DELHI – LEH – DELHI
Day 01: Delhi-Leh
An early morning flight from Delhi will bring us to Leh, considered the coldest desert of India in Ladakh. Ladakh is located in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, is one of the most sparsely populated regions in the country, and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet.
Leh lies at a height of 11,500ft (3500m) from MSL. No activity is planned on Day 01 since acclimatization to the heights take time. Because of the altitude, most travelers tend to suffer headaches and breathlessness which at times leads to acute mountain sickness. To avoid this, tourists are advised to drink lots of fluids and avoid exertion on the first day.
Day 02: Leh
By now, we rested and acclimatized ourselves to the climate of the region.
We begin our sightseeing with a tour of the Leh city.
Leh is a place that is all too easy to fall in love with, with its many stupas and mud brick houses and Tibetan style palace and forts. The ruined Leh Palace, the former mansion of the Royal family of Ladakh, dominates the city of Leh.
We will be visiting the Stok Palace which was the summer home of the Ladakh’s former Royal family. It houses a museum which displays the family treasures including the Queen’s ancient crown and a sword that belongs to the King. The sprawling complex consists of a number of beautiful gardens, and a library containing a collection of teachings of Lord Buddha.
Our next stop is the Shey Palace & monastery, located in the village of Shey. Shey used to be the capital of ancient Ladakh and was abandoned after Ladakh was conquered by the Dogras of Jammu & Kashmir.
The complex contains a gold topped victory stupa and a two storied statue of Buddha. The monastery is witness to the seasonal Tibetan festivals including the Shey Doo Lhoo which is held to mark the beginning of the sowing season.
Our last stop for the day is the Hemis monastery which is about 45kms from Leh. While the monastery existed before the 11th century, it was established again in 1672 by the Ladhaki King Sengge Namgyal.
The Hemis festival which is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava holds a special significance as it represents through the medium of dance the reincarnation of Lord Buddh as Lord Padmasambhava.
Day 3: Leh – Nubra
A mesmerizing drive to the Nubra Valley which is 125 kilometers from Leh, awaits us today. En route we cross the Khardungla Pass which at18,360 ft. above the MSL is the highest motorable pass in the world. The pass was opened to the public in 1988 and since has seen many motor expeditions.
The pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier.
We stop at the Diskit and Hundur Monasteries, which are the oldest and largest monasteries of this region.
Built in the 14th century, the Diskit monastery houses the statue of the Maitreya Buddha and preserves the tradition & cultural of Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
Main attraction of today’s sightseeing is a visit to the White Sand Dunes in Hundur, which stands in stark contrast to the snow capped peaks of the region. It is one of the most popular camping sites for the adventure lover.
To cap it, we will experience a camel safari on the double humped camels which are found only in Nubra Valley.
Day 4 Nubra – Leh
We embark on a tour of the Samstanling Monastery which is located in the Sumlur village. The assembly halls of the monastery are lined with elaborate murals depicting Buddha, the Dharamchakra and facets of Buddhism. Around 50 monks still reside in this monastery.
Thereafter, we return back to Leh. The evening is at your disposal to explore the local markets for Pashmina Shawls, Pearls, Chinese Cutleries and Ladakhi wooden handicraft items.
Day 5 Leh – Pangong Lake
An early start to the day will take us to the most iconic sights in the region, the Pangong Lake (approx. 145 kms from Leh, located on the Indo China Border), via Chang-la pass (alt: 17,370 ft).
The crystal clear blue lake sprawls over an area of 100kms across the borders of the two countries. During winters, the lake completely freezes and ice skating festivals are organized which attracts tourists from all over the world.
After a full day of sightseeing around the lake, we check-in at a fixed tented camp near the lake at Spangmik or drive back 30 kms to Tangtse and check into a hotel or guest house.
Day 6 Pangong – Thiksey-Leh
After breakfast we retrace the Leh route across Chang-la, en route visiting the picturesque Thiksey monastery. The monastery is notable for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.
The complex houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, wall paintings etc. The Maitreya Temple, installed to commemorate the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama, is one of the main points of interest.
Day 7 Drop to Leh Airport
As we bid adieu to Leh, we realize that the city is not just famous for its Momos but for its natural beauty and the generosity of the locals that warms our hearts!