MONKS & MOUNTAINS

Ladakh is an fascinating and entrancing region of India.
Monks & Mountain
Ladakh is an fascinating and entrancing region of India. A literally breathtaking high altitude landscape, the religion and culture here is decidedly Tibetan, with incredible Buddhist monasteries everywhere and a vibrant history of forts and palaces..

Journey to Ladakh

Awe-inspiring Ladakh is a striking moonscape of 20,000-foot peaks sheltering stone-built villages and an ancient cultural heritage.In this Buddhist land hidden in the Western Himalayas, we take day hikes to traditional villages under a cobalt-blue sky, discover the grand hilltop monasteries of the Indus Valley, including 11th century Alchi, with its rare frescoes, and witness a vibrant festival.

Tour Highlight

  1. Experience Ladakh’s breathtaking landscapes.
  2. Discover the once-forbidden Nubra Valley.
  3. Witness the Lamayuru Festival (June)
    or Leh Festival (September).
  4. Stroll the atmospheric Leh bazaar,which still retains a Silk Road atmosphere

Itinerary

Delhi – Leh- Hemis- Nubra-Lamayuru-
Padum-Zanksar-Kargil-Alchi

Day 01 : Arrive Delhi

Arrival Delhi at Indira Gandhi International airport. On arrival proceed to the group hotel. Standard check-in is 14:00
Although there are no official events on this day, just after lunch you will be heading to the crazy streets of Old Delhi, to see the spice market, and also a Sikh Gurudwara. Any one who has arrived in Delhi by this time is welcome to join him, at their own expense. We will be taking the Delhi Metro to get to the Spice Market, and heading back on autorickshaws.
Around 7pm, we will be meeting out India Travel Pundits Leader for an introductory meeting before dinner, and an early night, ready for our early flight in the morning.

Day 02 : Delhi - Leh

Today will be an early start to return to the airport for our 08:40 flight to Leh.

The flight into Leh is quite literally breath-taking. The vioews are stunniing and you will be struck ny the feeling of hading to somewhere truly special! We will be met on arrival at Leh airport and transferred to our hotel.

Leh is at an altitude of 3500 metres, and some people feel a little breathless. You are advised to take it easy today, and officially the rest of the day is free for acclimitisation.

We will probably have a late afternoon walk through the market area of Leh to shoot some portraits, and explore the town.

Day 03 : Leh

Today we will be sghtseeing in Leh. Those that feel up to it can get up for the sunrise, otherwise we will have an early breakfast and head out to see the sights, starting with the Leh Palace. Leh Palace is a former royal palace modelled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It is nine storeys high; the upper floors accommodated the royal family, while the lower floors held stables and store rooms. Shanti Stupa was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura and part of the Peace Pagoda mission. The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. Sankar Gompa belongs to Gelukspa school of Tibetan Buddhism. This small Gompa is a branch of Spituk Monastery, founded by the first incarnation of Skyabje Bakula (head monk monastery).

We will set a project in the afternoon, and give people free time for further exploarions around the enchanting tower of Leh. In the evening we will reconvene at the top of the Shanti Stupa to photograph the sunset. This is a fantastic vantage point, and will give you the chance to photograph the shadow creeping up the rocky outcrop towards the Leh Palace.

Day 04 : Leh - Hemis

This morning will involve a very early start to drive to Thiksey monastery to photograph one of the most entracing rituals in Ladakh; as monks greet the sunrise by blowing conch shells as a call to prayer.

Thiksey Gompa is one of the largest and most impressive of the central Ladakh gompa, a complex of buildings on a carg rising in tier upon tier above the village, which is at the same time, dominates and completes.

Shey, on the main road up the Indus was the ancient capital of Ladakh and even after Sengge Namgyal built the more imposing palace at Leh, the kings continued to regards Shey as their real home.

Hemis is one of the most famous Gompas in Ladakh, with beautiful and atmospheric prayer halls and a fantastic museum of Buddhist art. We will aim to see Hemis this afternoon, before photographing the sunset in the Leh Valley.

Day 05 : Hemis - Nubra Valley

This morning we will be able to get up early to witness the morning prayers at the Hemis Gompa. This is a hauntingly beautiful ceremony and something that you will never forget.

