers and Hemis monastery. Arrive and check in at Camp
From Markha we continue up valley (with one river crossing) just before the village of Umlung. A few km beyond the village the valley widens and the imposing peak of Kangyaze (6400m) can be appreciated before reaching Hankar (3980m), the highest village in the Markha Valley. Arrive and check in at Camp
From Hanker we divert from the main trail and commence our ascent across yak herders pastures to our camp at the base of the Zalung La (4650 metres).
From camp it is a gradual haul to the summit of the Zalung La (5190 metres). It is a windswept pass that affords impressive views of the peaks and jagged ridges of the Zanskar Range. From the pass it takes about three hours to reach a delightful grassy camp near to the abandoned encampment known as Tsorka (4200 metres)
From Tsorka we trek to the head of an impressive gorge. Anticipate a cold start to the day as this section necessitates two or three river crossings. We then head up valley to an abandoned settlement and a comfortable campsite. Plenty of time later in the day to view the bharal (blue sheep) and explore the side gorges in this remote and wild landscape.
We follow a well-marked trail to the settlement of Dat (4340 metres). During the summer the settlement is practically deserted as most of the villagers are grazing their yaks and goats on remote grazing pastures. The shepherds are known as Chang pa and follow lifestyles similar to their counterparts in nearby western Tibet. From Dat we drive along a dirt road across a vast grazing area populated by the Changpa shepherds for two hours until we reach the Manali to Leh ‘highway’. We ascend to the Taglang La (5328m) - the second highest motorable road crossing in the world - before descending to the Indus Valley and completing our drive back to Leh.
For the first hour we follow the same route down the Indus Valley to the confluence of the Zanskar River. From the village of Nimu we divert from the Indus to the ancient town of Basgo which was until the 17th century the capital of the lower kingdom of Ladakh. Winding back down to the Indus we cross a road bridge to the temple complex at Alchi. Alchi is famous for its Kashmiri influenced Buddhist art, dating from the period prior to the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. It is an inspiring presentation of Buddhist iconography and will add to your appreciation of the rich and diverse religious history of Ladakh .After visiting Alchi monastery we are free to wander the markets
Today, drive down the Indus Valley to Khalsi before ascending to the village of Lamayuru.. Lamayuru monastery is set in a commanding location high above the Indus River. Founded in the 10th century the monastery is one of the largest and oldest in this region of Ladakh and includes a cave inside the main Assembly Hall that is said to be where the Buddhist sage Naropa meditated. Late in the afternoon we head above the monastery to vantage points that afford the best photographic opportunities before returning to Alchi.
Today, return to Leh, stopping en route at Likir monastery. The monastery was founded in the 15th century and the first monastery that was built under the influence from Tibet. The current monastery was rebuilt in the 18th century and is part of the Gelukpa Order. Given the monastery’s historical importance – with a fascinating museum that houses many ancient thankas - it is still only visited by only a handful of travellers. From Likir it is less than a two hour drive to Leh. After lunch we are free for local sightseeing and shopping.
Early breakfast in time transfer to airport to board flight for Delhi.
Upon arrival, meet and transfer to Hotel
Day at leisure for independent or shopping activities
Later in time transfer to airport to board flight back home
NOTE:- All the itineraries can be customized to suit your own special interests, preferences, abilities, extension and reduction of numbers of days
WHAT YOU WILL RECEIVE IN YOUR TOUR COST
- Accommodation for total 15 nights in Hotels/ Himalayan Lodge’s/homestays/ tents on twin / triple sharing basis.
- Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (set menu) as mentioned in the itinerary
- Transfers, sightseeing and excursions as per the program by air-conditioned Vehicle
- Expert bilingual guide for sightseeing and trekking
- Medical kit, mules to carry all personal and group baggage
- Local English speaking guide in Delhi
- Wildlife fee, Red Cross, Ladakh environmental fee and inner line permit to the restricted areas.
- All entrance fees to the monuments as mentioned in the program.
- Cycle rickshaw ride in the local bazaar in Delhi
- Our representative for assistance on arrival and departure at airport.
- All presently applicable taxes including the GST charges levied recently by the Government.
- Two bottles of mineral water each day during sightseeing.
TOUR COST WILL NOT INCLUDE FOLLOWING EXPENSES
- International / Domestic Airfare
- Any new admission fees / taxes / fuel surcharges/ Visa fees
- Meals not mentioned
- All personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, trip cancellation and personal insurance, gratuities, excess baggage fees
- Early check-in/late check-out (except as noted)
- Camera/video fees at monuments
- Communication costs
- Any Kind of Drinks (Alcoholic, Mineral, Aerated)
- Any additional expenses due to unforeseen problems like natural disaster, war or strikes, cancellation or misconnection of flights or last-minute change of timings etc.
- Any other service, which has not been specified as "included".
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