A LADAKH VILLAGE EXPERIENCE
(In Association with Shakti Himalaya)

This particular walking program is based on use ofunique home-stays in Ladakh, each with its own unique charm. The itinerary below is a brief example of what we offer in Ladakh, however, each guest's itinerary is tailored specifically to suit his/her interests. The itinerary does not in any way reflect the 'best' possible routing and is simply a sample.

Key Info

  • DURATION 6 nights / 7 days
  • ACTIVITY GRADING Tough
  • BEST TIME TO TRAVEL End September to Mid April

Highlights

  • Unique home-stays in Ladakh
  • Museum and monasteries of Ladakh
  • Rafting on Zanskar river
  • The Pangong lake
  • Ladhaki food

DAY 1:

Delhi to Stok

Early this morning fly from Delhi to Leh. You will be met and driven to the Shakti village house in Stok where we recommend complete rest so that you can thoroughly acclimatize.

Stay at Stok Village House

DAY 2:

Stok

Take a gentle walk to explore the charming village of Stok. Visit the Stok Palace, which is home to the king and queen of Stok. The fascinating Museum exhibits old and unique Ladakhi artefacts. Later savour a delicious picnic lunch at a beautiful spot nearby. Return to the house and relax on the terrace with a drink in hand while enjoying great views of the StokKangri Range.

Stay at Stok Village House

DAY 3:

Stok

Early this morning you will attend the morning prayers at Thiksey monastery where you will witness young and old monks begin their day with prayers and chanting. You can even meet a local Ladakhi medicine man at the monastery and learn about traditional cures. Thereafter enjoy a picnic breakfast in the charming village of Sakti. Alternatively, you can return to the village house for breakfast and to freshen up. Later in the day you will visit the beautiful Hemis monastery which was built in 1630 and is the largest monastery in Ladakh. You will have this evening at leisure.

Stay at Stok Village House

Days 4

Stok to Likhir

This morning drive up to the entrance of the Zanskar canyon, to the village of Chilling, where you will see the local metal smith at work. Walk down to the river bank for an adventurous and exciting rafting trip down the Zanskar River, through the rugged canyon and to the shores of the village of Nimoo. Here, a scrumptious picnic lunch will be laid out for you. Later drive for about an hour to your next village house in Likhir.

Stay at Likhir Village House

DAY 5:

Likhir

This morning after breakfast, take a leisurely walk through the picturesque village and visit the Likhir monastery, which is also visible from the house. Situated at a height of 11,483 feet, this is one of the most interesting Yellow Hat Sect monasteries in Ladakh. The monastery also has a school where approximately 40 monks study each year. The young monks and the teachers will be thrilled to have you over for a cup of tea before you leave. Alternatively you may decide to simply relax at the house.

Later head out to Alchi(3120m/10233ft), which is one and a half hour drive. Alchi is a fascinating monastery, which is the only one in Ladakh to be built on flat ground, unlike the others which were always on hilltops. The temple was founded in the 11th century and is particularly interesting for its Indian and Kashmiri influences.

Drive for about 20 minutes and enjoy a picnic lunch at Saspol, home to old and neglected, yet beautifully painted caves. Drive back to the village house and enjoy drinks and snacks in the cosy living room.

Stay at Likhir Village House

DAY 6:

Shey

Start your day early and visit the Himalayan Capital of Leh, about an hour and a half away. The Bazaar offers a plethora of colourful and interesting souvenirs which you can shop around for if you like. Visit the Leh Palace which has been restored and now houses a small museum. A short walk away is the glorious Shanti Stupa, a relatively new structure and a symbol of peace.

Lunch will be at a traditional Ladakhi restaurant in town after which you will drive a short distance to your next village house in Shey.

Stay at Shey Village House

DAY 7:

Shey

You have many options this day. You could visit the famous Pangong Lake which is 134 km (83 mi) long and extends from India to Tibet. The stunning lake is reached by a dramatic and rough mountain road. You may also choose to take a full day's hike to the base camp of StokKangri, the highest mountain in Ladakh. For those in the mood to take it easy we recommend a walk around the interesting village of Shey where you can chat with local people and watch them as they go about their daily chores. You may like to visit the ancient Shey Palace with its Gompa and a 39 feet tall copper statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Stay at Shey Village House

Days 8

Shey to Delhi

This morning you will be driven to Leh Airport in time to check-in for your return flight to Delhi.

