Ladakh & Kashmir Cultural Tour

  • Duration
    16 Days
  • Region
  • Category
  • Best Time
    • June - September


Tour Grade : Easy

Ladakh, is a stark lunar landscaped land of a high altitude and a cold desert inhabited by Buddhist people following the Lama form of Mahayana Buddhism. Living under the shadows of the surrounding snow covered mountains of both the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges and praying at their monasteries perched on-top of hills, trying to reach out to the gods. With prayer wheels in their hands rotating the prayers in the wind “Om Mani Padme Hum” describing the God Buddha as a jewel sitting in a lotus flower.

Following the Indus River drive west towards the Suru River Valley at the quaint town of Kargil and then further, over the Zoji La pass dropping down into the Kashmir Valley. From here the inhabitants follow the religion of Shia Islam and have much affinity to the people of Baltistan located in the Karakorams. The Suru River Valley is slightly greener as compared to the stark Indus River Valley of Ladakh. While, Kashmir itself is lush green with gurgling streams, vast alpine meadows and snowy peaks surrounding on all sides.

In the middle of the lush and verdant Kashmir Valley lies the beautiful city of Srinagar which was first established by Emperor Ashoka some 2,300 years ago. But it came in to lime light during the time of Mughal rulers. Moghul emperor Babur longed for the clear streams and cool mountains of the Hindu Kush. However it was his grandson Emperor Akbar, who was first to make Kashmir as a jewel in his crown and his son Jahingir, who planted the Chinaar trees and pleasure gardens on the banks of the alpine lakes of the Dal and Nagin lakes, located on the banks of the Jhelum River, surrounded by mountains. Kashmir has been called a paradise on Earth and is a place that can still be enjoyed even today for it’s natural beauty and very rich culture.

Destinations Covered

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Day 1 Arrive Delhi


    After clearing Customs and Immigration, step into the receiving area, where our representative will meet you and escort you to the hotel.

    On arrival, check into the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (No Meals)

  2. Day 2 Delhi


    Delhi is a dynamic city where the past coexists with the present. While historic evidence shows that the area around Delhi was first occupied around 2,500 years ago, Hindu mythology predates that by another 500 years. The British captured the city in 1803 and when they decided to make it the capital of India in 1911, they commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to draw up the plans. The result is slightly surprising with spacious tree-lined avenues punctuated with architecture which is among the most striking in the world.

    On the tour of “Old Delhi,” you will head out to explore this exotic locale with its narrow dirt roads, myriads of people and inexpensive and colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has always been famous.

    Drive past Red Fort and visit the Jama Masjid, one of the largest Muslim mosques in India. A bicycle rickshaw will take you into the heart of Chandni Chowk (the silver square - so named because of the silver merchants).

    Drive past India Gate, a 42-metre archway built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War and Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy. Today, it is the official residence of the President of India.

    Thereafter, visit the most prominent Sikh Gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship, in Delhi. It was originally a bungalow belonging to Raja Jai Singh, a 17th century Indian ruler. It is open to people of all faiths, castes or creeds. The premises house a sacred pond in which devotees bathe. They believe that this would wash off their misdeeds and thus allow them to attain peace of mind. The 'Langars' or the community kitchen proves to be the ideal example of prodigious hospitality of the Sikhs. Anyone and everyone can have scrumptious meal irrespective of caste, color or class.

    Conclude the day by visiting the Delhi's most striking monument, The Qutub Minar, which looms majestically across the wide plains of Delhi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was constructed in 1192 by Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak. Built in red sandstone and marble, it has a height of 72.5 meters (237.8 ft) and contains 379 stairs. A Soaring conical tower, it is an exquisite example of Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture and is the tallest minaret in India.

    Overnight at hotel (B)

  3. Day 3 Fly Delhi – Leh

    Leh Ladakh

    Early morning departure from Delhi airport on the spectacular flight to Leh.

