✿ Yuru Kabgyat Festival, Lamayuru (June 16 and 17, 2023)
✿ Hemis Festival, Hemis (June 28 and June 29, 2023)
✿ Lakdah Polo Festival (July 11 to 17, 2023)
✿ Korzok Gustor Festival, Tso Moriri (July 20 and 21, 2023)
✿ Takthok Festival, Takthok (48 km from Leh) (July 28 to July 29, 2023)
✿ Phyang Festival, Phyang (20 km from Leh) (July 15 to July 16, 2023)
Delhi International Airport is quite busy, and the influx of flights is higher during the evening and late at night. Staying true to our mission, we offer you great service right from the moment you arrive. You are welcomed at the airport by a Vacation India staff member. The first destination is your hotel where a chauffeur-driven vehicle is allocated to you. At your hotel, our staff member will help you to check-in. The next day, you will receive a welcoming package and we will review the travel plans. This package includes a wonderful handcrafted travel itinerary and your travel documents; air tickets and lodging vouchers, copies of all necessary documents, and the General Travel Guide that was sent to you previously.
The rest of the day you are free to get to know Delhi by yourself. You may choose to hire a guide to assist you in exploring the city. Visit our blog for information on the attractions the city offers.
You will never be left stranded; assistance is offered with your check-out early in the morning. Your chauffeur is on standby to take you to New Delhi Airport where you will board the 1.5-hour flight to Leh, 636 miles away. The flight is an experience in itself; a visit to the Himalayas fills every traveler’s heart and mind with joyful anticipation.
We strive for satisfaction, so our Ladakh Tour Director will welcome you at Leh Airport, after which you will be transported to your hotel and assisted with your check-in. The day will be spent unwinding and getting accustomed to the high altitude and low oxygen levels of this Himalayan region, so we do not advise any strenuous activity.
Unleash the spirit of adventure as we drive to Shanti Stupa, a striking Japanese Peace Pagoda, in the late afternoon, to take snapshots as the sun sets over the Indus Valley. This is followed by a leisurely stroll through the city to acquaint yourself with Leh and experience its interesting bazaars. Relax with a steaming cup of fragrant tea while listening to an introductory talk by a Buddhist on Tibetan Buddhism, and the important role it plays in the Ladakh culture.
Early morning, we set out on a 30-minute drive to Thikse Monastery, where we will witness the morning prayer routine being performed. The monastery’s claim to fame is its 3-story high Maitreya Buddha statue. During the one hour-long ceremony you will hear the beating of drums and horns being blown, while the monks chant and recite prayers, creating a spell-binding ambiance. Afterward, we go up to the roof to admire the wonderful panorama of the lush valley below. Then it is time to return to Leh.
Our next destination is the Shey Palace Complex, the seat of the Ladakh kings during the 10th century. Inside the monastery is a 350-year old giant statue of the Buddha, made of gold and bronze, standing three stories high.
We continue to the Jigmat Couture Museum for an overview of Ladakh’s textile culture. Here you will also get the opportunity to try on some of the local ensembles with their typical turquoise headgear.
After all the excitement, it is time to reenergize with a taste of the delicious local cuisine.
After lunch, the tour takes you to the exquisite Leh Palace, constructed by Sengge Namgyal during the 1600s. This massive 9-story structure served as a residence for the royals and was designed according to the Tibetan style, similar to the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Within walking distance are the Namgyal Tsemo Gompa and Castle. Savor the breathtaking views from the monastery and the castle over the surrounding areas. Photos are permitted inside the majority of monasteries of Ladakh, but without flash.
From here we proceed on foot to the Ladakh Arts & Media Organization Center (LAMO), admiring the stunning old houses along the way. The center is situated in the beautiful former residence of the Togoche family at the foot of the Leh Palace. A short presentation is delivered by a Ladakh scholar on the ancient architectural legacy of the city.
The terrace of Munshi House does not only provide the visitor with a wonderful panorama of the old city, but you can also sit down for some special Ladakh tea and delicious snacks.
The exploration continues through the old city and terminates at Leh’s fascinating bazaar.
