travel packages to india


Hemis Festival Leh Ladakh

Duration : Hemis Festival 2011 : 29 June-13 July.
Destinations Covered : Delhi-Amritsar-Dharamshala-Manali-Keylong-Sarchu-Leh-Hemis-Shey-Thiksey-Likir-Alchi-Leh Delhi

Leh (3524 M) - amidst starkly beautiful and majestic mountains, gradually merging into an oasis of green fields, Leh is situated on the banks of the Indus, at a height of 11,000 feet.  With a population of 12-15 thousand people, mainly Buddhist, some Argoos(Muslim descendants of Yarkandi traders) and a small Christian community, Leh bears the distinct stamp of its history as the administrative, commercial and cultural capital of Ladakh.

The courtyard of Hemis Gompa-the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh is the stage for the famous 'Hemis' festival that celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. The colourful two-day pageant falls on the 10th day of the Tibetan lunar month. During the festival, the Lamas gather around the central flagpole in the courtyard of the monastery and perform mask dances and sacred plays. Their performances are accompanied by the music from drums, cymbals and long horns. The head lama presides over the function. On the concluding day of the festival,  an idol made of dough is destroyed by the Head of black hat dancers and pieces of the figure are spread in four directions.  Hemis festival is celebrated to mark victory of Good over the evil.

29 June : Arrive Delhi
Assistance and transfer to the hotel near airport.

30 June : Delhi-Amritsar train : 1630-2235 hours
Morning at leisure. 
Mid day visit Old Delhi.
Red Fort built by Emperor Shahjehaan in 1638 AD, Jama Mosque largest mosque in India also built by Shahjehan. Raj  Ghat and Shanti van -the cremation sites of Mahatma Gandhi and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru are on the banks of river Yamuna. Chandni Chowk, the main congested shopping hub of Old Delhi is still a major attraction to explore by Cycle Rickshaw.

Transfer to railway station for train to Amritsar.
On arrival, transfer to the hotel.

01 July : Amritsar
Morning sightseeing tour.
Amritsar, founded in 1577 by Ram Das, the fourt guru of the Sikhs, it is both the centre of the Sikh religion and the major city of Punjab state.  The name means Pool of Nectar, referring toe the sacred tank around which the Sikh’s Golden Temple is built. The Golden Temple is exceptionally beautiful and peaceful places. Durgiana Temple, dedicated to Goddess Durga, dates back to the 16th century. Jallianwala Bagh, commemorates the 2000 Indians who were killed at this site, short indiscriminately by the British in 1919.

Afternoon at leisure.

02 July : Amritsar-Dharamshala drive, 199 km
After breakfast, drive to Dharamshala.
On arrival, check-in at the hotel.
Rest of the day free.

03 July : Dharamshala
After breakfast, sightseeing tour.
Dharamsala – Is the principal town of Kangra. The upper and lower parts of the town are poised on a spur of  Dhauladhar mountains, which surround Dharamsala
on three sides. The upper town, with the suburbs of McLeod Ganj and Forstyle Ganj, retains the British flavour so peculiar to the towns of Himachal. Here one finds the nostalgic Chruch of St.John of the Wilderness. Within lies buried Lord Elgin, who chose to remain in this town that he loved.  The settlement of Dalai Lama at his residence next to a monastery has added to the interest for this place for the visitors. Forced to flee from the Chinese occupation, they made Dharamsala their home. For the interested, the Library at the School of Tibetan Studies is a treasure trove of manuscripts and texts on Tibet and its culture. Closeby are the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts and the Tibetan Handicrafts Centre.

04 July : Dharamshala-Manali drive, 245 km
After breakfast, drive to Manali stopping at Palampur to visit Baijnath Temple.  The route to Manali is via Palampur, Mandi, Kullu along the river Beas which meets the other tributaries in Mandi. 

Arrive Manali, check-in at the hotel.

05 July : Manali
Sightseeing tour of Manali. 
Situated at 1829 M above sea level, it is one of the prime hill destination for tourists in India.  It is also gateway to spectacular Trans Himalayan drive to Leh.  Visit Hadmiba Dev Temple, also known as Dhoongri Temple, 450 years old which has some excellent wooden carvings.  Perched on a hillside across the river Beas, 3 km from Manali town, s the picturesque village of Vashisht.  Just below the stone temple are the Vashisht Hot baths, where the water from the naural hot sulphur springs has been piped to a modern bathhouse. 

Afternoon at leisure.

06 July : Manali-Keylong drive, 115 km
The route takes one across high Himalayan passes and two extensive plains resembling the Praries of Russia and America. From Manali, the black top road climbs gradually, past the Vashist hot springs, to Rhala and Marhi. The climb then accelerates with loops to the crest of the Rohtang Pass (13050 ft), providing a grandstand view of Lahaul and the mountains of the Chandra Bhaga triangle, from where the Chenab originates.  A quick descent brings one to Gramphu and Koksar at the junction of the route going east to Spiti over the Kunzum Pass.  The road continues to the headquarters of the Lahaul and Spiti district.  The landscape changes dramatically, as the lushgreen hillsides of Kullu Valley are replaced by barren hillsides.

Keylong, the headquarters of the district. There are several interesting monasteries in and around Keylong. The most important is the Khardung Gompa and an eight storeyed house of the local Thakur or chieftain.

