LADAKH 2017

Monasteries and Mountains

Including visits to Zangskar and the Nubra Valley

1st-23rd August 2017

Ladakh – the only major region where Tibetan religion and culture exists in freedom – offers a true experience of the Buddhist world, amidst the dramatic mountain scenery of this isolated region of north-west India.  There is a special link between Ladakh and Tashi Lhunpo Monastery: many of our monks were born and entered monastic life in Ladakh before travelling to South India to complete their higher studies.

Part of the North-Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh is about one and a half times the size of Switzerland, but has a population of only about 250,000, making it India’s most sparsely-populated region.  Crossing the world's highest motorable pass we visit the Nubra Valley (The Valley of the Flowers), a remnant of the great Silk Road.  After returning to the Thiksay in the Indus Valley we set off west towards the Pakistan border to Kargil, and from there on a challenging drive through dramatic mountain scenery to Zangskar, Ladakh's 'hidden valley'.  Our return takes us through the apricot orchards of Dha Hanu and Temisgang leaving a final few days in and around Leh, the Indus Valley and Thiksay.

The visit is organised by Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust with Chamba Tours and Travels, in association with Thiksay Monastery near Leh.  There will be a maximum of 12 in our group, so you are guaranteed to have a very personal experience of this extraordinary part of India.  We have a very knowledgeable English-speaking Ladakhi guide with us for the whole trip, and transport in Ladakh is in 4x4 Jeeps.  Information on what to bring, weather and temperature, health issues, visa applications, background reading and more details about the places we visit on our itinerary will be sent to you by e-mail. 

ITINERARY

1st August          Flight from the UK to Delhi, arriving late at night.  We book in to the Premium Plaza Airport Lounge in Terminal 3 in preparation for the early flight to Leh the next morning.

2nd August          An early morning flight to Leh, checking in around 0400.  The flight lasts for about an hour, if we are lucky affording magnificent views of the Himalayas en-route.  We transfer to Chamba Hotel at Thiksay Monastery and use our first day for rest and acclimatisation.  Leh is at 11,500ft/3,505m.

3rd August          Morning rest in Thiksay, with an optional afternoon visit to the Shanti Stupa and Leh Market.

4th August          After attending early morning prayers and having breakfast in Thiksay Monastery, we leave to drive North of Leh across the Kardong La (Pass), which at 18,380ft / 5,602m is the highest motorable pass in the world.  Driving along the Shyok River we arrive in Hundar in the Nubra Valley.  Chamba Camp in Hundar is set in gardens of apple and apricot trees, and it is possible to arrange a short camel ride across the sand dunes or simply to walk around the small village.

5th August           We visit Deskit Monastery, where the Yarchos Chenmo (Great Debate Conference) may still be under way, presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (dates are still to be confirmed). 

6th August          We cross the Shyok River to visit Samstenling Monastery, one of Ladakh’s largest and most recently built monasteries, have a picnic lunch at Ensa, returning to Chamba Camp for dinner.

7th August          After early morning prayers and breakfast at Deskit Monastery we drive back along the valley and over the Warri La towards the Indus on our way back to Thiksay.  There is an option to visit Tag-Tok Monastery, returning to Chamba Hotel for dinner.

8th August          A rest day at Thiksay.  There will be an optional visit to Nyerma Nunnery in the afternoon.

9th August          After early morning prayers in Thiksay Monastery (optional!), we leave to drive west visiting Likir and Rizong Monasteries and arriving at our hotel in Alchi in the evening.

10th August         An early morning visit to Alchi Monastery to see the astonishing murals and sculptures of the Buddhist tradition of Northern India.  Leaving after breakfast, we visit Lamayuru Monastery, pass the rock-cut sculpture of Maitreya at Mulbeck and, if we have time, visit Shergol, a small monastery set high up in the rock face above the valley.  We arrive in Kargil for the night and prepare for the next day’s long drive into Zangskar.

11th August         The rocky road from Padum to Zanskar crosses green valleys and over mountain passes with spectacular views of the Zanskar Mountains and the Nun Kun Peaks.  We have our picnic lunch near Rangdum Gompa, mid-way on our journey – a vast plain hemmed in by mountains.  The route takes us on over the Pensi La Pass (4,400m/14,435ft) to get our first sight of the Drang-Drung Glacier and the Stod Valley. The final stretch of the road is metalled and we arrive at our hotel in Padum in the evening.

12th-15th August  Based from our guest house in the centre of the valley, over the next four days we will explore the Zangskar Valley with visits to Zangla, Stongde and Pibiting Monasteries, Karsha Nunnery and Sani Gompa, with the opportunity to take walks around the valley. 

