Duration : 10 Nights/ 11 Days
Trip Highlights : Arrive lLh/ Stok and Leh/ Shey, Thiksey and Hemis/ Spitok - Phyang & Alchi/ Lamayuru & Likir/ drive to Nubra Valley/ Diskit & Samstalinka/ back to Leh
Price : On Request
As we know human body and the cosmos itself, is essentially made of 5 elements - space, air, fire, water and earth. Though we have 5 senses SIGHT . HEARING, SMELL, TASTE and TOUSH. 11th one is base of our thoughts called MAN ( MAN is not mind. we can co relate with CHITTA like the state of mind ). There is no world in English for MAN, though all of us know that ) Therefore 5 elements + 5 senses + 1 MAN complete the 11 direction. These combination make a human form which is only one to escape from this oasis and go back to main source of our existence. With yogic practice or cleansing of 11 directions we can move in to finest stage of our actual presence. Find the way with deeper meditation to achieve the supreme form of life called Buddha. Heavenly abode will quenches your thrust for being itself. Explore fascinating monasteries in Ladakh, calm vicinity and divine feeling at the roof top of the world.
Early morning departure from Delhi on the spectacular flight to Leh. You are met at the airport and transferred to the Ladakh Sarai. Rest of the day at leisure to acclimatize to the high altitude and rarefied air. overnight stay in Leh.
After breakfast visit Stok palace. The palace houses a fine private museum, which is open to the public when the Rani (queen) of Stok is in residence. There is a superb collection of thangkhas, said to be the best in the world. Some of them have been worked in pure gold and paints made of crushed semi-precious stones. Also of interest are antique robes and royal jewelry, specially noted for its turquoise and red coral. The collection also includes artillery and animal skins. Stok Gompa is a subsidiary of Spitok and both were founded by the same lama, Nawang Lotus, during the reign of King Takpa Bumlde. Stok belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism and currently has about 20 lamas living there. The oldest parts of the gompa are some 550 years old though the Dukhang or main assembly hall is only about 50 years old.
In the afternoon visit Leh, a fascinating labyrinth of winding streets and quaint bazaars. The main street is open and airy, with rows of shops on either side. On either side of the market are seen a long line of Ladakhi women in traditional dress and colourful jewelry of coral and turquoise, seated behind enormous baskets, selling vegetables. The spectacular eight-storey Leh Palace looming above, overlooking the town, was built in the 16th century, about the same time as the Potala in Lhasa which it resembles.
The stroll through the town is followed by a visit to Sankar gompa, about 2 km from the market. It has a number of pure gold icons and richly painted walls, its pictures depicting different stories, including some from the Panchtantra. overnight stay in Leh.
After breakfast explore some of Ladakh's ancient gompas. Shey Palace was built in 1645 by Deldan Namgyal as a summer residence for the kings of Ladakh. It is the oldest palace in Ladakh and above the palace is an even older ruined fortress. In 1655, in memory of his father, this same king built the two-storey Shey gompa adjacent to the palace. Hundreds of chortens of all shapes and sizes stand below the palace and gompa. These chortens demonstrate the interest taken in Shey by the Ladakhi kings and queens who succeeded Shey's original builder.
Located on the second storey of the gompa is a large Buddha statue made in 1655 by a Nepalese sculptor who was assisted by three Ladakhi craftsmen. The seated Buddha is 12 meters high and worked of copper sheets gilded with gold. This Buddha is the biggest metal statue in the region and was the largest Buddha statue of any type in Ladakh until Thiksey gompa installed a 15-meter tall Buddha made of clay in 1970. The castings of the statue were made in Leh while the statue's copper was collected in Zanskar and hammered into plates on big rocks. More than five kilos of gold were then used to plate the copper. The statue was built in parts in the Zanstil Palace (Zans means copper and til means to hammer) in Leh and then transported to Shey where it was assembled and installed. Sacrificial offerings such as grain or jewels, holy signs and mantras are contained inside the figure. In front of the Buddha is a large bowl of wax with a central flame that burns for one year before being replaced. This flame represents divinity and purity and is present in front of all Buddha statues in Ladakh.
