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Magic of The Himalayas…

Day 01: Arrival / Delhi

Late night arrival. Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our representatives welcome you and escort you to your car. Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the documents to you.

Welcome to India, or as we say ‘atithi devo bhava’ (the guest is an incarnation of God). Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you!

Overnight at The Connaught – a 4* Downtown Hotel (Standard Room)

Day 02: Delhi / Chandigarh (Kalka Shatabdi – 1715 / 2025 Hours)

Day is at leisure to recover from your long flight

Evening transfer to the train station to board your train to Chandigarh

Meeting and assistance upon arrival and transfer to your hotel City Heart Premium

Overnight at City Heart Premium

Day 03: Chandigarh / Manali

Following breakfast we will drive to Manali.Upon arrival check into your hotel River Country

Day is at leisure for your independent activities. Chill out and wander around town. Adjust to a new pace of life and the sound of auto-rickshaws. Explore New Manali for a more Indian feel, take in the market, the tangle of backstreets or go for a gentle walk in the hills.

Overnight at Hotel River Country

Day 04: Manali

Proceed on a tour of Manali. The place has many attractions but the chief centre of interest, historically and archeologically, is undoubtedly the DHOONGRI TEMPLE dedicated to goddess Hadimba, the Bhim of Mahabharat fame. It has four-tiered Pagoda shaped roof and the doorway is carved with legendary figures and symbols. This temple located amidst wooden forest of deodar is about 2.5 kms. from the tourist office. It is a pleasant experience to stroll in the temple complex which was built in 1533 A.D.Overnight at Hotel River Country

Day 05: Manali / Jispa

We start with an awesome ascent, following the Beas River gently upwards through one village after another. Drive along lush and green surroundings, a motley collection of tea stalls and restaurants provide ample opportunity for our first Indian dhaba experience. We’re now about to enter Buddhist Himalaya. The road becomes rougher and the landscape takes on epic proportions - wet misty clouds lift to reveal grand peaks and deep river-filled valleys.Overnight In Tents

Day 06: Jispa / Sarchu

A big day, as the beast of Baralacha La looms ahead. We’ll not mince our words – this ride, on mixed surfaces, is a tough nut to crack. But we’ve got plenty of time to enjoy the landscape as it morphs further into a rocky mass devoid of vegetation, streaked with bands of minerals. Passing a small but perfectly formed turquoise lake, the pass marker comes into view - 4980m. The descent is effortless, before the road levels out onto the magnificent Sarchu plains, smooth as a billiard table and prime camping real estate. We’ll cook dinner and soak up the scenery surrounding us. Camp At 1135m.Overnight In Tents

Day 07: Sarchu / Leh

Another exciting day! A double-whammy of two passes begins with the 21 hairpin bends of the infamous Gata Loops. The road continues to wind up to Nakeela La , before a fast and furious descent to the improbably named Whisky Nullah. We ride over the second highest pass before Leh, Lachlung La – at 5060m. Then it’s downhill to Pang, along a road that plunges through a dramatic gorge, overlooked by bizarre, wind-sculpted rock formations.

After a short climb out of Pang, we emerge onto the brink of the Moray Plains, a 40km plateau cradled by massive peaks on either side. The plains are one area where nomads gather, searching out the best grazing for their yak, sprinkled like pepper grains in the distance.

A gentle, 16km ride from here leads us to the highest pass between Manali and Leh – Taglang La, a lofty 5328m. The weather is often unpredictable at this altitude, so we’ll stop just long enough for a snack and to spin the prayer wheels of the Buddhist shrine. Ahead lies one switchback after another. Entering Ladakh, the valleys quickly become fertile once more. Tibetan-style houses appear all around and huge white stupas – meringue shaped representations of Buddha – guard the road like giant chess pieces. The gorge here is particularly impressive, flanked by fingers of rock, coloured by minerals.

We continue the descent through the valley on silky asphalt. At the junction town of Upshi we meet the mighty Indus River, which will lead us to Leh.

