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LADAKH - LIVING BUDHISSIM

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DAY 1 ARRIVE DELHI

On arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal II you will be taken to your hotel. Spend rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Delhi.
Overnight in a hotel.

DAY 2 DELHI - LEH – BY FLIGHT

Qutab MinarAfter an early breakfast you are transferred to the domestic airport for yourflight to Ladakh. This must be one of the most sensational flights in the world. On a clear day from the left of the aircraft one can see in the distance the peaks of K2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum and so close that you feel you could reach out and touch it, is the Nun Kun massif. From the other side of the aircraft you can see the high altitude lakes of Tso Moriri and Tso Kar.
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!
In the evening you 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, Chang Gali is less bustling but has 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.
Overnight stay in your hotel.

DAY 3 IN LEH – VISIT TRAKTOK - BY SURFACE / 46 KM / APPROX 1 ½ HRS - CHEMREY - BY SURFACE / 6 KM / APPROX 20 MINS - STOK – BY SURFACE / 25 KM / APPROX I HR - SOS VILLAGE – BY SURFACE / 12 KM / 30 MINS

Qutab MinarAfter breakfast you drive to visit Traktok Gompa, which belongs to the Nymgmapa sect. It is built around a cave just above the village of Sakti. Some of the beautiful paintings have been destroyed but there still are some lonely frescoes and intricately woven rugs on display.
While returning you stop at Chemrey Gompa. Though most of the books, including the Ladakh Chronicle, tell us that the great lama Stag-tsang-ras-pa, under the patronage of Sengge Namgyal, founded it, but Professor Luciano Petech has shown that it was actually founded after Sengge's death as a funeral act of merit for him. The building was started in March 1644 and completed in 1645 or 1646. Overlooking fields and houses, the monastery is perched picturesquely atop a small hill, down one side of which spill the monks' dwellings. The main du-khang, a large rather bare temple, has images of Stag-tsang-ras-pa and other Drug-pa lamas, together with a fine silver chorten about fifty years old made at Chiling. The murals are mainly manifestations of Sakyamuni, as is common in Drug-pa temples; there are also fine mandalas of Kalchakra and Akshobya. Twenty-nine volumes of the scriptures have title pages whose lettering is in solid silver of exquisite craftsmanship, the text is pure gold. A smaller temple upstairs houses a nondescript collection of images of Drug-pa lamas.
After lunch in a local restaurant you visit Stok Palace, which is the palace of the last king of Ladakh, who died here in 1974. The palace, with over 80 rooms, is quite run down and only a few rooms are open to the public. The widow of the last king still lives here. The palace houses a museum among other things. The museum is a storehouse of many of the "Royal Thangkas"(some over 400 year old), crown jewels, traditional clothing, jewelry and religious objects. Photography is not permitted. The Gompa is situated behind the museum and contains some ritual dance marks and frescoes. An annual archery contest is held here in July. Walk for couple of hours behind the stupa to catch a glimpse of some breathtaking scenery.
Before you proceed back to your hotel in Leh you visit SOS Village Choglamsar, which is an important center for study of Tibetan Culture and History. It abounds in greenery with Poplar and Willow trees dotting the landscape. There is a golf course, horticulture nurseries and a polo ground as well. There is a Tibetan library, medical center, and shops selling handicrafts, books, plenty of restaurants and last but not the least, the "Central Institute of Buddhist Studies".
Drive back to your hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 4 IN LEH – VISIT THIKSE – BY SURFACE / 19 KM / APPROX 45 MINS -HEMIS – BY SURFACE / 48 KM / APPROX 1 ½ HRS - OPTIONAL RAFTING

You begin the day by rising early in the morning at 0430 hrs to arrive at Thikse Monastery to witness the morning prayers. Thikse Monastery 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.
After the visit drive back to your hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast continue your 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.
Once the visit to Hemis is over, those who wish to have a rafting experience will be taken to the “put-in-point” on the Indus River that is about 7 km ahead of Karu. The rafting trip takes you on the Indus River from where you get a very different perspective of the landscape than that to what you see while traveling on the road, as well as some never-before-seen views of Stakna and Thikse Monasteries. The rafting trip gets over at the “put-out-point” at Sindhu Ghat, Choglamsar taking approx 2 hrs of a thrilling experience on the Indus River. Others will drive back to Leh.
Overnight stay in your hotel.

