Tour Code : LC-LHAL-67
High Altitude Lakes
Duration – 6 nights / 7 days
Day 01: Arrive at Leh airport by morning flight from Delhi. This flight is one of the most sensational flights in the world. On a clear day from one side of the aircraft can be seen in the distance the peaks of K2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum and on the other side of the aircraft, so close that you feel you could reach out and touch it, is the Nun Kun massif.
Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. You would take a little time to settle in and acclimatize since you have gone from a relatively low elevation in New Delhi to over 11,000 feet! During the afternoon, you can walk through the old town, beneath the Leh Palace, to allow you to get oriented to this fascinating city. Overnight in a hotel.
Day 02: In Leh – visit to Shankar Gompa & Castle (HT 3730 M)
The morning is at leisure to acclimatize to the rarefied air. You may choose to stroll along the main bazaar – observing the varied crowds. Looking into curio shops is an engaging experience. A particularly attractive sight is the line of women from nearby villages sitting along the edge of the footpath with baskets of fresh vegetables brought for sale. Behind the main bazaar, Chang Gali is less bustling but has interesting little shops selling curios and jewellery. Further on are the labyrinthine alleyways and piled-up houses of the old town, clustering around the foot of the Palace Hill. In the other direction, down the bazaar, are the Tibetan markets where one can bargain for pearls, turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli and many other kinds of semi-precious stones and jewellery, as well as carved yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls, or any of a whole array of curios. When tired of strolling, one can step into any of the several restaurants; some of them located in gardens or on the sidewalks and serve local Tibetan, Indian and Continental cuisine.
Also walk to the Leh Palace & SHANKAR GOMPA, which belongs to Gelukspa school of Tibetan Buddhism. This small Gompa is a branch of Spituk Gompa, founded by the first incarnation of Skyabje Bakula (head monk of Spituk monastery). Return to your hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 03: Leh – Across Chanag La (5320 M / 17,800 Ft) – Pangong Tso – Leh – 160 KM one way / 9 hrs return trip
A trip to Ladakh cannot be considered complete without experiencing the majestic as well as serene ambience of its high altitude lakes. Today’s drive takes you to Pangong Tso.
You start early heading out on the Leh – Upshi road driving upstream along the Indus River. From Karu you turn left to ascend through the Sakti valley. As you drive up the amazing sight of CHEMREY GOMPA rising majestically on a hill to the left with the residences of the lamas spilling along its contours greets you. As you negotiate a number of hairpin bends climbing higher towards the pass, green cultivated fields dotted with village houses in typical Ladakhi architecture continue along the base of the valley. Finally you cross over Chang La (5320 M / 17,800 Ft), a signboard proclaims it to be the third highest motorable pass in the world.
On reaching Pangong Tso, the largest brackish water lake in Asia, an absolutely amazing and captivating sight is laid out in front of you. One third of the lake is in India while the rest two thirds of the lake is in Tibet. Most of the streams feeding the lake are on the Tibetan side.
It seems never ending. The crystal clear water of the lake, the desert sand mountains in the background, some herons swimming around, and above all, its’ absolute virginity not being disturbed by any human settlements gives it an ambience of total serenity. The turquoise blue to dark blue colour of the water depending on the sky conditions, the hazy reflection of the mountains, and the glittering of sunlight in the water of the lake is a picture of a lifetime. One can drive up to some 300 meters from the beginning of the lake. After that, there is no proper road. One of the few types of the birds that may be seen here is the Black Necked Heron, a rare species. They are usually to be seen at around the beginning of the lake.
After having thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the lake, you drive back to Leh for an overnight stay.
