Ladakh with Hemis Tse- Chu Festival

12 Days / 11 Nights

Sandwiched between the vast ranges of the Karakoram and the Himalaya in the far north of India, Ladakh is a wildly beautiful land of highland deserts, lush green valleys and snow-capped peaks. Dotted with monasteries and fluttering prayer flags, the villages retain strong Buddhist cultural links with Tibet. This journey combines Ladakh with the wonderful Tse-Chu festival at Hemis Gompa near Leh. At Hemis, the biggest, wealthiest & one of the most important Monasteries in the Buddhist world (long associated with the Ladakh Royal Family), Hemis Festival celebrations are particularly memorable. Initiated by a member of Ladakh's ruling family, the festival “Hemis Tse-Chu” has a 250 year old tradition. On Guru Padmasambhava's Birthday, the Hemis Gompa bursts into life. During this time, the dance drama celebrations depict the magical feasts of Padmasambahav in his eight different manifestations vanquishing the enemies of Buddhism. The most esoteric of the performances is of course the mystic mask dances, referred to collectively as Chams.


Day 01 – July 05, 2014: Arrive Delhi.
You will be met upon arrival by our representative at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Afternoon at leisure to recover from jet lag. Overnight in Delhi.

Day 02 – July 10, 2014: Delhi to Leh by Air.
Early this morning transfer to the airport for your short flight to Leh. On arrival you will be met and driven to your hotel. Remainder of day at leisure to acclimatize. Overnight in Leh.

Day 03 – July 06, 2014: Leh.
For those who are prepared to get up at around 4am, we would recommend starting early and driving for forty-five minutes to Thiksey monastery to experience the early morning Buddhist prayers. Built around 600 years ago, Thiksey monastery is one of the finest examples of Ladakhi religious architecture. The monastery consists of twelve levels ascending the hillside crowned by the current lama’s private residence. Below the monastery proper are chapels and houses stretching down the hillside where one hundred monks of the Yellow Hat Buddhist sect reside.

The charming village of Stok (3650m) lies at the foot of Stok Kangri which at 6120m is not Ladakh’s highest mountain, but one of its most beautiful. The village is home to Ladakh’s royal family and their Tibetan style palace watches over the village’s unspoilt vernacular architecture, apricot orchards and barley fields.

This afternoon visit Leh, the capital of the historic kingdom of Ladakh. The town is a fascinating labyrinth of winding streets and quaint bazaars. The main street is open and airy, lined with rows of shops. On either side of the market, long lines of Ladakhi women in traditional dress and colourful coral and turquoise jewellery can be seen seated behind enormous baskets, selling vegetables.

The spectacular eight-floor Leh Palace looms above the town, dominating the landscape. It was built in the 16th century – about the same time as the Potala in Lhasa, which it resembles. Stroll through the town, followed by a visit to Sankar Gompa, a little over a mile from the market. This gompa is a subsidiary of Spituk Gompa, having the same head lama. Sankar is easily visited on foot from Leh, lying as it does in Lehs’ suburbs. About 25 lamas of the yellowhat sect are attached to Sankar but only a few live here permanently. Thus, it is only open to the public from 7 – 10 am and from 5 – 7 p.m. The Sankar gompa is around 90 years old but is located on the site of a small temple that was built about 500 years ago. There are a number of pure gold icons and richly painted walls with pictures depicting different stories, including some from the Panchtantra. Overnight in Leh.

Day 04 – July 07, 2014: Leh. Excursion to Hemis Festival.
Today witness the annual Hemis Monastery festival, this is held at Ladakh’s largest monastery. Belonging to the Red Hat sect, Hemis was built in 1630 and is an impressive and intriguing experience. A guide will accompany you to the festival, about forty-five minutes by road. You will experience monks dancing, a colourful pageant and an annual bazaar where people come from all over Ladakh to buy and sell wares. The festival gives you an insight into Buddhism and a glimpse into the monks’ way of life. Overnight in Leh.

Day 05 – July 08, 2014: Leh. Excursion to Hemis Festival.
Today you will get to experience another day at the festival, slightly different from yesterday in that the monks perform spectacular masked dances to mark the victory of good over evil.

Today after the festival you will also visit Takthok and Chemdey. Overnight in Leh.

Day 06 – July 09, 2014: Leh to Alchi.
Today you will be driven to Alchi, en route you will visit Bazgo Fort and Likir monastery. The scenery like other days is incredible. Likir monastery was founded in 14th century by Lama Dhwang Chosje, a great champion of meditation and it belongs to the Yellow Hat sect. On arrival in Alchi check in to the hotel. Overnight in Alchi.

Day 07 – July 10, 2014: Alchi to Leh.
Today your sightseeing of Ladakh visits Lamayuru which is dramatically situated in front of a steep mountain and contains 150 monks of the Red Hat sect. Please note that it is one of Ladakh’s most visited and photographed monasteries. You will also visit Rizong monastery. Overnight in Leh.

Day 08 – July 11, 2014: Leh to Nubra.
Today you will be met at the hotel and driven to Nubra Valley. You will visit Samstaling monastery and Panamik hot springs and on to Tirith Eco Camp. This is a wonderful place to stay to experience some of the untouched parts of the valley. Trith Eco Camp is situated in the heart of the lush green Nubra valley on the banks of river Shayok. It lies 110 kms north of Leh, across the Khardungla pass (5570 m). The camp is ideally located with easy access to the famous monasteries of Diskit, Hunder and Samstaling and is managed by a local family. Overnight at Tirith Eco Camp in a tent.

Day 09 – July 12, 2014: Nubra to Leh.
Today you will make the journey back to Leh via Hunder and Diskit. Hunder is famous for its sand dunes that are far more reminiscent of the Sahara than the Tibetan plateau and come complete with a resident population of the double-humped Bactrian camels. The camels are left over from a time when the Nubra valley was on a major trade route to Central Asia and for those who want a camel ride, this can be arranged.

After a picnic lunch, you will begin the four hour drive back to Leh. En route your guide will take you to Diskit monastery which dates from the 14th century and after you have driven over the world’s highest motorable road, the Khardungla (5385m) you will arrive in Leh in the late afternoon. Overnight in Leh.

Day 10 – July 13, 2014: Leh to Delhi.
Early this morning transfer to the airport for your short flight to Delhi. On arrival you will transfer to your hotel. Remainder of day at leisure. Overnight in Delhi.

Day 11 – July 14, 2014: Delhi.
Full day at leisure to explore Delhi on your own or for shopping. Overnight in Delhi.

Day 12 – July 15, 2014: Depart Delhi.
This morning you’ll be collected and taken to the airport to check in for your return flight to your onward destination.

Date and price to suit individual arrangements based on 2 people sharing. Breakfast included. Private air-conditioned car and driver with English speaking guides for sightseeing.