Upon arrival check in to your Hotel Spic n Span

On arrival the advice is to lie down for a day, until your body catches up with the altitude

Late in the afternoon, you may gently stroll out to visit Leh's wide street bazaar that runs east-west. Together with the labyrinth of adjoining side streets and alleys, the bazaar is the center of business and shopping -- particularly for visitors who find the plethora of antiques (and not-antiques) shops worth checking out.  The bazaar  is an incredible example of traditional Ladakhi lifestyles. Watch out for the pavement vegetable sellers and the traditional homes that exist on top of the stores which sell only the very basic provisions.Overnight at Hotel Spic n Span

Day 08: Leh / Shey / Thiksey / Hemis / Leh
 Photographer Mike Prince.
This morning we proceed on a guided tour of Shey, which is a small town in comparison to Leh. Shey Palace was built in early 17th century AD by Deldan Namgyal as a memorial for his father, Singay Namgyal. The palace houses a three storey copper statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. Overlooking the Shey palace are the ruins of the fort built by the first king of Ladakh, Lhachen Spalgigon. Shey also has a very large scattering of stupas all across its landscape

From here we drive to Thiksey Gompa (monastery), it is located 17 km on the main highway from Leh in the direction of Manali. The present day monastery founded by Paldan Sherab, overlooking the village below, was not the original location. It was originally built at Stakmo. This monastery hosts the festival of Thiksey Gustor.

Later we drive to Hemis Gompa (monastery) which is the most important and the richest Gompa in the whole of Ladakh and is dedicated to Guru Padama Sambhava the great Indian teacher & philosopher. This monastery located among the beautiful landscape of the Hemis National Park was founded in 1630 AD. It is located at a distance of 45km from Leh and is one of the most popular monasteries visited by travelers. It is also famous across the world for the Hemis Festival hosted by it.Evening we drive back to our hotel in Leh .Overnight at Hotel Spic n Span

Day 09: Leh / Likir / Uletokpo

Following a leisurely breakfast we drive to Uletokpo Visiting the Likir Monastery on the way. The journey itself through spell bounding scenes of natural beauty is worth the effort. Snow capped Himalayas dot the background while craggy dusty mountain ranges and the swiftly flowing Indus river as well as patches of farm make up for the fascinating foreground.

At Nimu we witness the magical confluence of the two main rivers of the region – Indus & Zanskar.Another interesting aspect of our journey would be the opportunity to travel past several Ladakhi Villages where time has stood still. We will walk into these villages and experience traditional Ladakhi Villages, lifestyles and occupations.

We make a brief stop at the Likir Monastery that houses many gigantic clay statue of Buddha in various forms. The primary attraction is, however, their 1000-year old wall painting which make a visit more than worthwhile.

Upon arrival at lunchtime we check into tented accommodation at Uleytokpo. This place is heaven on earth! The accommodation here is lovely fixed camps run by a Ladakhi family. The tents have attached toilets and beds, and are set amidst apricot orchards. The place is right in the lap of nature and you would very much enjoy the feel of the breeze, the scent of flowers, delightful nature walks, views of the snow capped Himalayas and the gentling rolling sound of the Indus river.  If you are a bird lover there are great possibilities of viewing a variety of birds.

Just 4 kms away is Ridzong,  the most isolated monastery of all the monastery of Ladakh. One can still find the small caves where Lamas used to meditate for years cutting themselves from the rest of the world except for an one feet square outlet window from where they accept the one time meal of the day.  Also close by is a nunnery. Food and clothing besides shelter is provided to the Nuns. There are a few very old retired Nuns. A visit here shows us the day to day living of the Nuns, as well as the trainings they receive here and also an opportunity to witness the performance of the evening prayers.Overnight at Uletokpo Tented Camp

Day 10:  Uletokpo / Lamayuru / Uletokpo

A half day excursion through paradise as we visit Lamayuru. Every twist and turn brings to you new vistas of natural beauty. But, wait till you get to the ‘Lamayuru Moonland’. We look down on this landscape which appears to be a dusty surface of the Moon itself with craters & hills . The snow rising in the backdrop of this sandy script reminds you that you are in Ladakh.

Lamayuru, Ladakh Holiday VacationsThe landscape around Lamayuru monastery is one of most spectacular things one could see on earth.

