North India Tours

Rapid North India

Duration: 21 Days / 22 Nights
Destinations: Delhi - Jammu - Dalhousie - Chamba - Palampur - Dharamsala - Mandi - Manali - Chandigarh - Leh - Stok - Shey - Thiksey - Hemis - Delhi

Lotus Temple, Delhi Travels, Delhi Vacations, Delhi Holiday PackagesDay 01 : Arrive Delhi
You will be met on arrival at the International airport and transfer to the hotel Park for overnight stay.

Day 02 : Delhi / Jammu
Fly Delhi to Jammu and Drive to Dalhousie : Morning transfer to the domestic airport to board flight 9w 605 departs at 1200 hours and arrive Jammu at 1310 hours. Proceed to Dalhousie. Approx. 6-7 hours drive.

Dalhousie is a quiet little hill station on five hills. It was initially founded as a sanatorium by Lord Dalhousie (after whom it is named) in the 19th century. Dalhousie is richly forested and amidst its wooded slopes are charming houses and quaint cottages. The settlement has several enchanting forest trails that allow for some very interesting nature walks into the surrounding countryside. The chowks (squares) in the town provide exciting diversion, with Tibetan settlers hawking colourful hand-knitted woollen cardigans and jackets.

On arrival check in at the hotel Surya Resorts for overnight stay.

Day 03 : Dalhousie \ Chamba
Morning drive to Chamba. Approx. 3-4 hours drive. On arrival check in at the hotel. Afternoon explore the beautiful town. Overnight at the hotel Akhand Chandi.

Chamba, Temple Tour in North India, Pilgrimage Tour of IndiaDay 04: Chamba
Chamba, situated 56 km from Dalhousie. Perched on a ledge high above the Ravi river, it has often been compared to a medieval Italian village and is famed for its temples. The Chamundra Temple, a steep half-hour climb to the top of a hill, gives an excellent view of Chamba with its slate-roof houses, the Ravi and the surrounding countryside. Next to the Maharaja’s Palace is the temple complex of Lakshmi Narayan which contains six temples, three dedicated to Siva and three to Vishnu, the oldest dating back to the 10th century, the newest to 1828. The Hariraya Temple is also dedicated to Vishnu and is in the Shihara style of architecture. The Bhuri Singh Museum has an interesting collection of art and culture of this reagion, particularly miniature paintings of the Basohli and Kangra schools. overnight in the hotel Akhand Chandior similar.

Day 05 : Chamba (Day excursion to Bharmaur)
Brahmaur is 65 Km from Chamba,known as Shiv Bhumi, this is the heart land of Gaddi's land. There are some very old temples grouped in a compound known as a chaurasi in Brahmaur. Visit the villages to meet the Gaddi people/families. Overnight at the hotel Akhand Chandi in Chamba.

Dalhousie,  Hill Station Tour of India, Hill Station Holidays in IndiaDay 06 : Chamba to Dalhousie
Morning drive back to Dalhousie. Check in at the Surya Resorts.

Dalhousie is a quiet little hill station on five hills. It was initially founded as a sanatorium by Lord Dalhousie (after whom it is named) in the 19th century. Dalhousie is richly forested and amidst its wooded slopes are charming houses and quaint cottages. The settlement has several enchanting forest trails that allow for some very interesting nature walks into the surrounding countryside. The chowks (squares) in the town provide exciting diversion, with Tibetan settlers hawking colourful hand-knitted woollen cardigans and jackets.

Afternoon visit village to meet the Gaddi's families. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 07 : Dalhousie to Palampur
Morning transfer to Dharamsala via Nurpur. Approx5-6 hours drive. Explore the town of Nurpur. Proceed to Palampur and check in at hotel Taragarh Palace. Afternoon visit the Monastery and witness the ceremonies. Overnight at Taragarh Palace.. It offers magnificent scenery with snow-covered mountain ranges stretching majestically for hundreds of kilometers. Taragarh Palace Hotel is a quiet and serene retreat in the heart of the Kangra Valley, with its richly varied cultures and beautiful and fragile ecosystems of the mountains and valleys, with lush green tea gardens, thick pine forests and gushing, snow-fed crystal-clear streams. The Kangra Valley is flanked in the north by the perpetually snow-capped Dhauladhar mountain range and abounds in ancient temples and monasteries as well as old forts guarding many kingdoms that flourished here till the last century. The famous Kangra School of miniature painting was produced in the courts of these princes. The hills surrounding Taragarh offer some lovely day walks with spectacular views of the Dhauladhar range.