Towards evening you can listen to the intriguing sounds of the kopong, a traditional guitar played by nomadic shepherds while watching over their sheep grazing in the mountains.
After a quick early morning coffee or tea, we head for the Dhamma House at Stok Village for a Meditation Class. Mr. Tsewang Norbu Vivek, a meditation expert, will be your instructor during the one-hour class. Breakfast will be served afterwards.
After breaking our fast, our journey takes us on a drive through the beautiful Ladakh landscape down to Alchi. A strange phenomenon awaits you at Magnetic Hill, just after Leh. At a certain point the driver stops the car on what looks like an uphill area, he then turns off the engine and leaves it in a neutral. Now comes the surprise; the car gradually starts to pick up speed up the slope! You will have to figure out this miracle by yourself.
Basgo Fort is the next destination. The complex lies about 25 miles west of Leh on the way to Srinagar. Its location is typical of ancient castles and royal temples; it perches high up on the hilltop. We approach from the back along an old road littered with stupas and other Buddhist monuments. Inside the citadel are the ruins of a fortress dating back to the 15th century, as well as two large temples and a shrine of smaller size. The largest of the temples has a huge gilded statue of Maitreya Buddha, or Buddha of the Future, to whom the temples are dedicated. The frescos inside the monastery are exquisite. Basgo Complex was built during the mid-16th century by Tsewang Namgyal, ruler of Ladakh and although the ancient town is in ruins, it is still an interesting experience to walk about, and there are photo opportunities around every corner.
After spending ample time at the fortress, we head for the Alchi Monastery. This monastic complex of six temples contains chortens, a seated Buddha, and lovely wall paintings. Many centuries ago, frescoes were symbolic and depicted the events of Buddha’s life. These wall paintings are believed to date back to the 11th and 12th centuries and came before the Tibetan style of painting in Gompas. Some of them bring back memories of the artworks of the Ajanta caves, ventured to be just about the sole survivors of what used to be the norm for Buddhists during the first millennium AD.
Next, we drive to Ule Ethnic Camp where you will be treated to a steaming hot lunch and refreshments. In the afternoon, Nurla is our next destination. You can count on Vacation India for assistance with checking in at the riverside resort. The resort has great views of the Indus River and the magnificent mountains. Here you can unwind and enjoy the amenities this modern resort has to offer.
Note: All adventurers, you have the option to go river rafting from Phey to Nimmu.
Immediately after breakfast, we will embark on a journey to Lamayuru on the Srinagar-Leh highway. On the way, you will see some mind-blowing rocky scenery that makes for unique photos. The ascent to Lamayuru is a dazzling experience.
On arrival in the city, we will pay a visit to the Lamayuru Monastery for the Yuru Kabgyat Festival which takes place on June 7 and 8, 2021. The celebrations take place 25 miles from the Apricot Tree Resort, your hotel in Nurla.
During the festival, monks perform a series of rituals, which include masked dances and prayers, all with the aim to bring about peace in the world and to avert disasters.
The Lamayuru Monastery sits comfortably on a hill overlooking the valley and was founded in the 11th century. It is an outstanding structure and the oldest in central Ladakh. At the onset of Buddhism, Lamayuru Monastery became a holy place of the Broncos.
According to legend, this was once a lake where one of Lord Buddha’s disciples gave food to the guarding serpents. A few grains fell on the ground, and some plants in the shape of swastikas took root and appear. A well-known name for this image of peace is Yungdrung, and it was named after this spot.
Throughout our stay here you will hear the chanting of monks since this is a teaching monastery with lots of religious activities. Below the monastery, lies a medieval village which seems to grow out of the hillside.
Note: If you want to go trekking, there is a beautiful 2.5-hour long route between Lamayuru and Wanla village. The trail is about 8.5 miles long and you will be transported back to Lamayuru by car.
After breakfast, we will drive to Tia Village, a 3.7-mile drive. This village, situated in the hills, is believed to be 500 years old, and has around 200 families. Tia resembles a maze; you will have to wriggle your way through winding passages which abruptly end up in courtyards. The traditional Ladakhi House is next on our list. Here you will taste butter tea or chang, a barley beer, and surely a new experience for first-time visitors.
