Unravel the mysteries of Kashmir, recently opened to tourism, on this behind-the-scenes journey through one of India's most remote regions. Trek the pristine mountains around Srinagar, take tea with local villagers, visit Lake Dal's vibrant floating market, and tour the mythical "Seat of Solomon." Experience the deep spirituality of the Dalai Lama's community in Dharamsala, behold the magnificent Sikh Golden Temple at Amritsar, and witness the colorful pageantry of the Wagah border ceremony. All this plus classic Tibetan, Indian, and Kashmiri meals equals the cultural exploration of a lifetime!
Penetrate three unique regions — the ancient capital of Amritsar, Dharamsala's Tibetan community-in-exile, and long-isolated Kashmir
See awe-inspiring Sikh Golden Temple and get VIP seats to the India-Pakistan border ceremony
Have tea with Kashmiri villagers, hike untouched forests, and experience Lake Dal's floating markets
Welcome to India! Arrive at Indira Gandhi International Airport in vibrant New Delhi and transfer to the luxury Taj Mahal (Taj Man Singh) Hotel.
After our welcome breakfast, tour New Delhi today, beginning with a drive through Lutyens' Delhi, named for the British architect who was responsible for much of the building during the British Raj. Pass the Presidential Palace, the imposing 138-foot-tall India Gate, and Birla House, former residence of Mahatma Gandhi. Take an afternoon walk through stunning UNESCO-listed Humayun's Tomb and Lodhi Gardens. Dinner is on your own.
Fly to Dharamsala, the seat of his holiness the Dalai Lama. In the afternoon, take a serene kora (circumambulation) of the Dalai Lama Temple and Namgyal Monastery, strolling with the monks as they chant, and learning about the various deities and forms of the Buddha. Within the complex is Kalchakra Temple, whose empowerment ceremonies are believed to contribute to world harmony.
Visit the Tibetan Parliament and, time permitting, the Tibetan Traditional Medicine and Wellness Centre to meet a traditional healer. Travel to Gyuto Monastery, famous for its tantric rituals. Explore the workshops of craftsmen practicing traditional Tibetan painting and woodcarving. Conclude with an exclusive tour of the Zen-inspired Dolma Ling Nunnery, where the nuns spend up to three years in solitude!
Drive to the Gallu Devi Temple above Dharamkot, surrounded by pristine forests. Head out for a scenic 4.5-hour forest trek to Triund (9,275') in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, offering spectacular views of the Dhauladar Mountains and the Kangra Valley. Return to Dharamsala and enjoy some free time before dinner.
Today drive to Amritsar, capital of the state of Punjab, and check into your hotel. In the afternoon, travel to the Wagah border for VIP access to the extraordinary sundown flag ceremony. The sight of soldiers from Pakistan and India, dressed in fantastically ornate uniforms and good-naturedly trying to outdo each other in pomp and pageantry, is an experience you'll never forget. Return to Amritsar and make a quick photo stop at the Golden Temple, spectacularly lit at night.
This morning, you'll tour the magnificent Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest temple of the Sikh faith. You'll visit the inner sanctum, climb to the roof for an amazing view of the city, and see the world's largest kitchen, which offers free meals to some 50,000 people each day, regardless of caste or religion. Next, take a short rickshaw ride through the lanes of the old town, filled with tea and spice traders. This afternoon, fly to Srinagar, where you'll visit the Mughal pleasure gardens and the Palace of the Fairies, overlooking jewel-like Dal Lake.
Depart Srinagar and head to remote Pahalgam, Valley of the Shepherds. Here, visit the Shepherd Project, which helps native Gujjar women sustain themselves through traditional weaving and embroidery. Meet the women and hear their stories as you join them for tea. Return to your hotel in Pahalgam for a traditional Tarami dinner.
Head out after breakfast for a drive to the scenic Aru Valley and begin your trek through pristine meadows and thick pine forests, visiting the local shepherd communities along the way. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the wilderness, ending with traditional Kashmiri saffron tea and the local kalari cheese, a dense ripened cheese indigenous to the region. Return to Srinagar for dinner at your leisure.
Step back in time on a walking tour of old Srinagar. Wander through ancient spice and fabric markets, and metal workshops. Pay a visit to Budshah Tomb, resting place of King Zain al Abidin, and two incredible mosques - the lavishly decorated, 13th-century Khanqah of Shah Hamadan, and the immense Jama Masjid, built in 1400. Both feature an unusual blend of Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic designs. Explore mysterious Shankaracharya Temple, an ancient temple to Shiva. After lunch, visit Hazratbal, one of the holiest places in the state, housing a relic of the Prophet Mohammed.
After breakfast, depart for a hike in unspoiled Dachigam National Park. A top naturalist offers insights on the local plant and animal life. Take a shikara (classic wooden boat) ride on Lake Dal to see how the 150,000 people live on the lake — with schools, shops, homes and floating farms. Enjoy onboard tea service as you cruise through the communities. This evening, wrap up your fascinating Kashmir journey with a special farewell dinner accompanied by Sufi music.
Fly back to Delhi and enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the day rooms of the JW Marriott. Transfer to the airport for your flight to home or onwards.
MT Sobek's immersive Secrets of Kashmir itinerary is led by expert local guides who understand the complexities of the region.
Our itinerary has been crafted for a unique blend of cultural perspective and active adventure, with excellent hiking opportunities.
As part of our philanthropic endeavors, we donate $250 per guest to benefit the Tibetan Nuns Project at the Dolma Ling Nunnery & Institute.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Cultural touring by private van and foot, with easy walks to explore Kashmir's historical wonders and meet local people.
Relax at comfortable and well-appointed hotels, including the elegant and luxurious Vivanta by Taj at Lake Dal - an exquisite five-star resort.
In April and September, low temperatures will range from 40°F - low 60°F and highs will range from 50°F - 100°F.
An MT Sobek representative will meet you at the Delhi Airport.
Yes, you do, but you can go online to apply for an Indian e-visa, which is fast and convenient.
We only run our trips if we believe the situation is safe. We monitor the situation in Kashmir regularly through our local partners in the area, and using a global risk management company who we retain.
No, women do not have to cover themselves except when going into the mosques. We do suggest trousers when walking here. Local women wear scarves or chadors, but no one expects visitors to do so.
Absolutely! Please call your Adventure Coordinator as we can organize extensions throughout India.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
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