DELHI TO AMRITSAR TO DHARAMSALA TO LEH
Duration: 12 days
Means of transport: Train, Jeep, Air
Areas visited: Amritsar, Dharamsala, Manali and Ladakh
Best time to go: June through October
This tour takes you all the way from the capitol of India to the mountainous abode of Ladakh, and through Hindu, Sikh, Tibetan, and Ladakhi culture.
We start out with a brief overnight stop in Delhi before heading to Amritsar via train in the early morning. Watch from the train as the city starts to wake up, then leave it all behind and take in the countryside of the Punjab, India’s fertile breadbasket. In Amritsar, you will visit the stunning golden temple and center of Sikh worship, then move on to explore Dharamsala, a hill station which is famous as the residence of the Dalai Lama and as the headquarters of Tibetan government in exile.
Finally, you will land in the austere beauty of Leh, Ladakh, bordered by the Karakoram Range to the north-west, the Himalayas in the south-west, and the Trans-Himalaya at its core. Over the course of the ride, the scenery changes from verdant deodar forests and flower-filled valleys to barren lunar-like landscapes with towering peaks and hanging glaciers. As well as the spectacular surroundings, the rich culture of the Ladakhis is also a highlight. As our route weaves its way across the Himalayas, we will see monasteries majestically perched on high spurs and we’ll enjoy the tranquility and beauty of a genuinely untouched land. There are also great daily changes of temperature, with strong winds. As a result of the dry and harsh climate, only sporadic high steppes are covered with grass, and arid and semi-arid deserts dominate a nonetheless grandiose mountain world.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN DELHI. Arrive in Delhi, meet and greet at the airport and transfer to hotel for an overnight stay.
DAY 2: DELHI TO AMRITSAR. Hop on the morning train to Amritsar - the city of the famous Golden Temple and the center of Sikh faith. After a peaceful morning train ride, visit the Golden Temple where you will find time to tune into this amazing spiritual center and feel the power that inspires the Sikh people worldwide. Continue your city tour and visit Jallianwalla Bagh, a martyrs’ memorial built in the shape of an eternal flame of liberty, situated on the outskirts of the Golden Temple. Here about 1500-2000 persons who were attending a peaceful meeting during the freedom movement fell under the bullets of the British General Dyer on 13 April 1919. On the streets outside of Jallianwalla Bagh, make sure you make time to have a fresh lassi (some of the best available in India!) and observe the comings and goings on the street. Overnight at hotel (B)
DAY 3-4: AMRITSAR TO DHARAMSALA. After breakfast this morning, we depart for Dharamsala - a hill station full of natural charm and beauty, situated in the Kangra Valley and spread over a height of 2000m. It is surrounded by the majestic Dhauladhar Ranges on three sides. The Tibetan settlement at McLeod Ganj is the headquarters of the Tibetan Government in Exile, and the Indian home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Many relics of Tibetan art, history, religion, and culture can be seen in the museums as well as out on the streets. The Tibetan community has done an amazing job of retaining their culture amidst many difficulties. The next day is spent walking around the Kangra Valley, visiting the Dalai Lama’s monastery, sipping coffee or bhu cha (Tibetan butter tea) at one of the local establishments, shopping, and talking with the Tibetan community. Overnight at Hotel (B)
DAY 5: DHARAMSHALA TO MANALI. This morning we drive to Manali. Manali is synonymous with streams and birdsongs, forest and orchards and the grandeur of the snowcapped Himalayas. Overnight at Hotel (B)
DAY 6: MANALI TO KEYLONG. Out of Manali, we head through an evergreen area of pine and deodar trees as we tackle the first set of many hairpin bends and switchbacks on the way to the Rohtang pass. It’s a 12 km ascent to the Rohtang pass (10,890ft, 3320m), where if the weather is fine, there are some lovely scenic views on the horizon of snow covered peaks and glaciers. From Rohtang, we leave the lush vegetation behind and continue with a descent to Gramphu. From here we will encounter some un-metalled stretches of flat road as we cross the raging torrent of the river at Khoksar and continue on a short and easy ride to Sissu, in the foothills of the Pir Panjal range. From here it’s only a short ride to Keylong, crossing mountain streams flowing over the road. Altitude 11,000ft (3350m). Overnight at Dekeling hotel (B,L,D)
DAY 7: KEYLONG TO SARCHU TO LEH. The terrain is much more arid and the road is rutty, dusty and rocky. Passing the hamlet of Jispa, we come out of a gorge and descend downhill before starting the ascent to Patseo. On the way to Patseo we get a sense of the isolation of the area, with naught but a few sheep dotted around as we begin to enter the territory of the Lamas. On the far horizon you can see the bleak and awesome spectacle of the higher Himalayan ranges. We travel over three passes this day – the Baralacha La, the Lachulung La, and the Tanglang La (at 5,360m, the world’s second highest pass) – before descending down to the Indus river and on to Leh. In between the Lachulung La and the Tanglang La, we will travel through the high Moray Plains, a barren area known for its extreme temperatures in the morning and evening, fast winds and sandstorms. The only signs of life up here are the hardy Nomadic Changpas, who can be seen tending to their yaks in this most desolate place. After the Tanglang La, the scenery changes dramatically and we arrive in a fertile irrigated valley following the Indus River, dotted by beautiful villages and stupas. Overnight at Hotel, (B,L D)
DAY 8: LEH. The day is free to explore the back streets and bazaars or maybe do some optional sightseeing or shopping around Leh, overnight at Hotel, (B)
DAY 9: SIGHTSEEING IN INDUS VALLEY.
