Ladakh Travel with India Unbound

15 Days: Delhi > Delhi

  • Delhi
  • Amritsar
  • Dharamsala
  • Manali
  • Keylong
  • Sarchu
  • Leh

Ladakh Travel Packages

Trip Code: AITCMH

Price: from AU$6,360 per person twin share

Prices are valid until 30 September 2016, excluding the Christmas / New Year period.

Please contact us for a detailed itinerary and current prices.

Included:

  • Accommodation in a double or twin room with breakfast
  • All meals at Manali, Keylong, Sarchu and Ule
  • Air-conditioned Toyota Innova vehicle with English speaking driver for all transfers, touring and sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • All expenses related to the vehicle and driver such as fuel, tolls, parking charges, inter-state tax, driver accommodation and meals, etc
  • Train tickets in best available class
  • Inner line permit for Lamayuru and Nubra
  • English speaking local guides in Amritsar, Dharamsala, Manali and Leh
  • Camel ride in Hundar
  • Entry fees to monuments for sightseeing
  • Assistance on arrival and departure at airports and train stations
  • 24 hour support through our local representative offices
  • Complimentary mineral water in the vehicles

Not included:

  • Camera fees at sightseeing places
  • Activities other than those specifically mentioned as included
  • Meals other than those mentioned as included
  • Tips, porterage and personal expenses
  • Visa Fees
  • Flights (subject to availability): Delhi – Leh – Delhi: approximately AUD$395 per person

Hotels:

 

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  • Introduction

    Manali to Leh is one of the world’s great road trips, offering some of the most dramatic scenery and mountain passes of the entire Himalayan range.

    This trip is all about Ladakh travel, the great Himalayan range and the cultures that are sustained by it. From the Sikhs of Amritsar and Punjub who prosper off its waters, to the Tibetans who sought refuge from Chinese invaders, to the Hindus who have long nestled in its southern valleys, and finally to the Buddhist-dominated Tibetan plateau – this trip takes you through each one in turn, with the stunning beauty of the mountains present at every twist and turn.

    Many Ladakh travel packages include a flight from Delhi to Leh, in the process bypassing the incredible scenery of the road journey. However the best Ladakh travel agents will encourage you to do the overland route – it might be long but you will never forget it! Read on for our Ladakh Travel guide . . .

  • Day 1 Delhi

    On arrival in Delhi you will be met by our local staff and transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay.

  • Day 2 Amritsar

    Transfer to the railway station this morning to board the ‘Shatabadi Express’ train to Amritsar. Located in the northwestern state of Punjab, Amritsar is home to the majority of India’s Sikhs and site of one of India’s most dazzling temples. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel.

    Later this afternoon drive one hour to the Pakistan/India border to view the sunset Wagah border closing ceremony.  This is a unique and colourful ritual where the Border Security Force (BSF) on the Indian side and the Sutlej Rangers on the Pakistan side perform a well-coordinated display.

    This evening pay a visit to the beautiful and sacred Golden Temple. Dating back to 1574 (though not completed until 1601) this lavishly decorated gurdwara (temple) is the holiest shrine for Sikhs the world over. You will have the opportunity here to view the ‘aarti’ ceremony.

  • Day 3 Dharamsala

    Depart Amritsar this morning for the 6-hour drive to Dharamsala, the beautiful mountain abode that is the home in exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a large Tibetan community.

    Check in to your hotel on arrival and remainder of the afternoon free to enjoy a walk and a meal among the many Tibetans who live here.

  • Day 4 Dharamsala

    This morning take a half-day tour, visiting the Norbulingka Institute and Museum of Kangra Art.  Traditional Tibetan arts and crafts are promoted at the Norbulingka Institute; set in a peaceful environment of well-tended grounds it comprises workshops, training centres, a temple, a cafe, and a doll museum.  Here you can observe the creation of colourful tantric thangkas (embroidered wall hangings), paintings, metal ware, furniture and traditional garments.

    The Museum of Kangra Art houses an excellent collection of Kangra miniatures, as well as temple carvings, fabrics and embroidery, weapons and palanquins belonging to local rajas; it also contains a school that teaches the art of miniature painting.

