DAY 01: ARRIVE DELHI
You will be assisted on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Morning is at leisure. In the afternoon, drive to visit Humayun’s Tomb built in the Indo Persian style and a predecessor to The Taj Mahal in Agra; India Gate - A War Memorial Arch. Also drive past the President's House called Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, Government Secretariat buildings and Connaught Place - the heart of New Delhi and a busy shopping center. Overnight say at your hotel.
DAY 02: DELHI – LEH (3,500 M / 11,550 FT) - BY FLIGHT
After an early breakfast you are transferred to the domestic airport for your flight to Ladakh. This must be one of the most sensational flights in the world. On a clear day from one side of the aircraft can be seen in the distance the peaks of K2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum and on the other side of the aircraft, so close that you feel you could reach out and touch it, is the Nun Kun massif. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. You would take a little time to settle in and acclimatize since you have gone from a relatively low elevation in New Delhi to over 11,000 feet! During the afternoon, you can walk through the old town, beneath the Leh Palace, to allow you to get oriented to this fascinating city. Overnight stay at you hotel.
DAY 03: IN LEH – LEH PALACE, SHANKAR GOMPA, AND SUNSET AT SHANTI STUPA
The morning is at leisure to acclimatize to the rarefied air. You may choose to stroll along the main bazaar - observing the varied crowds. Looking into curio shops is an engaging experience. A particularly attractive sight is the line of women from nearby villages sitting along the edge of the footpath with baskets of fresh vegetables brought for sale. Behind the main bazaar there are interesting little shops selling curios and jewellery. Further on are the labyrinthine alleyways and piled-up houses of the old town, clustering around the foot of the Palace Hill. In the other direction, down the bazaar, are the Tibetan markets where one can bargain for pearls, turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli and many other kinds of semi-precious stones and jewellery, as well as carved yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls, or any of a whole array of curios. When tired of strolling, one can step into any of the several restaurants; some of them located in gardens or on the sidewalks and serve local Tibetan, Indian and Continental cuisine. Also walk to the Leh Palace & Shankar Gompa, which belongs to Gelukspa school of Tibetan Buddhism. This small Gompa is a branch of Spituk Gompa, founded by the first incarnation of Skyabje Bakula (head monk of Spituk monastery). In the evening you visit Shanti Stupa at Changspa, on a hilltop, was built by the Japanese for world peace, which was inaugurated by His Holiness The Dalai Lama in 1985. From here you get a beautiful view of the sunset that descends on the Indus River plain. Return to your hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
DAY 04: IN LEH - HEMIS - (3,450 M / 11,385 FT) - BY SURFACE / 48 KM / APPROX 1 ½ HRS – THIKSEY (3,230 M/ 10,569 FT) – BY SURFACE / 29 KM / APPROX 45 MINS - SHEY – BY SURFACE / 3 KM / APPROX 10 MINS – LEH – BY SURFACE / 16 KM / APPROX 30 MINS
After breakfast you drive on a well mettled broad road traveling upstream along the Indus River to Hemis Gompa, crossing over the Indus at the village of Karu. The most famous of Ladakh’s monasteries, Hemis or Changchub Samstanling (The love palace of the compassionate person), dates back to the 17th century and was built over a period of 40 years (1602 – 1642 A.D.). Today Hemis is well known for its festival or Hemis Tsechu commemorating the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava. In the year of the Monkey (every 12 years) a giant thangka depicting Guru Padmasambhava is unfurled from the terrace draping the five-storey facade. Delicately wrought in pearls and appliqué, it is one of the most famous art treasures of Ladakh. The central courtyard forms the focus for the masked dances held every year in summer. In the dukhang, remnants of the original 17th century murals can be seen. The Gompa boasts of an excellent library, well preserved frescoes and murals, silver gilt chortens and a Kashmiri lacquered wooden throne. On the road back to Leh you stop to visit Thikse Monastery, which is one of the most vibrant and active monasteries in the region. It dates back to the 16th century and is part of the Gelug-pa Sect. It is headed by successive reincarnations of the Khanpo Rimpoche. The monastery is 12 storied and painted in deep shades of red, ochre and white. It has evolved around a central courtyard with buildings surrounding it from three sides. At one extreme lies the main dukhang, which houses numerous racks containing religious texts. Behind the main alter lies a small chamber that contains images of revered deities. Three kms ahead of Thikse you will visit Shey. Overlooking a small lake, the palace and fortification of Shey was the site of one of the former capitals of Ladakh. In the 10th century the first ruler of Western Tibet, Nyima-Gon, laid the foundations of the first dynasty of Ladakh. On a large rock below the palace is an engraving in shallow relief of the Five Dhyai Buddhas, credited to him. His son constructed the small place and made it the first capital of Ladakh. During subsequent reigns the palace was expanded and the present structure dates back to the time of Deldan Namgyal who lived here for the better part of his reign. The significance of the sight is apparent from the large number of chortens that dot the entire landscape around Shey. After the visit you return to Leh. Overnight stay at your Hotel.
