Cultural Odyssey of Ladakh

Ladakh or "Little Tibet" as it is known, is one of the most remote areas of India, lying to the north of the Great Himalaya on the Tibetan Plateau and to the south of the Karakorams. It remained isolated for centuries to the outside world due to its inaccessibility, and the strategic position it occupies in the northern frontier. Ladakh has a rich cultural and religious heritage as can be seen from the centuries old monasteries, some of them built on sheer cliffs and still functioning actively.

Ladakh offers its visitors some rare sights like the 130km long expansive magical Pangong Lake, lying at 4267m and partly in China. The spectacular view of the Changchenmo range of mountains reflects itself in the ever-changing blues and greens of the lake.

In this cultural odyssey, we travel through the ancient kingdom of Ladakh, soaking in the beauty of its captivating landscape, visiting monasteries, villages, palaces and humble homes, meeting people from all walks of life and understanding their way of life and culture; a journey that will truly make you want to return - such is the mesmerizing effect of the hospitable people in this enchanting Buddhist land called Ladakh.

Retreat Facts :

Area: Leh(Ladakh) India
Trip Duration: 10 nights/ 11 Days
Highest Point: 5596 by Jeep (Khardungla Top)
Accommodations: 07nights’ hotel in Leh, 01 night in glamping tents inPangongLake, 01 night in hotel in Uleytokpo, 01 night in camp in Tingmosgang
Trip Highlights: - Culture of Ladakh, Buddhism, lots of monasteries, Pangong Lake, encounter the life style of local Ladakhi people, Leh, Magnificient peak of Dry Dessert of the Himalayas, Khardung La (Highest motorable road in the world), jeep safari and much more

Detailed Itinerary :

Day 01: Arrive Leh (3500mts)

Upon your arrival at the KushokBakula Airport, our representatives will meet you and offer you a transfer to hotel. Check in to the hotel for leisure. The rest of the day is free so that you can take rest to acclimatize with the environment which is very important. Day to be spend in leisure. In the evening, you can take an easy walk to the Leh market. Later we will have a trip briefing followed by the dinner.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 02: Explore the Leh Town.

An easy day for further acclimatization. After the breakfast a gentle walking around Leh exploring Leh Palace, Tsemo Castle, and women’s alliance. In the evening, we visit Shanti Stupa and the charming shops of Changspa street.

Overnight at hotel.

Leh Palace : Leh Palace was built during the 17th century by the ruler King SenggeNamgyal. Its construction is on the same lines as the construction of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. This palace had to be deserted by the royal family in the middleof the 19th century, because of the taking over of Ladakh by Dogra forces. After this the royal family is living in-exile in the popular Stok Palace. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is restoring some of the ruined portions of this nine-storey palace. While the store rooms were on the lower floors, the royalty resided on the upper floors. The roof of this palace offers an excellent view of the valley.
Shanti Stupa : The Shanti Stupa is white-colored domed-shaped structure, located in Changspa which looks extremely beautiful during night when it is illuminated. This peace pillar was built a ‘peace sect’ ofJapanese Buddhist organization to celebrate the completion of 2500 years of Buddhism and for the promotion of world peace. It was inaugurated by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in 1985. This pillar is known for its gilt panels depicting the life stories of Lord Buddha. It is just 5 kms away from the main city of Leh and is surrounded the traditionally built houses of the locals and snow-covered mountains. Take the steep slights to reach the Stupa that offers beautiful sunrise and sunset views.
Day 03: Visit Shey monastery, Thikshey&Hemis Monastery

After the breakfast, we depart for the sightseeing of some of the great monumental and Buddhist monasteries of Leh. These spiritual centres are an architectural marvel with a cultural legacy which creates curiosity in the minds of travelers. Thiksey boasts of being the largest monastery in the central Ladakh region. Hemis is believed to be the largest and wealthiest monastery in Leh. Shey is a popular monastery with huge copper and gilded gold statue of seated Shakyamuni Buddha. After a well spent day, have an overnight stay in Leh.

Shey Monastery : The building complex of Shey Monastery located on the hilltop of Shey (the summer capital of the Leh city) is 15kms towards the South of the main city of Ladakh. It was built in 1655 after the order the king of Ladakh, DeldanNamgyal (LhachenPalgyigon). The building which is mostly in ruins today was built by the king in the memory of his deceased father SingayNamgyal.

The major attraction in the monastery is a huge gold-plated copper statue of seated Shakyamuni Buddha, which is also the second largest statue in Ladakh. In front of the statue, is a large wax bowl with a flame, which continuously lighted for a year, after which it is replaced.
Thiksheymonastery:ThikseGompa, of the Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect, is around 19 kms to the East of the main city of Leh. The architecture of the largest monastery in central region of Ladakh, is similar to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. This 12-storey building complex consists of a number of things related to Buddhist art such as Thangka paintings, statues, stupas, swords, and so on. The building also has a nunnery.

A major tourist attraction is the Maitreya temple installed in 1970. The statue of future Lord Buddha in this temple of 49 feet high, which is also the largest in the region.
Hemis monastery:Hemis Monastery, 40 kms towards the south-east of the main city of Leh is the largest as well as the most well-known monastery (Gompa) in Ladakh. This monastery was built by under the reigns of the King SinggeNamgyal, in 1672 AD. This monastery plays host to an annual festival that is held in the month of which is also a major tourist attraction. This colorful day-long festival is called HemisTsechu which is also a state holiday.

