Namaste and welcome to India. Upon arrival at New Delhi’s International Airport, you will go through customs and immigration before getting your luggage. You will be greeted by a Representative in arrival lounge and then transfer to hotel. Contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines the ancient with the modern. Amidst the fast spiralling skyscrapers, witness the remnants of a bygone time in the form of its many monuments.
Start the day with visit Qutab Minar – a UNESCO monument and drive past beautiful Government buildings in New Delhi. Take a photo stop here in admiration to British era in India.
Ladakh sits on the claim of the most coveted Himalayan destination with no one coming anywhere close to stealing its fame. Lying on the rain shadow side of the Himalayas, Ladakh is a semi-arid region, surrounded by snow-capped mountains that follow you everywhere you go. With some of the most extraordinary sights, Ladakh can surely be said to be a gifted region. Almost a cold desert, the major cities are somewhat of an oasis and have been in existence from long time and stand tall with a vivid history.
Today we will visit famous Hemis and Thiksey Gompas and Shey Palace.
Begin with a stop at Shey Palace which was built in 1665 by King of Ladakh as his summer retreat house. Shey used to be the capital of ancient Ladakh but was abandoned when Dogra rulers from Jammu conquered it. The Palace also has a Monastery with same name. One of the most notable and key features of the Shey Monastery is the Shakyamuni Buddha, standing tall with a height of 39ft in copper and gilded gold.
Continue drive to Thiksey which has a stunning Maitreya temple on its campus. Thiksey is a 12-story complex and has a separate set of buildings for female residents. The different levels include – 10 temples, hall, homes for the monks, a nunnery, and numerous other segments. The monastery, with its contrasting colors, adding a splash of happiness to the surrounding views. And, what’s wonderful is the uncanny resemblance to the Potala Palace in Tibet.
Visit Hemis at an altitude of 12000 feet, which is the largest Tibetan monastery in Ladakh and is one of the most visited monasteries by tourists. Hemis belongs to the Drukpa lineage or the red sect of Buddhism and is said to have been established in the 11th century. The monastery houses a wide collection of historical and religious paintings (called Thangkas) and various stupas and statues made of gold, silver, and other precious metals. The most iconic is copper gilded statue of Lord Buddha.
Check out from hotel and drive to West towards lower Ladakh to reach at a tiny village Uletokpo. This entire region is rich in exotic mountain fruits like apples, apricots, and walnuts. Enroute board a raft on river Indus for a thrilling experience of white-water rafting.
Carry packed lunch from hotel.
Before we reach Uletokpo, stop to visit Alchi monastery and village. The Alchi village, situated on the banks of the mighty Indus river, is known for the old yet stunning monuments dating back to various periods. One of these monuments is the Alchi Monastery, best known for its unique style and artistry. It was founded by the great translator Guru Rinchen Zangpo in the 10th century. The Monastery is one of the oldest Buddhist learning centers and a treasure of the Himalayas.
Drive to Lamayuru which is offbeat but easily accessible village in Ladakh. Lamayuru is also known as the Moonland of Ladakh. The terrain is strange yet stunning and incredible, and similar that on the moon, which justifies the name. The land has many legends associated with it, one of which is that there existed a vast lake and a lama dried the lake up to lay the foundation of the village and the monastery. Thus, after the water dried up, the land started to get moon-like craters and formations.
The Lamayuru Monastery is home to some of the most decorated and stunning chortens or stupas and colorful rocks carved with prayers in intricate details. The monastery also houses many bright and vivid ancient paintings of the cardinal kings. It originally had five main buildings, but currently, only one central building exists, which itself is a favourite amongst travelers, devotees, and photographers from over the world.
Carry packed lunch from resort.
Also visit some village life before we return to our resort in Uletokpo.
With exuberant peace, and breath-taking views of the cold desert lie with Likir. A Buddhist Gompa vividly sits atop a hill at a height of 3700 meters giving panoramic views of the picturesque landscape of the Himalayas. The monastery was established in the 11th century. Although now Likir somewhat stands isolated, it once was on a very lucrative and prime trade route to Leh via Hemis. Thus, there is a lot to see around Likir, the nearby villages are extremely scenic and strong testaments of the history that prevailed here. Likir is situated in a spectacular location and is a photographer’s paradise.
Drive about 150 kms north of Leh, where the rivers Shyok and Siachan meet, brings you to the beautiful Nubra Valley. Also known as Ldumra (means valley of flowers), the valley captivates visitor’s soul through its beautiful monasteries coloured with rich shades of golden, red and others. To reach Nubra valley, you will have to cross the awe-inspiring Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world.
In cold and barren but beautiful Nubra valley stands a milky white Monastery known as Diskit Gompa. Stop for a visit here. The highlight of this monastery is the impressive 106ft long statue of the Jampa (Maitreya) Buddha facing the Shyok River on top of a hill. This Buddha statue, in gold and red, was consecrated by the HH Dalai Lama in 2010. Also visit sacred hidden lake named as Yarab Tso. It’s a challenge reaching there; one needs to hike uphill for 15 – 20 minutes from Diskit village to reach the lake. Surrounded by lush greenery, the beauty of this lake is a delight to the senses.
Upon arrival in Nubra, check in at an elegant resort where surroundings offer you a sense of being lost in nature.
Visit Hunder, the highest desert in the world, famous for sand dunes and Bactrian camels. These aren’t just the camels you see usually but the double humped ones which will surely allure your eyes amid the sand dunes. The double humped camels were left in the wild after the silk route closure and some were then domesticated. Experience a short ride on camel.
Rest of the afternoon is at leisure to either take a short walk nearby or read a book in your hotel room / garden.
Drive back to base at Leh. Spend the afternoon while doing some last day shopping in Ladakh or enjoy the evening at a local café while watching beautiful sunset.
Take a morning flight to Delhi. Upon arrival drive to Agra (approx. 04hour drive) which in terms of ambiance is still associated with its Mughal period. The Mughal rulers preserved their best architectural wonders for Agra & its neighbourhood. It has many wonderful monuments and the Taj Mahal, the greatest of them all, is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture at its best also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Start the day early to visit the Taj Mahal during sunrise. The Taj is an UNESCO monument (closed on Friday) - a mausoleum and is one of the seven wonders of the world. It is widely considered as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and stands as a symbol of eternal love. Taj Mahal is the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Islamic and Indian architecture.
Return to hotel and have a breakfast.
Later, check-out from hotel and proceed to visit Agra Fort - Built in the 16th century, this fortress of red sandstone, known as the Red Fort of Agra, encompasses the imperial city of the Mughal rulers.
Transfer in time to airport for your flight back to home.