    This afternoon visit the Dalai Lama Temple (Tsuglagkhang Temple) from where the Dalai Lama gives teachings; his residence is adjacent to the temple complex. Also visit Bhagsunag Temple, a small Shiva temple built by the Raja of Kangra in the 16th century. Evening free to explore the lively McLeod Ganj market. [Image: Norbulingka Institute].

  • Day 5 Manali

    After breakfast, begin the 7-hour drive to Manali, with a stop en route to visit Palampur, a green hill station surrounded on all sides by tea gardens and pine forests and the ancient Shiva temple at Baijnath – a beautiful example of early medieval north Indian Temple architecture, featuring numerous images of great beauty and iconographic importance.

    Also stop at Mandi, which has around 300 temples, with 81 stone temples dedicated to Shiva and Kali – known for their intricate carvings – and at some other towns in the Kullu Valley that still retain much of their original charm and character.  Check in to your accommodation on arrival in Manali, a hill station located at the northern end of the Kullu Valley.

  • Day 6 Manali

    Begin this morning with a half-day tour. Visit the 400-year-old Hidimbi Devi Temple. A cave temple, dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, who was a character in the Indian epic, Mahabharata, it is surrounded by a beautiful cedar forest at the foot of the Himalayas.  Also visit Manu Temple a lovely shrine dedicated to Manu, the ancient Hindu lawgiver of India. End the morning at Vashisht, a small village with natural sulphur springs that boasts a pair of old stone temples dedicated to the local patron saint Vashista; the smaller of the two opens on to a partially covered courtyard, and is adorned with elaborate woodcarvings.

    This afternoon take a half-day tour of Naggar. The former capital of Kullu, Naggar is a lovely village located on the bank of the Beas River among dense pinewoods. Visit the Naggar Castle – constructed around 1460, this medieval structure of stone and timber has a unique architectural blend of western and Himalayan styles. Also call in to the Nicholas Roerich Museum, where the Russian artist lived from 1923 until he died in 1947. This small, well-maintained museum displays paintings and books by the prolific artist and philosopher. Explore some of the old temples in the Naggar village before returning to Manali.  Evening free to wander Manali market.

  • Day 7 Keylong

    Depart Manali today for the 6 hour drive – through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery you are likely to see any where in the world – to Keylong, crossing over Rohtang Pass (3980 metres). The pass provides a natural divide between the sub-humid/humid Kullu Valley with a primarily Hindu culture (in the south), and the arid/semi-arid high-altitude Lahaul and Spiti valleys with a Buddhist culture (in the north).

    Keylong (3340 metres) is an oasis of green fields, willow trees and streams surrounded by brown hills and snow capped peaks. Check in to your hotel on arrival and later visit Khardong monastery and village. A huge white building bedecked with prayer flags, the monastery is believed to have been built in the 12th century; it houses a large library of Buddhist literature, a collection of fine thankas, musical instruments such as lutes, drums, horns, and old weapons. It also features colourful frescoes and fascinating murals. Evening free to explore Keylong.

  • Day 8 Sarchu

    Today you will drive 6 hours from Keylong to Sarchu crossing over Baralachala Pass (4800 metres). Sarchu (4290 metres), lying on the boundary of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, is a major overnight stopping point on the Leh – Manali Highway. Once an important trading point on the ancient Silk Route, it is still popular with traders, nomadic tribes and adventure seekers. It closely resembles Ladakh with its barren splendour. On arrival check in to the camp where you will spend the night in compact canvas tents, with hygienic food and eco-friendly waste and garbage disposal methods. Evening free to relax and take a walk in Sarchu. [Image: Jen].

  • Day 9 Leh

    Today’s journey will be a full day’s drive – about 10 hours – from Sarchu to Leh over Lachang La (5065 metres) and Tanglang La (5360 metres).

    The capital city of Ladakh, Leh is a remote high-altitude town surrounded by barren mountains and distant snow-capped peaks, situated in a fertile valley at the foot of Namgyal Tsemo peak. It developed as a market for traders from across the North India belt; the Silk Road brought Buddhist travellers, and today the population remains predominantly Buddhist.

  • Day 10 Leh

    After breakfast begin a full day excursion to some of the monasteries in the area.

    Visit Shey, the ancient capital of Ladakh – its abandoned palace contains a temple with an enormous late 17th century Buddha image surrounded by murals of deities painted in gold and rich colours.  Thiksey Monastery is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. A 12-storey complex, it houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. Hemis monastery, the largest and the richest of the central Ladakh monasteries, was founded in the 1630s; it’s most beautiful temple (there are several) contains a fine image of the Buddha in front of a huge silver chorten set with turquoise.