Thiksey Gompa is the most picturesquely situated monastery in Ladakh, perched high on a hill above the Indus. Its buildings are arranged at various levels, leading up to the private apartments of the incarnate lamas on the summit. From here one commands a magnificent view of the valley. The gompa possesses a rich and beautiful collection of hundreds of hand-written or painted prayer books. A new temple contains a 15-meter tall Buddha statue, constructed in 1970 to commemorate a visit to Thiksey by the Dalai Lama. The statue, made of clay and covered with gold paint, is the largest Buddha figure in Ladakh and took four years to construct. Inside, the statue is filled with the Kandshur and the Tandshur - volumes of Buddhist canonical texts. The statue was made entirely by local craftsmen and represents Maitreya, ("compassion" in Sanskrit) the Buddha of the Future. The prophecy made of the Future Buddha is that the world will be undergoing such chaos that He will teach compassion to the people.
Hemis Gompa is one of the most important in Ladakh, the largest and also the wealthiest. It was built in 1620 by the king-architect Singe Namgyal, a great patron of Buddhism. He filled Hemis with golden statues, stupas set with precious stones and thangkhas brought from many places, including Tibet. The lamas of Hemis were associated with the Ladakhi royal family and became quite prosperous, owning much land and supervising many smaller, scattered monasteries. Although only about a dozen lamas actually live here, Hemis has several hundred lamas attached to its subsidiary monasteries. The Rimpoche or spiritual head of Hemis is a reincarnation of the monastery's founder Stagtshang Raspa. The last Rimpoche was a reincarnation who, as a five-year old child, was being taught in Tibet when the Chinese invaded. There has been no communication with the Rimpoche since the 1960s. During the 1975 festival, Drugpa Rimpoche, a 12-year old youth, became the new Rimpoche as a new incarnation.
Hemis is the location for numerous religious festivals throughout the year, although the most important one is in summer (July 4 and 5 this year) when a huge thangkha, one of the largest in the world, is hung in the courtyard. It takes about 50 monks to carry the thangkha to its place and unfold it. The thangkha is made of fine heavy silk and embroidered with pictures of various gods as well as of the founder of Hemis. The dances in front of this thangkha represent the forces of good, symbolized by legendary heroes and saints, overcoming demons. Eventually, the violence of the demons is overcome by the superiority of virtue resting on wisdom and the demons are driven from the courtyard. Spectators watch these dances from the upper storey verandahs around the courtyard.
Hemis also has a thangkha, reputed to be the largest in the world, that is displayed once every eleven years. It was last shown in July 1992. The hands of the artist who painted this thangkha are preserved at Hemis as holy relics, though they are not shown to the public. overnight stay in Leh.
After breakfast visit Spitok Gompa. It built about 550 years ago by Gyalpo Bumlde, although one temple, dedicated to Mahakala was built about 900 years ago. Spitok gompa contains both old temples and those built in the 1970s. Ancient thangkas are preserved here, some having been taken from the Potala Palace and Lhasa after the Chinese invaded. The name Spitok is probably derived from the Central Tibetan language and means "Effective as an Example", referring to the fact that this was the Tibetans' first monastery in Ladakh. The head lama of Spitok is the head Lama for Ladakh and represents Ladakh as a member of Parliament, spending much of his time in Delhi. About 125 yellow-hat sect lamas are considered Spitok lamas, but at least half of them live and pray at Spitok's dependent monasteries at Sankar, Stok and Sabu. All the lamas gather together for a major festival.
Continue on to Phyang Gompa. It is also known in Ladakhi as the Gouon Gompa, meaning "blue peak", for it is beautifully situated on a hilltop above the small village of Chhiwang, about 22 km west of Leh. The monastery was built by King Lkra-Shis-Namgyal, founder of the Namgyal dynasty, in 1500 after defeating the last of the Lha-Chen kings. He ruled from 1500 to 1532 and during his reign, filled the monastery with beautiful statues, thangkhas and copies of the Khandshur (the translated word of the Buddha) and the Thandshur (the 225-volume commentary on the Khandshur, compiled by the religious teacher Du-ston, 1290 to 1364 AD). These extremely valuable texts are still at Phyang gompa. Phyang is a monastery of the red-hat sect of Buddhism with over 100 lamas. The head lama studied Buddhist philosophy at a university near Lhasa for eight years and had much of the gompa renovated in 1975. The walls of the Dukhang are decorated with murals of Vajradhara (a Buddha manifestation), the Five Buddhas (Vairocana and the Supreme Buddhas of the Four Directions) and small paintings of the Thousand Buddhas in the background. Hanging on the columns on the right side of the Dukhang is an enormous rolled-up thangkha. This thangkha, embroidered with depiction of all the guardian divinities, is unfurled during the Phyang festival, usually in August, and is four stories high when completely unrolled.
