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|Destinations/ Circuits / Regions||Experiences||Introduction|
|Leh||Sights: ||Leh town, a former barter centre for Pashm (Cashmere) & spices & the present headquarters of the Leh district, today forms the epicenter of tourism in Ladakh. With all its touristy comforts, Leh comes as a relief for the travelers who entered Ladakh via the tiring trans-Himalayan roads. Also, at 3505m (11,500 ft.) above the sea level it is a perfect place to get acclimatized to the great heights & rarefied atmosphere of Ladakh and prepare oneself for the greater heights waiting ahead. The road to a wholesome Ladakh Darshan goes through Leh with modern facilities and amenities – market, hotels, cafes, buses/taxis, airport, hospitals etc.|
|Pangong Tso lake||Magnificent Pangong Tso lake; en route picturesque villages; Gompas; photography; journey itself!||Here, at over 14,000 ft (4200m), nature rendered the Pangong canvas with its childlike creativity – the clear waters strikingly changing from refreshing turquoise to somber gray, while mirroring the surroundings that hover over and around it. The transitions till the sunset following the spectacular sunrise on this natural marvel are all worth being-eye-witness to and certainly make perfect desktop-images. |
Pangong is approx. 140 Kms. away from Leh, situated at an altitude of 14,000 ft. above the sea level. The Pangong Lake is around 71 Kms. long but only 25% of the Lake is in India rest falls in the share of China. The vast and serene lake displays a spectacular color variation from dark blue to turquoise green during the day.
|Tso Moriri lake||Lakes Tso Moriri & Tso Kar, wildlife esp. birds, nomad herdsman’s lifestyle, one of the highest cultivation, driving and/or riding, and of course, camerawork!||The journey past the deep gorges between the Ladakh and the Zanskar ranges, along the legendary Indus river, on the good-bad tarmacked surfaces, following rocky-dirty-sandy trails, cutting across the stretches of the Tibetan Plateau and the Rupshu valley, and always accompanied by the usual unnerving heights and scenic country delights. It puts one close up to the exotica that Ladakh treasures between its mighty and rugged Himalayan shelterbelts. |
This Southeast to the Leh circuit is a little off-track and less traveled compared to that of Pangong Tso but any such quantitative analogies are injustice to these natures’ marvel. While on the move and/or during one’s brief halts this circuit is the place to get intimate with the natural waters, and the thriving wildlife and the camping nomadic herdsman of the yesteryears thriving on the upper reaches of the Ladakh. Of course, as the name suggests Tso Moriri lake forms the highlight.
|Nubra||Changing landscapes, highest motorable pass, double-humped camel safari, monasteries (Diskit Gompa & Samasthemling Gompa)||Nubra [meaning ‘flower valley’ in Tibetan] is a wide fertile valley with a beautiful green terrain and referred to as the ‘valley of flowers’. It was once a part of the Central Asian trade route when around 10000 horses and double-humped camels hoofed its floors.|
Getting a hold on the beacon highway, going over the worlds Highest Motorable Pass, the Khardung La, north of the Leh, towards the Nubra valley circuit promises one the scenic surprises that will slap down the ‘barren moonscape impression of Ladakh’ that washes ones mind up till and until this journey.
After overcoming a probable highest motorable road one is welcomed to the charm of the Nubra with the landscape changing from the barren mountains to the lush green and the desert with a snow-capped backdrop!!
Tour Of Nubra: 2 Days with overnight stay at Guesthouses or camps with basic facilities.
|Dha Hanu [Drokpa Circuit]||Culture: Drokpa community;|
Villages: Beautiful Dha and Beema villages;
Drive: scenic country drive past numerous beautiful villages.
|Dha-Hanu circuit, lying 160 kms to the north-west of Leh, is an interesting alternate to the conventional route to Kargil via Mulbekh & Shergol. It is a scenic country drive along the river Indus, gorges, beaches, confluence of Indus and Shayok and many beautiful villages like Khalsey, Domkhor, Achinathang etc. However, out of the beautiful villages that are worth more than a ‘dekko’, only two villages of Dha and Beema are open to tourists to explore. |
The amazing Drokpa community forms the highlight of this circuit and hence the name “the Drokpa Circuit”. There are factors that differentiate Drokpa belt from the rest of the Ladakh. Drokpa people have the features of pure Aryans, language similar to that spoken by immigrants from Gilgit and Drass and culture and religious practices resembling that of ancient pre-Buddhist animistic religion of Bonchos. Interestingly, the Drokpa people avoid cow and its products. Three times in a year, they have a celebration of the harvest called as Bono-na Festival made lively by the songs, hymns, and ancient rituals. The warm microclimate of the place blesses it with two crops a year and fruits like apricots, apples, walnuts and grape.