    Depart Delhi 08:00 Hrs. GoAir Airlines # G8-225
    Arrive Leh 09:30 Hrs.  

    You arrive at Leh airport, step into the receiving area where you will be met by our representative, and transferred to the hotel.

    Rest of the day at leisure for acclimatization to the high altitude and rarefied air.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  4. Day 4 Leh

    Leh Ladakh

    Drive to Namgyal Monestary and then to Leh Palace. From Palace walk through the Old town of Leh visit Leh market, 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 colorful Jewelry of coral and turquoise, seated behind enormous baskets, selling vegetables.

    Return to the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  5. Day 5 Leh – Matho – Hemis – Thiksey – Leh

    Leh Ladakh

    After breakfast explore some of Ladakh's ancient Monasteries. A picnic lunch is provided.

    Sightseeing in the Indus Valley: Today we plan to take you to see some of the largest monasteries and palaces in the Indus valley.

    Matho Monastery on the picturesque Indus Valley, Matho Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery built under the Saskya Monastic Establishment. It was constructed around 500 years ago. It was established by Lama Dugpa Dorje in 1410, who belongs to Sakya order. It houses a marvelous collection of ancient Thangas and known for its Matho Nagrang Festival. It is an annual festival which takes place in the first half of March. It is a nice place where you can understand Buddhist teachings and philosophies.

    Hemis Monasteries has several hundred lamas attached to its subsidiary monasteries. Hemis is the location for numerous religious festivals throughout the year, although the most important one is in summer 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. Spectators watch these dances from the upper storey verandas around the courtyard.

    Thiksey Monasteries is the most picturesquely situated monastery in Ladakh, perched high on a hill above the Indus. From here one commands a magnificent view of the valley. The Monasteries possesses a rich and beautiful collection of hundreds of hand-written or painted prayer books. Hemis Monasteries 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 (painting) brought from many places, including Tibet.

    Return to the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  6. Day 6 Drive Leh | Khardung La Pass | Nubra Valley (Approx. 75 miles | 120 Kms | 4 – 5 Hours Drives)


    Morning departs to Nubra. The Nubra Valley lies north of Leh and is accessible over the Khardung la (18,380 feet/5,600 m), one of the highest motorable roads in the world. The Nubra Valley was on the caravan route from Leh to Kashgar via the Sasir and Karakoram passes.

    Apart from unparalleled trekking opportunities, the valley houses several Buddhist monasteries such as Sumur and the 350 year-old Diskit Gompa, famous for its murals.

    Hundar is a beautiful village to stay with lot of trees and you will really enjoy your stay at Hundar. It has a small monastery and ruined fort above the village.

    Upon arrival we proceed to Hotel/Camps.

    Overnight at hotel/camp (B, L, D)

  7. Day 7 Hunder | Diskit | Samsthaling | Hundar


    Today, we drive to Diskit Monastery, drive to monastery passes through a long row of scattered chortens to reach the gompa (Monastery), 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 is the main village or headquarters of Nubra Valley, which has small market consisting of a row of shops and about 500 years old Gompa on the hilltop.

    Thereafter, drive up to visit Hundar Monastery. 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.

    Overnight at hotel/camp (B, L, D)

  8. Day 8 Drive Nubra (Hundar) To Leh (Approx. 75 miles | 120 Kms | 4 – 5 Hours Drives)

    Leh Ladakh

    After an early breakfast we check out from the Hotel/Camp we drive back to Leh in the late afternoon via Khardungla Top.

    On arrival at Leh you will check in to your Hotel.

    In the afternoon you can rest and relax. In the evening you can stroll around the market place.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  9. Day 9 Drive To Alchi, Enroute Visit To Basgo & Likir (Approx. 47 miles | 75 Kms | 4 – 5 Hours Drives)


    After breakfast drive up the Indus valley the journey downstream is a fascinating experience as you pass between amazing rock formations and granite outcrops interspersed with open stretches of cultivated land. An occasional Monastery dots the landscape with the ever present mountains, stark and awe inspiring, looming above.

