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Encircling Himalayas


Encircling Himalayas

Kullu Valley – Ladakh – Kashmir (14N/ 15D)


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Day 1

Distance – 310 kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 9 hrs.
Pick up from Chandigarh Airport or Railway station and drive to Manali (1950 mts/ 6450 ft). Enroute visit Vaishno Temple at Kullu. Reach Manali by late evening. O/n Hotel.

Day 2

Distance – 45 kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 6 hrs.
Breakfast and set off for lovely countryside drive which takes you to capital of old Kullu state called Nagar. Visit 1000 years old temple dedicated to Gayatri Devi at Jagatusukh. Visit Nagar castle built in typical Kullu architecture style which used to be the residence rrrof the royal family. Visit Roerich estate which belongs to famous Russian artist called Nicholas Roerich. Visit ages old pagoda shaped temple of Hadimba located beautifully in the middle of cedar forest, Natural sulphur hot water springs at Vashisht. Explore old Manali in the evening. O/n Hotel.

Day 3

Distance – 82 kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 6 hrs.
Check out & Set off for acclimatizing trip after Breakfast. Ahead of Manali the road is well sprung and scenic as it ascends to the Rohtang Pass (3978 mts/ 13050 ft) high - our first landmark - 51 Km from Manali. Walk for one hour beyond Gulaba. Lunch at Marhi and drive on.The Rohtang Pass or Rohtang La demarcates the natural barrier between the dense Deodar forests, apple orchards and pretty alpine meadows of the Kullu valley and the harsher high altitude desert of Lahaul-spiti. Crossing the pass, the road descends the Chandra valley, the beginning of the Lahaul-spiti region - a stark, dry, forbidding yet amazingly beautiful land. The valley commands excellent views of the surrounding mountains, including the 6420 mts/ 21200 ft high White Sail massif (Dharamsura). Further descent from Rohtang takes you to Sissu (3200 mts/ 10550 ft), a spectacular village in Lahaul Valley, surrounded by towering mountains, a lake, verdant fields and a big waterfall. The campsite is located next to waterfall and lake. O/n Camp.

Day 4

Distance – 175 kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 8 hrs.
Check out after Breakfast, Visit Gondhla fort, Khardang Gompa and drive to Keylong (3080 mts/ 10100 ft), the headquarters of Lahaul. Evening Tea at Darcha. The trails second pass, Baralacha La (4880 mts/ 16100 ft), lays approximately 45 Kilometers beyond Darcha. Leading up to the pass is a 10 Kilometers stretch known as Zingzing bar. The scenery here is spectacular. Sparse vegetation notwithstanding, the bare mountains are a riot of colors - deep crimson, grey-green, indigo, mauve, lilac along with crystal clear waters of lake Suraj Tal. A brief halt at the top of the pass is mandatory, to allow us to drink in the awe-inspiring spectacle around us. Having crossed the pass another hour's drive brings us to the busy little hamlet of Sarchu (4420 mts/ 14600 ft), our destination for the day. Dinner & O/N stay at swiss cottage tents Sarchu.

Day 5

Distance – 246 kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 9 hrs.
Breakfast and Check out. Get set for today’s incredible journey, head to Lachlung La (5059 mts/ 16700 ft), the second highest pass on the highway, before descending to Pang (4500 mts/ 14850 ft), 3 km from Pang is the extraordinary Moray Plains (4800 mts/ 15840 ft), a 45 km long plateau encircled by rolling hills and brilliant white Himalayan peaks. Further on, the road starts its ascent from Dibring Camp to Tanglang La at a head-spinning 5,328 mts/ 17580 ft. The Karakoram Range, visible from here signals that you are approaching Ladakh. This road goes along our ages old Indus River which was the lifeline of India for thousands of years, you get grand sight of this great river at Upshi, gateway to Ladakh. Upshi to Leh, 40 kilometers, there are high peaks crowned with village houses and Buddhist monasteries, ranging from solid stone structures to fairly large temples. The first impression of Leh is that of a desert with green patches fed by the Indus. Reach Leh (3524 mts/ 11560 ft) by evening. O/n Hotel.

