August 27th till September 14th, 2011
A UNIQUE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE. AN ULTIMATE HIGH FOR ANY DISCERNING TRAVELLER.
“This is one journey that must be undertaken at least once in a lifetime by any discerning traveller” words of many widely travelled people after having visited these awe – inspiring parts of the Indian Himalayas.
In this remarkable journey you will walk on the most inspiring mountain trails, drive over some of highest roads and bridges, visit the remotest wildlife reserves, witness age old temples, exquisite villages, traditional architecture and tribal lifestyles. For the solitude seeker there cannot be a better place than here to experience the sounds of silence, the pristine glory of nature. This is surely the ultimate high for any discerning traveller.
Route: Shimla – Sarahan – Sangla – Kalpa – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Kunzum La – Rohtang La – Manali – Kullu – Taragarh – Dharamsala – Amritsar.
Day 1, Aug 27, 2011: Arrival in Delhi. B
You arrive in New Delhi. Meet and greet and transfer to hotel.
Delhi is the Capital of India. It is a multicultural and historical hub, having over 2500 historical monuments of which we will visit a few that are most important.
Day 2, Aug 28, 2011: Delhi. BD
Morning rest. After breakfast meet with your escort for tour briefing. Afternoon tour of Old & New Delhi including a rickshaw ride through old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk bazaar. Welcome dinner at a speciality Indian Restaurant.
Day 3, Aug 29, 2011: Delhi – Chandigarh – Shimla. BD
Early morning transfer to New Delhi Train Station to board Shatabdi Express to Chandigarh. ETD 0740/ ETA 1110. Drive onward to Shimla. We’ll stop for lunch. Arrive in Shimla late afternoon. Evening free to roam on the Mall. Explore its wonderful colonial past of this Queen of hill stations.
Day 4, Aug 30, 2011: Shimla-Sarahan (174 km/7 hrs) BD
After an early breakfast. Drive to the Jhaku (Hanuman)Temple. It is a short 15 min climb uphill on well laid out steps from the parking to the temple.
Drive onward to Sarahan, a beautiful village surrounded by apple orchards and dominated by Shrikhand Mahadev Peak (16908 Ft) which resembles the “Shivling.” Visit the Bhimakali Temple, a wonderful mixture of Buddhist and Hindu architecture, sacred to both communities. The Bhimakali goddess idol is approximately 200 years old. Lunch enroute.
Day 5, Aug 31, 2011: Sarahan – Sangla – Chitkul (120 Km / 5 hrs / 12500 ft) BLD
Sangla Valley, also known as Baspa Valley, is by far the most beautiful valley of Himachal Pradesh full of wooded slopes surrounded by green, orange, yellow and pink fields and high snow covered mountain peaks as far as Chitkul, the last inhabited village in this valley. Our hotel overlooks the magnificent Nagasti peaks on one side and the thick birch forest of the Chitkul wildlife sanctuary for the elusive Musk Deer and Brown Bears. The valley abounds with alpine flowers and birds.
Day 6, Sep 01, 2011: Sangla – Kalpa (40 km / 2 hrs / 9500ft) BLD
Drive to Kalpa. It is the headquarter of Kinnaur. It boasts of the best view that one can have of the mighty Kinner Kailash Range of the Greater Himalaya. Rising from its base till the top 19848ft of sheer rock. Enroute visit Rakcham and Kamru villages in Sangla Valley. Arrive in time for lunch at your hotel Kinner Villa. Afternoon walk the Old Hindustan Tibet Road to Roghi Village, considered one among the top ten mountain walks in the entire world. Overnight at the beautiful Kinner Villa.
Day 7, Sep 02, 2011: Kalpa.BLD
Full day reserved for walking to the ancient and exquisite villages Chini, Peo, Kothi, Pangi and Telangi. Overnight at Kinner Villa.
Day 8, Sep 03, 2011: Kalpa – Nako (102 km / 7 hrs / 12250 ft). BLD
Visit Nako subject to road connectivity or else we drive from Kalpa direct to Tabo. The village of Nako lies at an altitude of 11890 Ft, high above the vast stretch of Spiti Valley. It was once a very important centre of Buddhism in the region. There are seven temples belonging to different periods of Buddhism between 11th and 12th centuries distributed all over the village, including a monastic complex on its western edge. Boasting four temples and a number of additional buildings, this complex preserves the earliest artistic heritage. The austere and unornamented exteriors of the buildings give little hint of its important artistic and spiritual legacy that lies within these walls.
Day 9, Sep 04, 2011: Nako – Tabo (70 km / 4 hrs). BLD
Today you enter Spiti Valley. Geographically and archeologically, Spiti is a living museum. The mountains are devoid of any vegetation due to erosion by wind, sun and snow over thousands of years.
Our vehicles climb up to the village Tabo (10000 Ft.). Built in the year 996 ACE. HH The Dalai Lama performed a Kalachakra, being closest ever to Tibet here in 1996. The Chos Khor Monastery at Tabo is the largest monastery in Spiti and one of the few remaining examples of the Golden Period of Buddhist Culture in the Himalayan Region. The wall frescos of the monastery are comparable in their antiquity and quality to those of the World Heritage Site of the Ajanta Caves. Tabo is thus aptly called ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’. It houses more than 100 Lamas, a large number of scriptures and pieces of art, wall paintings, tankhas and stucco. We reach Tabo for lunch. Afternoon and evening we visit its Monastery and village.
