Western Himalayan Cultural Tour

Duration: 20 Days/ 19 Nights
Best season: June to September
Region: Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh

A classical jeep safari to one of the remotest regions of Himachal Pradesh, via Kinnaur & Spiti valley. We start the tour from the city of the Golden Temple, continuing to the seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama - Mc Leodganj, then further to Shimla, once capital of India during the time of the British and then we venture into the serene & secluded Kinnaur & Spiti valleys in the western Himalayan region. You also leave your footprints on the World's second highest motorable road, while traveling to Leh. When in Ladakh, you visit some of the most famous monasteries around Leh. The tour will provide you plenty of opportunities to visit remote valleys and villages. The crossings of high mountain passes provide spectacular views of picturesque snow capped peaks, rugged terrain and old monasteries.

Highest Altitude gained: Tanglang La 5360 m Places covered: Amritsar, Dharamsala, Shimla, Sarahan, Sangla Valley, Kalpa, Nako, Tabo, Dhankar, Lalung, Gungri, Kaza, Ki, Kibber, Kunzam Pass, Keylong, Jispa, Baralacha La, Sarchu, Naki La, Lachung La, Tanglang La, Leh, Hemis, Shey, Thiksey, Spituk, Phyang, Lamayuru, Alchi, Likir, Basgo and most important Tanglang La - the second highest motorable pass in the entire World.

Tour: Day 01 Delhi/ Amritsar (by train)-Afternoon visit Wagah Border & Golden Temple
Amritsar is the Sikh religion's spiritual centre and the famous Golden Temple is the main shrine, it attracts most the most visitors in India, even more than the Taj Mahal. Amritsar is very close to the boarder to Pakistan.

Day 02 Amritsar/ Dharamsala (200 km/ 6 hrs)
Dharamsala is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas. Since 1960, when it became a temporary headquarter of HIS HOLINESS H.H. THE DALAI LAMA, Dharamsala has risen to international fame as the little Lhasa in India. It is a best destination for those who want to study Tibetan Buddhism, arts and culture.

Day 03 In Dharamsala - visit Dalai Lama Temple, Bhagsunag Temple and St John's church

Day 04 Dharamsala/ Shimla (260 km/ 9 hrs)
Shimla is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh and was declared the summer capital of the British Rajin India. The Hill station is a popular tourist destination, for both, Indian and foreign tourists and is often called the "Queen of Hills," a term coined by the British. Located at an altitude of 2,205 meters, the city, draped in forests of pine, rhododendron, and oak, experiences pleasant summers and cold, snowy winters. The city is famous for its buildings styled in tudorbethan and neo-gothic architecture dating from the colonial era.

Day 05 In Shimla - visit Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, British Viceroy & Jakho temple

Day 06 Shimla/ Sarahan on route visit of Sun temple (175 km/ 7 hrs
Sarahan is a tiny, but beautiful Village in the Sutley Valley surrounded by apple orchards and dominated by the Shrikhand Mahadev Peak (5227m). It was the ancient capital of Rampur Bushehr, one of the biggest princely states in the Shimla hills. Here you can visit the Bhimakali Temple with its six silver coated doors. It is a mixture of both, Hindu and Buddhist style and attracts tourist from all over the world. Sarahan is a tiny, but beautiful Village in the Sutley Valley surrounded by apple orchards and dominated by the Shrikhand Mahadev Peak (5227m). It was the ancient capital of Rampur Bushehr, one of the biggest princely states in the Shimla hills. Here you can visit the Bhimakali Temple with its six silver coated doors. It is a mixture of both, Hindu and Buddhist style and attracts tourist from all over the world

Day 07-08 Sarahan/ Sangla (113 km/ 8 hrs)
Today we enter the Sangla Valley, the most romantic and beautiful Valley in Kinnaur District. It is 95 km long and has green pasture land on either side of the River and the meadows close to the river are full of flowers and fruit trees. There are barren ranges of snow all year. Sangla is situated on an elevation of 2680 m. The Bering Nag Temple and the monastery are worth a visit. There is the famous fair Phulaich, which is celebrated each year in August-September. The wooden houses are a unique example of wooden architecture. One kilometer away is a Saffron farm.

Day 09 Sangla/ Kalpa visit Kamru village (51 km/ 2 hrs)
Kalpa, 51 km away from Sangla, is surrounded by vineyards, which are protected from bears by large sheep dogs, especially trained for that purpose. Here you can buy Kinnauri Shawls and caps.

Day 10 Kalpa/ Tabo on route visit of Nako village (167 km/ 8 hrs)
Nako, at an altitude of 3662 m in Hingrang Valley is the famous and largest village. Yaks, kine, horses and donkeys are reared here in abundance. At the right side of Spiti River, is an ancient Village, flanked on either side by lofty hills, brown and sun burnt, it is the seat of one of the most famous monasteries: The 1000 year old Tabo Monastery. It has exquisite frescoes and stucco statues and is often called the Ajanta of the Himalayas.

Day 11 Tabo/ Kaza on the route visit of Lalung and Dhankar Gompa (48 km/ 5 hrs)
Dhankar is the ancient capital of the Spiti king; the most incredibly Gompa is situated high on the barren rocky mountain slopes. Kaza is situated on the feet of steep ridges. It has a population of 781 and a traditional fair is celebrated every year in August. A short trail leads from Kaza to Hikim and to Langza Village situated in the Shila Valley.