    Finally, visit the Stok Palace. The residence of the Namgyals, the former rulers of Ladakh, it contains a museum of the dynasty and its history. Collections include a set of thangkas representing the life of Buddha, as well as ritual and religious objects and secular objects such as jewellery, headdresses and robes.  Return to Leh in the evening.

  • Day 11 Leh

    Check out of the hotel after breakfast this morning for full day’s excursion (4 hours) to visit Lamayuru monastery; believed to date from the 11th century, it has a fine collection of thangkas. It is not only interesting as a hub of spirituality but enjoys a unique and dramatic cliff-side setting; below the monastery, the dusty village spills down the steep mountain. Afterwards continue the drive (2.5 hours) to Uletokpo where you spend the night. [Image: Kondephy].

     

  • Day 12 Leh

    Return to Leh today, making stops en route to visit Alchi, Likir and Basgo monasteries.

    Alchi Monastery is the jewel amongst Ladakh’s monasteries. Founded in the early 12th century, it was abandoned as a site of active worship in the 16th century, thus leaving the paintings in its temples remarkably well preserved (undimmed by the soot from butter lamps and incense sticks).  Take a walk around Alchi village.

    The 12th century Likir Monastery houses a number of images enclosed in beautifully carved wooden frames and a fine collection of thangkas. At Basgo a hillside citadel consists of several Buddhist temples attached to a ruined castle. A two-story-high golden statue of the future Buddha is housed in the Maitreya Temple, which has fantastic murals of fierce divinities that were the guardian deities of the royal family that once resided here. [Image: Steve Hicks].

  • Day 13 Leh

    After breakfast, begin a full day excursion, travelling on what some regard to be the world’s highest motorable road to Khardung La (5600 metres), the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. Khardong La is historically important as it lies on the major caravan trade route from Leh to Central Asia – a ‘feeder’ of the famous Silk Route.  About 10,000 horses and camels used to take the route annually, and a small population of Bactrian camels can still be seen at Hunder, in the area north of the pass. Return to Leh.

     

  • Day 14 Leh

    This morning take a half-day tour of the Spituk and Phyang monasteries.  Spituk Monastery, dramatically sited on a hilltop, was founded by the Gelupga sect in the 15th Century; it houses the library of the sect’s founder, Tsongkapa and a shrine dedicated to the goddess Tara in her myriad manifestations. Phyang Monastery, situated in one of Ladakh’s most charming villages, was founded by Ladakh’s 16th century ruler, Tashi Namgyal. It contains numerous sacred shrines and frescoes and a museum that has an extensive collection of fine Kashmiri bronzes of Buddhist deities – probably dating back to the 13th century – as well as thangkas, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian firearms and weapons.

    This afternoon visit the nine-storey Leh Palace, which looms over the city.  Constructed mainly of stone and wood with mud bricks and mud mortar, it was built in the 1630s by Sengge Namgyal, a prolific builder of monasteries and forts and Ladakh’s most famous king. It was designed as a miniature version of Llasa’s Potala Palace. Although in a state of disrepair, there’s still quite a bit to explore, including an atmospheric temple inside the palace. The views from its balconies and windows are magnificent! A wander through the disorganized cluster of narrow, cobblestone alleys, ancient homes and low-vaulted tunnels of the Old Town makes for a fascinating and atmospheric experience.

    Continue on to the beautifully maintained 19th century Shankar Gompa, set amongst trees above the town. Climb the steps to the richly painted double doors leading into the assembly hall with its three green drums. Upstairs is the inner sanctuary that contains an impressive figure of Avalokitesvara with 1,000 arms (all holding weapons) and 1,000 heads. The walls are painted with a Tibetan calendar, mandalas and rules for the monks. Above the wooden stairs can be seen the rooms of the Abbot, guest rooms and the library.

    Finally visit the gleaming white Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda) situated on a hilltop west of the city that was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in the 1980s. From the vast courtyard at the base of the stupa you can enjoy panoramic views of Leh and the surrounding mountains.  End your day with a stroll through the colourful and lively Leh Bazaar.

     

  • Day 15 Leh

    Transfer to the airport to board a flight for Delhi.

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