On our way back to the capital we will take a detour to Tabo where we will visit the Likir Gompa. The little village of Likir surrounds the monastery with its many statues. The largest amongst these is located outside, and is quite exceptional; it impresses every visitor with the skill of the artisans of the past. The courtyard is dominated by a majestic statue of Maitreya. From on top of the structure one has magnificent views of the surrounding village and mountains.
You will then drive to the village of Chushot, where you can enjoy a Central Asian polo match.
During the yearly Ladakh Polo Festival, which will be held from July 11 to 17, 2023, you will have the opportunity to pay a visit to the village of Chushot, 30 minutes from Leh, and get to watch a Central Asian Polo Match. The game has its origins in the western Himalayan region of Gilgit-Baltistan during the 15th century. When king Singge Namgyal’s mother, a Balti princess, watched a game, she was so thrilled that she decided to introduce the game in the Ladakh region.
A little information about the game of polo: It comprises of six players on each side, and the game is quite fast and played on a rough terrain. Both sides try to strike goals, and to encourage them, musicians play lively songs on their surnas and damas, typical instruments of the region. You will be able to follow the tournament from a strategically placed tent called a shamiana, with refreshments to see you through the excitement.
Later that evening enjoy a typical specialty called gyakho, of the region. Gya means a hundred and kho soup. This delicacy is served in a unique pot, and consists of a wide array of ingredients, either vegetarian or for meat-loving palates. The container in which it is served is heated directly on a charcoal fire. The soup contains rice noodles, cottage cheese, vegetables, and so forth, and is accompanied by meatless momos, dumplings to soaked up the soup.
After this delightful meal you will be treated to an exciting cultural dance and musical performance courtesy of a local group dressed in beautiful traditional costume.
After breakfast, we take the road to Hemis Monastery, 40 km from Leh. This monastery is recognized as the largest and wealthiest in Ladakh. If the ancient Buddhist art is a treasure trove, it seems as if this monastery has it all. It is also interesting to observe the lifestyle of the monks while here.
Important Information: If you wish to include the festival on your visit to Hemis, you will stay in Leh an extra night. You will be transported to Hemis to attend the festival. The next day you will proceed with your tour.
In order to secure the best seat to watch the mask dance performances up close, we leave early for the monastery. The dances tell stories, and monks train for many years to perfect their skills. These legendary tales speak of good versus evil and is the tool the monks use to teach the locals the philosophy of Buddhism. Among the throng, you will notice the oracle who fasts and meditates all year round. During the festival, he surfaces from his deep meditation, enters into a trance on different occasions, and walk blindfolded on the monastery walls. The oracle also helps people by answering their questions. Several figures in funny clothes walk around, entertaining the audience with their jokes.
After our visit to the monastery, we leave for the Nubra Valley to explore some remote locations in the area. Our Nubra Valley journey continues along the river, we then turn north to ascend the beautiful Wari La Pass, 17,398 feet high.
This is the highest mountain pass in Nubra Valley and the 4th highest in the entire world. The going is slow and often off-road as numerous streams cross the dirt road. Very few tourists venture here, and even the local population is scared. The area is bereft of villages and shop-free, so our only companions are goats, sheep and wild horses. And of course the expanse of clear blue skies and the crystal clear water of the streams coming down the mountains. This is a truly singular journey that cannot easily be surpassed.
Tip: If you suffer from motion sickness, we recommend that you bring the necessary medicines with you.
Having reached the summit, we start the descend to the Nubra Valley at an altitude of 10,000 feet, to arrive at our campsite. It is time for tea, stretching our legs, take some photographs and then we enjoy lunch. The location is stunning, and just a stone’s throw from the Ladakh village.
