Trek through Ladakh, India's “Little Tibet,” with an insider's perspective
Often called “Little Tibet,” Ladakh is one of the most remote regions of India. On the vast Tibetan plateau, 20,000-foot Himalayan ramparts tower to the south with the mighty Karakoram range to the north. A spectacular landscape: sweeping open sandstone valleys are punctuated by emerald oases and turquoise lakes, with Buddhist gompas (monasteries) perched high above. Take a leisurely three-day trek through local villages, including Tingmosgaam (10,496'), the ancient capital of Ladakh, and visit Ladakh’s most outstanding monasteries.
Moderate hiking at medium elevation (maximum 12,200'), moderate touring
- Signature MTS guides lead you on a 3-day trek through Ladakhi villages, where you'll have the rare opportunity to visit local homes
- Visit ancient monasteries set against a harsh but breathtakingly stunning landscape
- Explore Old Delhi and Leh, ancient capital of Ladakh
Duration: 10 days Start Location: Delhi End Location: DelhiDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Delhi
Arrive in Delhi, India. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free to rest and relax. Meals on your own.
Note—It takes two to three days (depending on your airline schedule) to travel to Delhi. The date and time of arrival in Delhivaries greatly from carrier to carrier. Most flights arrive in Delhieither very late in the evening (between 10:00 p.m.and 1:00 a.m.) or early in the morning (between 2:00and 3:00 a.m.). We are holding reservations for you at the hotel in Delhistarting the afternoon of Day 1. We will make arrangements to meet your flight at the airport and transfer you to the hotel. We encourage you to arrive a day early to have time to rest before the adventure begins. Extra hotel nights are at additional cost.
Day 2 : Leh (12,000')
Transfer to the airport for the early morning flight to Leh, the ancient historical capital city of Ladakhand once a stop on the Asian “Silk Route.”This is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular one-hour journeys on earth as the Airbus 320 jet flies out of the scorching Indian plains over a virtual sea of snowcapped Himalayan peaks before landing at the ancient city of Leh in the Indus River Valley. Situated at an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet in elevation, Leh is in stark and spectacular contrast to the urban intensity of New Delhi.
Because of the early departure as well as the dramatic elevation gain, your first day in Ladakh will be a restful, easy one. You may wish to stroll in the Leh bazaar, where there are many shops selling Ladakhi, Tibetan, and Kashmiri goods.
Days 3 - 4 : Monasteries around Leh
Ladakh’s monasteries have played a pioneering role in preserving the ancient Buddhist culture and spreading the message of peace and non-violence in this trans-Himalayan region. They once were the center of all cultural, social and religious activity, and the wealth of rich art and culture remaining in these gompas are witness to the material richness of Tibetan Buddhism.
Today you’ll visit the monasteries of Shey and Thiksey. Shey, the former palaceof Upper Ladakh, is situated at the top of a hill and commands a breathtaking view of the IndusRiver. The palace contains a massive gold-plated copper statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha—the biggest of its kind in Ladakh.
You’ll also visit famous Thiksey monastery, said to be a blessed site and the most well known “Gelugpa,” or yellow sect, gompa of all. The monastery covers a whole hillside, much like the PotalaPalacein Tibet. Like the Potala, too, this monastery has maintained its murals and paintings very well. The oldest portion of the building is reputed to date back to the 11th century. Housed in one of the temples is a huge three-story Maitreya Buddha, and the library is replete with old scriptures. Venturing to the rooftop of the monastery, you’ll enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the Indusvalley and the Stok range of mountains.
Next day is another day for further acclimatization—we’ll walk from our hotel to the town center and walk gradually through the Old Town of Leh to Lehchen Palkhar, the ancient palace of Leh built in 1600 by King Singge Namgyal. Above the castle is the “Red Chapel,” which houses a statue of Maitreya (the future) Buddha as well as three-story-high statues of Avalokitesvara and Manjushri on either side. Above this chapel is the Namgyal Tsemo, “Tower of Victory,” which was built during the reign of King Tashi Namgyal. We then walk down to the village of Chubi to visit the Women’s Alliance Center and return to town for lunch. In the evening, we drive to Shanti Stupa, a Japanese peace pagoda to watch the sun set over the Indus Valley. We’ll drive a short distance to tour Changspa, one of the most popular places in Leh, and explore its many restaurants, bakeries, internet cafes and shops.