DAY 5 LEH - BASGO – BY SURFACE / 42 KM / 1 ½ HRS - LIKIR – BY SURFACE / 10 KM / APPROX 20 MINS – ALCHI – BY SURFACE / 37 KM / APPROX 1 HR - RIDZONG

Qutab MinarAfter breakfast you drive out of Leh and first stop to visit Basgo, which was animportant center in the old days, having been the capital of lower Ladakh when the kingdom was divided in the 15th & 16th centuries, and the seat of that branch of the dynasty, which eventually unified Ladakh and took the surname Namgyal. As with the other royal residences at Leh and Shey, the palace at Basgo also incorporates places of worship. The largest of the three shrines, all of which are dedicated to Maitreya, has been described as ‘after Alchi perhaps the most beautifully painted temple in Ladakh’.
After the visit you continue your drive downstream along the Indus River that flows to your left. Just before Saspul a road to the right takes you for your visit to 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.
You then continue your drive to Alchi where you will be arriving in time for lunch.
After lunch, in the afternoon from Alchi you will drive to visit the Ridzong Gompa, which is one of the less frequented monasteries of Ladakh. Relatively new (1840), it is beautifully set in a valley, deep inside a gorge and the most isolated monastery in Ladakh. About 137 years ago Lama Tsultim Nima founded this Gompa and a monastic community was introduced with strict rules and regulations. It has a wonderful collection of Thangkas.
Also visit The Chulichan Nunnery around one & half km further down from the Ridzong Gompa. Around 20 nuns reside at Chulichan; they provide food and clothes to the monks. Apart from above activities they perform prayers in the morning and evening.
Return to Alchi for dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 6 ALCHI – WANLA – BY SURFACE / 55 KMS / APPROX 2 HRS – HIKE TO LAMAYURU - APPROX 3 HRS – ALCHI – BY SURFACE / 57 KM / APPROX 2 HRS

Qutab MinarAfter breakfast drive to Wanla. On arrival you will hike to Lamayuru. The hike will take approximately three to four hours. The vehicles will drop the group at Wanla and proceed to Lamayuru.
On arrival at Lamayuru lunch will be served at a local restaurant.
After lunch visit the 11th century Lamayuru Monastery that is spectacularly located along the valley plain and surrounded by mountains on all sides. 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.
Later drive back to Alchi for dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 7 ALCHI – LEH – BY SURFACE / 69 KM / APPROX 2 HRS

Before you drive back to Leh visit the Alchi Gompa. This Gompa seems to have been founded in the 12th century, built by the great translator Ringchen Zangpo. It is the seat of the Ngri Rinpoche, 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.
Continue to drive to Leh. En- route stop at Phyang Gompa. This monastery belongs to the Red Hat Kagyupa Sect and was built by the founder of the Namgyal Dynasty. The Gompa houses hundreds of 14th 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.
Arrive Leh and check in at Mahabodhi Eco Resort. Lunch. Later in the afternoon visit a Ladakhi Family at Stakna Village to interact with them and witness their daily living. You will also have the opportunity to have butter tea with them.
Return to your accommodation for a local traditional culture dance and farewell dinner.
Overnight stay in Mahabodhi Eco Resorts.

DAY 8 LEH – DELHI – BY FLIGHT

In time transfer to the airport for your flight to Delhi. Assistance on arrival and transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon proceed for a city tour, 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.
Later in time transfer to the Delhi International airport for your flight back home.

 

 

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