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Ladakh Monk

Ladakh Tour

(Itinerary ID : TP201)
Package Duration : 11 Nights / 12 Days
Destination Covered : Delhi - Leh - Ladakh - Delhi
Starting Price : Price Available on Request
Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrival At Delhi
Arriving in Delhi, you will clear customs and immigration. Leaving the airport, you will be met by your guide and transferred to the Imperial.

Day 2 : Explore Delhi
Today, when you are ready, you can begin to explore Delhi, the third largest city in India, located on the west bank of the Yamuna River. There is perhaps no place in India that can compare with Delhi in the number of its monuments, dating from the time of the Imperial Gupta Dynasty 1600 years ago, through the Pathan style Indo-Muslim architecture from 1193 – 1526; and into the Mughal architecture, represented most dramatically by the Red Fort (Lal Qal’ah). Later architecture illustrates first the British period and then the search for a synthesis between the Indian and the western styles. Along the Yamuna River are memorials, set in striking flowering gardens, to India’s 20th century leaders – Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and Jawaharlal Nehru. In the afternoon, you can visit the Craft Museum, to get a sense of the different crafts in the country. Overnight at the Taj Palace.

Day 3 : Delhi to Leh
Rising early, you will fly from Delhi to Leh, over the entire Himalayan range - a champagne flight with snow-capped peaks like foam on the top of a narrow glass. Suddenly, the green hills of India and the white peaks are behind as we come down over the barren desert land of Ladakh into the airport near Leh. Since the altitude in Leh is a modest 11,500', you can expect to find yourself moving somewhat slowly. Looking around, you will see a city caught in a time warp – a melange of medieval and modern, with a somewhat schizophrenic history. Back in the 3rd century BC, many years before the great saint, Padmasambhava, had converted Tibet to Buddhism, Leh was already an important Buddhist center. Later, in the 15th and 16th centuries, as trade mushroomed between the West and the Far East, Leh became a major commercial hub on the fabulous Central Asian Silk Route. Today, driven by the practicalities of politics and economics, Leh has become both a strategic military base for the Indians on the Chinese border, as well as a major tourist foreign exchange earner. Since Leh is so high, it is important to not over exert yourself and to take things easy. Therefore, your time this first day in Leh is free. Should you wish, the hotel will provide a car to drop you in town. Here you can walk around the a bit, exploring the bazaar and ambling up and down some of the narrow twisting streets. From town, you can either walk about 20 minutes down to the Shambala or take a taxi. You will spend the night in the Hotel Shambala.

Day 4 : Visit In Ladhak
Moving slowly, you will pay a visit to first to Shankar Gompa, a rather modern monastery that serves most of the Leh Valley and is unique in that it is built on the valley bottom. Monks attend the monastery from Spitok, our next stop. Spitok is perched high up on an outcropping overlooking Leh airport and is a Gelugpa or Yellow Hat monastery with about 125 monks. The Gelugpas are the sect to which the Dalai Lama belongs. The head lama not only is the head of Shankar Gompa in Leh, but also represents Ladakh in the Indian Parliament. Heading back into town, you can stop at Choklamsar, a village that has become a haven for Tibetan refugees, and now boasts the lovely, two-story, golden-roofed summer palace of the Dalai Lama. Here, at the Tibetan Refugee Center you can visit the school, clinic, and gift shop. From here, In the afternoon, you have the opportunity to explore more of Leh. If you have any ailments, You can climb to the King’s Palace, constructed for the Ladakhi royal family before it was exiled to Stok in 1830 by the Dogra armies. You can also see the Victory Fort and the Maitraya Temple, with excellent views across the valley. Overnight in the Hotel Shambala.

Day 5 : Ladakh
Stagtshang Richen, who was invited to Ladakh by King Singe Namgyal, founded the 350-year-old Hemis Gompa. Ladakh’s wealthiest monastery, Hemis, belongs to the Kagyupa Brugpa sect of Buddhism, the sect dominant in Bhutan. The Rimpoche, or spiritual overlord of the monastery, is considered to be a reincarnation of the monastery’s founder, and is heir to the 5-year-old Tibetan child, who was undergoing training in Tibet when the Chinese invaded, and has since not been heard from. The present Rimpoche is in his 30s, and studied in Darjeeling. In July, your visit to Hemis is timed to coincide with the Hemis Festival. You can spend the whole day there praying with the monks and visitors, sipping tea, and watching the dances. In September, you can spend as much time there as you please and then perhaps visit the oracle and allow yourself more time the next day. Returning to Leh, you will overnight at the Shambala.

Day 6 : Local Sight Seeing
This morning, you can pay a visit to the local oracle. If you have any ailments or problems, she can conduct a healing. Should you have questions to ask, she can also help. That will take a good part of the morning. After the session with the oracle, you can head out into the country to visit Thikse. Thikse is a 500-year old monastery perched on a hill overlooking the Indus, and belonging to the Gelugpa sect (that of the Dalai Lama). Thikse, along with a spectacular view and the largest contingent of monks in Ladakh, also has the most beautiful library and an active block printing operation. Additionally, the Thikse Oracle, a villager with supernatural powers, who is a miraculous healer and predictor of the future, is considered to be the most powerful oracle in Ladakh. At night, you will once again sleep at the Shambala.

