Ladakh : History and Culture
- Reviews 0 Reviews0/5
- Vacation Style Holiday Type
- Activity Level Challenging
Ladakh, the land of high passes or the land of Lamas or the land of culture, need no description! Ladakh calls everyone – some for its landscape (barren and yet so incredibly mesmerizing), some for its wildlife, some for its culture, some for its history, some for the purest form of Tibetan Buddhism and spirituality, and some for the sheer thrill it offers all year round.
What’s Ladakh calling you for?
Well, Rural Odyssey has combined the best of Ladakh in 9 days to give you the essence of Ladakh as it happened ages ago. Do you know Buddhism entered Ladakh and western Tibet through Afghanistan and Kashmir in 2nd century? Earlier people were practicing Bon religion.
We will start our journey in Ladakh following the ancient routes of Budhist monks, where they settled and meditated, observing the ancient architecture and how the architecture changed as they moved towards eastern Ladakh and western Tibet. How the invasion by Muslim invaders between 13th-16th century introduced Islam to the region.
Ever heard of Padmasambhava?
Considered as the master of Tantra and Tantric Buddhism, number of legends have grown around Padmasambhava’s life and deeds, and he is widely venerated as a ‘second Buddha’ across Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Himalayan state of India, and whomever believes in Tibetan Buddhism.
There are so many stories waiting to unfold! Let’s unfold them together?
Phayang Village : Located hardly 30 minutes from Leh, Phayang offers some breathtaking sceneries. In summer, the forest outside the village gets lush green and becomes a paradise for photography. It is also the site of Ladakh’s famous Ice Stupas in winter. Also, the farmstay here is not to be missed.
Likir Village : Likir is a small picturesque village which marks the beginning of Sham valley, often termed as “Apricot Valley”. Relatively isolated, Likir once was on a major trade route which travelled via Tingmosgang, Hemis and Likir to Leh.
Likir Monastery : is picturesquely situated on a little hill in the valley. Likir is mentioned in the Ladakhi chronicles as having been erected by King Lhachen Gyalpo. The name Likir means “The Naga Encircled”, representing the bodies of the two great serpent spirits, the Naga-rajas, Nanda and Taksako.
Alchi Monastery : is considered as one of the oldest Buddhism learning centre in Ladakh, built between 958 and 1055. It is one of the very monasteries in Ladakh built in Kasmiri style. The artistic and spiritual details of both Buddhism and the Hindu kings of that time in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are reflected in the wall paintings in the monastery. These are some of the oldest surviving paintings of Ladakh
Lamayuru Monastery : is one of the oldest and largest gompas in Ladakh. According to the popular tradition, it was originally the foremost Bon monastery in Ladakh. Its name means Sauwastika and is a popular symbol in Bon for “eternity”.
Saspol Caves, medieval Buddhist caves with paintings : are the amazing rock-cut temples. The caves are richly adorned with paintings, representing a fusion of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist art, of Buddhist pantheon from the 13th – 15th century AD.
Saspochey Village : is a small village in Sham valley region of Ladakh with just 30-40 households. The village is one of the best places in Ladakh for sighting snow leopards in winter. If we are lucky, we might see one in summer as well. One of the early period temples with paintings that may be dated to late 12th century is located here.
SECMOL (The Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh) :
was founded in 1988 by a group of Ladakhi college students lead by Sonam Wangchuk. SECMOL campus is now and eco-village where students, staff and volunteers live, work and learn together. It’s not a conventional school, but a place to pursue practical, environmental, social and traditional knowledge, values and skills. The Campus is solar powered and solar heated; students learn ancient Ladakhi songs, dance and history alongside modern academic knowledge; and the students mainly manage, run and maintain the campus.
Khardung La : need no introduction. Mostly renowned as the world’s highest motorable road at an altitude of 5602m. However, the claim is disputed and it is believed that actual altitude of the pass is 5359m. It is also historically important as it lies on the major trade route from Leh to Kashgar in Central Asia. About 10,000 horses and camels used to take the route every year.
Hunder, Nubra Valley : is a remote village that sits like an oasis in the middle of cold desert in Nubra valley, known for its sand dunes, Bactrian camels and breathtaking landscapes. The high altitude desert, with rolling expanse of sand dunes and barren landscape is the USP of Hunder village.
Turtuk, Nubra Valley : Turtuk is a small village located on the banks of Shyok river. The village is located right at the border with PoK and is the last outpost of India. It is one of the few places in India where one can witness Balti culture. Turuk was opened to tourists in 2009 only.
Pangong Lake : needs no introduction to anyone. Glistening at an altitude of 4,350m, it is 134 Kms long and 5 Km wide at it’s broadest point. It is a saline water lake which appears to change colors with the changing sun.