The Nubra Valley is often called the ‘Valley of Flowers’ because of the wonderful gifts nature has bestowed on it. The land is lush green and fertile even at his high altitude. Here the Siachen and Shyok Rivers meet and create this beautiful valley that separates the Karakoram and Ladakh mountain ranges. Precipitation is uncommon and the vegetation is meager, but along river beds and on high slopes there is an abundance of flora. The irrigation and fertility of the area are top-notch, and the amazing green colors of the vegetation contrast sharply with the rough landscape.
Photographic opportunities abound. You will see towns like Sumur, Panamik, Kyagar, Tirith, and several others along the Nubra and Siachan Rivers. The Samstanling Monastery is situated between Kyagar and Sumur. There are several miles of large sand dunes between Hundar and Diskit. The two-humped Bactrian camels do their grazing in the ‘forest’ of Seabuckthorn. Just beyond Hundar lies Baltistan and Pakistan.
Dinner will be served at our beautiful campsite.
Today you will head to Diskit Gompa to experience the Morning Prayers with the eerie chants of the monks and the pounding of traditional drums. There is somewhat of an ascent up the steps that leads to the monastery. If you find it too much, just sit down at any level and watch the monks; even kids are welcome.
After the ceremony, a guided visit to the monastery complex follows. The building is perched on a slope that overlooks the Nubra Valley. Some roads are inaccessible by vehicles; they are steep and very dangerous to navigate. Your tour guide will accompany you as you stroll through the winding streets, where the opportunity to take photographs beckons around every corner. Afterward, you can enjoy the exuberant display of the younger monks.
At the end of the visit, you will return to your vehicle, and make your way toward the floor of the valley, after which you drive up the hill beside Monastery Mountain. The symbol of peace and prosperity in the valley stands tall at the peak of this hill; a statue of Maitreya Buddha reaches a height of 105 feet. The views of the Nubra valley, the old monastery, and the beautiful mountains are excellent.
Take an excursion to the Panamik Hot Water Springs. There are separate indoor pools for men and women, and for a small fee of $0.40 you can relax in the soothing water. It is known to take care of any skin problems.
Then it is time to return to our camp for lunch.
In the Nubra Valley, you will come across a large number of people with features such as blue eyes, reddish-brown hair, and ruddy cheeks, different from the common mongoloid features and dark hair of the Ladakhis. According to a local legend, these people are descendants from a Greek tribe who came in search of the tomb of Jesus and eventually made this settlement their home. The area is synonymous with goats’ wool that is woven into the renowned Pashmina shawls. Himalayan marmots sunning themselves on the rocks during the short summer is another interesting sight. They stuff themselves with food to gain enough fat before they go into hibernation during the long cold winter months.
You have an hour or so to unwind and appreciate the astonishing landscape, or better still, explore a little more on your alone.
In the afternoon, your Nubra exploration continues with a visit to Double Hump Camel Breeding Center, where these intriguing creatures are reared.
You can take a camel ride into the sand dunes nearby, enjoyable experience you will always treasure. We proceed to Diskit village to continue exploring and take a look at the market, accompanied by our guide. Diskit is the largest village in the Nubra Valley and serves as the administrative headquarters of the region.
India is a land of contrasts, also as far as lifestyle is concerned. Abject poverty, however, is absent in Ladakh. Although life here may be difficult; there is a feeling of contentment that pervades the air and puts smiles on the villagers’ faces as they try to fulfill their daily chores. It is contagious to the extreme!
We return to enjoy a well-deserved dinner at our campsite.
Today we head back to Leh. Four hours into our journey we arrive at the famous Khardung La (la means pass). At a height of 17,582 ft. above sea level, it claims to be the highest in the world. The views are breathtaking; on a sunny day, one can see K2 and the Karakoram Range to the north, and to the south the entire Ladakh and Zanskar Ranges are visible. The bright colors of many prayer flags add a spot of color to the area. We will spend enough time here to appreciate and absorb the wonders of nature before we start our descend to Leh.
On arrival in Leh, we book into our hotel, and the rest of the day you are free to stroll along the little alleys of Leh, visit the bazaars for souvenirs, and enjoy a slice of delicious apricot cake with a cup of hot coffee in a garden cafe.