Tour of Dha Hanu Circuit : 2 Days with overnight stay in the tents.[from Leh]
|Changthang||Lakes [‘Tso’ – ‘lake’ in Ladhaki] - Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tso Kar |
Wild animals - The Kiang [Tibetan wild ass], foxes, hares, Marmot, Bharal, Lynx etc;
Rare Birds - Bar headed goose, brahminy duck, pintails, black-necked cranes.
Changpa or Khampa nomads
Rupshu valley: Beautiful country drives or treks
|Changthang is the extension of Tibetan Plateau into Ladakh and home of the nomadic herdsmen, Changpa (Khampa) and their flocks of pashmina goats. The vast wilderness of Changthang is one of India’s five bio-diversity regions. The uplands of this cold desert averages 4430m (14600 ft) and acts as a basin for few of the highest and most beautiful lakes around the world. Lakes and wetlands of the Changthang are habitat of many a rare and elusive wild animals and birds. |
Tso Moriri lake: At 15,500 ft above sea level, nestled between the snow-dusted peaks, lie the cool and calm waters in the basin carved on the higher Himalayas. One of the highest lakes of the world, Tso Moriri, is 28 km long and 8 km at its widest and 4 peaks viz. Mentok and Kharlung on the right and Karchu and Langsar on the left looms over it.The lake forms the breeding ground for the bar headed goose, brahminy duck, pintails, black-necked cranes. The Kiang [Tibetan wild ass], foxes, hares and of course, the delightful Marmots are not difficult to be seen as it is surrounded by a wildlife reserve. The Khampa [Changpa] nomads, too, inhabits this region with their cattle and yaks and their temporary dwellings.
Tso Kar lake: At a distance of around 80 km from Tso Moriri, lies a spectacular lake ringed by the white salt, which it has been churning since ages, and no wonder called as the ‘White Lake’.
Tour of Tso Moriri & Tso Kar Circuit: 2-3 days Jeep Safari [from Leh] Trek: 2-3 weeks
Lake Pangong-Tso is an inland brackish water lake, 130-odd km long and hardly 6m at its widest, with its major portion stretched into Tibet [China]. The allowed 7 km long view some exploration along its southern shore, till Spangmik, however, more than makes-up for the lost territory’s experience.
Here, at over 14,000 ft (4200m), nature rendered the Pangong canvas with its childlike creativity – the clear waters strikingly changing from refreshing turquoise to somber gray, while mirroring the surroundings that hover over and around it. The transitions till the sunset following the spectacular sunrise on this natural marvel are all worth being-eye-witness to and certainly make perfect desktop-images
Tours of Pangong Circuit: 1-2 days [from Leh]
Private camping is prohibited nearby the lake.
Tourists aren’t allowed beyond Spangmik.
|Leh - Alchi||Arts, Heritage, Magnetic hill, Rock Mould at Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, moonscapes et al||The Alchi circuit lies to the west of Leh on the Leh – Kargil highway and along the Indus. Compared to other circuits in Ladakh, the terrain is gentler and almost all sights are within the reach of an excursion. |
This circuit sees several monasteries of significance – religiously, symbolically, aesthetically & location. All these parameters of significance actually meet at Alchi, the highlight of the trip. However, beside Alchi it goes past some interesting shrines and sights too : Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, housing a legendary rock mould with imprints of sitting Guru Nanak Dev; Magnetic Hill that defies gravity; one of the worlds most endangered heritage sites at Basgo; the brilliant pillar-like sandstone exteriors at the Lamayuru Gompa and the moonscapes en route the same; confluence of the Indus and the Zanskar rivers – the life line for the destination in the first place etc.
|Leh - Manali||En route scenic splendors – making this unending surface journey of ~475 kms a ‘must-in-a-life-time’. Plus, the Acclimatization blues, chilling tented night-halts, whimsical weather.||The clichés like “there is no short cut to success” and “the success is a journey not (only) a destination” make sense if one opts for this perfect gateway to the ‘land of high passes’ or ‘high altitude desert’ or ‘little Tibet’ that Ladakh is. Around 475 kms of apparently unending and unnerving overland journey goes through thousands of cascading vistas - cascading rivers, waterfalls, high passes, lakes, villages, transition from a green coniferous landscape to a barren rocky one etc.|
|Ladakh holidays/Trek/Rafting||No. Of days||Destinations Covered|
|Best Of Ladakh Tour||15||Delhi – Leh – Nubra – Alchi – Kargil (via Dha hanu) – Padum – Tso Moriri – Tso Kar – Pangong – Leh – Delhi|
Jeep Safari across most of the regions of Ladakh viz. the Nubra, Zanskar, Changthang, and Leh.