Day 10, Sep 05, 2011: Tabo-Lhalung-Dankar-Tabo. (74 km/8 hrs). BLD
Rise early join the monks in their morning Puja (prayer) ceremony at Tabo monastery (5 min walk through the village).
Afterwards we drive to Lhalung which is 14 km from the main road in Lingthi Valley. A magnificent village of just 45 houses. In this village stands the second most interesting monastery of Spiti. The compound consists of five buildings. Together with the unusually rich interior of Lhalung’s main chapel and the fact that the building of the temples is attributed to Rinchen Zangpo, suggests that the temple site of Lhalung, like Tabo, was designed as a Chokhor site, a place for learning and debate as opposed to a simple chapel for worship by the local people.
We drive onward to Dhankar, the ancient capital of Spiti. Dankar Gompa (12500 ft) was built in the 12th century. This hill top fort dominates the scene in Spiti Valley. It contains more than 160 scriptures of Lamas and Buddhists in Bhoti language. A statue of Dhyan Buddha consisting of four complete figures seated back to back is the main attraction of this four – five centuries old monastery. This monastery celebrated a millennium in 2004 with HH the Dalai Lama.
Day 11, Sep 06, 2011: Tabo – Mane-Pin – Kaza (70 km / 6 hrs). BLD
Today we visit the hidden but among the most beautiful villages and its monastery at Mane. The views from here are breathtaking. We then drive onward to Pin Valley and its National Park. Land of the Snow Leopard and its prey the Ibex and also the wonderful Golden Eagle. But the main reason should be its geology. It is a geologist paradise, every conceivable mountain fault is not only found here but one can actually touch and feel them. Afternoon free to explore this valley. Picnic lunch. Late afternoon drive to the current capital and once the commercial head quarter of the traditional silk route ‘ KAZA’
Day 12, Sep 07, 2011: Kaza-Ki-Kibber-Gete-Kaza (70 km / 4hrs). BLD
Today is the day for the highest. The first highest road connected village in Asia Kibber, the highest vehicle fuel outlet in the world at Kaza, the highest oldest monastery that houses the oldest and largest collection of Tankha paintings in the world ‘KI’.
Day 13, Sep 08, 2011: Kaza-Kunzum Pass (14931 Ft) -Rohtang Pass (13051 Ft)-Manali. (200 km / 10 hrs).BLD
Drive over the famous Kunzum Pass, enroute visit Lahaul Valley, aptly called the no man’s land, it is dominated by glaciers and rocky mountains cut across by the Chandra river. We pass by the largest glacier in Himachal Pradesh the Bar Shingri Glacier 25kms long and 3 kms wide. Today the drive offers awesome views.
Day 14, Sep 09, 2011: Manali. BD
Rise up at leisure. Easy day of strolling around the picturesque valley of the Gods, Manali and Naggar. Visit Dhungri Temple (also known as Hadimba Temple by locals)and the quaint village Nagar with its many ancient temples including the 11th-12th century Temple Gauri and the Tripura Sundri Devi Temple.
Day 15, Sep 10, 2011: Manali-Kullu-Bir-Baijnath-Taragarh (180 km / 7 hrs). BD
Drive through Kullu to Kangra, valley of Temples. We visit the most ancient and oldest existing Shiva temples at Baijnath. Overnight at the Taragarh Palace.
Day 16, Sep 11, 2011: Taragarh. BD
A spectacular location with the Dhauladhars towering behind with its peaks between 9500Ft – 16000 Ft which are clearly visible from here. Baijnath (5 Km) is a pleasant little town surrounded by tea plantations. It houses one of the oldest existing Shiva temple. Just below the village is the Tashijong Gompa which is the focus of a small Tibetan community who hail from Kham province in Tibet. We will then visit the Sherab Ling monastery for the Grammy winning monks who got their award for chanting in 2003 ‘ Winner for Best Traditional World Music Album’. Sherab Ling Monastery nestles in the gentle pine-forested foothills of northern India’s Kangra Valley, the seat of its founder His Eminence Ti Situpa XII, a leading Tibetan Buddhist teacher and peace campaigner.
Here the monks perform mesmerising prayer ceremonies, as part of their daily lives, originating many centuries ago in the great Buddhists monasteries of Tibet. The monks begin their day with the Lineage Prayer, offering respect to a line of great meditation practitioners going back as far as the 7th century. The Mahakala Ceremony is part of each day’s closing ritual in which the monks ask for purification and dedicate their blessings to all sentient creatures. Return to the Taragarh Palace for the overnight.
Day 17, Sep 12, 2011: Taragarh- Norbulingka-Dharamsala (McLeod Ganj) 40 km / 3 hrs.BD
On way to Dharamsala, the official residence to HH The Dalai Lama and seat of the Tibetan Government in exile we will visit the institute of Tibetan Arts and Handicrafts Norbulinka. Upon arrival, we visit the center of Tibetan Medicine and Astrology, the Tibetan Govt Secretariat. Evening you are free to explore the Tibetan Markets.
Day 18, Sep 13, 2011: Dharamsala-Amritsar (175 km/5 hrs) BD
Independent morning walk to Dalai Lama’s monastery to attend monks puja; afterwards (parikrama) circum ambulate the monastery complex along with the locals. Return to hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, drive to Amritsar. After lunch we visit the Golden Temple the sanctum sanctorum of the Sikhs. We will circum ambulate the temple, stopping periodically for moments of quiet reflection. The temple is like a small community filled with many different activities. We will visit the community kitchen where free meals ‘Langar’ are prepared by volunteers thr