Day 04: In Leh – visit Takthok – Chemrey – Hemis Monastries
The days’ tour of monasteries begins with a visit to TAKTHOK GOMPA in the morning. In the 8th century, the great propagator of Buddhism, Guru Padmasambhava set out from India to journey across many lands en route to Tibet. Along the way, legends speak of numerous halts one of which was at a cave at Takthok (“a ceiling made of rock”) where he meditated. Takthok monastery developed around this cave. In the 16th century a learned monk, Tsewang Norbu arrived from the Kham region of Tibet, mediated in this cave and laid the foundations of the monastic order. Within the dark interiors of the cave, the slow dripping of sacred water or Dhukchhu from the rocky roof can be heard. The wall paintings can barely be seen obscured by layers of soot from the constant burning of butter lamps. Some fine butter sculptures made by the head lama of the gompa can be seen at the Udgyan Photsang. The monastery belongs to the Nyingma-pa Sect.
Returning from Takthok, the CHEMREY GOMPA rises majestically on a hill to the right of the road with the residences of the lamas spilling along its contours. Though most of the books, including the Ladakh Chronicle, tell us that the great lama Stag-tsang-ras-pa, under the patronage of Sengge Namgyal, founded it, but Professor Luciano Petech has shown that it was actually founded after Sengge’s death as a funeral act of merit for him. The building was started in March 1644 A.D. and completed in 1645 / 1646 A.D. Overlooking fields and houses, the monastery is perched picturesquely atop a small hill, down one side of which spill the monks’ dwellings. The main du-khang, a large rather bare temple, has images of Stag-tsang-ras-pa and other Drug-pa lamas, together with a fine silver chorten about fifty years old made at Chiling. The murals are mainly manifestations of Sakyamuni, as is common in Drug-pa temples; there are also fine mandalas of Kalchakra and Akshobya. Twenty-nine volumes of the scriptures have title pages whose lettering is in solid silver of exquisite craftsmanship, the text is pure gold. A smaller temple upstairs houses a nondescript collection of images of Drug-pa lamas.
Continue your drive to HEMIS GOMPA, crossing over the Indus River at the village of Karu. The most famous of Ladakh’s monasteries, Hemis or Changchub Samstanling (The love palace of the compassionate person), dates back to the 17th century and was built over a period of 40 years (1602 – 1642 A.D.). Today Hemis is well known for its festival or Hemis Tsechu commemorating the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava. In the year of the Monkey (every 12 years) a giant thangka depicting Guru Padmasambhava is unfurled from the terrace draping the five-storey facade. Delicately wrought in pearls and appliqué, it is one of the most famous art treasures of Ladakh. The central courtyard forms the focus for the masked dances held every year in summer. In the dukhang, remnants of the original 17th century murals can be seen. The gompa boasts of an excellent library, well preserved frescoes and murals, silver gilt chortens and a Kashmiri lacquered wooden throne.
By the evening drive back to your hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 05: Leh – Tso Moriri – Karzok (15,075 Ft) – 227 KM / approx 6 hrs
Tso in the Ladakhi language means a Lake. Tso Moriri is one of the most exciting places in Ladakh; some rate it better than Pangong Tso. A visit to Ladakh is incomplete without visiting Tso Moriri. It is a brackish water lake about 28 km long and 8 km wide at an altitude of 15,000 Ft above sea level. The complete area is considered as a protected wildlife sanctuary and special permits are required for the visit.
From Leh you set out on an early morning drive on a broad well mettled road traveling upstream along the Indus River. At Upshi there is a bifurcation, the left road taking you to Mahe still driving along the Indus River, which remains, on your right. The valley in which you are traveling narrows in a couple of places. Here you have steep rocky escarpments alongside the road. The landscape appears different to other areas in Ladakh as the barren rocky mountains are up front along the road. Especially at Kiari you get a close look of purple coloured rocks. Further ahead is Chumthang, which has hot springs. At Mahe you cross over the Indus River and head into a narrow gorge-like valley. This brings you to Puga Sumdo from where the right road goes to Tso Moriri and the left one goes to Tso Kar. On your way to Tso Moriri you cross over Namshang La (4800 M), which is a very wide pass. Shortly after crossing over you come across a small lake called Tangtse Karu. It is a small, brackish water lake at an altitude of more than 4000 metres above sea level. It is something of a prelude to Tso Moriri. Driving through an awesome vast wilderness the scenery is simply breathtaking. As you are about to reach Tso Moriri, excitement is on high, because having driven through a high altitude vast desert land the last thing to expect there is a lake. Then suddenly, a vast expanse of turquoise blue water appears, you will see some ducks swimming around.