|Its Differen Tour||8||Delhi – Leh – Phey – Rumbak – Zingchen – Stok – Leh – Delhi|
Warm Homestays, mild trek up the Stok la pass (4900 m), moderate rafting on the Indus and viewing the unique wildlife – Blue sheep, the Great Tibetan Sheep or Argali, high altitude flora.
|The Himalayan Safari Tour||23||Delhi – Manali –Lahaul – Sarchu – Tso Moriri – Nubra – Pangong – Alchi – Kargil – Zanskar – Srinagar – Delhi|
A North Indian ‘Himalayan’ Feast! With Ladakh, one also gets a close-up with the lush green Kashmir valley and Himachal delights.
|Markha Valley Trek||08 days of overall Moderate trek 12 Tour days||Markha valley & river; Camping at the base of the Kang-yutze peak on the plains of Nimaling; Hemis monastery|
|Zanskar Classic Trek [Lamayuru – Padum –Darcha]||19 days of Challenging trek from Ladakh to Himachal. 25 Tour Days||Zanskar isolation & stark landscapes, hardy people; Ancient monasteries of Phutkal, Lingshet, Sani; explore the beautiful Himachal|
|Changthang Traverse Trek [Rumste to Tso Moriri]||08 days of overall Moderate walk across the vast Tibetan Changthang plains 13 Tour Days||Beautiful lakes of Tso Moriri & Tso Kar; Wildlife – marmots, ibex, blue sheep and Kiangs (wild asses) in plenty; Changpa (khampa) Nomads & their herds & yak skin tents.|
|Stok Kangri Ascent ||03 days of arduous ascent (20,100ft /6150m) 8 Tour Days||Most famous peaks; spectacular view of the Indus valley and karakoram range; it can also be done with Markha valley trek.|
|Sham Trek [Likir to Khalste]||04 days of Easy & short trek for the beginners & the families 8 Tour Days||Lamayuru, Likir & Rizong Gompas; pretty village of Hemisshukpachan dots this lower ladakh Trek [can be done throughout the year]|
|Old Monasteries route [Lamayuru to Alchi]||05 days of overall Moderate trek. 11 Tour Days||3 heritage monasteries of founded by the great Ringchen Zangpo Alchi, Wanla & Sumdachan.|
|Chaddar Trek [Frozen Zanskar River] Jan-Mid March||18 days of Challenging pilgrimage trek during the severe winters. 24 days||Ultimate adventure of Walking on Frozen river of Zanskar, a part of the ancient Silk route,|
|Rafting on the Zanskar||5 days of run down the Zanskar rapids of grade II, III & IV. Experience not an issue. 13 Tour Days||Rafting thrill & Zanskar delights with narrow gorges, monasteries, people, homestays etc.|
|Festival name||Time of the year||Introduction|
|Hemis Tse Chu or the Hemis Festival ||June / July [10th day of the Tibetan Lunar month]||The very famous Hemis Festival requires no introduction. Travel to Ladakh during June-July to join the crowd at the courtyard of the largest & richest monastery of Ladakh, Hemis, which for 2 days go jam-packed with the Ladakhis and the tourists. Watch the Himalayan religious-cultural spectacle and celebrate the birth day of the founder of the Tibetan Buddhism, Guru Padamasambhava. The lamas attired in colorful bright brocades and elaborate headgears perform the masked dances (Chamms) with “good (Gods) defeating the evil (Demons)” being the underlying theme.|
Once every 12 years the giant 62-ft Thangka (religious painting) of Guru Padmasambhav is unfurled & hung in the courtyard. It is the largest thangka in Ladakh and is richly embroidered with gold threads and studded with precious stones and pearls. (next to be unfurled in 2016)
