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Marvelous Ladakh

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DAY 01 ARRIVE DELHI

On arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal II you
are met and transferred to your hotel. Spend rest of the day at
leisure.Overnight in Delhi.

DAY 02 FLY DELHI - LEH (HT 3500 MTS) - BY FLIGHT

Bandhavgarh national parkMorning in time transfer to Delhi airport to board flight for Leh.
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 in a hotel.

DAY 03 IN LEH – VISIT TO THIKSE (HT 3230 M) – HEMIS GOMPA (HT 3450 M) - STOK PALACE (HT 3650 M)

Bandhavgarh national parkYou begin the day by visiting THIKSE MONASTERY, which is one of the mostvibrant 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.

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.

On the return journey to Leh, 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.

A Gompa is situated behind the museum and contains some ritual dance marks and frescoes. An annual archery contest is held here in July. Return to your hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.

DAY 04 LEH - OVER KHARDUNG LA (HT 5602 M) - HUNDER (HT 4350 M) (NUBRA VALLEY) – APPROX 5 HRS

The road journey from Leh to NUBRA VALLEY passes over KHARDUNG LA (theBandhavgarh national park highest motorable road in the world) at 5602 M / 18,390 Ft, around 39 km from Leh. From the Pass, one can see all the way south over the Indus valley to seemingly endless peaks and ridges of the Zanskar range, and north to the giants of the Saser massif. Nubra Valley is popularly known as Ldumra or the valley of flowers. It is situated in the north of Ladakh between the Karakoram and Ladakh ranges of the Himalayas. The average altitude of the valley is 10,000 Ft. above sea level. The Shayok and Saichen Rivers drain Nubra. The flat part of the river is sandy & occupied by green farms & myricaria. The villages look pretty with greenery, willow & poplar trees. Till partition Nubra Valley was one of the trade centers, the ancient famous Silk Route passed through this area.
Before proceeding to your camp at Hunder, stop to visit DISKIT MONASTERY perched on a rock overhanging next to a stream, which provides the source of energy used by mills in the area. The monastery is rich, full of thangkas, magnificent giant statues, effigies of the Buddha and old mural paintings in which can be noted a multitude of influences. It was founded by Lama Sherab Zangpo of Stod around 1420 A.D. Diskit is the main village or headquarters of Nubra Valley, which has a small market consisting of a row of shops.
After your visit to the monastery and shortly after leaving Diskit you will comes across sand dunes on the right of the road. Seen in isolation you could well be amongst the sand dunes of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. It is indeed a strange sight since immediately on the left of the road are rocky mountains that characterize the Ladakh landscape and in the distance can be seen snow-capped mountains.
Overnight in your camp at Hunder.

DAY 05 IN NUBRA VALLEY – BACTERIAN CAMEL SAFARI AT HUNDER - PANAMIK – APPROX 1 ½ HRS - SAMSTANLING GOMPA IN SUMOOR – APPROX ½ HR – HUNDER – APPROX 1 HRS – LEH – BY SURFACE – APPROX 6 HRS

Bandhavgarh national parkAfter breakfast you will get the unique opportunity to ride on a bacterian camel (double humped) amidst the sand dunes of this high altitude desert with snow capped mountains on the horizon. Thereafter, crossing over the Shayok River you will be driving upstream long the Saichen River to Panamik. The place has a number of hot springs on the right of the road just before entering the village. Panamik is literally the end of the road for this trip, as one has to return from this spot. On the return journey you stop by to visit SAMSTANLING GOMPA founded by Lama Tsultims Nima. The Gompa has some strict rules and regulations like not allowing women in the monastery after sunset and before sunrise, no smoking etc.

Later drive to Leh over Khardung La. Afternoon rest and relax or take a walk to the local market. Overnight at your hotel.