Day 7 : In Leh
Leaving Leh, you will drive first to Likir, then on to Alchi. At night you will camp just beyond Alchi. Likir was built during the reign of Lachen Gyalpo more than 500 years ago and housed more than 600 monks. One of the most important Gelugpa monasteries in Ladakh, Likir used to house a set of images and thankas that surpassed those at Alchi. In fact, the monks of Likir were the caretakers of Alchi. The head Lama today is the younger brother of the HH the Dalai Lama, although he is not in residence. Many of the old treasures and much of the old structure was destroyed in a fire, and the present buildings date mainly from the 18th century. A small, but interesting, museum is opened on request. Leaving Likir, you will continue on to Alchi, one of the most famous of Ladakh’s monasteries. Alchi Choskor, to use the full name, is the oldest and largest monastery in Ladakh. Unlike most Ladakhi temples, our friend Rinchen Zangpo built Alchi on the lowlands, rather than high on a hill. Three 3-story high statues of the Bodhisatvas dominate the monastery, but the Kashmiri-Hindu influence in the wooden carvings on the doors, ceiling designs and murals is apparent. There is a legend about Alchi that Rinchen Zangpo left his walking stick embedded in the ground with a promise that if the stick took root, he would return and build a gompa on the site. The stick did take root, and the gompa was built. Just before the four chortens in the courtyard on the right hand side, there is a large remnant of the tree, believed to have grown from the walking stick of Rinchen Zangpo. Tonight we will camp here near Alchi in Uley Topko.

Day 8 : Return to Leh
Before you return to Leh, your path will take you to another of Ladakh’s most famous temples, that of Lamayuru. Driving across the barren hills, one is struck by the vivid colors that awaken the landscape. Subtle blues, pinks and mauves flow into each other, endowing the countryside with an almost fluid quality. Lamayuru is just below the road below the pass to Kalsi. Legend has it that the monastery was built where once serpents or nagas swam in a crystal clear lake and where the sage Naropa meditated in the 10th century. The central building dates back to the 10th century also constructed by Rinchen Zangpo at the bequest of the King of Ladakh. Yet Lamayuru has a pre-Buddhist, Bon Po history, and is one of the oldest religious sites in Ladakh. Its real name is Yungdrung, signifying swastika. Once the home of more than 400 monks, today the monastery barely supports 20 to 30 monks of the Gelugpa sect. Known as Tharpa Ling or "Place of Freedom," the monastery is a sanctuary even for criminals and is guarded by an 11-headed, 1000-eyed image of Chenrezi, the Buddha of Compassion. From Lamayuru, you will return to Leh. Instead of staying in your hotel, you will have the opportunity to spend the night in a local home. This way you can get a sense of how the people live, farm, and spend their lives.

Day 9 : Leh
This morning, you visit with your “family”, and wander around the farms in the area. For the rest of the day, you will focus on one monastery, Shey. Shey is the former palace of the kings of Ladakh, built about 550 years ago by Lhachen Palgyigon, the first king of Ladakh. The foundation of the monastery dates back to the earliest history of Ladakh, and there is an inscription on the rocks below the palace dating from the time Buddhism first arrived in the Himalayas. The monastery contains the largest golden Buddha statue in the district, standing 12 meters high with blue hair. King Dalden Namgyal had the statue constructed in the 17th century. In July, the monastery has a one-day prayer festival for the welfare of all sentient beings in the world. When the royal family was exiled to Stok in 1834, many of the buildings fell into disrepair. Today, however, much is being restored. Depending on timing and how long you wish to stay, you may catch the monks during their prayers. Late in the afternoon, you will return to Leh and the Hotel Shambala.

Day 10 : Shopping in Leh
Today is free to wander and do some last minute shopping in Leh. If the weather is good, you might even wish to get in a round of golf on Leh’s paved golf course! The “greens” are “blacks”, and the area gives a new meaning to the term “sand trap”. At night, you can have a special farewell dinner in town. Overnight at the Shambala.

Day 11 : Back to Delhi
After breakfast, you will head back to the airport and catch the flight back to Delhi. Here you will be met and transferred back to the Imperial. The afternoon is free to wander Delhi.

Day 12 :Delhi Tour
In the morning, you can take a tour of Delhi, beginning with a rickshaw ride down Chandni Chowk, the old market street of Delhi. As you drive, you should think of the street as a supermarket with different departments such as hair ornaments, pots and pans, blankets, and the like. You might want to visit the Jain Temple near Chandni Chowk, walking around barefoot with the pilgrims and the Jami Masjid, or great mosque of Old Delhi. After seeing the mosque, you drive to a very important site along the Yamuna River - the Gandhi Memorial. Simple in design, the site is visited by constant streams of Indians. The afternoon is free for last minute shopping. In the evening, you will enjoy a delicious farewell dinner before your trip to the airport.


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