Taragarh Palace, Palampur Travels, Himalayas Pilgrimage Tour & TravelsDay 08 : Palampur (Day excursion to Kangra Valley)
After breakfast drive to the famous temple of Goddess Jwala Ji. Jwalamukhi has been a popular pilgrimage centre for several centuries and the temple here is considered among the most sacred in northern India. There is no idol in this picturesquely located temple - the flame that issues from a well around which the temple has been consecrated is considered a manifestation of the goddess. This eternal flame issues from the rock sanctum and is constantly fed by the priests. The temple is particularly busy during the Navratri (nine-nights) festivals in April and October.

Baijnath. The town of Baijnath has an ancient Shiva temple dedicated to Shiva Vaidyanatha (Lord of the Physicians). Legend has it that this was the temple where Ravana worshipped Shiva to gain immortality. The Baijnath temple is supposed to be one of the twelve jyotirlingas and is thronged with pilgrims at the festivals of Navratri (nine nights) in April and October.

Visit to the Masrur some 30 kms from kangra, the only place in the Himalayas to feature rockcut Hindu temples like those found at Ellora.

Andretta is a picturesque little village and was the home of the famous Indian artist, the late Sardar Sir Shobha Singh and the late playwright Nora Richards.

Overnight at Taragarh Palace.

Monastry, Palampur, Himachal Tour & TravelDay 09 : Palampur
Visit to Dharamsala, the principal township of the region is magnificently set amongst pine forests with the backdrop of the Dhauladhar range. Lower Dharamsala, with its bazaars and civic centres is the commercial heart. Some 1,500 feet higher up is Upper Dharamsala, where McLeod Ganj and Forsyth Ganj are located, each with their individual flavour and lifestyle. McLeod Ganj is the settlement of Tibetan Buddhists who sought refuge here in 1960 following their exile from Tibet. The Buddha Temple is situated opposite the residence of the Dalai Lama and around it are located a monastery and a nursery. A few kilometers' walk away is the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts which organizes a ten-day folk opera commencing the second Saturday of April.

Kangra Art Museum houses miniature paintings from the famous Kangra school of art, which flourished in the Kangra Valley in the 17th century.

Other places of interest include St John's Church, located in a forest grove midway between Forsyth Ganj and McLeod Ganj. Visitors here can see a memorial dedicated to Lord Elgin, one of the Viceroys of India who died in Dharamsala and was buried here in 1863. The church has some exquisite stained glass windows. The War Memorial is a beautifully designed monument, raised in memory of those who laid down their lives for their motherland. Overnight at Taragarh Palace.

Day 10 : Palampur to Mandi
Morning drive to Mandi. Approx. 5-6 hours drive. On arrival check in at hotel Raj Darshan Palace. afternoon excursion to Barot famous for its old Temple and afternoon drive 24 kms south east to the monesteries of Rewalsar, which belongs to Nigmapa sect, the original school of Tibetian Budhism founded by Guru Padamshambhava and a holy lake.Evening back to the hotel Raj Darshan Palace for overnight stay.