Day 5 : Alchi Monastery
After breakfast, we’ll drive to Alchi. En route we stop to visit the recently renovated fort at Basgo. A jagged skyline of ruins dominates the village of Basgo, which was capital of Ladakh during the 15th century. The citadel is in complete ruins, and within the fort there are three temples dedicated to the Mairtreya Buddha. Built by King Jamyang Namgyal and his son Singge Namgyal, these are the only ancient temples in Ladakh with murals still intact. Alchi, built in the 11th century, is one of the few monasteries that survived the restoration during the 16th century. The complex consists of a group of five temples. The Dukhang is entered through a finely carved wooden archway and a door embellished with wood carvings depicting the five buddhas. The three-tiered Sumstek shows a strong influence of Kashmiri traditions, a unique feature in this monastery. Overnight in Alchi.
Day 6 : Balukhar – begin trek to Tingmosgang (10,495')
We’ll drive for an hour from Alchi to the road head at Balukhar (10,496'). The walk begins with a steady climb for an hour, after which the trail ascends gradually to the top of Bongbongla (11,906'), a total of about 3 ½ hrs. Descend steeply from the pass for about half an hour, then cross a stream on a wooden bridge. We’ll then walk through terraced farmland between the villages of Tia and Tingmosgang to a road, which leads us to our hotel. We’ll spend the night in a small, comfortable hotel in Tingmosgang, the ancient capital of Ladakh in the early 15th century. (about 5 hours hiking.)
Day 7 : Tingmosgang (10,495')
You’ll be treated to a traditional Ladakhi breakfast in the home of the Namras family, who own the hotel. Today, we’ll take a day excursion around the villages of Tingmosgang and Tia. We drive a short distance about 15 to 20 minutes from the hotel to Tsere, where we begin following a dusty trail in the valley on the left side of Tingmosgang village. It’s a lovely walk with scenic views of Tingmosgang and Tia. We then continue onto Tia Choskyab, where we’ll have lunch then visit the ruins of the ancient fort and 15th century temple at Chenrizig. Here we’ll see a small, unique marble statue of Avaloketesvara fabled to have been brought by a pilgrim from Assam in Northeast India. Late afternoon return to hotel. (4 hours hiking)
Day 8 : Hemi Shukpachen (11,795') - drive to Leh
We’ll drive a short distance to the village of Ang, where we begin climbing gradually to Meptakla Pass (1,202') for spectacular views of the valley. As we walk toward the pass, we’ll stop to look for baharl, or Himalayan blue sheep, in the rocky cliffs. Descending on a narrow zigzag path, we’ll follow a gentle path before climbing a short distance to Ronglila Pass, which leads us gradually down past streams and willow trees to the large village of Hemis Shukpachen. We’ll have lunch, then drive to Leh. (2 hours driving; 3 hours hiking)
Day 9 : Delhi
Fly to Delhi(weather permitting!). Upon arrival in Delhi, transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore the city on your own.
Day 10 : Delhi
If the Leh flight is not delayed, you’ll have a morning tour of old Delhion cycle rickshaw. Sights include Jamma Masjid (The Great Mosque), the largest mosque in India and the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan; Chandani Chowk, the main street of old Delhi; the Red Fort, built by the builder of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan, who started the construction in 1638 and completed it in 1648; and Raj Ghat, where the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was cremated.
The afternoon is free to relax. Late evening transfer to the airport for departure on homeward bound flights.
DATES: Best time to go: July - September Departures: Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.
2014 & 2015 Prices
Claridges HotelNew Delhi
Graceful architecture, elegant décor, and a seamless blend of old-world charm and contemporary facilities have earned The Claridges Hotel its esteemed reputation. Distinguished guest rooms, personalized service and proximity to shopping and local culture make this the ideal accommodation for the discerning traveler.
A very simple hotel run by a Ladakhi family
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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