Alchi Gompa : is located near the small village of Saspol. approx 65 kms west of Leh by following Leh - Kargil highway. En route you can explore the beautiful view of river Indus and Zanskar confluence.
Alchi one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. Because it was constructed before the invading wars begun in the 15th century, Alchi was built on lowlands, rather than on a hilltop as other gompas were, to protect them from marauding armies.
The gompa at Alchi was erected by Rin-chen-Izghimpo, one of the first Ladakhi kings to engage in foreign relations. To build the monastery, the Ladakhi king signed a treaty with the Gyalpo (king) of Tibet, who agreed to provide the artisans.
The rambling monastery has six main buildings the Dukhang or main assembly hall, the Sum-tsek or three-tiered temple; the adjoining Manjusri Lha-khang and Lotsawa Lha-Khang temples; the Lha-khang Soma and the Kanjur-Lha-khang.
Walking towards the gompa from the small group of houses nearby, the first temple of importance is the Sum-stek, the oldest of the Alchi gompa. The temple is surrounded by wooden pillars and carved woodwork of mythological animals. The middle arch portrays a seated Buddha with the Green Tara (the Saviouress) to the right and Vajrasattava, a Bodhisattva, to the left. Overnight stay at Alchi.
After leisurely breakfast Drive further west of reach at Lamayuru monastery. approx 65 Kms drive will take you to this beautiful monastery and beautiful landscape. Lamayuru Gompa : lies 15 km east of the Fatu La on the Srinagar-Leh Highway, with its medieval village seemingly growing out of the rocky hillside below it. In the past, Lamayuru has housed up to 400 lamas, but presently there are only 30 to 50 lamas living here, although about 150 lamas belong to the gompa. The other lamas stay and teach at Lamayuru's smaller daughter gompas located in outlying villages.
Twice a year, all the lamas gather at the gompa for general prayers which are accompanied by three days of masked dancing. These gatherings occur in the second and fifth months of the Tibetan calendar (usually March and July). Lamayuru belongs to the red-hat sect of Buddhism.
Ancient legends say that at the time of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha), Lamayuru's valley was a clear lake where nagas (holy serpents) lived. The Bodhisattva Madhyantaka foretold that the lake would be emptied and a monastery built there. The legends continue by saying that Naropa, an 11th century Indian Buddhist scholar, came to Lamayuru and spent many years meditating in a cave, which can still be seen in the main Dukhang. Naropa then caused a split in the surrounding hillside and the lake emptied through this opening. After the lake emptied, Naropa found a dead lion previously covered by the waters of the lake. On this spot, Naropa built the first temple at Lamayuru, the Singhe Ghang (Lion Mound). Other historical accounts relate that in the 10th century the King of Ladakh ordered the building of Lamayuru gompa and placed it under the supervision of Rinchen Zangbo.
After Puja ceremony drive back to Leh. En route visit Likir monastery.
Likir Gompa : is set on an isolated ridge a few kilometers north of Saspol. The road approaching the gompa makes a wide semi-circle around its base, affording beautiful views of the gompa from different vantage points. Likir was established around the 15th century and early in its history, became responsible for the oversight of Alchi gompa, to which it has posted lamas up to the present day. Likir belongs to the yellow-hat sect and currently houses about 120 lamas.
It The gompa school has about 30 pupils who learn three languages besides Ladakhi: Hindi and English, as these are the national languages of India, and Tibetan for religious purposes. The pupils, some of whom will be selected as lamas, live part of the time in the monastery and part of the time with their parents. Likir's head lama, a younger brother of the Dalai Lama, has married (against the rule of the sect) and is permanently absent from the gompa. Drive back to Leh and overnight stay.