After the prayers, we will commence or drive to the Nubra Valley through stunning scenery. The plan is that we will head on the Shakti Route, but this is not always possible for operational reasons. Special permissions are needed to drive this route, and it depends on the border situation with China. If we cannot drive this route, we will double back towards Leh and drive to Nubra over the Khardung La Pass.

Evening enjoy the camel safari at the sand dunes between Deskit & Hundur Village. The camels in this part of the world are hairy Bactrian Camels, so this will be a great photo-opportunity whether you re daring enough to ride one or not!

Day 06 : Nubra Valley

Morning Proceed for full day excursion to Diskit Monastery and to explore the Valley.

Diskit Monastery is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery has statue of Cho Rinpoche (Crowned Buddha) in the prayer hall, a huge drum and several images of fierce guardian deities.

Day 07 : Nubra - Leh

Today will be a big day: driving over the fabled Khardung La pass! This will probably be the greatest altitude that most people will ever reach in their lives. Khardung La is considered the highest motor able pass in the world. Laying at an altitude of 5,602 meters above sea level the pass was built in 1976 and opened to motor vehicles in 1988.

This is a tourist site in itself. There is a small teashop and stupa at the summit, and the chances are that there will be snow too. We will stop to look around and enjoy the views and hopefully make a few snow angels and have a snowball fight, before continuing down the winding road to Leh.

After a few days in more remote parts of Ladakh, Leh will see like a metropolis! We should have some time to explore, shoot a few more pictures and do a bit of souvenir hunting before enjoying a good night out!

Day 08 : Leh - Lamayuru

Today we will drive along the start of the Srinagar-Leh Highway, visiting a number of monasteries on our way.

We will start by visiting the Phyang Monastery, a short way out of town. The name of the monastery is derived from the blue mountain (Gang Ngonpo) behind the monastery. It was established by Choje Denma Kunga Drakpa in the 16th century with the sponsorship of his disciple Chogyal Tashi Namgyal, the 21st Dharma King of Ladakh.

Alchi Monastery is a Buddhist monastery, known more as a monastic complex of temples in Alchi village. These are noted for their fantastic wood carvings and quiet and charming atmosphere.

Likir Monastery is situated at the head of the village of the same name, which straggles down the valley of a side-stream flowing into the Indus between the Basgo and Saspol.

On this road, we will pass the confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers at Nimu, and also the out of this world scenery at Moonland, just outside of Lamayuru. We hope to arrive at Lamayuru in time to be able to see the sunset over Lamayuru Gompa.

Day 09 : Lamayuru - Padum

Another chance to witness morning prayers; this time at the Lamayuru Gompa, followed by a chance to look around the Gompa itself. We won't be able to linger for too long though, as today will be a long driving day to get to Padum. We will stop to take pictures on the way, but essentially today will be a driving day!

Day 10 & 11 : Padum ( Zanskar Festival )

home to around 100 lamas. This festival is celebrated remembering the victory of good over evil, at this largest Geluk-pa (Yellow Hat) monastery that is located on the slopes of Zanskar Mountains, right high above the Padum plain. During the festival, a Black Hat Dance is performed. Then there is also a masked dance (performed by the monks) on the same line as Chaam.

In quiet moments of the festival, we will be able to explore the town, Gompa and surrounding areas. This will also be a good time to practice shooting star trails!

Day 12 : Visiting Zansakar Valley

Today we have a full day to explore some of the villages and monasteries in the Zanskar Valley. Driving from Padum, we will have options to trek, but also to take the vehicles to explore more hidden corners of this fascinating place.

Day 13 : Zanskar - Kargil

Today we drive to Kargil, exploring glaciers, monsateries and other sites en route.

Day 14 : Kargil - Alchi

We will drive along the Indus River Valley, exploring some of the remote villages and monasteries until we reach the peaceful town of Alchi, where time permitting we will be able to explore the ancient wooden monasteries.

In the evening, we will enjoy our final dinner together.