16th August         We leave early in the morning for the return road journey to Kargil.

17th August         Leaving Kargil we drive along the Pakistan border into the rarely visited Dha-Hanu villages of the Brokpas, through the river gorges and apricot orchards, arriving in the evening at Namra hotel in Tingmosgang. 

18th August         We visit Tingmosgang Monastery and Nunnery and return to rest in our hotel amongst the apricot orchards.

19th August         After breakfast we return to Thiksay via Basgo Palace.  We have lunch in Leh, and there will be an opportunity to explore Leh Market and do some shopping.

20th August         At leisure in Thiksay.  After lunch we offer a visit to Stakmo (the original site of Thiksay Monastery) to see the tiny Yellow Temple, and there will be an optional walk back to Thiksay from Shey Palace.  Alternatively, we will offer visits to Matho, Stakna and Hemis Monasteries along the Indus River.

21st August         An optional morning visit to Leh Market to complete last minute shopping, or time to explore Thiksay Monastery at your leisure.  In the evening there will be a cultural show of Ladakhi folk dancing in Chamba Hotel.

22nd August        We take an early morning flight to Delhi from Leh to our hotel in Aerocity near Terminal 3.  Aerocity has a direct Metro link to the centre of the city for those who wish to explore, or we can organise a guide and taxi.  The hotel in Delhi is on a Bed and Breakfast basis.

23rd August         Return flight to London.

Please note:  This itinerary is subject to change due to reasons beyond our control such as flight cancellations, industrial disputes, ill health, weather, transport difficulties or a change in the political situation as advised by Chamba Tours and Travels or Thiksay Monastery.

COST:           £2,429 per person sharing double or twin room 

£2,966 per single traveller

INCLUDED IN THE COST:

En-suite accommodation in single, twin or double rooms with full board (except where mentioned in the itinerary)

Hotel/Guest House accommodation in Leh, Nubra, Kargil, Zangskar, Tingmosgang

Bed and Breakfast hotel in Delhi

Transfer from hotel to airport in Delhi on return

All transport in Ladakh by 4WD car
Entry fees to monuments and museums in Ladakh
Inner Line Permits for restricted areas

English speaking guide
Free internet/wifi in Chamba Hotel and Chamba Camp

NOT INCLUDED IN THE COST:

International Air Fare London-Delhi/Bangalore-London (Est c. £700)†

Air fare return Delhi-Leh-Delhi (Approx £250)†

Premium Plaza Lounge, Delhi Airport Terminal 3 (Approx £20)

Indian Visa Fee (Currently £60 + 2.5% for on-line e-Tourist visa valid for 30 days from date of arrival)

Insurance

Meals not included in the itinerary (Est £20)

Drinks except mineral water at mealtimes and in vehicles

Tips (Est £40)

Sightseeing Guide in Delhi + Entry to Museums and Monuments outside Ladakh

Camera Fees where applied

Telephone calls

Anything not mentioned under the heading ‘Included in the Cost’

†  Based on British Airways flights London Heathrow-New Delhi, and Bangalore-London Heathrow.  Internal flights will be Jet Airways or Indian Airlines, booked for us in India, and the cost will depend on the exchange rate for the Indian Rupee at the time, and will be charged on to you at cost.

To book a place on the trip, please complete and return the Registration Form, along with a copy of your passport either by email to info@tashi-lhunpo.org.uk or by post to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust, PO Box 2284, Salisbury SP2 2JA.

PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS:

To secure a place on the trip, please send an initial payment of £250 to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust.  This deposit will be returned to you if you have to cancel before 1st March 2017, when the second instalment will become due.  The internal flights Delhi-Leh-Delhi will be booked in March 2017, and you will be invoiced directly for these at that stage.  The final instalment of the cost will be due on 1st June 2017. 

Until 1st March 2017   Initial deposit payment of £250 due to secure your place

1st March 2017            Last chance to cancel without penalty.  First instalment due:  

                                       Shared accommodation per person £1,089.50

                                       Single accommodation per person £1,358

March/April 2017        We will invoice directly for the Delhi-Leh-Delhi flights

1st June 2017               Final instalment due:

                                      Shared accommodation per person  £1,089.50

                                      Single accommodation per person  £1,358

Bank Details: 

Bank Name:         Lloyds Bank

Bank Address:      Blue Boar Row, Salisbury

Sort Code:           30-97-41          

Account Name:    Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust

Account No.:        04107597

PLEASE ADD REFERENCE: LADAKH + YOUR SURNAME