Day 11 : Mandi to Manali
Morning drive to Manali. Approx. 4-5 hours drive. On arrival check in at the hotel May Flower Guest House. Evening at leisure of visit the market at your own. Overnight at hotel May Flower

Hadimba Devi Temple, Manali, Indian Hill Station Tours PackagesDay 12 : Manali
Manali is circled by beautiful glades of deodars and flowering horse chestnuts, tiny leveled fields and fruit orchards with the Beas River meandering through the town. It is an ideal place for walks, climbs, treks and picnics.
Visit Dhoongri Temple, also known as the Hadimba Temple, believed to be a thousand years old, It is dedicated to the goddess Hadimba, wife of Bhima, the Pandava of Mahabharata fame. Set in tranquil surroundings, the temple is four-tiered with a pagoda shaped roof and at the entrance are carved figures and symbols. Local folklore has it that Raja Bahadur Singh, who had the temple built, ordered the architect's hand cut off to prevent him from duplicating its design elsewhere.
The Vashisht Springs are located in the small village of Vashisht on the left bank of the Beas. The hot water sulphur springs have been made into Turkish-style baths with shower rooms and temperature controlled water piped in. The nearby temple dedicated to Vashista Muni is well worth a visit. Evening bacxk to the hotel and overnight at hotel May Flower .

Day 13 : Manali (Excursion to Jagatsukh and Naggar)
Jagatsukh, originally known as Nast, is located 6 km from Manali on the left bank of the Beas on the Manali-Naggar Road. It was the ancient capital of Kulu for some ten generations and is famous for its temples, particularly the shikara-style Shiva temple and the interesting Devi Sharvali temple.

Some 12 km from Jagatsukh and halfway between Manali and Kulu, is the small town of Naggar. The capital of the Kulu Raja for some 1,400 years, where the medieval world still survives, Naggar is untouched by time. It is situated on a wooded slope and commands an extensive view, especially of the north west of the Kulu Valley. The town has been made famous by the Russian painter Nicholas Roerich, whose works are displayed in a gallery. The Naggar Castle, with its tales of love and chivalry, is now converted into a hotel. There are several ancient temples in and around the town including the Vishnu, Tripur-Sundari Devi and Krishna temples. Evening back to the town and overnight at hotel May Flower .

River Rafting, Adventure Tour PackagesDay 14 : Manali / Chandigarh
Morning drive to Chandigarh. Approx. 7-8 hours drive. On arrival check in at the hotel Mount View for overnight stay.

Day 15 : Chandigarh / Delhi
Morning transfer to the railway station to connect train Shatabdi express departs at 1220 hours and arrive New Delhi railway station at 1530 hours. Assistance on arrival and transfer to hotel for wash and change.

Day 16 : Delhi / Leh
Early morning departure from Delhi on the spectacular flight to Leh. You are met at the airport and transferred to the Ladakh Sarai. Rest of the day at leisure to acclimatize to the high altitude and rarefied air. Lunch, dinner and overnight stay at the Ladakh Sarai.

Day 17 : Stok & Leh
After breakfast visit Stok palace. The palace houses a fine private museum, which is open to the public when the Rani (queen) of Stok is in residence. There is a superb collection of thangkhas, said to be the best in the world. Some of them have been worked in pure gold and paints made of crushed semi-precious stones. Also of interest are antique robes and royal jewelry, specially noted for its turquoise and red coral. The collection also includes artillery and animal skins. Stok Gompa is a subsidiary of Spitok and both were founded by the same lama, Nawang Lotus, during the reign of King Takpa Bumlde. Stok belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism and currently has about 20 lamas living there. The oldest parts of the gompa are some 550 years old though the Dukhang or main assembly hall is only about 50 years old.

In the afternoon visit Leh, a fascinating labyrinth of winding streets and quaint bazaars. The main street is open and airy, with rows of shops on either side. On either side of the market are seen a long line of Ladakhi women in traditional dress and colourful jewelry of coral and turquoise, seated behind enormous baskets, selling vegetables. The spectacular eight-storey Leh Palace looming above, overlooking the town, was built in the 16th century, about the same time as the Potala in Lhasa which it resembles.

The stroll through the town is followed by a visit to Sankar gompa, about 2 km from the market. It has a number of pure gold icons and richly painted walls, its pictures depicting different stories, including some from the Panchtantra.Visit to the Ladakhi House. Return to the Ladakh Sarai for dinner and overnight stay.

