HIMACHAL PRADESH, LADAKH & KASHMIR!
The Heart of the Himalayas
This is a journey into the spectacular beauty of the Himalayan mountains. We will visit the incredible Golden Temple of Amritsar (the sacred seat of the Sikh religion), and then view Dharamshala, home of the Dalai Lama and the Karmappa, the two most important monks in Tibetan Buddhism. We’ll drive through on one of the world’s highest highways through the fantastic landscapes of Himachal Pradesh, with its snowy peaks and unparalleled views. We’ll then tour the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh, with its numerous monasteries and gompas, and get to know the pristine way of life in that area. We’ll then spend a day in a houseboat on Dal Lake in Srinagar, summer capital of Kashmir. An unforgettable journey of a lifetime!
Point of arrival:
Point of departure:
Arrival at New Delhi International Airport. Traditional Indian welcome. Transport to hotel for dinner and sleep.
Day 2: Delhi.
We have the full day to tour New Delhi, India’s capital city. Among possible destinations: the Lotus Temple, the Akshardham Temple Complex (the largest Hindu temple in the world), the famed India Gate, the largest mosque in India (the Jama Masjid), the Red Fort, and the tomb of Mahatma Gandhi in Raj Ghat. We will also stroll a bit through some market areas and the narrow lanes of the Old City, and enjoy the unique energy of this bustling and fascinating place.
Day 3: Delhi - Amritsar.
In the morning we will return to the airport to catch a flight to Amritsar, the sacred city of the Sikhs. The primary attraction here is the Golden Temple, the spiritual center of the Sikh religion, which was founded by Guru Nanak. This temple is situated in the middle of a tank of sacred waters which are said to have healing power. Within this impressive gold-covered temple is the original Adi Granth, the holy book of the Sikhs.
Day 4: Amritsar - Dharamshala.
After breakfast we drive to Dharamshala, the city at the feet of the Himalayas where both the Dalai Lama and the Karmappa (the most important living monks in Tibetan Buddhism) have their primary residences. Dharamshala is home to the largest population of Tibetans in exile in the world, and the town is an intriguing mix of Western tourists, Indians and Tibetan monks and nuns.
Day 5: Dharamshala.
A day for touring the town and its surroundings. We will visit the Dalai Lama’s temple, take a short trip to a waterfall, and may be able to meet the Karmappa in the monastery he runs, 30 minutes from Dharamshala.
Day 6: Dharamshala - Pragpur.
After breakfast we drive down from the mountains to spend the night in the charming town of Pragpur. The narrow cobblestone streets and wood houses of this city make it a very special location in India.
Day 7: Pragpur - Mandi.
We’ll drive through a gorgeous mountain pass to Mandi, where the Kullu and Kangra valleys meet. Mandi is a small town, dotted with many temples.
Day 8: Mandi - Manali.
We begin our ascent through the Kullu valley, towards Manali, the renowned tourist destination, famous for its views of snowcapped mountains. In the afternoon we will walk through the city’s historic center, where its main road is closed to motor vehicles, a precious rarity in India!
Day 9: Manali.
Today we’ll tour Manali and its surroundings. We’ll also go to Naggar, on the other side of the valley, to visit its castle and the gallery of Nicholas Roerich, the Russian artist, philosopher and mystic. We’ll also be able to visit the hot springs of Vashisht and take a lovely, healing bath there.
Day 10: Manali - Jispa.
Today we begin our ascent towards Ladakh. The mountain pass which awaits us is absolutely amazing, with views of snowcapped mountains on all sides, bare cliff faces, and spectacular waterfalls. We’ll spend the night in Jispa.
Day 11: Jispa - Sarchu.
We continue our ascent with this drive to Sarchu. We’ll stop for lunch, and break the trip in two parts, in order to allow our bodies to gradually acclimatize to the altitude.
Day 12: Sarchu - Leh.
We’ll continue today towards Leh, located at an altitude of 3,500 meters, which is actually lower than several of the passes we’ll have driven through at that point. (The highest point on our tour is Tanglang La, 5,328 meters.) In the evening we’ll arrive in Leh, the capital of Ladakh (known as “Little Tibet”), one of the last enclaves of Mahayana Buddhism in the world.
Day 13: Leh.
We will spend two full days getting to know Leh and its surrounding areas. Among the most important sites we’ll see is the Leh Palace, which visually dominates the city; we’ll also visit the Namgyal Tsemo gompa, and the Shanti Stupa, and take a short tour the bazar in the old city, with its traditional brick houses.
Day 14: Leh.
Continuation of our exploration of Leh. In the surrounding areas we can visit some of the famous gompas of the Indu Velley, such as Thikse, or the small palace of Shey.
Day 15: Leh – Nubra Valley.
We depart from Leh and head towards Nubra Valley, through Khardung La (5,600 m), the highest highway in the world. We will be following the route of the ancient caravans towards Central Asia, through Karakorum. Small towns, amazing views, sand dunes, small gompas, and thermal hot springs line the way.
Day 16: Nubra Valley.
Today we are free to tour the various villages of the valley, and meditate at the various small gompas and stupas in the surrounding area. There will be ceaseless opportunities for photos, and for getting to know the way of life in this remote area. Fascinating!
Day 17: Nubra Valley – Leh.
In the morning we will continue with our tour of the valley, and then head out towards Leh.
Day 18: Leh- Alchi - Uletopko.
We’ll drive towards Alchi, to visit the Choskhor (religious enclave), formed by five temples, several residential buildings and various scattered stupas, and which contains beautiful wall paintings. We will continue our route towards Kashmir, spending the night in Uletopka.
Day 19: Uletopko – Lamayuru - Kargil.
We’ll head out in the direction of Kargil, and en route we will visit the gompa of Lamayuru, situated over the remains of a dry lake bed, which presents us with a gorgeous landscape. We’ll continue on to Kargil, located very close to the border with Pakistan. The Kargil mountains were the location of a brief war between Pakistan and India in 1999. The majority of Kargil’s inhabitants are Muslims.
Day 20: Kargil - Srinagar.
We’ll continue on our journey to the Srinagar, a city of lakes and gardens known as the summer capital of Kashmir. We will stay in a houseboat on Dal Lake.
Day 21: Srinagar.
Today we’ll tour the city of Srinagar, and visit its gardens, Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh, and the various mosques and sanctuaries which are the outsanding spots in the city.
Day 22: Srinagar - Gulmarg.
We’ll depart for Gulmarg, Salida hacia Gulmarg, “the prarie of flowers”, home of one of the only good skiing spots in India!
Day 23: Gulmarg.
A day free to take a walk around Gulmarg, and enjoy the amazing scenery.
Day 24: Gulmarg – Srinagar –Delhi.
Today we’ll drive from Gulmarg towards the Srinagar Airport and catch our flight to Delhi.
Day 25: Arrival in Delhi. Farewell dinner.
Transport to the New Delhi International Airport for your return flight home.
END OF TOUR
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