We embark on an early morning 5 to 6-hour drive to Lake Moriri, 137 miles away. This brackish lake is about 17 miles long with a width of 5 miles, and lies at an altitude of 15,000 ft. above sea level. It is a wildlife protected sanctuary, and special permits are required to visit this site.
The Mountain Lake lies in the elevated valley of Rupshu with 20,000 ft. high snow-capped peaks surrounding it. The inhabitants of this area are nomadic shepherds called changpas, who earn a living by trading. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife; you might spot kyang or wild ass, black-necked crane, or red fox. The rarely spotted Tibetan wolf roams in the lake’s vicinity, and the edge of the lake is inhabited by Tibetan Sandgrouse. The mountains change color constantly, creating magnificent scenes of beauty.
The ancient Buddhist Korzok Gustor Festival takes place at the Korzok Monastery every year. Lamas represent different characters by dressing up as divinities in legends, while performing traditional mystic dances, wearing colorful masks. Villagers and nomads come from all over the region to attend and be thrilled by the excitement of this colorful festival, and there be sure, there will be wonderful opportunities to practice your photographic skills.
We will spend one night in a deluxe camp close to the lake.
Note: Make sure to bring a warm enough sleeping bag, as the temperatures drop quite low during the night-time.
Pay a visit to the village of Karzok, the nomad headquarters, and while there, including the ancient Korzok Monastery. Afterwards, strike up a conversation with one of the nomad tribesmen to find out more about their interesting nomadic life-style.
Toward the afternoon, we start on our journey back to Leh. Keep your camera ready, you will put it to good use when we traverse the pass through barren mountains.
You have the option to make a 90-minute detour to Lake Tso Kar. It is best to get up early to capture the serene beauty of the lake against the backdrop of rocky mountains.
Tso Kar is a small, saline lake with a chain of snow-peaked mountains as a backdrop. It is also known as White Lake because of salt deposits, while its water is a beautiful deep blue color due to the depth of the lake. In earlier days nomads would harvest the salt for trading purposes. Then wander around another little nomad village called Samad Rockchen near the lake.
Tip: A trip to Lake Kar is worthwhile, not only for its beauty but also for the chance to glimpse wild donkeys, and to crown it all, some extremely rare black-necked cranes.
Moving across the pass, you will see beautiful villages replete with well cultivated fields. The road takes us along the Indus River Valley to Upshi. Back in Leh, it is time to relax and later enjoy another delicious traditional dinner.
The staff of Vacation India will lend a hand with your check-out before you are driven to the airport to catch the morning flight to Delhi.
After touch-down at Delhi, a Vacation India staff member will be there to welcome you before transferring you to your hotel if you intend to extend your tour with us. Otherwise, that marks the end of our tour services.
No-one can leave India before visiting the magical Taj Mahal and other ancient Moghul cities in the vicinity of Delhi. You can decide to add this five-day tour extension either at the start or end of your trip, depending on the location where your itinerary begins and ends. Shah Jahan of the Moghul Empire constructed the Taj Mahal after the death in 1631 of Mumtaz Mahal, his beloved wife. Famous the world over, this physical dedication to love is amongst the most magnificent constructions on earth. Another important attraction is Fort Akbar, also called the Red Fort, with its numerous palaces and beautiful courtyards. Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted previous capital of the Moghul Dynasty, should be on every visitor’s bucket list, as well as the colorful Pink City, Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital.
The following is a detailed itinerary for the Golden Triangle Tour.
In case your arrival in Delhi marks the end of your tour with us; you have the following options.
Departure Option 1: If your international flight leaves in less than six hours from your arrival at the local terminal, then you will need the assistance of the airline staff to arrange a shuttle to convey you to the International Terminal. Some of the Leh flights arrive at the International Terminal, so then you do not need the shuttle. Please contact your travel adviser for the exact details.
Departure Option 2: If your international flight leaves six hours or more after your arrival at the local terminal at Delhi, a Vacation India staff member will welcome you, and a chauffeur will drive you to your destination. You have access to a personal chauffeur and a vehicle until 9 pm to enable easy check-in at the airport. You could do some shopping or even sightseeing during this time, the choice is yours.