Jeep Safari, Leh Tour & TravelDay 18 : Shey / Thiksey, & Hemis
After breakfast explore some of Ladakh's ancient gompas. A picnic lunch is provided.

Shey Palace was built in 1645 by Deldan Namgyal as a summer residence for the kings of Ladakh. It is the oldest palace in Ladakh and above the palace is an even older ruined fortress.

In 1655, in memory of his father, this same king built the two-storey Shey gompa adjacent to the palace. Hundreds of chortens of all shapes and sizes stand below the palace and gompa. These chortens demonstrate the interest taken in Shey by the Ladakhi kings and queens who succeeded Shey's original builder.

Located on the second storey of the gompa is a large Buddha statue made in 1655 by a Nepalese sculptor who was assisted by three Ladakhi craftsmen. The seated Buddha is 12 meters high and worked of copper sheets gilded with gold. This Buddha is the biggest metal statue in the region and was the largest Buddha statue of any type in Ladakh until Thiksey gompa installed a 15-meter tall Buddha made of clay in 1970. The castings of the statue were made in Leh while the statue's copper was collected in Zanskar and hammered into plates on big rocks. More than five kilos of gold were then used to plate the copper. The statue was built in parts in the Zanstil Palace (Zans means copper and til means to hammer) in Leh and then transported to Shey where it was assembled and installed.

Sacrificial offerings such as grain or jewels, holy signs and mantras are contained inside the figure. In front of the Buddha is a large bowl of wax with a central flame that burns for one year before being replaced. This flame represents divinity and purity and is present in front of all Buddha statues in Ladakh.

Thiksey Gompa is the most picturesquely situated monastery in Ladakh, perched high on a hill above the Indus. Its buildings are arranged at various levels, leading up to the private apartments of the incarnate lamas on the summit. From here one commands a magnificent view of the valley. The gompa possesses a rich and beautiful collection of hundreds of hand-written or painted prayer books.

Dance Festival, Leh  Travels, Leh & Ladakh Adventure Tour PackagesA new temple contains a 15-meter tall Buddha statue, constructed in 1970 to commemorate a visit to Thiksey by the Dalai Lama. The statue, made of clay and covered with gold paint, is the largest Buddha figure in Ladakh and took four years to construct. Inside, the statue is filled with the Kandshur and the Tandshur - volumes of Buddhist canonical texts. The statue was made entirely by local craftsmen and represents Maitreya, ("compassion" in Sanskrit) the Buddha of the Future. The prophecy made of the Future Buddha is that the world will be undergoing such chaos that He will teach compassion to the people.

Hemis Gompa is one of the most important in Ladakh, the largest and also the wealthiest. It was built in 1620 by the king-architect Singe Namgyal, a great patron of Buddhism. He filled Hemis with golden statues, stupas set with precious stones and thangkhas brought from many places, including Tibet.

The lamas of Hemis were associated with the Ladakhi royal family and became quite prosperous, owning much land and supervising many smaller, scattered monasteries. Although only about a dozen lamas actually live here, Hemis has several hundred lamas attached to its subsidiary monasteries.

The Rimpoche or spiritual head of Hemis is a reincarnation of the monastery's founder Stagtshang Raspa. The last Rimpoche was a reincarnation who, as a five-year old child, was being taught in Tibet when the Chinese invaded. There has been no communication with the Rimpoche since the 1960s. During the 1975 festival, Drugpa Rimpoche, a 12-year old youth, became the new Rimpoche as a new incarnation.

Trekking, Adventure Tour in India, North India Trekking Tours Packages Hemis is the location for numerous religious festivals throughout the year, although the most important one is in summer when a huge thangkha, one of the largest in the world, is hung in the courtyard. It takes about 50 monks to carry the thangkha to its place and unfold it. The thangkha is made of fine heavy silk and embroidered with pictures of various gods as well as of the founder of Hemis. The dances in front of this thangkha represent the forces of good, symbolized by legendary heroes and saints, overcoming demons. Eventually, the violence of the demons is overcome by the superiority of virtue resting on wisdom and the demons are driven from the courtyard. Spectators watch these dances from the upper storey verandahs around the courtyard.