Day 15 : Leh - Delhi

Today we will have an early start, for our drive to the airport at Leh to cath our GoAir flight to Delhi. We will have a transfer to the hotel in Delhi and a day room for those catching a flight later in the evening. 

Tab Price and conditions:

Price including tax per person in 3-star hotels

Base 2 participants from INR 101,625

Base 4 participants from INR 90,375

This price includes :

Airport / hotel / airport transfers.

An air-conditioned car with driver, with driver and car costs.
The services of local French or English speaking guides.
Accommodation in 3 * hotels (local standards), in a standard double room (4 or 5 * hotels, contact us for prices), in a standard double room.
Breakfasts.

Entrances to the sites mentioned in the program.

Visit to Amberfort on an elephant or in a Jeep to the Amber fort. Indian visa fees (60 €).

This price does not include:

The 2 main meals: lunch and dinner.

Photo and video permits on the sites.
Personal expenses, tips, drinks…

The insurance.

 
  • January: Dry and cool climate. Possible frosts at night.
  • February: Dry and cool climate. Pleasant temperatures.
  • March: Dry climate. Pleasant temperatures.
  • April: Hot and dry climate. High temperatures.
  • May: Hot and dry climate. Very high temperatures.
  • June: Hot and dry climate. Very high temperatures.
  • July: Beginning of the monsoon. Hot and humid climate.
  • August: Monsoon. Hot and humid climate.
  • September: End of the monsoon. Pleasant temperatures.
  • October: Dry climate. Pleasant temperatures.
  • November: Dry climate. Pleasant temperatures.
  • December: Dry and cool climate. Possible frosts at night.

 

The highlights of this trip

Spiti

Separated from fertile Lahaul by the soaring 4551m Kunzum Pass, the trans-Himalayan region of Spiti is another chunk of Tibet marooned within India, a kind of 'mini-Ladakh' with fewer tourists. The scattered villages in this serrated moonscape arrive like mirages while the turquoise-grey ribbon of the Spiti River is your near-constant companion, albeit sometimes way below in precipitous gorges.

 Manali

With mountain adventures beckoning from all directions, Manali is a year-round magnet. Backpackers are well catered for in parts of Vashisht and Old Manai where numerous agents offer trekking, climbing, rafting and skiing according to season. Meanwhile, so many Indian families and honeymooners come for a first taste of snow that greater Manali now has an estimated 800 to 1000 hotels and guesthouses. Tight-packed resort buildings already fill the town centre and are now steadily devouring former orchard terraces as far south as once-rustic Prini 'village'. But while the whole area gets jam-packed in season (mid-April to mid-July, mid-September to mid-October, and over Christmas–New Year), it doesn't take too much effort to get off the main tourist trail. And in November, clear skies plus slashed prices make Manali a bargain – if you can handle the cold and the closure of some restaurants.

 

Dhankar Tso

Offering beautiful reflections of the mountainscape plus chorten, this small lake sits high above Dhankar, accessed on foot by a steep 2km path that starts across the road from the New Monastery.

 Lhalung Monastery

Near the top of Lhalung village, this outwardly modest monastery is actually an antique gem. Beneath a yellow painted tin roof, the very atmospheric Serkhang Gompa (main chapel) has interior walls lavished on three sides with an extraordinary array of colourful mud-plaster sculptures. They're so old that locals claim they were made by God not man.

Key

Key Gompa is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located on a picturesque hilltop at an altitude of 4,166 m above sea level, close to the Spiti River, in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. The monastery has the distinction of being the oldest and the biggest in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh and a religious training centre for lamas. Key Monastery is home to around 300 lamas who receive their religious education here.

  • Cultural 80% 80%
  • Landscape 99% 99%
  • Monasteries 90% 90%
  • Local Experience 90% 90%

Educational !!

The trip was very interesting and the itinerary was educational and varied. As usual, an excellent trip that I would recommend to others. .”

Jeff & Hary, California

Highly recommend !!

“Our trip was just magical, and I would highly recommend India Travel Pundits to anyone considering a trekking tour in India. I don’t know how it could have been better, and I can’t wait to book another trip through India Travel Pundits again.

Thanks so much for all your help.” – .”

Philippe & Margot, Nice, France.

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