Lamayuru monastery popularly known as, "Yangdrung Gomp" is situated 126 km west of Leh, on the Leh - Srinagar highway. In ancient times there was a huge lake in this place. The great saint Nyimagung, made a prophesy saying: " May a monastery be founded in this place" and he then offered a votive water offering to all the naga serpent spirits who were the guardians of that place. The grains of that corn that formed part of this offering were carried by the waves of different places along the cliff side by the edge of the lake and when they had become mixed with the earth they sprouted forth as corn in the shape of a swastika. At the time when a monastery was later founded there it was called Yangdrung "swastika". In the 11th century the mahasiddha Naropa came to this place and the cave where he resided and meditated is still to be seen today. Then Rinchen Zangpo, the Translator came and built many temples and stupas and so the teachings of the Kadampa School came to flourish greatly there. Thereafter, for many years the monastery was administered by the Red Hats order of the Tibetan Buddhism., but later it was taken over by Digungpa order. Then the rituals and observances of the Digung Kargud School were introduced and the monastery received the name of Yangdrung Tharpaling.

We return to Uletokpo by lunch time. Afternoon is at leisure for nature walks. Alternatively, your 24x7 guide would be happy to walk you to the neighbouring Mangyu village (3hrs).  This would be another opportunity to witness traditional Ladakhi country life unchanged from time immemorial. We will  interact with locals and also learn more about Ladakhi living. Overnight at Tented Accommodations

Day 11: Uletokpo / Alchi / Leh

After breakfast we drive back to Leh Visiting Alchi on the way.
 Photographer Mike Prince.
The village of Alchi in lower Ladakh is to be considered one of the most important cultural sites throughout the Himalayas. Consisting of four separate hamlets, the village contains numerous historic monuments of different ages and in various states of repair, the oldest and most famousof which is a monastic complex. The 1,000-year-old  three-storied Himalayan temple, with its unique murals and iconography, is a fragile wooden structure. Confirmed a World Heritage site by UNESCO, this is one of only four surviving monasteries of the 108 founded by the Great Translator, Lotsava Rinchen bZangpo in the later 10 th and early 11 th century. The temple preserves some of the finest examples of Kashmiri art of the period

Following the tour of Alchi, we continue drive to Leh and get there by lunchtime. Upon arrival, transfer to your Hotel Spic n Span. The afternoon is at leisure and you may wish to walk into the bustling bazaar or catch up with your reading and postcards.

 This evening we are invited to a typical Ladakhi home for high tea and interaction with different members of the Ladakhi family. The kitchen is the heart of the Ladakhi house. These are people for whom food is so central it forms the basis of their all-purpose greeting, "Julay", an economical word used for hello, goodbye, please and thank you. Its literal translation is "good digestion"; it reflects their philosophy that if you have good digestion, you have everything.Overnight at Hotel Spic n Span

Day 12:  Leh

Following breakfast, proceed on a tour of Takthok Monastery & Chemrey Monastery.

Takthok Monastery of Ladakh is situated in Sakti Village. The site where the monastery is now situated, once served as the meditation cave of Mahasidhas "Kunga Phuntsog". The name Takthok literally means 'rock-roof'. The monastery was so named, as both its roof as well as walls are made up of rock. Tak Thok belongs to the Nying-ma-pa sect of Buddhism, also known as the Old Order, and serves as the residence of approximately 55 lamas.  It is the probably the only Gompa in Ladakh that follows this order. On the right of the central courtyard, lies the Dukhang or the main assembly hall. Murals of guardian divinities adorn the verandah entrance to the Dukhang. There is a throne inside the Dukhang, reserved solely for the Dalai Lama. Also inside the Dukhang, are the statues of Maitreya (the Future Buddha or Buddha of Compassion), Padmasambhava and Dorje Takposal (a manifestation of Padmasambhava). Takthok Monastery also houses the Kandshur, the 108 volumes of Buddha's teachings.

From here, we continue to Chemrey Gompa. Clinging like a swallow's nest to the sides of a shay conical hill, the magnificent Gompa of Chemrey sees very few visitors because of its location - tucked up the side valley that runs from Karu, below Hemis. Founded in 1664 as a memorial to King Sengge Namgyal, the monastery is staffed by a dwindling community of around twenty Drugpa monks and their young novices. Its set of ancient Tibetan texts whose title pages are illuminated with opulent gold and silver calligraphy. Upstairs in the revamped Guru-La-Khang, reached via several flights of rickety wooden steps, sits a giant brass statue of Padmasambhava (founder of the Nyingmapa school), swatched in silk brocade and encrusted with semi precious stones .Overnight at Hotel Spic n Span

Day 13:  Leh / Khardung La / Deskit / Hunder

Today we travel north from Leh over the highest motorable road and the Khardungla Pass (5570m), to the Nubra Valley which is little visited, as it is inaccessible for all but a couple of months in the year, its high passes closed by the winter snows. In comparison to the Indus valley which is cooler the Nubra is a comparatively warm valley where walnut, apricot, apple and mulberry trees grow and yak, sheep and goats graze in small forests and along the river Shyok. The journey brings us excellent view of great Karakoram Range.