Today we will spend a full day visiting many of the important places in the wide Indus valley. This will certainly include Shey (the Palace of the old Ladakhi kings), Thikse (a large monastery which contains a three-storey-high statue of Chamba, the Buddha of the Future), and Hemis (the largest monastery in Ladakh). At the latter, ask to see the temple in the rear, which houses the Buddhas that have ‘spoken’ in the past. Overnight at hotel
SHEY PALACE (15 km from Leh)
The old summer palace of the kings of Ladakh was built about 550 years ago by Lhachen Palgyigon, the first king of Ladakh. It stands next to the remains of a larger construction on the east side of a hill which runs south-east towards the Indus. From the palace you can see over the fertile Indus plain north-east to Thikse Gompa and over the Indus to the Zanskar mountain range. The old Shey palace has the largest golden Buddha statue in Ladakh in its gompa. The statue is worked out of gold and gilded copper sheets, stands 12 meters high and has blue hair. It was erected by King Dalden Namgyal in the middle of the 17th century. The most important moment in the construction of such a figure is when the eyes are painted in and the statue can 'see'. No artist or monk would dare to look the Buddha in the eye so the pupils are painted over the artist's shoulder, with his back to the idol.
THIKSE GOMPA (17 km from Leh)
The 500-year-old Thikse monastery, perched on a hill high above the Indus, has the largest contingent of monks in Ladakh. On the right of the entrance to the main courtyard a new chapel houses an enormous 15 meter high seated Buddha figure. About 100 yellow-cap monks belong to the gompa. If you get there by 6:30am you can witness the daily morning prayers, but there are also prayers closer to noon, preceded by long, mournful sounds from the horns on the roof.
HEMIS GOMPA (45 km from Leh)
Hemis Gompa is famous far beyond the borders of Ladakh for its festival. This takes place every year with mask dances on the 9th to 11th day of the fifth Tibetan month. Hemis also has a gigantic thangka painting, one of the largest in the world, which is only displayed to the public every 12 years at the festival. Hemis Gompa is the largest, and one of the most important in Ladakh, quite apart from its annual festival. It was founded about 350 years ago by Stagtshang Raschen, who was invited to Ladakh by King Singe Namgyal.
DAY 10: DAY TRIP TO PANGONG TSO. Pangong Tso Lake is located in the Himalayan Mountain Range on the Indo-China Border. It is about 4,250 m (13,900 ft) in altitude and 134 km (83.3 m) long. One of the most interesting features of Pangong Tso is its ability to freeze in the winter even though it’s a salt water lake. The flora, or lack of, is very unique to Pangong Tso. According to credible reports, the lake is devoid of both micro-vegetation and aquatic life, such as fish and crustaceans. However, the lake is an important breeding ground for migratory birds, including the bar-headed geese and Brahmini ducks. Overnight at Hotel (B)
DAY 11: LEH TO DELHI. Transfer to airport and fly to Delhi; on arrival transfer to hotel in Delhi.
DAY 12: FLY HOME. Morning at your leisure; evening transfer to airport fly home.
LAND COST: on request
- All accomodations in Delhi, Amristar, Dharamsala, Keylong, and Leh with breakfast and dinner
- All monastery entrance fees and wildlife fees.
- Transportation from Delhi to Amtistar by train, Amristar to Dharamsala, Manali, and Leh by taxi.
What’s not included:
- Medical and evacuation insurance
- Miscellaneous expenses and tipping to the staff
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and lunch
- International Air ticket to and from Delhi.
- A single supplement.
- Laundry and other services not mentioned in the package. If you need any arrangement, please let us know.
© Yama Adventures, 2017.