Tso Moriri or “Mountain Lake” is situated in the middle of the elevated valley of Rupshu surrounded by snow-capped peaks. This valley is inhabited by a small-scattered population of “Changpas” who are nomadic shepards who also engage in trade and work in Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti. The area is rich in wildlife including the “Kyang” (wild ass), red fox, black necked crane and geese.
On arrival check in to your accommodation. In the afternoon explore the surrounding areas of the Lake. The village of Karzok is besides the lake. It is the Nomad Headquarters. A large meditation center has also come up besides the lake a little ahead of the village. One can visit the ancient Karzok Monastery or take the opportunity to catch hold of some nomadic tribesmen to get a glimpse of their lifestyle. The lake itself is surrounded by mountain peaks with a strong wind causing waves in the lake. As the sun is about to set it gives a golden tinge to the peaks: the dense blue colour of the lake contrasts with the golden coloured peaks against the backdrop of a light blue sky, which is simply captivating. After an early dinner, do not miss seeing the sunset and the reflection of a clear starry sky in the waters of the lake.
Retire to your tents for an overnight stay.
Day 06: Tso Moriri – Tso Kar (4485 M) – approx 55 km / approx 2 ½ hrs – Leh – approx 145 km / approx 3 ½ hrs
Rise early in the morning to capture some unforgettable snaps of the deep blue waters of the lake against the backdrop of rocky mountains of unimaginable hues.
After breakfast you continue your journey to TSO KAR. You will be retracing your path till Puga Sumdoo from where you turn left. What catches your eye is that the large basin of the valley that you would be traveling through is absolutely white with salt deposits. About 4 km from Puga Sumdoo you suddenly start experiencing a very strong smell of sulphur. Immediately on the right of the road you will find large amounts of sulphur deposits with yellow rocks and the heat being generated by these sulphur springs is clearly discernable. Quite suddenly the wide base of the valley turns in to a green carpet of grass. In the center of this green carpet you get to see a geyser sprouting out hot water. The going is slow due to the road conditions. As on nears the ascent of a pass the road is rough slowing you done considerably – it is part of the experience of traveling in the wilderness of this high altitude desert. An hours’ drive brings you to Polo Kongka Pass (4920 M). This is a long and wide pass and gives you the feeling of driving on a tabletop. The descent takes you through a deserted nomad village, whose houses now only have half-standing walls.
On getting to the bottom of this descent you get your first glimpse of Tso Kar also called “White Lake” because of the salt deposits around it. It is a small lake with the backdrop formed by a chain of snow peaked mountains. The waters are deep blue in colour and the mountains, like the rest of the Ladakhi landscape are of varying shades of brown and purple with snow capped peaks. The banks are covered with salt deposits. The water of the lake is so salty that the salt that is deposited on its banks is sold all over Ladakh and Kashmir. A Nomad Headquarters (Samad Rockchen) is located next to the lake.
After lunch at the lake, you commence your journey back to Leh. A 20 minutes drive gets you onto the Manali – Leh highway. On this route you cross over Taklang La (5260 M / 17, 582 Ft), a signboard proclaims it to be the second highest motorable road in the world. On crossing over the pass the full force of the awesome stark grandeur of the barren mountains greets you. The near distance mountains are greenish – brown in colour, the middle distance ones are purplish – grayish & snow-capped peaks are visible in the distant. Descending from the pass the road gets you back in to civilization passing through picturesque villages with well-cultivated fields and finally meets the Indus River at Upshi. From Upshi to Leh you are back on the road on which you started your journey
You arrive in Leh by the evening and spend the night at your hotel.
Day 07: Leh – Delhi
Transfer to the airport to fly to Delhi. Tour Ends.
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How to book
The booking of this itinerary is with Asian Adventures Asian Adventures B-9, Sector-27
Noida 201301 (UP) India
phone : +91 120 4222797, +91 9266519519
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tour Code : LC-LHAL-67
Website : www.asianadventures.in