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Contrast of Kashmir and Ladakh


Kashmir and Ladakh Contrast

Gulmarg – Srinagar – Sonmarg – Kargil – Zanskar – Lamayuru – Alchi, Likir – Pangong – Nubra valley – Leh. (13N/ 14D)


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Day 1

Arrival at Srinagar Airport & Transfer to Hotel at Gulmarg (2653 mts/ 8700 ft).Distance – 50 Km, Transfer Time – approximately 2 hrs.
This is a lovely drive and the climb to Gulmarg begins through fir-covered hillsides. The view en route provides fascinating panorama of snow covered mountains. Reach Gulmarg by late morning. Check in Hotel, unwind and relax. Afterwards, walk down to visit 110 years old St Mary's Church which looks like a countryside chapel built in Victorian style and Rani temple which is actually a Shiva temple situated in the middle of Gulmarg meadow, is visible from almost every point of this beautiful town. The temple was actually built by erstwhile ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh’s wife Rani Mohini Bai. Evening free to stroll around and explore on your own. O/n Hotel.

Day 2

Check out after Breakfast, whole active day at Gulmarg- which is rightly called 'meadow of flowers'. This picturesque mountain resort town is famed for its 18 hole golf course and Gondola ride up to Mt. Affarwat (4200 mts/ 13780 ft). It's a beautiful saucer shaped valley girdled with poplars. In the winters this is a paradise for skiing and snow related sports. One has the option to hike back to Gulmarg from halfway Gondola ride while coming back from Mt Affarwat. Get off Gondola at second phase to visit breathtakingly beautiful Khilanmarg. Hike back to Kongdoori, get into Gondola to return to Gulmarg. Drive to Srinagar (1585 mts/ 5200 ft) in the evening. Distance – 50 Km, Transfer Time – approximately 2 hrs. O/n Hotel/Houseboat at Srinagar.

Day 3

Distance – 30 Km, Transfer Time – approximately 6 hrs.
Breakfast & relaxed morning followed by Shikara ride on Dal lake, Visit Char Chinar in the middle of the lake, floating gardens & vegetable market. Visit Mughal Gardens, Chashme-Shahi, Nishat Bagh (Abode of pleasure) built by Asif Khan brother in law of Jehangir in 1632 AD and Shalimar Bagh (Abode of love) built by Jehangir for his wife Empress Noor Jehan. Gardens provide splendid picture perfect view of Dal Lake with backdrop of snow clad Zabarwan Mountains. Proceed to famous Shankaracharya temple on a hillock and Hazratbal mosque which houses a hair of the prophet Muhammad. Explore local market in the evening. O/n Hotel or Houseboat.

Day 4

Distance – 210 Km, Transfer Time – approximately 10 hrs.
Early Check out after Breakfast and drive to Sonamarg (2800 mts/ 9200 ft), north-east of Srinagar is called ‘meadow of Gold’. Nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks, it presents yet another spectacular facet of country side in Kashmir. Snowy mountains against clear blue sky, the Indus meanders along verdant valley provides breathtakingly beautiful sight. Drive upwards to reach Zozila pass (3528 mts, 11575 ft), the gateway to barren yet beautiful highlands of Ladakh. Descend down to Drass (3280 mts/ 10800 ft), the second coldest place on earth and only town between Sonmarg and Kargil. Reach Kargil (2676 mts/ 8800 ft) by late evening. O/n Hotel at Kargil.

Day 5

Distance – 240 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 10 hrs.
Early Morning drive to Padum (Zanskar), on the way obtain magnificent view of Nun Kun mountain massif comprising a pair of Himalayan peaks (7135 mts/ 23409 ft). Visit Rangdum Monastery, situated on a hilltop (4031 mts/ 13325 ft) in isolated region of the Suru valley of Ladakh. Rangdum is located midway between Kargil and Padum. On one side there are the colorful hills while on the other side are rocky mountains and glaciers, notably the very famous Drang-drung. The Drang-Drung Glacier is the long river of ice and snow, with a maximum length of 23 kilometres and at an average elevation of 15680 ft/ 4780 mts., a source of Stod River which is a tributary of Zanskar River and Zanskar River is a tributary of Indus River. It is best viewed from top of Pensi-la. From Rangdum the valley rises to 4400mts/ 14436 ft at Pensi-la, the gateway into Zanskar. Reach headquarters of Zanskar, Padum (3657 mts/ 12000 ft) by Evening. Overnight Hotel/ Camp at Padum.

Day 6

Distance – 30 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 5 hrs.
Breakfast & relaxed morning. Leave for Karsha village which has the largest and most important monastery in Zanskar, attributed to Padmasambhava, and there are ancient rock-carvings at the site. The oldest remaining structure, an Avalokiteshvara temple, Chuk-shik-jal, contains wall paintings which seem to associate it with the era of famous builder monk Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055). The monastery is under the younger brother of the Dalai Lama. Behind his seat in the chapel is a statue of Lhaso Cho Rinpoche, which was brought from Lhasa in the 1960s and has a golden crown with carnelian and turquoise decorations. The gorge portion of the Zanskar River is called the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Asia. One can also enjoy River Rafting session. Visit beautiful villages and Gompas of Sani & Stongdey. Overnight Hotel/ Camp at Padum.

Day 7

Distance – 346 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 12 hrs.
Leave early after Breakfast. It’s day long drive to Lamayuru over Fatu – la, highest pass on Leh Srinagar highway (4108 mts/ 13500 ft). At 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. Arrival at Lamayuru by late evening. O/n Hotel.

Day 8

Distance – 150 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 8 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 to Leh. Sojourn at Rizong Monastery (Gelugpa or Yellow Hat).
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 existant 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 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. Cross Indus River and drive on.
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. Visit Basgo, most impressive of Ladakhi citedals despite its ruined state. Reach Leh (3524 mts/ 11560 ft) by late evening. O/n Hotel.

Day 9

First half of the day at leisure, Walk to Shanti stupa in the afternoon to obtain excellent view of entire Leh town down below. Walk to Leh Palace which, bearing a passing similarity to Potala palace in Lhasa, Tibet, was built in 17th century by King Sengge Namgyal. Explore local market in the evening. O/n Hotel.

Day 10

Distance – 340 kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 10 hrs.
Early departure for hectic but exciting tour of Pangong 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. Visit 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 at Leh.

Day 11

Distance – 130 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 6 hrs.
Relaxed morning after breakfast, 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 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 12

Distance – 90 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 6 hrs.
After breakfast, leave for full day tour. visit 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 (3144 mts/ 10315 ft). Visit Samstanling monastery between Tigar and Sumur village, which is an oasis in the desert and Panamik village noted for its hot springs. O/n Camp in Tigar.

Day 13

Distance – 130 Kms, Journey and Sight-seeing Time – approximately 5 hrs.
Leave for Leh after breakfast. Reach Leh by afternoon. Check in Hotel & Relax for some time. 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. Last moment shopping in Leh market. O/n Hotel.

Day 14

Transfer to Airport for return journey.


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