Day 6

A day at leisure to unwind and rest. Take a walk to Shanti Stupa in the evening, excellent view of entire Leh town. Take an easy half hour walk to Sankar Gompa which is daughter embellishment of Spituk monastery and residence of Abbot of Spituk. Evening visit is recommended as Sankar Gompa is open the evening and is kept well lit. Eplore interesting Leh market. O/n Hotel.

Day 7

Distance – 340 kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 10 hrs.
After breakfast start the ultimate tour towards the Pangong Tso Lake. This route proceeds past the picturesque villages of Shey and Thikse, and turns into the side-valley of Chemrey Sakti. The Ladakh range is crossed by the Chang-la (5360 mts/ 17800 ft) which is one of the easier passes remaining open for much of the year even in winters. Tangtse, just beyond the foot of the pass, with an ancient Temple. Pangong Lake, situated at an altitude of (4350 mts/ 14350 ft), is a long narrow basin of inland drainage, hardly 3 to 4 kms at its widest point, and over 140 kms long, and bisected by the international border between India and China. Spangmik is the farthest point up to which travelers are allowed. After visiting the Lake, reach Leh late in the evening. Dinner & O/N stay at Hotel.

Day 8

Distance – 100 kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – Appx 7 hrs.
Breakfast followed Monastery Tour of Shey, Thikse and Hemis. Shey monastery (Appx 3400 mts) is 15 kms South of Leh on Manali highway. Shey village was summer retreat for Kings of Ladakh. Monastery built in 1655 has giant copper with gilded gold statute of seated Shakyamuni Buddha. Thikse monastery (Appx 3600 mts) is 15thcentury gelugpa sect (Yellow Hat) monastery, 19 kms from Leh, noted for its resemblance to Potala palace in Lhasa, Tibet, is largest in central Ladakh. This 12 storey complex houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, thangkas, wall paintings etc. Main attraction is 15 mts tall image of maitreya Buddha. Hemis monastery (Appx 3600 mts) built in 1630 is the main seat of Kagyu lineage (Red Hat) of Buddhism and appears to be a beautiful cave hermitage. But entrance gives way to large courtyard with its enclosing gallery decorated with painted stone reliefs. Drive back to Leh, O/n Hotel.

Day 9

Distance – 130 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 6 hrs.
After an early breakfast, we board our vehicles and set off towards the Nubra Valley 'The Valley of Wild Roses’. The route from Leh to the Nubra valley is perhaps the most scenic in Laddakh, making its way over the world's highest motor able pass - Khardung La (18380 ft/5606m) and into the picturesque Nubra valley (3048 mts/ 10050 ft). Where the rest of Ladakh is arid and barren, the Nubra blooms and blossoms in many colors. The name Nubra is derived from the Ladakhi 'Dumra' which means garden or orchard. The Nubra valley is a small stretch of land in the northern part of Ladakh, nestled at the foot of the Karakoram Ranges. Two major rivers, the Nubra and the Shyok, irrigate this area giving rise to a fair bit of vegetation: mosses, wild roses, edelweiss, gentians, apricot and apple orchards, barley fields and willows. This combined with the ethereal beauty of the towering mountains all around it, makes the Nubra valley one of the most striking regions of Ladakh. This stunning valley is the same area through which the legendary silk route once traced its wealthy way - merchant caravans loaded with everything from carpets and silks to dry fruits and jewellery, made their way to Central Asia through the Nubra Valley. Dinner and overnight stay at Swiss cottage tents in Tigar.

Day 10

Distance – 150 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 8 hrs.
After breakfast, visit Hundur and Diskit (3144 mts/ 10315 ft). One can see the famous sand dunes at Hundur and even can go for a Camel Ride on the famous double humped Bactrian camels. See the vast expanse of Nubra from Diskit Monastery. Drive back and reach Leh by late evening. O/n Hotel at Leh.