07 July :  Keylong-Sarchu, 137 km
After passing through Keylong (3350 m), barren though the Lahaul hills are, they are cross connected by a series of passes and a maze of water bodies flowing into the Indus and its tributaries.

While Lahaul is in the basin of the Chenab, the Leh road from Keylong goes past the Jispa depression of the vast amphitheatre at Darcha.  This is a two- way take-off point for mountaineers, the Barsi Nala in the northewest to the shingo-la and padum and the Milang Nala in the east from the Mulkila and Kaorong peaks bordering Spiti. The main road carried on the past the quaint staging post of Patseo and Zingzing bar to the sources of the Bhaga river at Suraj Tal near the Baralacha Pass (4892 m).

Across the pass, the road broadly follows the direction to Sarchu, 32 km away, near the Ladakh border at Chumikgiarsa where the inner line area begins.  Sarchu (4253 m) also marks the end of the black top road. 

Overnight in Camp.

08 July :  Sarchu-Leh, 222 kms 
The dirt road begins from Sarchu continues till the main Indus basin at Upshi. Road continues towards the extensive plains of Kyungshu to Nakila (15540 ft/4740 M) and Lachalunga la (16598 ft/5059 M), the track levels off after Pang La at 14,000 (ft).

After the plains, a small GREF settlement at Bering is reached before breathtaking climb upto the highest pass on this route, Tanglang-la ((17479 ft/5325M) is reached, close to the Tanglang peak (19000 ft). From the top of the pass the road gives a view of the Ladakh range of mountains which extends to Rhumtse near the confluence of the Lyam Lungpa, past the settlements of Kartse, Miru and finally Upshi before reaching Leh (3524 m).

Arrive Leh, check-in at the hotel.

09 Jul. : Leh
Morning visit Shankar Gompa and Shanti Stupa
Sankar Gompa, a relatively modern monastery, is closely associated with the Spituk monastery and serves as the residence of the head Priest-Kushak Bakula.  Only 3 kms from Leh, the Gompa is open to the public in the morning and afternoon time for 2 hours. At the most 20 monks stay here. The Gompa houses many interesting statues and icons.  The upper floor of the gompa has the Dukar Lakhang, a temple with a Dukar figure, a most impressive representation of Avalokiteshvara completed with 1000 arms, all holding weapons and 1000 heads.

Afternoon visit Shey and Thiksey monasteries.
Shey Monastery, 15 km from Leh situated on a hillock, it was once the residence of the royal family.  According to tradition, it was the seat of power of the pre-Tibetan kings.  A 7.5 metre high copper statue of Buddha, plated with gold, and the largest of its kind is installed here. It was erected by King Dalden Namgyal in the mid 17th century.

Thiksey - 19 km from Leh, spectacularly sited, it is one of the largest and architecturally most impressive gompas. The 500 years old monastery has about 100 yellow camp monks. There are several temples in this gompa containing images, stupas and wall paintings of Buddha which are exquisite. On the right of the entrance to the main courtyard a new chapel houses an enormous 15 metre high seated Buddha figure.

10 Jul.  Leh
Morning proceed to Hemis to witness the most colourful festival of Ladakh.
Hemis, 60 kms from Leh, it is the wealthiest, best known and biggest gompa of Ladakh.  Its popularity stems from the major annual festival held here in Summer.  The festival is in honour of Guru Padma Sambhav’s birth anniversary. It also has the largest thanka in Ladakh which is unfurled once in 12 years (next in 2004).  Hemis was built in 1630 during the reign of Sengge Namgyal, an illustrious ruler of Ladakh.

On return, visit Stokh, the palace of the banished royal family.  It has a museum which displays fabulous period costumes and jewellery of the royalty along with exquisite thankas representing the life of Sakya Muni.  Interesting historical objects like coins, seals, armour weapons, precious jade and porcelain too can be seen here.

11 Jul. : Leh
Morning proceed to Hemis to witness the festival.

Return to Leh and afternoon visit Spituk Monastery.
Spituk, on a hill top from where a clear view of the Tsemo Namgyal peak, the fort, palace and gompa can be seen. Commanding a panoramic view of Indus valley for  miles, this monastery houses many icons of Buddha and fine tankhas, a vast collection of ancient masks, antique arms and an awe inspiring image of Mahakal.  The face of the Kali image is kept covered and is revealed only at the annual function in January. 

12 Jul. : Leh
Full day tour to visit Phyang, Likir and Alchi Monasteries.
Phyang, 17 kms short of Leh looks like a huge palace from afar.  Built by Tashi Namgyal in the later half of the 16th century AD, it belongs to the Red camp sect of Buddhists.  Hundred of icons of Buddha and other gods are kept on wooden shelves.

Alchi, 70 kms short of Leh on the banks of the Indus, this Gompa dates a thousand years back.  One of its walls features thousands of miniature sized pictures of the Buddha.  Three large sized images made of clay and painted brightly are its focal attraction.

Likir - shortly after Saspol, a steep road turns off to the Likir Gompa. Founded in the 11th century AD and rededicated to a different monastic order in the 15th century AD, its earlier gompa was destroyed in a fire. The present gompa dates back to the 18th century. Mysterically situated, Likir commands a spectacular view.  Skilled craftsmen producing excellent thankas, earthern pots and carved, folding wooden stools, live here in the village.   

13 Jul. : Leh-Delhi flight : 0800-0925 hours
Transfer to airport for flight to Delhi.
On arrival, assistance and transfer to the hotel.
Room till departure to airport late evening for onward flight.


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