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Depart home country
Arrive Delhi. Pick up and transfer to 4 Star hotel.
Delhi Tour. On our Delhi tour we will see this city that has been in existence for centuries. From the beginning of time, successive layers of gifted civilizations have left their architectural marks with the great Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan being India’s architect extraordinaire. We visit imposing Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) that was built by Shah Jahan in 1651. This is the largest and most impressive mosque in India. After visiting Mosque we wander or take ricksaw ride through Chandi Chowk(Silver Street), the colorful market street of ancient Shahjahanabad, now a bustling bazaar, followed with visit Raj Ghat where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
We also explore New Delhi includes a visit to India Gate, built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War. Drive pass through Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy and is currently the official residence of the President of India and Parliament House, an unique circular building with huge colonnades, houses the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament. Then on to Humayun’s Tomb is the first Mughal garden tomb. Visitors are immediately struck by the tomb’s resemblance to its more famous cousin – the Taj Mahal – with its four grand gateways, octagonal base-plan, soaring niche-shaped arches, lofty double domes and the symmetrical garden with its central canal. Overnight Delhi
Fly to Leh: (11,500ft/3,500m). After breakfast you transfer back to the domestic airport for the flight to Ladakh. This is one of the most sensational scheduled flights in the world, taking you right over the top of the Greater Himalaya before dropping down in a series of steep turns, to land at the small military airport at Leh. (flight time `1.5 hours). Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is blessed with markets, curio shops and is something of a traveler’s mecca. You will be met on arrival and transferred to local hotel. We recommend that the rest of the day be filled with gentle walks in town and resting to help adjust to the altitude. Overnight in Leh.
Tour of Ladakh’s famed monastaries and palaces
Shey Palace (15 km from Leh) The old ‘Summer Palace’ of the kings of Ladakh was built about 550 years ago by Lhachen Palgyigon, the first king of Ladakh. It stands next to the remains of a larger construction on the east side of a hill, which runs south-east towards the Indus. From the palace you can see over the fertile Indus plain northeast to Thikse Gompa and over the Indus to the Zanskar mountain range. The old Shey palace has the largest golden Buddha statue in Ladakh in its gompa. The statue is worked out of gold and gilded copper sheets, stands 12 meters high and has blue hair. King Dalden Namgyal erected it in the middle of the 17th century. The most important moment in the construction of such a figure is when the eyes are painted in and the statue can ‘see’. No artist or monk would dare to look the Buddha in the eye so the pupils are painted over the artist’s shoulder, with his back to the idol.
Thiske Gompa (17 km from Leh) The 500-year-old Thikse monastery, perched on a hill high above the Indus, has the largest contingent of monks in Ladakh. On the right of the entrance to the main courtyard a new chapel houses an enormous 15-metre-high seated Buddha figure. About 100 yellow-cap sect monks belong to the gompa. We hope to witness the daily morning prayers preceded by the mournful sounds from the long Tibetan horns on the roof.
Hemis Gompa (45 km from Leh) Hemis Gompa is famous far beyond the borders of Ladakh for beauty and the Hemis annual. This takes place every year with mask dances on the 9th to 11th day of the fifth Tibetan month. Hemis also has a gigantic thangka (Buddhist cloth painting), one of the largest in the world, which is only displayed to the public every 12 years at the Hemis Festival. Hemis Gompa is the largest and one of the most important in Ladakh quite apart from its annual festival. It was founded about 350 years ago by Stagtshang Rinchen, who was invited to Ladakh by King Singe Namgyal.
Each of these monasteries are profoundly beautiful in both architecture and internal artwork. Overnight at the Hotel in Leh.
In Leh. This morning we walk to acclimatization. Our walk brings us to Shanti Stupa, a large, white-domed Buddhist chorten perched on a hill outside of Leh, Gyamsa village, and farther to Kalon Farm and across to Leh Palace, down through the Old town of Leh back to the hotel . Rest of the day free. Overnight at the Hotel.
Raft trip and Alchi visit. We drive to the small village of Phey for a short raft trip. This will not only give us some more time to acclimatize but a chance to see this wondrous region with a worms eye view. The journey downstream is a fascinating experience as you pass between elaborate rock formations interspersed with granite outcrops. The raft trips is about three hours, where we reach the confluence of the famed Indus and Zanskar rivers. We exit at the village of Nomu and travel to vist the great monastery (also known as a gompa) of Alchi.
Alchi Gompa is located near the small village of .phpol. It is one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. Because it was built before the invading wars began in the 15th century, Alchi was built on lowlands, rather than on a hilltop as others were, in order to protect them from marauding armies. King Rin-chen-Izghimpo, one of the first Ladakhi kings to engage in foreign relations, was the builder. Prior to construction, the Ladakhi king signed a treaty with the Gyalpo (king) of Tibet, who agreed to provide the artisans.
The rambling monastery has six main buildings while the temple is surrounded by wooden pillars and carved woodwork of mythological animals. The woodwork is original and reflects Kashmiri influence. The walls along both sides of the Dukhang (inner building) are covered by mural paintings which are probably original to the time of the monastery’s founding. Of particular interest are the miniature scenes of royal life. The best preserved is the royal drinking scene which is one of the most remarkable to have survived anywhere in the Tibetan-speaking world. The costumes in this scene clearly depict central Asian dress and the king and queen each have a halo, a convention that appears elsewhere in Alchi and possibly shows Nestorian Christian influence from Persia. This is the only painting in Ladakh that shows central Asian influence so clearly. The chortens around Alchi gompa also contain numerous wall murals, often of Rin-chen Zang-po, meant to honour his activities as a translator in collaboration with Indian teachers of Buddhism.
