India #2-Ladakh

India #2-Ladakh

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DATES
PRICE: $3,150.00
AIRFARE (Domestic airfares Delhi-Leh-Delhi): $450.00
TOTAL:
$3,600.00

 

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The ancient Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh, A Buddhism based Spiritual tour of North West India.
 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT

 

Day 0

Sunday September 18th

  • A representative from Connecting Horizons (our local travel services partner) will meet guests at the airport and escort you to your hotel of choice at Aerocity.
  • Aerocity is a group of hotels very close to the Delhi airport.
  • The tour starts from the Marriott hotel in Aerocity tomorrow morning .

Day 1

Monday September 19th

  • We meet in the foyer of the Marriott at Aerocity at 6:15am sharp as we leave for the airport at 6:45 to catch an 8:40am flight. (This is the last flight for the day so please don't be late.)
  • Upon arrival at Leh we will head to our hotel, check-in and have a reasonably easy day of rest and some light sight seeing after lunch.
  • This is mainly so that everyone can acclimatize to the altitude. Leh is approximately 11,500 feet (3,500 meters).

Day 2

Tuesday September 20th

  • After breakfast visit Stok palace. The palace houses a fine private museum, which is open to the public when the Rani (queen) of Stok is in residence. There is a superb collection of ‘Thankas’, said to be the best in the world. Some of them have been worked in pure gold and paints made of crushed semi-precious stones. Also of interest are antique robes and royal jewelry, specially noted for its turquoise and red coral.
  • Stok Gompa is part of the Spitok monastery and the same lama, Nawang Lotus, founded both during the reign of King Takpa Bumlde. Stok belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism and currently has about 20 lamas living there. The oldest parts of the gompa are some 550 years old.
  • We then continue on to Matho gompa which offers spectacular views of the Ladakh Mountain Range from its perch on top of a ridge. Matho gompa was first established in the 16th century by Tungpa Dorje after he had travelled extensively in Tibet. It is the only representative monastery in Ladakh of the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • This is a particular religious order, centered on the Sakya Monastery in Tibet, which was founded in 1075 AD. Today the gompa has about 60 lamas and 30 novices from the larger monasteries.

Day 3

Wednesday September 21st

  • After breakfast explore some of Ladakh's ancient gompas.
  • Shey Palace was built in 1645 by Deldan Namgyal as a summer residence for the kings of Ladakh. It is the oldest palace in Ladakh and above the palace is an even older ruined fortress. In 1655, in memory of his father, this same king built the two-story Shey gompa adjacent to the palace.
  • Hundreds of chortens of all shapes and sizes stand below the palace and gompa.
  • Located on the second storey of the gompa is a 12 meter Buddha statue made of copper sheets gilded with gold in 1655 by a Nepalese sculptor.
  • Sacrificial offerings such as grain or jewels, holy signs and mantras are contained inside the figure. In front of the Buddha is a large bowl of wax with a central flame that burns for one year before being replaced. This flame represents divinity and purity and is present in front of all Buddha statues in Ladakh.
  • Thiksey Gompa is the most picturesquely situated monastery in Ladakh, perched high on a hill above the Indus. The gompa possesses a rich and beautiful collection of hundreds of hand-written or painted prayer books. A new temple contains a 15-meter tall Maitreya Buddha statue, made of clay and covered with gold paint, is the largest Buddha figure in Ladakh. Inside, the statue is filled with the Kandshur and the Tandshur - volumes of Buddhist canonical texts.
  • Hemis Gompa is one of the most important in Ladakh, the largest and also the wealthiest. It was built in 1620 by the king-architect Singe Namgyal, a great patron of Buddhism. He filled Hemis with golden statues, stupas set with precious stones and thankhas brought from many places, including Tibet.

Day 4

Thursday September 22nd

  • After breakfast we will visit Spitok Gompa. It was built about 550 years ago by Gyalpo Bumlde, although one temple, dedicated to Mahakala was built about 900 years ago.
  • Ancient thangkas are preserved here, some having been taken from the Potala Palace and Lhasa after the Chinese invaded.
  • The head lama of Spitok is the head Lama for Ladakh and represents Ladakh as a member of Parliament, spending much of his time in Delhi. About 125 yellow-hat sect lamas are considered Spitok lamas, but at least half of them live and pray at Spitok's dependent monasteries at Sankar, Stok and Sabu.
  • Continue on to Phyang Gompa. It is also known in Ladakhi as the Gouon Gompa, meaning "blue peak", for it is beautifully situated on a hilltop above the small village of Chhiwang, about 22 km west of Leh. The monastery was built by King Lkra-Shis-Namgyal, founder of the Namgyal dynasty, in 1500 after defeating the last of the Lha-Chen kings
  • It is filled with beautiful statues, thangkhas and copies of the Khandshur (the translated word of the Buddha) and the Thandshur (the 225-volume commentary on the Khandshur, compiled by the religious teacher Du-ston, 1290 to 1364 AD).
  • The walls of the Dukhang are decorated with murals of Vajradhara (a Buddha manifestation), the Five Buddhas (Vairocana and the Supreme Buddhas of the Four Directions) and small paintings of the Thousand Buddhas in the background.