Day 11

Distance – 142 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 8 hrs.
After breakfast & relaxed morning, drive to Lamayuru. Start with visiting Basgo which is certainly the most impressive of Ladakhi citadels despite its ruined state. Proceed to Likir (3500 mts/ 11550 ft). (Period: 11th century). The name Likir is derived from the word Lukhgil (coiled snake) as the site appears to be encircled by two great serpent spirits - Nanda and Taksako. Likir is one of the most active monasteries in the region with100 monks in residence. The Gompa has affine collection of Thanka's some of which are now housed in its museum. We drive and cross the River Indus and reach Alchi (3100 mts/ 10200 ft), (Period: 11th century). The complex of temples located within the village of Alchi is the most celebrated of Ladakh's monasteries. It is one of the earliest existent monasteries in Ladakh built by Lodan Shorab and Tsulkhrim Od, disciples of Rin-chen Zangpo. The complex consists of a group of five temples, as well as a number of chortens scattered around the complex. The Dukhang and the Sumstek are the most significant of the complex. The Dukhang lies at the far end of the complex and is entered through a finely carved wooden archway and a door richly embellished with wood carvings depicting the five Buddha's. The other significant temple in the complex is the three tiered Sumstek, entered through a small portico supported by a superbly carved wooden archway showing a strong influence of Kashmiri traditions. Proceed to Rizong Monastery (Gelugpa or Yellow Hat). It is situated at the top of a rocky side valley on the north side of the Indus, established in 1831 by Lama Tsultim Nima under the Gelukpa order, at Ri-rdzong. There are 40 monks in the monastery. The monastery is also called “the paradise for meditation” and is noted for its extremely strict rules and standards. Reach Lamayuru by evening. O/n Hotel at Lamayuru.

Day 12

Distance – 316 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 12 hrs.
Lamayuru (3500 mts/ 11550 ft), this beautiful ancient monastery is the main seat of Drikung Kagyu (Red Hat) tradition in Ladakh. One of the largest and oldest Gompas in Ladakh, it has a population of around 150 permanent monks residents. Lamayuru is host to two annual masked dance festivals. Besides its history, Lamayuru attracts travelers and trekkers for its lunar landscape. After visiting Lamayuru, proceed further over Fatu – la, highest pass on Leh Srinagar highway (4108 mts/ 13500 ft) to Mulbekh (3300 mts/ 10900 ft), Visit the famous Chamba Statue, a striking enormous figure carved into the rock face on roadside. It pictures a standing Maitreya Buddha overlooking the old trade route and modern highway. Lunch at Kargil. Drive through Drass (3280 mts/ 10800 ft), the second coldest place on earth and only town between Kargil and Sonmarg, over Zozila pass (3528 mts/ 11575 ft), from here catch first glimpses of Kashmir valley and Sonmarg, ‘golden meadow’, to reach Srinagar (1585 mts/ 5200 ft) by late evening. O/n Hotel/ Houseboat on Dal Lake.

Day 13

Distance – 20 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 4 hrs.
After Breakfast, first half of the day at leisure. Visit the famous Mughal gardens consisting of Nishat Bagh & Shalimar Bagh followed by famous Shankaracharya temple and Hazratbal mosque on the banks of Dal Lake, which houses a hair of the prophet Muhammad. Enjoy Shikara ride on Dal Lake. Explore local market in the evening. O/n Hotel or Houseboat.

Day 14

Distance – 52 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 6 hrs.
Breakfast & early departure Gulmarg. After Tangmarg, the climb to Gulmarg begins through fir-covered hillsides, surprisingly close view of snow covered mountains. Check in Hotel at Gulmarg. Gulmarg (2690 mts/ 8825 ft), which is rightly called 'meadow of flowers' is picturesque mountain resort town south west of Srinagar and is famed for its 18 hole golf course and Gondola ride up to Mt. Affarwat (3979 mts/ 13050 ft). It's a beautiful saucer shaped valley girdled with poplars. In the winters this is a paradise for snow sports. One has the option to hike back to Gulmarg from halfway Gondola ride while coming back from Mt Affarwat. Afterwards, sightseeing of 150 years old St Mary's Church and Rani temple. Evening free at leisure. O/n stay at Gulmarg.

Day 15

Distance – 50 Kms, Transfer Time – approximately 2 hrs.
After Breakfast, transfer to Srinagar Airport, fly back to Delhi/ onward return journey.