During the course of the festival, the local resident Lamas perform a holy masked dance to glorify the victory of good over bad. Today it is taken care of by the Drukpa sect of Buddhism. The monastery has beautiful paintings and a statue of Lord Buddha, which are the highlights too.
Day 04: Visit Basgo Fort, Alchi Monastery, & Uley tokpo

Visit Basgo Fort and Alchi Monastery en route to Uleytokpo. The jagged skyline of the ruins of the 15th century capital of Ladakh dominates the village of Basgo. The citadel itself is in complete ruins. Built in the 11th century Alchi is one of the few monasteries that survived the restoration of the 16th century.

The three tiered Sumstek shows strong influence of Kashmiri traditions, a unique feature in this monastery. We spend the night in the most delightful surroundings amidst apricot and apple orchards in Uleytokpo.

Basgo Fort: Basgo Gompa Ladakh is firstly mention in the Ladakh history in the 15th century as the capital of longs whose descendents were to become the Namgyal Dynasty of Ladakh, the fort is located at a high impregnable position, which enabled it to withstand , a three year siege in the 17th century but got severely damaged during the Dogra wars in the year of 1834. Since then the unfired clay brick structure has been slowly crumbling, leaving a few walls and towers to speak of the grandeur of days gone by.
Alchi Monastery : Alchi Monastery, located in the Alchi village in Leh, was built by the great translator Guru Rinchen Zangpo between 958 and 1055. Today it is being monitored by Likir Monastery. This monastery is actually a complex of temples consisting of 4 separate portions that has monuments built at different times. The main complex has three temples- gTsug-lag-Khang (main temple), 'Jam-dpallHa-Khang (Manjushri temple) and Dukhang (assembly hall).

Alchi monastery is one of the most well-known ones. The walls of the site are adorned with paintings depicting the details of Hinu kings as well as the teaching of Buddhism. There is also a huge Buddha statue in the complex, a famous tourist attraction .
Day 05: Visit Lamayuru monastery and drive to Tingmosgang

Drive to the popular Lamayuru monastery standing dramatically against a unique moon like landscape and proceed to Tingmosgang, once the capital of Ladakh which has a castle.

Overnight at camp in Tingmosgang.

Lamayuru Monastery : Located on the main highway between Bodhkhabru and Kha-la-che, at an altitude of 3.510 meters, Lamayuru Monastery is amongst the oldest monasteries in Ladakh. It is said to have been built around the same time as Alchi monastery. It was founded by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa in the 11th century and belongs to Red-Hat Sect of Buddhism. There are several legends associated with this Gompa. One such legend is that Lamayuru was a lake that drew back up to the mountains after blessings from a lama, in order to evacuate space for this monastery. It features a rich collection of wall paintings and Thangkas.
Day 06 : Trek to Hemishukpachen& drive to Leh via Likir monastery

After a typical Ladakhi breakfast we drive to the start point of our short trek. We trek though beautiful willow trees and barley fields before we ascend to a highpoint of 3720m Meptakla and descend to the village of Hemishukpachen. Drive to Leh stopping by enroute at Likir monastery.

Overnight in hotel at Leh.

Likir Monastery : Likir Gompa, around 62 kms to the West of the main city of Leh. The 5th king of Ladakh, LhachenGyalpo ordered the establishment of this monastery and thus it was established in 1065 by Lama DuwangChosje. The monastery is of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. In the times of today, Buddhist teachings and the three basic Pratimoksa disciplines are preached on the site.

The monastery also plays host to the annual festival that is in the 12th months of the Tibetan Calendar, from the 27th to the 29th. During the festival, religious dance performances are given by the local artists.
Day 07: Drive to Pangong Lake (4440mts)

After breakfast, we drive for approx. 5 hrs. to reach Pangong Lake. Pangong Lake is also known by the name of Hollow Lake and appears as a clear symbol of nature craftsmanship. The brackish water plays with sunlight to produce different effects of light.

One-third part of the lake lies in India while the remaining two-third lies in Tibet, a region controlled by China. A large chunk of streams that fill the lake are located on the Tibetan part.

The lake is located just 5 hours’ drive from Leh in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir. Overnight stay in comfortable tents with beds and attached toilets.

Day 08 : Drive back to Leh from Pangong Lake

After exploring the lake, we drive back to Leh. Upon arrival in Leh Check in to your hotel. Evening to be spend in leisure. Overnight stay at hotel in Leh.

Day 09 : Visit Khardungla Top (Highest Motorable road in the world)

Today we drive for approx 1.5 hrs to Khardung La (5596m) which is the highest motorable road in the world. If time permits us we can drive further to Nubra and Shoyk river valley. After a well spent day we drive back to Leh. Overnight stay in hotel at Leh.

Day 10 : Leisure day

Wake up easy. This is your trip last day in Leh. Go and explore the otwn by yourself. Shop gifts for home and loved ones. Overnight stay in hotel at Leh.

Day 11 : Fly home

As per your flight schedules we drop you back to the airport. Fly home with the sweet memories of the trip. Trip concludes.

Gallery : Retreats Cultural Odyssey of Ladakh