Shyok River Journey Extension: As an extension to the Ladakh Village Experience, we also operate an exclusive Shayok River journey that will take you along the old Silk Route into the remote Nubra valley. An exciting combination of rafting and driving takes you into this fascinating region, where you spend 2 nights under the stars. Accommodation is an exclusive Shakti tented camp in remote but beautiful locations, which we have carefully selected. Enjoy outstanding mountain views and some of the clearest night skies to be found in the world. The Shyok River Journey can be enjoyed as a standalone experience as well.


Suggested Itineraries

Program 2: WALK IN A KUMAON VILLAGE (In Association with Itmenaan Lodge)

Program 3: WALK IN A KUMAON VILLAGE (In Association with Shakti Himalaya)

Program 4: STAY IN KUMAON VILLAGE (In Association with Shakti Himalaya)

Program 5: A WALK IN VILLAGES IN SIKKIM (In Association with Shakti Himalaya)


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DELHI

India's capital city, Delhi is the second most widely used entry point into the country, being on the route of most major airlines. It is well linked by rail, air and road to all parts of the country. The remains of seven distinctive capital cities – among them Shahjahanabad and QutabMinar – can be seen. Here, museums, art galleries and cultural centers attract the finest exhibitions and performances from India and abroad. Shopping encompasses virtually everything that can be bought in the country; hotels range from the deluxe to the more modest. Most fascinating of all is the character of Delhi which varies from the 13th century mausoleum of the Lodi kings set in a sprawling park to ultra modern chrome and glass skyscrapers; and from imperial India's Parliament House and the President's Palace to the never ending bustle of the walled city surrounding Jama Masjid. Delhi also makes the ideal base for a series of short excursions to neighbouring places, all connected by road.

The capital of India, Delhi blends an historic past and a vibrant present. The Imperial city planned for the British by Lutyens is set in parks and shaded avenues. Legend has it that Delhi, then called Indraprastha, was originally founded around 1200 B.C. by the Pandavas, the august heroesof the epic Mahabharata. Present day Delhi is built around the ruins of seven ancient cities

HARYANA

This state could well be called a perfect vacation land: A state that blazed a trail of holiday traditions, with its highway tourism policy. The bird named complexes of Haryana Tourism dot the five national highways passing through the state. They also await the holiday maker at district headquarters towns and place of tourist interest. Here you get in touch with Nature. Kick off your shoes and relax with pampered treatment. Eat out at well appointed restaurants. Crowd the icecreamparlours. Gift shops, bars.

Whereas the seventies saw the initial establishment of the tourism strategy and infrastructure, the eighties saw Haryana Tourism concentrate on promoting cultural and pilgrim tourism. The nineties brought in Adventure and Golf Tourism. The turn of the century is seeing Haryana Tourism venturing into privatization, village tourism, development of new locations and the opening of crafts centres. Beginning with one resort in 1966, today Haryana Tourism runs 44 tourist complexes dotted all over the State. The resorts provide a wide range of tourist facilities such as a hotel, motels, restaurants, bars, fast food centres, health clubs, conference halls and recreational facilities like lakes for boating, picnic hides and children's parks. 777 guest rooms are available in the resorts run by Haryana Tourism.

All complexes are dotted with beautiful lakes, picturesque landscaping, golf courses, bath complexes, tennis and billiards facilities. Here Adventure sport means canoeing & kayaking, trekking & rock climbing, camping and river rafting.

HIMACHAL PRADESH

Himachal Pradesh is a tiny hill state whose pleasant summers make it a popular holiday resort. The Raj still lingers in Shimla, the state capital and former summer capital during British rule. Kullu-Manali are neighbouring resorts, surrounded by pine covered hills and lush meadows. Himachal has, in addition to popular resort towns, a series of secluded hill retreats ideal for interested anglers, trekkers and those wanting a quiet getaway. Many of these include: from Shimla – Mashobra, Kufri, Naldehra; those around Kullu-Manali include Manikaran, Naggar and Brighu Lake; the barely accessible valleys of Lahaul and Spiti are a trekker's delight.

