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Spirit of the Himalayas: Ladakh, Dharamsala & ShimlaMay 21, 2014 - June 7, 2014
Priced from: $9,970
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
May 21 - May 22 USA / Delhi, India
Depart the USA on your independent flight arriving in Delhi late on Thursday. Transfer to the Oberoi Delhi Hotel.
May 23 Delhi
After a morning at leisure and an early lunch, explore this historic city. In Old Delhi you will see the magnificent Red Fort and the Jama Mosque. In New Delhi visit the Raj Ghat, the India Gate, and the exquisite Islamic 13th-century brick minaret, Qutub Minar. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
May 24 Delhi / Leh, Ladakh / Alchi
Early this morning fly to Leh, the capital of Ladakh, and once a major stop on the Asian Silk Road. Then drive along the Indus River, surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in the Himalayas. Arrive in the picturesque village of Alchi for a late lunch with the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner and overnight at Uley Ethnic Resort.
May 25 Alchi
Numerous castles, Buddhist temples, and stupas speak of Alchi’s power and importance that endured millennia. Today explore the ancient monastery and the nine-story, 17th-century palace considered a masterpiece of Tibetan architecture. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
May 26 Alchi / Lamayuru / Leh
Drive to Lamayuru Monastery today, the oldest spiritual center in Ladakh, set against its famous “moonscape”—a vast swath of windswept, high-mountain desert. The monastery is comprised of a number of shrines with an exquisite collection of thankas (paintings on cloth), wood carvings, and statues. Then drive to Leh, making a short detour en route to visit the monastery of Likir, built in 1065. Dinner and overnight at Grand Dragon Hotel.
May 27 Leh
Today visit the superb monasteries that punctuate the isolated hills surrounding Leh. Hemis, built in 1630 and tucked into a spectacular valley, houses a copper statue of Buddha, a gem-studded chorten (Tibetan for stupa), and sacred thankas. After lunch, continue on to beautiful Tikse, the home of 80 monks. The Shay Palace, the summer home of the Raja of Leh, is famous for its huge copper-gilt Buddha statue.
May 28 Leh / Amritsar
Transfer to the airport early this morning for your flight to Amritsar via Delhi. Upon arrival drive to the Hotel Ista. After settling in, enjoy dinner and overnight.
May 29 Amritsar / Palampur
Depart for Palampur after breakfast, stopping first at one of India’s holiest Sikh temples, the Golden Temple. After lunch, continue to the Kangra Valley, its undulating terrain carpeted with pine forests and terraced fields. Historic Kangra town overlooks a series of waterfalls and is famous for its ruined fort and beautiful temples. A huge 1905 earthquake destroyed the opulent 11th-century Bajreshwari Devi Temple; completely rebuilt in 1920, it remains a place of pilgrimage. The evening in Palampur, time permitting, is free to explore the grounds of our hotel the Taragarh Palace. Or, visit the Tashi Dzong Monastery.
May 30 - Jun 1 Palampur / Dharamsala
You have three full days to explore the wonders of Palampur and Dharamsala. In 1960, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his entourage claimed asylum in a suburb of Dharamsala. Tour the Namgyal Monastery, Nechung Monastery, the Tibetan Medicine and Astrology Center, and the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. You will also drive through the tea gardens of Palampur and enjoy visits to St. John’s Church, the Tse-chokling Monastery, and the Tibetan Children’s Village. Visit the impressive Norbulingka Institute as well as the Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. You may also participate in the Tara puja, a lamp-lighting ceremony where nuns prepare hundreds of small lamps arranged symbolically to honor the Buddhist deity Green Tara.
June 2 Palampur / Pragpur
Depart for historic Pragpur this morning arriving at your hotel, Judges Court, for lunch. Then set out to explore Garli-Pragpur. Fifty-two clans settled these peaceful hills; in the center of Pragpur they built elegant mansions and Italianate-style buildings. The local market, shops, and galleries offer numerous varieties of local crafts, from silver jewelry and hand block-printed fabrics to beautiful woven wools.
June 3 Pragpur / Shimla
After breakfast drive to Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh, nestled among hills and surrounded by thick cedar forests and apple orchards. This former summer capital of India, when under British rule, was known as “queen of the hills.” Late this afternoon, arrive at the luxurious Wildflower Hall, situated at 8,250 feet, and your base for the next three nights.
Jun 4 - Jun 5 Shimla
The stately English architecture—including Gorton Castle, majestic Christ Church, and the formal Viceroyal Lodge on Observatory Hill—continue to lend Shimla its colonial aura. A pleasant traffic-free walk up the hill to Scandal Point reveals the social hub of the town; its colorful name refers to the elopement of the British Commander-in-Chief’s daughter with the Maharaja of Patiala. The following day is at leisure to enjoy walks around Wildflower Hall, go horseback riding, or enjoy the spa.
June 6 Shimla / Chandigarh / Delhi
Depart Shimla this morning and drive to Chandigarh, “The City Beautiful,” and India’s first planned city. Several renowned architects and urban planners, Le Corbusier among them, designed the city, its parks, and buildings in the 1950s. After lunch here we transfer to the airport for our flight to Delhi; dinner and overnight at the Radisson Hotel.
June 7 Delhi / USA
Depart Delhi on your independent flight homeward.