|Losar (New Year)||December / January [11th month of Tibetan calendar]||Losar (New Year) sees a month of preparations, ancient rituals, socio and religious get together, colorful outfits and carnival that sets Ladakh’s mood for the winters post-harvest. The real festivities starts with the illumination of the houses, monasteries & surroundings during the auspicious day of Galdan Namchot, the birth anniversary of Tsongkha pa who introduced Gelug-pa School of Tibetan Buddhism. Celebrations continue with the traditional customs – offerings to the gods and ancestors, special Ladakhi dishes ‘thukpa’ (soup of vegetable & mutton), ‘Chang’ (local barley liquor), greetings and gifts, visiting & receiving friends & relatives with presents & ‘khatak’ (a ceremonial scarf), new colorful outfits and so on. The festivities conclude with the interesting ‘Metho’ ceremony that bids goodbye to the year bygone and welcomes the New Year. The markets and lanes are all crowded to watch the procession whirling fire torches and chanting mantras to chase away the evil spirits. Travel to ladakh for celebrating the Tibetan new year is for the connoiseurs of cultures and lifestyle especially Himalayan. Travel to Leh during these whimsical times when even flights, the only access, are at the mercy of the weather. |
|Ladakh Festival||1st – 15th sep annually||First half of the month of September is time for to taste the grand blend & showcase of trans-Himalayan Kingdom’s music, dances, arts, handicrafts, sports and culture. Cultural troupes from all over Ladakh come together for this event designed specially for the tourists by the State Tourism board. Travel Ladakh around this time for Folk songs, music, dances, colorful dresses, monastic ‘chhamms’ [masked dance], archery, polo etc happen at Leh town and different villages of Ladakh for 15 days.|
|Sindhu Darshan (Visit Indus ) Festival||1st – 3rd June annually||The 3-day Sindhu Darshan Festival is the celebration of the river Sindhu (Indus), the lifeline and the symbol of the communal harmony and national integration. It also honors the brave soldiers who martyred for their nation during the battles and continue safeguarding their country. |
Cultural Artists and Performers from all over India bring with them the waters of other great rivers and mingle it with that of the Indus as a symbolic integration of the vast diversity of this legendary civilization. Following it, a host of cultural performances and other ceremonies take place.
|Names of the Festival||Venue||2011||2012||2013||2014|
|Spitok Gustor||Spituk||JAN 31,FEB 01||JAN 21,22||JAN 9,10||JAN 28,29|
|Dosmoche||Leh ,Likir & Deskit Monasteries||MAR 2,3||FEB 19,20||FEB 8,9||FEB 27,28|
|Stok Guru Tse-Cue||Stok Monastery||MAR 14,15||FEB 2,3||FEB 19,20||MAR 10,11|
|Matho Nagrang||Matho Monastery||MAR 18,19||FEB 7,8||FEB 24,25||MAR 15,16|
|Buddha Purnima||Leh||JUNE 15||MAY 4||MAY 25||JUNE 13|
|Hemis Tse Chu or the Hemis Festival||Hemis Monastery||JUL 10,11||JUN 29,30||JUN 18,19||JUL 7,8|
|Yuru Kabgyat (Lamayuru)||Lamayuru Monastery||JUN 28,29||JUNE 16,17||JUN 5,6||JUN 24,25|
|Zanskar Karsha Gustor||Karsha Monastery||JUL 27,28||JUL 16,17||JUL 6,7||JUL 24,25|
|Ph-Yang Tsedup (Phyang)||Phyang Monastery||JUL 28,29||JUL 16,17||JUL 6,7||JUL 24, 25|
|Korzok Gustor (Tso Moriri Lake)||Korzok Monastery||AUG 2,3||JUL 22,23||JUL 11,12||JUL 30,31|
|Dak-Thok Tse-Chu||Dakthok Monastery||AUG 8,9||JUL 28,29||JUL 18,19||AUG 6,7|
|Sant Naro Nasjal (Zanskar)||Sani Monastery, Zanskar||AUG 12,13||AUG 1,2||JUL 21,22||AUG 9,10|
|Shachukul Gustor||Shachukul Monastery||JUL 17,18||JUL 5,6||JUN 25,26||JUL 14,15|
|Thiksay Gustor||Thiksey Monastery||NOV 13,14||NOV 1,2||NOV 20,21||NOV 9,10|
|Chemrey Angchok||Chemrey Monastery||NOV 23,24||NOV 11,12||NOV 30, DEC 01||NOV 20,21|
|Galdan Namchot||All Over Ladakh||DEC 20||DEC 8||DEC. 27||DEC 16|
|Losar||All over Ladakh||DEC 25||DEC 14||JAN 02||DEC 22|
|Delhi , Jammu & Srinagar to Leh Airport [ register at the airport]||Jammu is the nearest railhead||Either from Srinagar (434 kms – register at Drass) or Manali (475 kms – register at Sarchu & Rumste) Registration for the foreigners only.|
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