In the ancient times the fertile Nubra Valley formed a part of the overland route between Tibet and Turkestan. Once dotted with garlands of camel and yak caravans, this Silk Route glen is also known as the ‘Valley of Flowers’ of Ladakh, and is amongst the greenest valleys in the region. During early summer, Nubra is clad in endless bushes of yellow and pink wild roses, and once the valley is through with the season of roses around August, a carpet of wild lavender lies gently on it.

On our way we visit the Diskit Village which is amongst the larger villages in the region, and home to the 350 year-old Diskit Gompa – the oldest, and the largest monastery in the Nubra Valley. We will also find time to walk along the Nubra village. The people are amazingly friendly inspite of their lack of material disposition. Their traditional lifestyles and homes give you the feel of a Living Museum.

We reach Hunder Village through a gorgeous stretch of sand dunes. This is where we will camp tonight. The main attractions in this area are the Bactarian Double Humped Camels. This is the ancient Silk route and these animals were abandoned by the traders. Successive generations have procreated over centuries. This evening we enjoy camel ride over the Sand Dunes. This is a high mountain desert country with fertile dots of land in between. Sand dunes eclipse the mountains; rock and snow capped mountains rising majestically against a pastel landscape. Truly a soul stirring experience where you experience communion with nature

We end the day in absolute peace with ourselves. It is so simple to celebrate the mountains, sun the moon, water, stars and sky – this feeling of presence of a creator that has managed to create such beauty and wonder.Overnight at Tented Accommodations

Day 14: Hunder / Panamik / Hunder

This morning we will spend some time exploring the village. Hunder is a quaint and beautiful village, maze-like in its formation, winding paths bathed in dappled sunlight, branches forming tunnels. The Ladakhi people are creative in the way they devise for water to enter homes and fields in turn, with tenderly cared for gardens and fruit orchards. The houses are thatched, built with mud-dried.

The people are so hospitable and look on curiously, smiling. They radiate joy, with their rosy sun burnt cheeks, wide smiles and eyes speaking volumes about the depth of character and humane goodness they exude. They are humble, joyous and childlike, with a palpable dignity. It  would hit you to realize how material culture and luxury do not provide happiness.

Today we continue to explore the Nubra Valley and the quaint villages that dot the landscape. Sumur is one such village where we interact with the people and also visit the citadel of their faith - The Samtanling Gompa  which is definitely worth a visit, and houses a fine collection of idols, frescos and tangkhas (painted and embroidered scrolls).

Continue a short way away to Panamik which used to be a busy centre being the last major settlement before the caravans entered into the mountains of Karakoram. Today, Panamik is a sleepy village, its inhabitants quietly going about their work in the fields. On the mountainside above the village, hot water bubbles out of the earth in thermal springs, reputed to have therapeutic qualities. Across the river, clinging to the mountains, are a few trees rooted among the rocks surrounding the tiny Ensa gompa.Late afternoon, drive back to Hunder.Overnight at Tented Accommodations

Day 15: Hunder / Leh
                                                                                                                                      
Morning we retreat back to Leh .Upon arrival transfer to your Hotel Spic n Span

Rest of the day is at leisure for your independent activities. This is the day to catch up on your shopping. Think about people who are in your thoughts and who ‘deserve’ souvenirs from this magical destination. Overnight at Hotel Spic n Span

Day 16: Leh / Delhi (9W 609 - 0630 / 0745 Hours)
                                          
Morning transfer to the airport to board your flight to Delhi

Meeting & assistance upon arrival & transfer to hotel The Connaught

Rest of the day is at leisure for your independent activities Delhi today is truly the melting pot of India, and the main gateway to one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Your Hotel in Delhi is a Downtown Hotel - The Connaught Place is the heart and pulse of New Delhi. This Hotel will give you an opportunity to view the busy streets and bazaars of the capital of India. In other words, you will 'feel' India.Overnight at The Connaught – a 4* Downtown Hotel (Standard Room)

Day 17: Delhi / Departure

Transfer to the International airport to connect your onward flight back home.

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