Journey from the Hindu-culture dominated hill station Manali, through some of the highest motorable mountain passes in the world into Ladakh, known as the Little Tibet of India. Ladakh is a high altitude region tucked in the Himalayas, with breathtaking landscapes – valleys with jagged edges, deep blue lakes surrounded by snow peaks, highland cold desert nourished by glacier-fed rivers. Ladakh is steep in Tibetan Buddhism, during this tour, attend a religious festival and watch the sacred mask dance in action.
Take a morning Malaysia Airlines flight to Delhi, arrival around noon, transfer to hotel in downtown Paharganj area, the backpackers’ haven with lots of hotels, restaurants, and shops. Afternoon free & easy, you have the options to explore Paharganj open-air market and relax in a cafe, or take metro to visit Red Fort built in 17th century by Mughal emperor, and Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in India. At night, retire early to bed, in preparation for next day dawn flight to Manali.
Transfer to airport around 4am, catch early morning flight to Kullu, upon arrival, transfer by car for some 50km to Manali (2050m), a hill town surrounded by lush green valleys and towering mountains. Enjoy the laidback atmosphere, the main draw that turned Manali into a hang-out place for hippies. Evening explore the bustling local market.
Morning visit Hadimba Temple, a 16th century wooden structure built around an ancient cave temple, dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, wife of Bhima, a figure in the Indian epic Mahabharata. The temple with three-tier pagoda-style roof is surrounded by cedar forest at the foot of the Himalayas. Later, visit the art gallery of Nicholas Roerich, a Russian artist and archeologist who stayed in India from 1920s-30s, the gallery is housed in his old residence. Afternoon enjoy sulphur bath in Vashisht.
Transfer by car via Rohtang La pass (3,978m) to Jispa. The high mountain pass provides a natural divide between the Kullu Valley with a primarily Hindu culture (in the south), and the arid high-altitude Lahaul and Spiti valleys with a Buddhist culture (in the north). Impressive view of mountain ranges along the drive over numerous hairpin turns that lasted for some 6 hours. Overnight in a hotel surrounded by towering peaks.
A day of long drive via Baralacha pass (4,890m), Lachung La pass (5,050m), and Taglang La pass (5,328m) for some 9 hours to reach Leh (3,524m), once the imperial capital of Ladakh Kingdom. Upon arrival, check in to guesthouse for rest and altitude acclimatization. Minimize movement and avoid strenuous activities to keep high altitude sickness at bay.
Sightseeing in Leh, a town populated by people of different faiths; Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus live harmoniously side by side. Visit Chokang Monastery and Leh Palace, the former mansion of Ladakh royal family, fashioned after the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Visit also Tibetan refugee camp to learn how these stateless people adapted to foreign land for three generations.
Drive to Nubra valley via Khardung la Pass (5,359m), one of the world’s highest motorable passes. En-route visit the 14th century Diskit Monastery, the oldest and biggest Buddhist gompa in Nubra Valley, its rooftop offers amazing panoramic view of the valley. Nearby stands the giant statue of Maitreya Buddha, colourfully painted. Afternoon arrive in Hunder campsite, an oasis surrounded by arid mountains.
Morning explore Samtenling Monastery surrounded by scenic views. Hunder is a high altitude cold desert dotted with farmlands along the Shyok River, a green belt sandwiched between desert and barren mountains. Afternoon visit nearby “Silver Sand Dunes”, enjoy double-humped camel ride in the whitish-looking desert.
Depart from Nubra Valley, transfer to Stok, the erstwhile seat of the Laddakh royal family. Descendants of the royal family still live in the Stok Palace, which was built in early 19th century, its architecture is a mix of traditional and contemporary styles. Part of the palace is a museum now, showcasing royal family heirlooms, history and culture. Above the palace is Stok Monastery.
Visit Pangong Tso, a trans-boundary lake straddling India and Tibet, China. The lake is situated on the Sino-Indian line of control, require special permit to enter. Located at 4,250m, the lake is surrounded by towering peaks, and it is a breeding ground for a variety of birds. Overnight at a campsite by the lake shore.
Wake up early to admire sunrise, watch golden sun rays slowly sprinkling on rolling hills and the surface of Pangong Tso, when the weather is fine and the lake is calm, mirror image of the surrounding peaks in the waters. Panggong Tso has become very popular with Indian tourists, as it was one of the filming locations for the acclaimed Indian movie Three Idiots. Afternoon drive back to Leh.
Visit Hemis Monastery, and attend the annual Gompa Festival. This two-day festival celebrates the birth of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. Locals dressed up in colourful traditional costume for the occasion. At the festival, the monastery’s lamas would perform the sacred mask dance, known as Chaam, while accompanied by musical drums, long horns and cymbals.
After breakfast, transfer to airport, catch a flight back to Delhi, and then connect to Kuala Lumpur-bound flight at night.
Early morning arrival in Kuala Lumpur, end of tour.
A non-refundable deposit (unless tour cancelled by LevArt) of RM1,700 is payable to secure booking. Balance fee RM 4,000 to be collected upon booking deadline or when the tour is fully booked.
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Kae is passionate about music, photography, and travel. Composing music aside, Kae also makes a living out of filming weddings and events; whereas travel, is his on-going “career”. He once made a non-stop journey for more than half a year in Asian countries. He is infatuated with high-altitude places, making frequent trips to plateaus and mountains.
In recent years, he has developed a keen interest in cycling, he now dreams of traveling around the world on two wheels. Be it journeying on foot or on wheels, he believes places must be experienced first-hand to gain insights.
Please don’t rush into signing-up! Alternative travel may be a culture shock for some. The best memories from a journey are often overcoming various challenges with your team mates. Please understand our style of travel before booking.
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