DAY 05: IN LEH - PHYANG – BY SURFACE / 17 KM / APPROX 30 MINS – SPITUK (3,210 M / 10,593 FT) – BY SURFACE / 10 KM / APPROX 20 MINS – STOK – BY SURFACE / 14 KM / APPROX 30 MINS
After breakfast, you begin your day by visiting Phyang Gompa, which is located on the right of the main highway to Alchi. Built on a large mound, with the village below, the setting is one of the prettiest in Ladakh with groves of popular trees along the road leading up to the monastery. The founder of the Namgyal Dynasty built it. According to popular legend, he placed a flagpole at a spot from where the monastery is first visible and anyone guilty of a crime could seek pardon if he reached this spot. The Gompa has an exquisite collection of pre-4th century Kashmiri bronze statues, thangkas and manuscripts. During July, a temple festival is held in the beautiful setting of the temple courtyard and ritual masked dances are staged here. Here you can also take a village walk to get a closer look at a day in the life of the local inhabitants. Thereafter, you will stop at Spituk Monastery that is seven km from Leh. It is built on a rock
overlooking the River Indus. The Monastery was founded in the 11th century and belongs to the Gelug-pa sect. The oldest section of the monastery is the Gonkhang located at the top of the hill that contains images of the guardian deities. The main dukhang is located lower down in the four-storied structure, which also houses the private apartments of the Rimpoche. The principal statue in the dukhang is that of Sakyamuni Buddha. Later in the evening you drive to Stok Palace, which is the present residence of the former royal family of Ladakh. King Teswang Thondup Namgyal built the palace in 1825. The last king of Ladakh died here in 1974. The main palace is five storeys high. The palace museum displays the collections of the royal family. In the queen’s chamber can be seen royal ornaments such as the beautifully crafted turquoise studded perak (head dress), the queen’ s crown as well as the necklace of the Balti Princess, Gyal Khatun. Within the king’s room are displayed exquisite thangkas, most significant of which is the set of 35 thangkas depicting the stories relating to the former lives of Buddha. Other artifacts include silver chortens, the king’s crown and a 7th century image of Avalokitesvara as well as jade cups, fine porcelain and ritual objects.
Overnight stay at your Hotel.
DAY 06: LEH – LIKIR (3,500 M / 11550 FT) - BY SURFACE / 52 KM / APPROX 2 HRS – ULETOKPO (3,040 M / 10,032 FT) – BY SURFACE / 24 KMS / APPROX 45 MINS
Your drive today takes you first to Likir to visit the monastery. The Likir Monastery, which is situated at the head of the village by the same name. The name Likir derives from the word Lukhgil (coiled snake) as the site appears to be encircled by two great serpent spirits – Nanda and Taksako. The Gompa is believed to date back to the 11th century. In the 15th century Lama Lhawag Lhotos established the Gelug-pa order here. Likir is one of the most active monasteries in the region. The Gompa has a fine collection of thangkas some of which are now housed in its museum. As you drive up to the monastery a recently installed colossal gilded image of the Maitreya out in the open is one of the most impressive sights in Ladakh. After the visit you drive to Ulletokpo where you arrive in time for lunch after checking in to your Ethnic Resort. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the natural surroundings of the Resort. Overnight stay at Ulle Ethnic Resort.