JAMMU & KASHMIR

Jammu and Kashmir, India's fascinating northernmost state consists of three regions differing in topography and culture. Jammu was the stronghold of Hindu Dogra kings and abounds with popular temples and secluded forest retreats. Kashmir's capital city, Srinagar offers delightful holidays on the lakes with their shikaras and houseboats.

Ladakh is the northern most province of the state, with a bleak terrain of barren mountains. Hilltop monasteries and a colourful way of life, completely at one with the surroundings, make Ladakh one of the best living traditions of Tibetan Buddhism in the world today.

Amongst the three regions of Jammu & Kashmir State, Jammu, perhaps, offers the widest diversity of terrain and beauty. The entire region is pocketed with lakes and valleys, some still little explored. The foundation of the settlement of Jammu is attributed to King Jambulochan of the 9th century BC. In 1730 AD, it came under the Dogra rule of Raja Dhruv Deva and Jammu became an important centre for arts and culture, now renwned as the Pahari School. Religion, too, played an important part in its development, so beautifully evidenced in its various shrines and temples spread throughout the region.

PUNJAB

Punjab, the land of five rivers and integrated cultural history,is a treasure trove for an avid tourist.For this land of the great gurus not only boasts of ancient monuments but throbs with historical embodiments.It is no secret that whoever comes to this land of yellow fields with blue mountains providing the romantic and picturesque backdrop has never gone back without imbibing the essence of Punjab.

There is no dearth of breathtaking palaces,for Punjab was the seat of royality,as the imposing Quila Mubarak will tell you. Museums galore and so are the religious places with the Golden Temple offering succour to the mind and soul of any one visiting. If you are a wild life freak, then Punjab can take you on a tour of the sanctuaries,which are hot favourites with migratory birds.Since this state borders Pakistan,there are two main posts from which you can peep into the land that was once an integral part of Punjab and experience the feelings of the people separated by a line. The much truncated India's portion of present Punjab is divided into three natural regions :theMajha,theDoaba and the Malwa. Punjab, the chief wheat producing area of the country, is the overland entry point into India. The state is also known for its production of sports and hosiery goods. The holiest shrine for the Sikhs is the Golden Temple in Amritsar, so called because the dome is covered with gold leaf.

AMRITSAR

Amritsar - the holy city of Sikhs, has grown from a sacred village pond intoa spiritual temporal centre of Sikh culture. The city gets its name from thepool-Amritsar (Pool of Nectar), which was constructed by the fourth religiouspreceptor of the Sikh faith. It also lies on the Asain Highway.

CHANDIGARH

The city of Chandigarh lies in the valley surrounded by Shiwalik Hills that hem the great Himalayas. From here one can travel northwards to the hill resorts of Shimla Kulu, Manali, Dharmashala and Dalhousie. Chandigarh is not only the most modern city in the country but has been planned to perfection by the world famous French architect le Corbusier.

RAJASTHAN

Rajasthan, India's desert state, was once a collection of princely kingdoms where feudal traditions still carry on amidst forts and palace hotels.

Bharatpur is famous for its 29 sq km bird sanctuary which has the largest concentration and variety of birdlife in Asia. Throughout the year Bharatpur's native population of tree and water birds can be seen, the latter breeding in July-August. However, the sanctuary has gained worldwide attention as being the winter home of several migratory species including the endangered Siberian crane.

The capital city, Jaipur, was the stronghold of a clan of rulers whose three hill forts and series of palaces in the city are important attractions. Known as the Pink City because of the colour of the stone used exclusively in the walled city, Jaipur's bazaars sell embroidered leather shoes, blue pottery, tie and dye scarves and other exotic wares. Western Rajasthan itself forms a convenient circuit, in the heart of the Thardesert which has shaped its history, lifestyles and architecture. Jodhpur's exquisitely lovely fort, now a museum; art deco royal palace converted into a hotel, and quaint markets, all vividly testify to the history of the princely state. Jaisalmer, in the heart of the desert, is surrounded by sand-dunes which rendered the sand coloured fort impregnable. Today it is an inhabited city whose chief attraction is lacy filigree of pierced stonework facades of private houses, and a series of ornately carved Jain temples.