    En-route stop to take photo of Basgo is the seat of power of a branch of the Namgyal family. It is here in 1680 a.d. that invading Mongol and Tibetan armies were held in check over a three year long seige.

    Original 16th century murals and other arts of Basgo are well worth a visit.

    Thereafter, continue drive to the most interesting event of the day would be to explore the Likir Monastery also called the Klu-Kjil or ‘water spirits.

    Then we drive and cross the river Indus and reach Alchi, Ladakh’s most loved monastery.

    Alchi Gompa is located near the small village of Saspol. It is one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. Because it was built before the invading wars began in the 15th century, Alchi was built on lowlands, rather than on a hilltop as others were, in order to protect them from marauding armies. It was erected by King 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 or "New" temple and the Kanjur-Lha-khang, which is closed to the public.

    Walking towards the gompa from the small group of houses nearby, the first temple of importance is the Sum-stek temple, the oldest of the Alchi gompa. The temple is surrounded by wooden pillars and carved woodwork of mythological animals. The woodwork is original and reflects Kashmiri influence.

    After visiting Alchi check-in into the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  10. Day 10 Alchi | Rizong | Alchi


    In the morning, survey the gorgeous site of Rizong Gompa which encompasses a number of Colorful shrines spread across the valley in an amphitheater formation.

    Return to the hotel. Afternoon at leisure.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  11. Day 11 Alchi | Lamayuru | Kargil (Approx. 99 miles | 159 Kms | 5 Hours Drives)


    Today, 40 kms further drive down to Lamayuru Monastery, founded by Rinchen Zangpo is situated in Ladakh, in between Bodhkharbu and Kha-la-che, on a steep rock mountain.

    The Lamayuru whose monastery dates back to the eleventh century and was founded by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa and belongs to the red cape sect, this monastery is home to more than 150 monks and houses a rich collection of objects, paintings, thangkas, statues, carpets and an impressive image of 11 heads and 1000 eyes depicting the image of Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion who in his present reincarnation is the present Dalai Lama.

    This remote monastery is a favorite among photographers and travelers. Thereafter continue drive to Kargil.

    Kagil - The Township lies along the valley system formed by the confluence of the Suru River and its tributary, Wakha-chu. Located ideally along the ancient trade route, Kargil was an important trade and transit center in the days of the former times.

    Arrive Kargil and check-in to the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  12. Day 12 Kargil | Sonamarg | Srinagar (Approx. 140 miles | 224 Kms | 7 – 8 Hours Drives)


    Drive to Srinagar via Drass, which is noted for its heavy snowfalls and extreme cold. Drass 10,600 ft. west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar, are small townships lying in the centre of a valley of the same name. It has become famous as the second coldest inhabited place in the world by virtue of the intense cold that descends upon the valley along with repeated snowfall during winter. Winter temperature is sometimes known to plummet to below freezing levels.

    During the spring and summer, however the valley around the township becomes very picturesque as the gently undulating hillsides turn into lush green pastures are splashed with a variety of fragrant wild flowers. Its inhabitants are mainly of Darad stock, an Aryan race believed to have originally migrated to the high valleys of the western Himalayas from the Central Asian steppes. They speak Shina which, unlike the Tibetan-originated Ladakhi dialects spoken elsewhere in Ladakh region, belong to the Indo-European linguistic family. Their ancestral sport, Horse Polo, which the Darads play with particular zeal, resembles our modern polo.

    After Zoji-la pass we'll drive thru Sonamarg, the gold valley, past winding roads into Srinagar.

    Kashmir This beautiful city was established by Emperor Ashoka some 2300 years ago came it into lime light during the time of Mughal rulers.

