Hidden Monasteries Tour
Ladakh and especially the Tibetan ranges have been a mysterious land from centuries for so many outsiders and have been considered as a forbidden land being cut off from the hush and bush of the urban areas. The land which is geographically and impressively being surrounded by the mighty ranges of the Himalayas in the south and the Kunlun Mountains to the north, Ladakh was once meant only for the great braveries of the world to dwell deep into the unexplored chains of the valleys and high passes.
But today, with the great exposure into the global world, Ladakh is today the choice of every traveler whether for the adventurous trip of trekking, hiking or rafting but also for a religious tour towards its varied monasteries being spread on multiple regions. Ladakh which is also being popularized as the land of the monasteries is itself unaware of so many hidden monasteries in its core. And so when the people are actually returning from their hidden monasteries tour, they are actually coming up with great memories with them to share about the Tibetan cultural importance to calm the agitating urban minds of thousands.
On the way towards the hidden monasteries tour, the tourist can also find a great expansion towards trekking by dwelling into the ancient villages and the towns of Ladakh. To make a fascinating start from Leh, the tourist can get into the Saboo Gompa and SOS village for dense cultural highlights. Further, some much awaited locations like Takthok, Chemrey, Phyang, Alchi, Basgo and the famous Lamayuru will include the hidden monastery trek in the area to find some of the unexplored monasteries like Talthok Gompa, Chemrey Gompa, Phyang Gompa, Basgo Gompa and Alchi Gompa.
The next 7-8 days will be filled with so many romantic thrills in the Ladakh Himalayas to exemplify the moderate trekking of the valleys around Ladakh and that can best be experienced during the months of May-mid October.
DAY 01 : Arrive Leh
Morning arrive at Leh airport, On arrival met at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Day free for acclimatization, O/N stay at Hotel.
DAY 02 : In Leh – visit Saboo Gompa and SOS Village (Choglamsar)
Morning free at leisure, in the afternoon you will drive to SABOO – 8 km from Leh, standing majestically on top of a hillock overlooking the Indus Valley. It is a less frequented Gompa in Leh.
On your drive back to Leh, you visit SOS Village (Choglamsar). Choglamsar is an important center for the study of Tibetan Culture and History. There is the “Central Institute of Buddhist Studies”, a Tibetan library, medical center, shops selling handicrafts, books and plenty of restaurants. It abounds in greenery with Poplar and Willow trees dotting the landscape. There is a golf course, horticulture nurseries and a polo ground as well.
DAY 03 : In Leh – Visit Takthok – Chemrey – Hemis Monasteries
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.
Returning from Takthok, the CHEMREY GOMPA rises majestically on a hill 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.
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. By the evening drive back to your hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
DAY 04 : Leh – Phyang (17 kms/30 mins) – Basgo (27 kms/45 mins) – Alchi (24 km / 45 mins)
After breakfast you will be driving to ALCHI. En-route you would be taking a short diversion to visit PHYANG GOMPA, which is located on the right of the main highway to Alchi. Built on a large mound, with the village below, the setting is one of the prettiest in Ladakh with groves of Popular trees along the road leading up to the monastery.
After visiting Phyang you come to BASGO, which lies astride the road to Alchi. The jagged skyline of the ruins of the 15th century capital of Ladakh dominates the village of Basgo. It was an important center in the old days, having been the capital of lower Ladakh when the kingdom was divided in the 15th & 16th centuries, and the seat of that branch of the dynasty, which eventually unified Ladakh and took the surname Namgyal.
In the afternoon visit the ALCHI GOMPA. The complex of temples located within the village is the most celebrated of Ladakh’s monasteries and dates back to the 11th century. The complex consists of a group of five temples as well as a number of chortens scattered around the complex. The Dukhang and the three-tiered Sumstek are the most significant. It is the seat of the Ngri Rimpoche, an incarnation at present embodied in the younger brother of the Dalai Lama. Alchi Gompa is the only monastery, built on flat ground. It is very famous for its paintings and architecture, which has an Indian and Kashmiri influence in them. O/N stay at hotel.
DAY 05 : Alchi – Ridzong – Lamayuru (57 km/2 hrs)
After setting out from Alchi en-route to Lamayuru, you take a diversion to visit the RIDZONG GOMPA, which is one of the less frequented monasteries of Ladakh. Hidden at the end of a steep valley, the first view of the gompa is dramatic. Relatively new (1840), it is beautifully set in a valley, deep inside a gorge and is the most isolated monastery in Ladakh. Lama Tsultim Nima founded this Gompa and a monastic community was introduced with strict rules and regulations.
After this visit you proceed to the 11th century LAMAYURU MONASTERY, which is spectacularly located along the valley plain and surrounded by mountains on all sides. According to legend, the Arhat Madhyantika, a disciple of Buddha offered “Torma’ (sacred food) and water to the spirits inhabiting the site to satisfy the Gompa. Overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 06 : Lamayuru – Leh (126 km/4 hrs)
Finally, you drive back to Leh in time for lunch at the hotel. The afternoon is free to explore the town on your own. Overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 07 : Leh – Delhi
Transfer to the airport to fly to Delhi.
Trip & Services Ends Here.