Experience Ladakh – the ‘Top of the World’

Ladakh in the North-Western Indian Himalayas really feels like the top of the world. Travelling there overland makes it feel even more so as you cross high pass after high pass.

 

 Group at Khardung La

The group at Khardung La Pass

 

This past June/July we took our inaugural tour into Ladakh & Kashmir over 3 and a bit weeks of truly astounding travel.

 

Beginning our trip in Delhi, with a group consisting of half returning travellers and half new ones, we headed straight up into the Himalayas with our first stop in Shimla, the old British summer capital. To get there we travelled on the UNESCO World Heritage Shimla Toy Train.

 Shimla Toy Train    Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

Toy Train, Shimla                                     Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

 

After exploring the old British heritage buildings and enjoying some of the views and sights, we headed to Manali where we spent a day wandering through a small untouched local village.

 Traditional village house, Manali

Traditional village house near Manali

 Exploring a village near Manali    Exploring a village near Manali    Exploring a village near Manali

Wandering through the village

 

The next 3 days were spent traversing the Manali-Leh highway where we crossed 3 major passes and travelled across the main Himalayan range over to the Tibetan plateau side and Ladakh, which is in the rain shadow and is basically a high altitude desert.

 Glacial lake Keylong Valley    Sarchu, Manali Leh Road

Glacial lake in the Keylong Valley                                      Sarchu                       

 Just over the Rohtang Pass    Rock cairns at Sarchu, Manali Leh Highway

       Near the Rohtang          Pass Rock cairn, Sarchu

Rock formations Manali Leh Highway    Taglangla Pass 2nd highest motorable pass

               Amazing rock formations                               2nd highest motor-able pass            

 Near Baralachala Pass    Himalayan Ibex

Baralacha la Pass                                       Himalayan Ibex

 

We got to Leh in time to have a day at Hemis monastery whilst the annual festival was underway. That was pretty awesome.

Hemis Festival    Hemis Festival

Hemis Festival     Hemis Festival

Hemis Festival

 

That night we were treated to dinner at our local guide’s home where we met her family and heard all about their fascinating lives. Her parents and grandparents escaped Tibet back in the 60s and had lots of stories to tell us.

 Dinner at local house, Leh

Enjoying dinner of momos with our guide Minky and her dad

 

We then took a 2 night side trip over the world’s highest motor-able pass to the Nubra Valley which really is a desert complete with Bactrim camels (the 2-humped variety) and sand-dunes.

 Leh from near the Khardung La Pass    Bactrim camels, Hunder, Nubra Valley

 Leh from near Khardung La Pass                         Bactrim Camels in Nubra     

Diskit monastery in the valley was probably my favourite monastery of the entire trip and it had been freshly spruiced up in preparation for the Dalai Lama’s visit just days after we were there.

 Diskit Monastery    Diskit Monastery

                 Diskit Monastery                            Nubra valley from Diskit Monastery  

 

On our drive back to Leh, we met this Ladakhi welcoming party on the road. They were patiently waiting for a convoy of a high Tibetan Buddhist Lama enroute to Diskit to receive the Dalai Lama and entertained us with a traditional dance.

 Ladakhis in traditional dress    Ladakhis in traditional dress

Local Ladakhi’s in Nubra waiting to receive a high lama

 

Ladakh was simply stunning – from the beautiful Ladakhi people (of Tibetan origin) and wonderful monasteries and gompas to the breathtaking landscapes and scenery of this fascinating part of the Himalayas, only reachable by road for around 4 months of the year.

 Nubra Valley    Khardung La Pass

                     Nubra Valley                                 We crossed Khardong La Pass twice

 

Our second long drive was the 3 days trip from Leh to Srinagar in Kashmir, which gave us many more amazing landscapes and visual sights before we crossed the final pass back over into the lower Himalayas and the Kashmir valley.

 Basgo Monastery    Lamayuru Monastery

Basgo Monastery                                   Lamayuru Monastery

 Likir Monastery    Lamayuru Monastery    Basgo Monastery

  Likir Monastery                 Lamayuru Monastery              Basgo Monastery

 Likir Monastery    Lamayuru

Likir Monastery                                                      Lamayuru

 

Although known as being an area of political instability for a couple of decades now, Srinagar and the Kashmir valley was everything it promised to be – ‘Paradise on Earth’.

 

 Moghul Gardens Srinagar    Moghul Gardens Srinagar    Moghul Gardens Srinagar

Moghul Gardens Srinagar     Moghul Gardens Srinagar

Moghul Gardens, Srinagar

 

After a trip that had spent many hours traversing mountainous roads, often bumpy and exciting, but generally well-maintained, it was a perfect ending to the trip to have 3 days relaxing on houseboats and exploring Dal Lake in Srinagar.

 Houseboats Dal Lake Srinagar    On our houseboat, Dal Lake, Srinagar

Our houseboats on Dal Lake, Srinagar

 Shikara Dal Lake Srinagar     Dal Lake Srinagar

Vegetable vendor on Dal Lake, Srinagar     Dal Lake Srinagar     Shikara Dal Lake Srinagar

Shikaras and scenes from around Dal Lake

 

Bookings are now open for our June 14 2018 departure of the 22 days ‘Top of the World – Ladakh & Kashmir group tour. For more information visit the webpage…

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Robyn from Australia was on our June/July 2017 Ladakh & Kashmir tour and is returning to explore Nepal with us next April.

“This is an incredible journey and one not to be missed. You are immersed in the landscape, the people and the culture in a wide variety of activities and experiences, with all logistics professionally taken care of by Deb Kindness and her team. Lots of beautiful surprises along the way. This is what I have come to expect from Incredible India Tours and Deb Kindness – Himalayan Adventure & Hemis Festival 2017 was my fourth trip with them.”

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