DAY 06 LEH – ACROSS CHANG LA (5320 M / 17,800 Ft) - PANGONG TSO – LEH – 160 KM ONE WAY / 9 HRS RETURN TRIP

An all encompassing trip on the BEST OF LADAKH will not be considered complete without experiencing the majestic as well as serene ambience of at least one of its three high altitude lakes. Today’s drive takes you to Pangong Tso.

You start early heading out on the Leh – Upshi road driving upstream along the Indus River. From Karu you turn left to ascend through the Sakti valley. As you drive up the amazing sight of CHEMREY GOMPA rising majestically on a hill to the left with the residences of the lamas spilling along its contours greets you. As you negotiate a number of hairpin bends climbing higher towards the pass, green cultivated fields dotted with village houses in typical Ladakhi architecture continue along the base of the valley. Finally you cross over Chang La (5320 M / 17,800 Ft), a signboard proclaims it to be the third highest motorable pass in the world.

On reaching Pangong Tso, the largest brackish water lake in Asia, an absolutely amazing and captivating sight is laid out in front of you. One third of the lake is in India while the rest two thirds of the lake is in Tibet. Most of the streams feeding the lake are on the Tibetan side.

It seems never ending. The crystal clear water of the lake, the desert sand mountains in the background, some herons swimming around, and above all, its’ absolute virginity not being disturbed by any human settlements gives it an ambience of total serenity. The turquoise blue to dark blue colour of the water depending on the sky conditions, the hazy reflection of the mountains, and the glittering of sunlight in the water of the lake is a picture of a lifetime. One can drive up to some 300 meters from the beginning of the lake. After that, there is no proper road. One of the few types of the birds that may be seen here is the Black Necked Heron, a rare species. They are usually to be seen at around the beginning of the lake.

After having thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the lake, you drive back to Leh for an overnight stay.

DAY 07 LEH – BASGO (3,100 M / 10,230 FT) - BY SURFACE / 42 KM / APPROX 1 HR – ALCHI (3,250 M / 10,725 FT) – BY SURFACE / 27 KM / APPROX 45 MINUTES – ULETOKPO (3,040 M / 10,032 FT) – BY SURFACE / APPROX 20 MINS

After breakfast you drive to Basgo, which lies astride the road to Alchi. TheBandhavgarh national park jagged skyline of the ruins of the 15th century capital of Ladakh dominates the village of Basgo. It was an important 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’.

Later drive to visit the Alchi Gompa. The 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 your visit of Alchi Gompa you will have packed lunch and take a short drive to Uleytokpo. On arrival you check in to Uletokpo Camp for dinner and an overnight stay.

DAY 08 ULLEYTOKPO - LAMAYURU (3, 460 M / 11,418 FT) – BY SURFACE / APPROX 1 ½ HRS - LEH – BY SURFACE / 126 KM / APPROX HRS

After breakfast you will drive to the 11th century Lamayuru Monastery, which 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.

After the visit you will have lunch at Lamayuru and then be driven back to your hotel in Leh for an overnight stay.

DAY 09 DEPART LEH – BY FLIGHT JET AIRWAYS/ KINGFISHER – APPROX 01 HR

In time transfer to the Leh airport to board your flight back to Delhi. Met
On arrival at Delhi airport and transfer to hotel. Later after a short rest proceed for the sightseeing of Delhi visiting Great Mosque, Jama Masjid and the Red Fort, a perfect example of Mughal architecture built by Emperor Shah Jahan between 1639 and 1648. Enjoy cycle rickshaw ride around the colorful giant bazaar, Chandni Chowk.
In the new part of the city visit - the Qutab Minar (built in XIIth century), a splendid monument minaret of the Afghan period. Raj Ghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, and the Mausoleum of Humayun - a huge building that inspired Persians, is the precursor of the Taj Mahal. Rajpath, the equivalent of the Champs Elysees in France, the India Gate (erected in the memory of unknown soldiers died during First World War), The Parliament, and the house of the President.
Later in time transfer to the Delhi International airport to board flight for back home.


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