Day 12 In Kaza - visit the Ki monastery, small gompa at Kibber (4205 m)
Let's visit the famous Kye gompa. The gompa is placed high on a mountain looking like a pyramid. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Kibber, one of the highest permanent inhabited villages is located in a semi bowl-shape. A small Gompa is worth to visit, later we go to Kaza, the headquarter of Spiti Valley.

Day 13 Kaza/ Keylong over Kunzam Pass 4558 m (200 km/ 10 hrs)
We drive through several villages of Spiti over the Kunzum pass, (4551 m). From here the Shigri Glacier is seen in front in all its grandeur. The crest of the pass has been marked by a chorten of stones erected ages ago. A temple has been built on top dedicated to Lord Geypan. Every vehicle has to go around the temple to get the blessings of God. Keylong is situated at an elevation of 3350m in the heart of the Himalayas in a lonely corner with high cliffs covered with snow. This place is lush green. Only here you can find a permanent Bazar. It is the head quarter of Lahaul and Spiti.

Day 14 Keylong/ Sarchu over Baralachala Pass 4800 m (117 km/ 6 hrs)
We drive to Sarchu, on the way we will visit Jispa and cross the Baralacha La 4800m. Baralacha La has a small lake - Surajtal which is considered to be source of river Bhaga. Baralacha is an interesting 8 km long pass and gives rise to three rivers: Chandra, Bhaga and Yuman. Baralacha means “pass with cross roads on summit”. Roads from Zanskar, Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul meet on top of that pass.

Day 15 Sarchu/ Leh over Lachang La (5065 m) and Tanglang La 5360 m (236 km/ 10 hrs)
Today is a very long day, therfore we start very early. Leh was the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, now Leh is a district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The town is still dominated by the now ruined Leh Palace, former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh. Leh is at an altitude of 3524 meters.

Day 16 In Leh - visit Spituk and Phyang, Leh Palace, Shankar Gompa & Shanti Stupa
The Spituk Monastery has an overwhelming calmness. It is located about 8 kilometers away from Leh. This tri-chapel designed monastery has a huge collection of antique thangkas, masks of deities, weapons and images of Lord Buddha and Amitayus, besides a high throne for the Dalai Lama in the main temple. A special attraction of the monastery is the Gustor Festival, which is celebrated from the 27th to 29th day of the eleventh month of the Tibetan calendar and witnesses various dance performances by the monks. Phyang Gompa is another ancient Buddhist monastery from 1515 that was once a part of several monastic structures. The most interesting thing about this monastery is a 900 year old museum within the complex, which is a vast storehouse of enormous-sized thangkas, firearms and weapons from China, Mongolia and Tibet, idols of various deities and Kashmiri bronze artifacts. The Leh Palace overlooks the Ladakhi Himalayan town of Leh, modelled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Leh Palace is nine storeys high; the upper floors accommodated the royal family, the stables and store rooms were in the lower floors. The palace, a ruin, is currently being restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The palace is open to the public and the roof provides panoramic views of Leh and the surrounding areas.

The Shankar gompa is located a couple of kilometers north of the town center. The gompa belongs to the Gelukpa order and has an impressive impression of the Buddhist deity Avalokiteshwara Padmahari or Chenresig, with 1,000 arms and an equal number of heads. A relatively modern monastery, it is closely associated with the Spituk monastery and serves as the residence of the head priest - Kushak Bakula. A number of gold icons are to be found here. Just 3 km from Leh, this monastery has a formidable collection of miniature statues of pure gold and a number of exciting paintings. It receives electricity and may, therefore, be visited in the evening as well. Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa. The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama himself. The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Day 17 In Leh - visit Shey Palace, Thiksey, Hemis monastery and Stok Palace Museum
The Shey Gompa and the Shey Palace complex are structures located on a hillock in Shey, 15 kilometers from Leh, Shey was the summer capital of Ladakh in the past. Thiksey Gompa is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect, located on top of a hill, approximately 19 kilometres east of Leh. It is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and is the largest gompa in central Ladakh. A 15 meters high statue of Maitreya, the largest such statue in Ladakh, covering two stories of the building, is deified in the monastery. A nunnery is also part of the complex. Hemis Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Drukpa Lineage, located in Hemis and situated 45 km from Leh. It was reestablished in 1672 by the Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal. The annual Hemis festival honoring Padmasambhava is held here in early June. The Stok Palace is a striking palace where the ancient and modern architectures meet together. Along with its architectural beauty the palace is famous for beautiful gardens and the view of sunrise as well as sunset is amazing from the palace.

Day 18 Leh/ Uletokpo on the route visit Basgo Palace, Liker and Alchi monasteries (70 km/ 6 hrs)
There is a luxury Camp at the village of Uletokpo. It is situated by the River Indus and lies within an apricot orchard

Day 19 Uletokpo/ Lamayuru/ Leh (170 km/ 8 hrs)
In Lamayura we can visit a Buddhist monastery.

Day 20: Depart Leh - by plane back to Delhi.