DAY 07:ULLETOKPO – LAMAYURU (3,460 M / 11,418 FT) - ULLETOKPO - BY SURFACE / 50 KMS / APPROX 2 HRS (ONEWAY)
Today after break fast you proceed to the 11th century Lamayuru Monastery, which is spectacularly located along the valley plain and surrounded by mountains on all sides. There is a spot along the way just before one reaches the village that is locally known as “Moonland”. According to legend, the arhat Madhyantika, a disciple of Buddha offered “torma’ (sacred food) and water to the spirits inhabiting the site to satisfy them. A handful of rain spilled on the soil which caused barley plants to sprout in the shape of Yung-drung (swastika), hence its name Yung-Drung. The great yogi Naropa meditated in a cave, which today forms part of the monastery. The monastery has gradually expanded over the years and newer structures have been built around a large courtyard. The antiquity of this site is evident from the large number of chortens, similar to those at Alchi. In the afternoon drive back to Ulletokpo and the rest of the day is at leisure for you to enjoy the natural surroundings of the Resort. Overnight stay at Ulle Ethnic Resort.
DAY 08: ULLETOKPO – ALCHI (3,250 M / 10,725 FT) - BY SURFACE / 12 KMS / APPROX 30 MINS – BASGO (3,100 M / 10,230 FT) - LEH - BY SURFACE / 42 KM / APPROX 1 HR
On your return to Leh from Ulletokpo you will take a short bifurcation to the right just before reaching Saspool. Crossing the Indus River you drive uphill to Alchi to visit the Alchi Monastery. It is complex of temples located within the village is the most celebrated of Ladakh’s monasteries and dates back to the 11th century. The complex consists of a group of five temples as well as a number of chortens scattered around the complex. The Dukhang and the three-tiered Sumstek are the most significant. It is the seat of the Ngri Rimpoche, an incarnation at present embodied in the younger brother of the Dalai Lama. Alchi Gompa is the only monastery, built on flat ground. It is very famous for its paintings and architecture, which has an Indian and Kashmiri influence in them. After the visit en-route to Leh you stop to visit Basgo. By the evening you would be back in Leh. Overnight stay at your hotel.
DAY 09: LEH – DELHI – BY FLIGHT
You will be transferred in time to the Leh airport to board your flight back to Delhi. You are met upon arrival at Delhi airport and transferred to your hotel. The afternoon & evening is at leisure to enable you to do some shopping so as to take some souvenirs back home. Overnight stay at your hotel.
DAY 10: IN DELHI - DEPARTURE DELHI
In the morning you will proceed on a tour of Old Delhi to get a feel of the hustle and bustle of a vibrant city. The tour will include the Red Fort built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638 and was the seat of the Mogul power till the last emperor was dethroned. Jama Masjid, one of Asia’s largest mosques built is 1656 and enjoy a walking tour in Chandni Chowk - the silver street of Delhi bustling with activity. On your way back visit Raj Ghat - the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. In the afternoon drive past Purana Qila. It is one of the most prominent monuments in Delhi. Then proceed to Bahai Temple. Bahai faith represents the equality of mankind and oneness of its soul. The same feeling has been successfully transcended into the beautifully and scientifically deigned Bahai Temple in Delhi, designed by Fariburz Sahba, an Iranian-born Canadian architect, in the shape of a lotus flower, the symbol of purity. Thereafter you visit the Qutab Minar – a soaring stone tower, 72 m high that was built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak in 1193. The tower has five distinct storeys; each with a projecting balcony At its base is the Quwwat-ul Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. A 7 m high iron pillar (4th century) stands in the courtyard of the mosque. Later in the evening you will be transferred in time to board your flight back home.
B = Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner
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