Bikaner too has echoes of the past in its sandstone palace, temples and cenotaphs. In the north of Rajasthan, Shekhavati is approachable by road from Jaipur. The greatest attraction here are the deserted mansions of local merchants decorated with a profusion of wall paintings. The subjects and styles vary greatly, and are not encountered elsewhere in India. Nearby Dundlod and Mandawa are forts, now converted into charming hotels. Bundi is remarkable for its palace fort and gallery of fine frescoes, executed in the style for which the state is famous.

Approachable by road from Jaipur are Ajmer and Pushkar. Ajmer's pre-eminence is due to the shrine of a Muslim saint who is believed to fulfill one's wishes. Nearby Pushkar has one of the very few temples dedicated to Brahma the Creator. The sleepy town with its placid lake is catapulted into prominence for 10 days every November as India's most splendid camel fair takes place here, attended by thousands of locals flashing jewellery and exuding colour. For the thousands of tourists who visit Pushkar, accommodation is in the form of tents which cater to all budgets.

Also in Rajasthan is the wildlife sanctuary of Sariska where a royal hunting lodge has been converted into a hotel. Sariska's wildlife includes the tiger, panther, deer and antelope.

UTTARAKHAND

Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India in November 2000. Carved out of the state of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand mainly comprises the hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh. The state borders Himachal Pradesh in the north-west and Uttar Pradesh in the South, and has international borders with Nepal and China. A picturesque state, Uttarancahal has magnificent glaciers, majestic snow-clad mountains, panoramic views of the Himalayas, dense forests and the valley of flowers, as well as some of Hinduism's most sacred pilgrim sites. The State's 13 Districts can be grouped into three distinct geographical regions, the High mountain region, the Mid-mountain region and the Terai region. This is the land where the Vedas and Shastras were composed and great Indian epic, The Mahabharatha, was written.

The state is very rich in natural resources especially water and forests as it has many glaciers, rivers, forests, mountain peaks. The famous peaks of Uttarakhand are Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Trishul, Bandarpunch and Mt Kamet. The major glaciers include Gangotri, Pindari, Milam and Khatling. The Ganga, The Yamuna, Ramganga and Sharda are principal rivers of this region.

The name Haridwar means "gateway to God", and it is from here that the pilgrimage to two famous temples, Kedarnath (Lord Shiva) and Badrinath (Lord Vishnu) starts. It is situated on the banks of river Ganga, at the foothills of the Shivalikmountains. It is one of the four places where the Kumbhmela is held every 12 years. During this fair, millions of devotees take a holy dip in the river Ganges to wash away their sins. It is said that the pitcher of Amrit was kept in hiding here by Devtas when it was unearthed from SagarManthan. The same pitcher was taken to the other places, i.e. Allahabad, Ujjain and Nasik. In the struggle with Asuras the pitcher broke spilling some sacred water (amrit), since then these places became very holy and the Kumbhmela is held every 3 years in these cities in succession. Every evening, after sunset, aarti of the Ganga is performed in Har-ki-Pauri.

UTTAR PRADESH

In Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow was associated with the princely court of Oudh and then with the British, both traditions lingering on in the city whose finest monument is the Bara Imambara. Further east, Varanasi is the oldest city in India. An important centre of Hindu pilgrimage, it is believed that those who die in Varanasi will be released from the cycle of rebirth. Pious Hindus still come to Varanasi to spend their last days, living in spartan communes run by a multitude of religious trusts. The focus of interest to a visitor is the sacred River Ganga. At the series of steps leading down to it, people come to wash away their sins by bathing in the river, the dead are cremated and holy men meditate. In the narrow bylanes of the city are crowded bazaars selling brassware and silk brocades.