Day 5

Friday September 23rd

The Nubra Valley lies north of Leh and is accessible by driving over the Khardung la (18,380 feet/5,600 m), one of the highest motorable roads in the world.

The Nubra Valley was on the caravan route from Leh to Kashgar via the Sasir and Karakoram passes. Apart from unparalleled trekking opportunities, the valley houses several Buddhist monasteries such as Sumur and the 350 year-old Diskit gompa, famous for its murals. From Khardung La we descend to the village of Khardung and drive through starkly beautiful country and over a narrow steep road to Diskit.


Day 6

Saturday September 24th

  • Early in the morning walk up to Diskit monastery to witness the morning prayer ceremony.  It takes about 45 minutes through a long row of scattered chortens to reach the gompa that is set on the highest point near the village. Belonging to the Gelug-pa (yellow hat) sect, parts of the gompa, which houses 120 resident monks, are about 760 years old. The Dukhang has many statues, one of which holds the head and left arm of a Turkish invader believed to be 500 years old.
  • Return to the camp for breakfast after which drive 7 kms to visit Hundar gompa. This is a small gompa belonging to the Gelug-pa sect, set amidst innumerable chortens and has a huge impressive statue of Chamba in the main prayer hall.
  • Drive down towards the Shyok river across an extremely rough and rocky stretch of flat ground. Cross the river over a bridge and arrive at the first village of Tirith. The road from here is extremely bad all the way up to Panamik. The scenery however, is spectacular, with the snow capped Karakoram mountains in the background. Nubra is also known for its two-humped Bactrian camel that is found in these parts.
  • Visit the 150 years old Samsthanling gompa at Sumur. It is a big complex of 7 temples including the Rimpoche's room.
  • Overnight in camp.

Day 7

Sunday September 25th

  • Retrace the route to the Leh via Khalsar and the Khardung La.

Day 8

Monday September 26th

  • Take a full day walk with picnic lunch, in the stark barren but unusually beautiful countryside.  The walk goes up Stok Nala (stream) through the village of Stok and past an old Bon (animistic) shrine.
  • The valley gradually narrows as the trail continues upward, passing beneath the ruins of Staklang Khar, an ancient fortress. 
  • After a picnic lunch in a willow grove, return to Stok village where vehicles await you for the drive back to the Ladakh Sarai for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 9

Tuesday September 27th

  • After an early breakfast drive to Alchi Gompa which is located near the small village of Saspol. En route we will visit Likir Gompa which was established around the 15th. It is set on an isolated ridge, affording beautiful views of the gompa from different vantage points.
  • We will also visit Rizong Gompa which has a truly beautiful mountain setting. Rizong is a relatively new monastery, founded in 1829 by Tshul-khrims Nyi-ma and presently has about 30 lamas attached to it. It also has the reputation of being the best disciplined monastery in Ladakh.
  • Then we continue on to Alchi, which is one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. Because it was built before the invading wars began in the 15th century, Alchi was built on lowlands.
  • The rambling monastery has six main buildings: the Dukhang or main assembly hall, the Sum-tsek or three-tiered temple; the adjoining Manjusri Lha-khang and Lotsawa Lha-khang temples; the Lha-khang Soma or "New" temple and the Kanjur-Lha-khang.

Day 10

Wednesday September 28th

  • After breakfast drive to Lamayuru Gompa.
  • Lamayuru belongs to the red-hat sect of Buddhism.  Ancient legends say that at the time of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha), Lamayuru's valley was a clear lake where nagas (holy serpents) lived. The Bodhisattva Madhyantaka foretold that the lake would be emptied and a monastery built there. The legends continue by saying that Naropa, an 11th century Indian Buddhist scholar, came to Lamayuru and spent many years meditating in a cave, which can still be seen in the main Dukhang or assembly hall. Naropa then caused a split in the surrounding hillside and the lake emptied through this opening. After the lake emptied, Naropa found a dead lion previously covered by the waters of the lake. On this spot, Naropa built the first temple at Lamayuru, the Singhe Ghang (Lion Mound).

Day 11

Sunday September 30th

  • After breakfast drive back to the Ladakh Sarai. The afternoon is at leisure to relax at the hotel or explore Leh’s bazaars. Overnight at hotel.

Day 11

Thursday September 29th

  • Exciting thing coming soon.

Day 12

Sunday September 30th

  • After breakfast drive back to the Ladakh Sarai. The afternoon is at leisure to relax at the hotel or explore Leh’s bazaars. Overnight at hotel.

Day 13

Monday October 1st

  • Early morning flight to Delhi and transfer to your ongoing international flights or your hotel.