Departure Option 3: If your flight is scheduled for departure early the following morning, our services will be available as you may need assistance to book a hotel to rest.
•Price based on two persons in a double room
• Prices are in USD not Excluding international flights
• Do you prefer to travel alone or would you like to come to India with a group of friends? We will be happy to tailor-make your tour program that meets all your wishes and needs
Our itineraries are always an example and can be changed individually. For example, it can be shortened or extended with additional destinations or monuments, the hotels can be a mix of 4 and 5 stars, etc. (email@example.com or +1-1800-109-1468). Let us know your personal wishes so that we can adapt the trip to your wishes. Within 24 hours at the most, you will receive your personal travel proposal without obligation. Together with the travel request, we will send you the hotel list so that you can get a picture of the hotels selected on the internet. We always choose hotels that have a charming character, are centrally located and 100% safe for tourists!
Both international and local cuisine will be available and will be of high quality, especially in Leh. We will make sure you eat in restaurants with high standards of hygiene. Bottled water will constantly be available, and dinner will take place in your overnight hotel.
A first-aid kit will be available at all times, and with the help of our experienced, immediate-response expert, specializing in altitude related illness, you are in safe hands. We recommend that you bring your own personal first-aid kit, as well as all personal medicines. A hand wash that can be applied without using water will be a great help for disposing of germs and oily traces on fingers when you take photos! We will ensure that you stay fit and in good health while in India.
Oxygen kits are available for rent once you arrive in Leh on Day 2.
Amongst the many wonderful experiences mentioned earlier, Ladakh is also known to have clement weather during the summer. The area is a high-altitude desert, so rain is a rare occurrence, but snow can fall on higher ground. Temperatures vary between 37.5° and 95° Fahrenheit, but as we travel at higher altitudes, the sun will be felt strongly. So, it is important to pack decent sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a scarf. It is also essential to drink enough water.
The evenings in Leh are always chilly so you should pack a light jumper. Higher up the nights are cold, so it is advisable to bring a warm, windproof jacket, a hat and gloves. For daytime wear, loose, lightweight clothing made of natural fibers, like cotton or silk, are best; they are cool and comfortable. Skimpy clothes, especially for women, are inappropriate in remote areas.
Leh is an awesome spot when you need cheap clothing suited to the climate and cultural norms of the region. Outdoor clothing and equipment are also readily available.
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We are professional and proud of our services, hence we offer a wide range of accommodation, which includes high-quality tourist hotels in Delhi and Ladakh, grand tent accommodation, and guesthouses. We have picked all accommodation with great care, and selected fantastic locations and serene retreats that will allow you a reprieve from the hectic street-life in Leh. All accommodation is based on a twin-sharing premise. If you wish to prefer your own room, seek information about the single-room options and the extra cost involved.
Before your final tour booking, you will be provided with a complete list of all the accommodation during your trip together with their websites.
New Delhi (Start), Srinagar (Kashmir), Dachigam National Park, Sonmarg, Lamayuru, Alchi, Likir, Thiksey Monastery, Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Phyang Monastery, Nimmu Village, Shang Valley, Hemis Monastery, Khardung La Pass, Nubra Valley, Lake Pangong, Tso Moriri, New Delhi (End)
New Delhi (Start), Amritsar (Punjab), Mcloead Ganj (Dharamshala), Manali, Keylong via Rohtang La Pass, Tso Kar, Leh, Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, Phyang Monastery, Alchi, Likir, Diskit Monastery, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso via Shyok River, New Delhi (End)
15 Days starting from New Delhi ➜ Srinagar (Kashmir) ➜ Gulmarg ➜ Panikhar via Sonamarg ➜ Kargil ➜ Padum via Rangdum ➜ Kargil ➜ Lamayuru ➜ Wanla ➜ Photoksar ➜ Lingshed ➜ Alchi ➜ Likir ➜ Leh ➜ Hemis ➜ Thiksey ➜ Lake Pangong ➜ New Delhi (End)