Hemis Monastery : not only is one of the most significant Tibetan monastery in Ladakh. It also has some relation to the unknown years of Jesus, often referred as “lost years of Jesus”. According to one theory, it is believed during those 16 years, from the age of 13 to 29, Jesus studied Buddhism here. In 1894, one Russian journalist even claimed that there are written proof to back this fact. Let’s find out?
Padmasambhava Cave Gompa : Located in Sakti village, this is a cave gompa whose roof as well as walls are made up of rock. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), master of Tantra and Tantric Buddhism, meditated here in 8th century.
- Day 1 Day 1 : Getting Acclimatised
• Arrival in Leh • Transfer to Phayang village farmstay, also the sight for famous Ice Stupa project from Ladakh • Rest day for acclimatizing • Overnight stay in the farmstay
- Day 2 Day 2 : Going easy and east to find the roots of Buddhism in Ladakh
• Today will also be an easy day to acclimatize well. • Visit Lamayuru Monastery and Alchi Monastery • Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Magnetic Hill and confluence of Zanskar and Indus river • Lunch is going to be the best in Ladakh probably. It’s a secret little place in Alchi • Visit Saspol caves if time allows • Overnight stay in Likir homestay
- Day 3 Day 3 : To the village of Snow Leopards
• Visit Likir monastery. • Move to Saspochey o Explore the small village, around 30-40 households. The village is one of the best place in Ladakh for sighting snow leopards in winter. If we are lucky, we might see one in summer as well o One of the early period temples with paintings that may be dated to late 12th century is located here • Overnight stay in homestay
- Day 4 Day 4 : Leh Town
• Move to Leh • Visit SECMOL • Explore Leh. Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, market etc. • We will also visit some fair trade shops • Overnight stay in Leh
- Day 5 Day 5 : To Hunder, Nubra Valley via KhardungLa
• Eearly morning drive to Hunder in Nubra valley via Khardung La and Diskit monastery • Diskit monastery is the oldest and largest monastery in Nubra valley. It also has a 32m long statue of Maitreya Budha (future Budha) • Go for the Bactrian camel safari in the sand dunes of Hunder • Overnight stay in homestay in Hunder
- Day 6 Day 6 : To the last outpost in India, Turtuk village
• Turtuk is a small village located on the banks of Shyok river. It is one of the few places in India where one can witness Balti culture. • Explore Turtuk • Turtuk was open to tourists in 2009 only • Overnight stay in Turtuk homestay
- Day 7 Day 7 : Drive to Pangong Lake via Shyok village
• Start early and drive to Pangong Lake. It’s going to be a long one • Overnight stay in camps near the lake o Our camps will be a bit off from the crowd. Likely in the parts of Pangong where not many people go. ☺
- Day 8 Day 8 : Drive to the village Sakti
• After sunrise, we will start our journey to a place where Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) believe to have meditated in 8th century. The cave Gompa here is great for meditation • If time allows, visit Hemis monastery • Overnight stay in guesthouse or homestay in Sakti
- Day 9 Day 9 – Adieu
• Drop to airport (~ 90 minutes). Tour ends!
INR 38,000 per person all inclusive from Leh airport to airport.
INR 45,000 for foreign nationals because of the permits and efforts involved to get those permits.
Group size is limited to 10 people only.
Suggested Packing List
- Come as an explorer and with curiosity to know the people and the place. You’ll have a much deeper experience!
- A valid govt. photo ID proof , other than PAN card, for Indian nationals. Passport and valid visa for foreign nationals.
- Comfortable walking shoes and slippers
- Sun protection creams, preferably above SPF 50 as the sun can be really scorching in Ladakh
- Sunglasses/Hat or headgear to protect you from direct sun
- Lifestraw water bottle delivered by us to your address before the trip
- If you are on some medication, do bring us your medicines.
- Please let us know in advance if you are on some medication
- Warm clothes as per your requirement
- At some places it will get very cold (between -5 to 5 in degree Celsius) after the sun down
90 days before the tour - 10% cancellation charge
60-90 days before the tour - 30% cancellation charge
30-60 days before the tour - 50% cancellation charge
15-30 days before the tour - 75% cancellation charge
0-15 days before the tour - 100% cancellation
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis, both in hotels/guesthouses/homestays and camps
- All transportation in a comfortable Tempo traveller.
- 1 Lifestraw water bottle per person to avoid purchasing water bottles and reduce our carbon footprint as much as we can. Ladakh’s biggest problem because of tourism is increasing plastic usage in the region. Lifestraw comes with a water filter that removes 99.99% of waterborne bacteria and waterborne protozoa. You can take this water bottle back home with you
- All vegetarian meals during the tour
- One tour leader and one local guide
- All permits required during the tour like camping, wildlife, ILP, PAP, forest permits etc.
- First-Aid kit
- Any items/services which are personal in nature like toiletries, sun protection creams, chips, soft drinks, laundry, phone calls, camera etc.
- Any extra expense due to delays arising from bad weather or any unforeseen circumstances
- Any medical expenses
- Any other expenses of any nature not included in the INCLUSIONS section