Hemis also has a thangkha, reputed to be the largest in the world, that is displayed once every eleven years. It was last shown in July 1992( next in 2004) The hands of the artist who painted this thangkha are preserved at Hemis as holy relics, though they are not shown to the public. Return to the Ladakh Sarai for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 19 : Alchi & Phyang Gompa
Alchi Gompa is located near the small village of Saspol. It is one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. Because it was built before the invading wars began in the 15th century, Alchi was built on lowlands, rather than on a hilltop as others were, in order to protect them from marauding armies. It was erected by King Rin-chen-Izghimpo, one of the first Ladakhi kings to engage in foreign relations. To build the monastery, the Ladakhi king signed a treaty with the Gyalpo (king) of Tibet, who agreed to provide the artisans. The rambling monastery has six main buildings: the Dukhang or main assembly hall, the Sum-tsek or three-tiered temple; the adjoining Manjusri Lha-khang and Lotsawa Lha-khang temples; the Lha-khang Soma or "New" temple and the Kanjur-Lha-khang, which is closed to the public. Walking towards the gompa from the small group of houses nearby, the first temple of importance is the Sum-stek temple, the oldest of the Alchi gompa. The temple is surrounded by wooden pillars and carved woodwork of mythological animals. The woodwork is original and reflects Kashmiri influence. The Dukhang is the place where the lamas gather for religious ceremonies. Inscriptions on the Dukhang's back wall attribute its building to the religious devotion and financial generosity of a man named Kal-Idan Shes-rab. The walls along both sides of the Dukhang are covered by mural paintings which are probably original to the time of the monastery's founding. Of particular interest are the miniature scenes of royal life. The best preserved is the royal drinking scene which is one of the most remarkable to have survived anywhere in the Tibetan-speaking world. The costumes in this scene clearly depict central Asian dress and the king and queen each have a halo, a convention that appears elsewhere in Alchi and possibly shows Nestorian Christian influence from Persia. This is the only painting in Ladakh that shows central Asian influence so clearly. The chortens around Alchi gompa also contain numerous wall murals, often of Rin-chen bZang-po, meant to honour his activities as a translator in collaboration with Indian teachers of Buddhism.

Lord Buddha, Indian Pilgrimage TourPhyang Gompa is also known in Ladakhi as the Gouon Gompa, meaning "blue peak", for it is beautifully situated on a hilltop above the small village of Chhiwang, about 22 km west of Leh. The monastery was built by King Lkra-Shis-Namgyal, founder of the Namgyal dynasty, in 1500 after defeating the last of the Lha-Chen kings. He ruled from 1500 to 1532 and during his reign, filled the monastery with beautiful statues, thangkhas and copies of the Khandshur (the translated word of the Buddha) and the Thandshur (the 225-volume commentary on the Khandshur, compiled by the religious teacher Du-ston, 1290 to 1364 AD). These extremely valuable texts are still at Phyang gompa. Phyang is a monastery of the red-hat sect of Buddhism with over 100 lamas. The head lama studied Buddhist philosophy at a university near Lhasa for eight years and had much of the gompa renovated in 1975. The walls of the Dukhang are decorated with murals of Vajradhara (a Buddha manifestation), the Five Buddhas (Vairocana and the Supreme Buddhas of the Four Directions) and small paintings of the Thousand Buddhas in the background. Hanging on the columns on the right side of the Dukhang is an enormous rolled-up thangkha. This thangkha, embroidered with depiction of all the guardian divinities, is unfurled during the Phyang festival, usually in August, and is four stories high when completely unrolled. Overnight at Ladakh Sarai

Day 20 : Leh
Free day for own activities. Evening lecture on Culture of Ladakh. Overnight at Ladakh Sarai.

Day 21 : Leh / Delhi
Transfer to the airport for the return flight to Delhi.Met upon arrival and transfer to the hotel for overnight stay.

Day 22 : Delhi
Transfer to the airport in time to board onward flight.

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