After breakfast drive to Nubra valley located in the north of Leh town. Arrive at Khardungla pass which is the highest motorable pass in the world. Descend from here and arrive at Nubra valley. Check in at your hotel / Camp in Nubra and late explore Hunder sand dunes famous for two humph camel ride. Overnight at Nubra.
You have a relax day to explore this beautiful valley and across the river Shyoak. The Nubra Valley lies north of Leh and is accessible over the Khardung la (18,500 feet/5,600 m), one of the highest motorable roads in the world. The Valley was on the caravan route from Leh to Kashgar via the Sasir and Karakoram passes. Apart from unparrelled trekking opportunities, the valley houses several Buddhist monasteries such as Sumur and the 350 year-old Diskit gompa, famous for its murals.
Diskit monastery to witness the morning prayer ceremony. It takes about 45 minutes through a long row of scattered chortens to reach the gompa which is set on the highest point near the village. Belonging to the Gelugpa (yellow hat) sect, parts of the gompa, which houses 120 resident monks, are about 760 years old. The Dukhang has many statues, one of which holds the head and left arm of a Turkish invader believed to be 500 years old.
Diskit MonasteryHundar gompa. This is a small gompa belonging to the Gelug-pa sect, set amidst innumerable chortens and has a huge impressive statue of Chamba in the main prayer hall. The gompa was built at the time King Jamgyal Namgyal came here with his wife Gyal Khatun. Explore the village which has some beautiful old houses.
Drive down towards the Shyok river across an extremely rough and rocky stretch of flat ground. Cross the river over a bridge and arrive at the first village of Tirith. The road from here is extremely bad all the way up to Panamik. The scenery however, is spectacular, with the snow capped Karakoram mountains in the background. The weather being much warmer in Nubra in comparison to the Indus valley, the vegetation is thicker, with a variety of trees and flowers. Nubra is also known for its two humped Bactrian camel which is found in these parts. The camels are left to graze in the jungle during the summer months and are brought back only during the winter months when they are used as beasts of burden and for their wool.
Visit the 150 years old Samsthanling gompa at Sumur. It is a big complex of 7 temples including the Rimpoche's room. Walk half an hour from the gompa to Tegar village where there is another small gompa. Walk through the village and explore its beautiful surroundings near the jungle and a small lake. Overnight in Hotel / camp.
After leisurely breakfast drive back to Leh.
After breakfast drive east of Leh to reach at Pangong Lake. One the beautiful high altitude lake in India - Tibet Border. Approx 150 Kms drive will take to this place. En route stop at Stakna monastery on the way and few kms away from Leh town. Further drive will take you to another Gompa called TakTak.
Tak Thok Gompa : is situated some ten kilometers further up from Chemre in the Chemre Valley. The Rimpoche or head lama of Tak Thok is from Tibet and is highly respected by Ladakhis. The gompa houses about 55 lamas of the Nying-ma-pa sect of Buddhism, also known as the "Old Order". Members of this sect are followers of Padme Sambhava's teachings and Tak Thok is the only gompa in Ladakh that follows this order. The name Tak Thok in Ladakhi means "Rock Roof" and refers to the cave chapel found in this unusual gompa. Entering the main courtyard, one is immediately struck by the rock outcroppings that surround the gompa. Indeed, the wooden front of the chapel is only a front for the cave behind it and most of the gompa consists of rooms hollowed out of the stone cliff either by nature or man. The cave chapel is to the left as one enters the central courtyard. A small anteroom to the cave chapel has been recently painted with the Guardian Divinities of the Four Directions. In the front of the cave chapel are images of Padme Sambhava and Avalokitesvara (analogous to the Hindu god Shiva and easily recognizable by his eleven heads and 1,000 arms). Behind this image is a small locked door leading to the small cave where Padme Sambhava is supposed to have lived and meditated for three years. This cave is not open to the public. The low roof of the chapel is the stone of the cliff.
Drive further to reach at Pangong lake by crossing Changla pass. Check in at your Hotel / camp at Pangong Tso Lake and enjoy the beautiful evening at this place. overnight stay.
After leisurely breakfast drive back to Leh. Afternoon free for your own activities and last minute shopping at Leh market. overnight stay in Leh.
Transfer to the airport for the return flight to Delhi.