    Moghul emperor Babur longed for the clear streams and cool mountains of the Hindu Kush, plus, it should be added, the famously beautiful dancing girls. However it was his son, Emperor Akbar, that was first to conquer the state in 1588, and his son, Jahingir that planted the china tress and pleasure gardens that can still be enjoyed today. The lands were then inherited by the Sikhs; lost to the British as part of the reparations for the first Sikh War, who duly handed them over to their Rajput ally, Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu. Hence a Hindu became ruler of a majority Muslim state.

    Arrive Srinagar check-in to the houseboat. Late afternoon Shikara ride on Nagin Lake.

    Overnight at houseboat (B, L, D)

  13. Day 13 Srinagar


    Early morning visit to vegetable market in Dal Lake by Shikara boat, this is a unique experience to watch the vegetable growers of Dal lake to sell or barter their vegetable produce which they take to different markets in Srinagar.

    After visit to vegetable wholesale market we will return to our Houseboats for breakfast.

    Thereafter we visit old Srinagar to see the heritage of Kashmir including Jamia Majid (Great Mosque of Srinagar) It is situated at the place called Nowhatta in the middle of the Old City, this grand Mosque was built by Sultan Sikandar Shah Kashmiri Shahmiri in 1394, under the order of Mir Mohammad Hamadani, son of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani RA.

    After Jamia Masjid we visit Khanqah of Shah Hamdan It is also located in the old city of Srinagar on the eastern bank of the river Jhelum between the Fateh Kadal and Zaina Kadal bridges first built in 1395 AD, it is the oldest mosques in the Kashmir Valley, It is one of the best examples of Kashmiri wooden architecture, decorated with papier Mache.

    After the visit to Khanqah of Shah Hamdan we visit Budshah Tomb also known as the Tomb of Sultan Zainul Abidin, this tomb is the final resting place of the mother of Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin (1420 AD to 1470 AD).

    Later we visit spice market of Gad Kocha of Zaina Kadal.

    In the afternoon we go for sightseeing of Mughal Gardens, visiting Nishat Bagh (Abode of pleasure) Built by Asif Khan Brother-in-law of Emperor Jahangir in 1632 AD and Shalimar Bagh (Abode of love) build by Emperor Jahangir in 1416 on the banks of famous Dal Lake with the Zabarwan Mountain in the background, We also visit the oldest Buddhist monument at HARWAN where 4th Buddhist conference was held during the great king Kanshika.

    We also visit BURZUHAMA the ancient site of Neolithic age and pit dwellings time in Kashmir.

    Overnight at hotel/houseboat (B, L, D)

  14. Day 14 Srinagar | Gulmarg (Approx. 41 miles | 65 Kms | 2 Hours Drives)


    After breakfast, drive to Gulmarg (Meadow of Flowers) 2730 Mts. above sea level. The distance of 65 Kms will be covered in approx. 2 hrs. Gulmarg has one of the best Ski slopes in the world and the highest golf course of the world with 18 holes.

    You can also have the view of Nanga Parbhat Peak (if weather permits). You can enjoy Cable car Ride called (Gondola Ride) for Per Panchal mountain ride.

    You can also have a short trek up to Khilangmarg which can be covered in about 3 to 4 hrs.

    In the Evening have bridle walks and feed your cameras with the picture of magnificent views of the mountains.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  15. Day 15 Gulmarg | Srinagar (Approx. 41 miles | 65 Kms | 2 Hours Drives) & Fly To Delhi


    After breakfast check-out from the hotel and drive to Srinagar airport to board the flight for Delhi.

    Depart Srinagar 15:15 Hrs. Indigo Airlines # 6E-559
    Arrive Delhi 16:50 Hrs.  

    Arrival Delhi airport, our representative will meet & assist you to transferred to the hotel.

    The flight back over the Himalaya in the evening in Delhi is free to rest, relax and reflect.

    Overnight at hotel (B)

  16. Day 16 Fly Delhi & Departure


    On time, check-out from the hotel and drive to Delhi International airport to board your flight for you’re onwards destination.


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