After monastery drive to Phyang for overnight. Overnight in Phyang Camp.
Trek to Phyang Phu. In the morngn we will visit Phyang Monastary and village followed by a a short walk to reach our first camp at Phyang Phu. Phyang Phu is area where locals bring livestock for grazing during summer month.
Phyangphu – South base of Lasermo 4700m (4 hours). After a leisurely breakfast, we will continue our trek to the base of Lasermo La (pass) at 4700 m. From there we have a view of complete Stok range especially the Stok Peak at 6130m above sea level. Stok range and Ladakh range are the ranges where Leh is situated. This area is one of the major routes for crossing the Ladakh range.
South base of Lasermo – North base via Lasermola 5400m (6-7 hours). Today we start quite early in the morning as we need our ponies to cross the small glacier by midday. as we will cross the Lasermo Pass (5400m). The top of Lasermo pass offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, the Indus valley and the Shayok Valley. The trail from the pass towards our camp passes rough moraines The campsite is in a beautiful meadow and offer opportunities to explore and see flowers growing at high altitude.
North base – Hundar Dok (5 hours) Today we will walk down through a valley of meadows and flowers. Most of the time, we will be walking alongside the Hundar stream. After following the stream for a while, we will pass through shepherds’ huts, where the men and women from HundarDok Village live with their Yaks, cows, goats and sheep. They could be seen collecting milk, cheese, butter, wild vegetables and fuel for the winter. If you feel adventurous, you can taste the delicious milk and cheese with Tsampa. Our campsite is just above the Village of Dok Gongma (Upper Dok).
Hundar Upper Dok- Skarchen (5 hours) Another beautiful day! We will pass through the villages of DokGongma, DokYokma and Wachan, which are names of different places with concentrations of scattered houses belonging to a common village known locally as Hundar Dok. We will take out time to get to camp at Skarchen, so we may visit some of the local families and can spend time exploring the villages.
Skarchen – Hunder (4 hours) The last day of trekking is through the beautiful Hunder Gorge, which opens up just before descending to Hunder Bridge. Before the final descent we will have a great view of SaserKangri Peak (7672m). Upon arrival check in to the tents and later visit Sumur , another pretty village on the other side of the river. Samstaling Gompa located in Samstaling was founded by Lama Tsultims Nima and the monastic community was introduced. About 50 monks are residing at this 132 years old Monastery. Overninght at Camp or Guest House.
Explore Hundar and Tiger Valley. Early in the morning walk up to Diskit monastery to witness the morning prayer ceremony. It takes about 45 minutes through a long row of scattered chortens to reach the gompa, which is set on the highest point near the village. Belonging to the Gelugpa (yellow hat) sect, parts of the gompa, which houses 120 resident monks, are about 750 years old. The Dukhang has many statues, one of, which holds the head, and left arm of a Turkish invader believed to be 500 years old.
Return to the camp for breakfast after which drive 7 kms to visit Hundar gompa. This is a small gompa belonging to the Gelug-pa sect, set amidst innumerable chortens and has a huge impressive statue of Chamba in the main prayer hall. The gompa was built at the time King Jamgyal Namgyal came here with his wife Gyal Khatun. We also explore the village, which has some beautiful old houses.
Drive down towards the Shyok river across an extremely rough and rocky stretch of flat ground. Cross the river over a bridge and arrive at the first village of Tirith. The road from here is extremely bad all the way up to Panamik. The scenery however, is spectacular, with the snow capped Karakoram mountains in the background. The weather being much warmer in Nubra in comparison to the Indus valley, the vegetation is thicker, with a variety of trees and flowers. Nubra is also known for its two-humped Bactrian camel which is found in these parts. The camels are left to graze in the wild during the summer months and are brought back only during the winter months when they are used as beasts of burden and for their wool.
We visit the 150-year-old Samsthanling gompa at Sumur. It is a big complex of 7 temples including the Rimpoche’s room. Walk half an hour from the gompa to Tegar village where there is another small gompa. Walk through the village and explore its beautiful surroundings near the jungle and a small lake. Overnight at the camp or Guest House.
Drive Hundar to Leh via Khardung La (6 hours, 18,300′ feet/5,600 m), one of the highest motorable roads in the world. The Nubra Valley was on the caravan route from Leh to Kashgar via the Sasir and Karakoram passes. Overnight at the Hotel in Leh.
Fly Leh to Delhi: Morning you will be transferred to the airport to connect flight for Delhi. Assistance on arrival and you will be transferred to hotel and then transfer back to airport for evening flights
Arrive home country
Travelers note: Each day we will try to have some free time so one is not always on guided tour. While we often eat meals together, they will not be pre-arranged which will allow us the flexibility to eat at local establishments or at more preferred hours. Hotels are subject to change.
I feel the monasteries of Sikkim are unlike any other.We learned a lot, had a memorable and exotic experience and loved meeting all the people we did! They all worked so hard to make our experience the great time it was, especially Yatish. Thank you for all your advice during the time we were arranging […]