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8 Nights Majestic Manali & Leh

Destinations Covered
New Delhi – Kullu – Manali – Keylong – Sarchu – Leh


Day 1 New Delhi – Kullu (1hr 20mins - flight) - Manali (50km/1hr 40min)

On arrival at Kullu Airport you will be met by our representative and assisted to the designated coach/car booked.

Transfer and check-in at selected hotel.

Afternoon at leisure and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 2 In Manali

Post breakfast, take a walking excursion of Manali, visiting a historical temple dedicated to Hadimba Devi, as well as a local market, and the town's handicraft centre.

Later in afternoon, drive to Vashisht Village.

Vashisht Village is named after Sage Vashisht, one of the seven sages, or saptarishies. Legend has it that Sage Vashisht meditated here, and the temple dedicated to him here is believed to be more than 4000 years old. It's built in a traditional style with many intricate wood carvings, and is a beautiful example of local architecture.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 3 Manali – Keylong (120km/6hrs 30min)

Post an early breakfast, check-out and depart for Keylong through the Manali-Leh Highway via Rohtang Pass.

Manali-Leh highway is the world’s highest road, with an average elevation of more than 4000 metres. It crosses over five high passes: Rohtang Pass at 3978 metres, Baralachala Pass at 4930 metres, Nakeela Pass at 4965 metres, Lachangla Pass at 5079 metres, and the world’s highest: Tanglangla Pass at 5359 metres. The highway was designed, built and is maintained entirely by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) of the Indian army. Open only for five months, from May/June to Aug/Oct, the highway is generally two lanes wide (one lane in either direction) without a road divider, but in some parts has only one and a half lanes. Flanked by mountain ranges on both sides, the highway crosses many small streams of ice-cold water coming from snow-capped mountains and glacial melts, and it requires good driving skills to negotiate the fast-flowing streams.

Stopover at Rohtang Pass.

Rohtang Pass, at an altitude of 3978 metres, is the first high mountain pass on Manali-Leh Highway. It connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh.

This pass is an ancient trade route between the people on either side of Pir Panjal mountain range. It's the oldest and most frequented pass in the region.

After a small photo shoot, resume journey to Keylong.

The landscape changes immediately after getting past Rohtang Pass and entering into the Chandra River Valley in the Lahaul region. Gone are the lush valleys and come are brownish hues on the mountains. However, many mountain peaks are covered in snow and shine brightly in the sun.

On arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Later in afternoon, an excursion to Khardong Monastery and village.

Khardong Monastery is situated on the left bank of Bhaga River in Khardong Village, at an altitude of 3500 metres. Constructed in the 12th Century, it’s one of the most revered places of the Durga-Pa Sect. The monastery has a large library of Kangyur and Tangyur Buddhist scriptures in Bhoti, and a huge repository of exquisite thangka paintings, as well as musical instruments such as lutes, drums, horns, and old weapons. It also has a huge prayer drum containing strips of paper with the sacred mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” written on them.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 4 Keylong – Sarchu (117km/5hrs 30 min)

Post breakfast, check-out and depart for Sarchu via Suraj Tal Lake and Baralachala Pass.

A little beyond Baralacha-La is the pretty Suraj Tal Lake (Sun Lake), the source of the River Bhaga, and a must-see break for photographers and those just soaking in the landscape.

Baralachala Pass, at an altitude of 4980 metres, is the second highest mountain pass on the Manali-Leh Highway, and connects the Lahaul District of Himachal Pradesh to the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir. Baralachala means “summit”. Crossroads from Spiti, Ladakh, Zanskar and Lahaul meet here. In ancient times, it was part of a trade route.

On arrival, check-in at a tented campsite.

Sarchu is the boundary point between Himachal Pradesh and Ladhak (J&K State), and is situated at an altitude of 4,290 metres. It’s a major stopping point, with tented accommodation, on Manali-Leh Highway. The journey along the highway, at high altitude and variable road conditions, normally takes two days, so travellers use this spot as an overnight stop.

The evening is free to walk around the campsite. Overnight stay at tented campsite.

Day 5 Sarchu – Leh (236km/9hrs 30min)

Post breakfast, check-out and depart for Leh, via Gata Loops, Nakeela Pass, Lachangla Pass, Morey Plains and Tanglangla Pass.

The road to Nakeela Pass has 21 loops across the highway that turn into sharp bends, one loop leading to another. “Gata Loops” covers a distance of 7km on road, and travelling through it will take you at the top of the Nakeela Pass, the third highest altitude pass, at 4965 metres, on the Manali - Leh Highway. Gata Loops is famous for its stunning location, breath-taking scenery, and the difficult ascent.

The road from Nakeela to the Lachungla Pass is fairly plain. Lachungla Pass, at an altitude of 5079 metres, is the fourth highest mountain pass on the Manali- Leh highway; it’s also one of the two passes on this route that are above 5000 metres.

Stopover at Pang, and afterwards drive to the final and fifth high pass on the journey to Tanglang La Pass via Morey Plains. This is the biggest and highest plateau on Earth, and stretches for 42km.

The Morey Plains are at an average altitude of 4800 metres, but sudden flat land makes you feel like you are at a lower altitude, which can be a welcome relief. The plain area starts after about 4km of uphill road, from Pang towards Tanglang La Pass. The road is mostly on this plain for around 30 – 35km, before it again starts to rise toward Tanglang La. Flanked by beautiful mountains on both sides, it’s a great attraction on the Manali-Leh Highway.

After more plains, the climb for Tanglang-La Pass – the highest drivable pass at 5360 metres – begins. It’s also the last pass on the Manali-Leh Highway. After the Tanglang-La descent, you will find small villages, green fields and a relatively straight road to Leh.

On arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 6 In Leh

Post breakfast, day at leisure.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 7 In Leh

Post breakfast, take a half-day excursion to Spituk and Phyang Monastery.

Spituk is an ancient monastery, founded in the 11th Century. Situated atop a high hillock, it overlooks the Indus River flowing nearby. The shrine was built under the patronage of Od-de, who was Lama Changchub Od's elder brother, and wanted a monastic community in the region. Spituk, a word for exemplary, derived from the translation of Rinchen Zangpo's statement, was chosen as the name of this monastery. An idol of Lord Buddha is installed within the main shrine of the gompa, along with a small image of Amitayus: the deity of long life. A large and holy wax bowl with a continuously burning flame is kept in front of Buddha's statue. Another highlight of the main prayer hall is the high throne, which was exclusively built for the Dalai Lama. The monastery also features an assortment of colourful thangka paintings, ancient masks, and weapons. Exquisite murals depicting Buddha's various hand-gestures are also preserved here. This monastery is the venue of several Tibetan festivals, during which religious dances and unique rituals are performed.

Phyang Monastery is a prominent place of worship, affiliated with the Red Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism; it’s situated atop Phyang Hill, where a monastery named Tashi Chozong was built in 1515. The establishment of this monastery led to the formation of a monastic community that began practicing Digung teachings under the guidance of Skyoba Jigsten Gonbo. The monastery houses several small shrines and royal wall paintings within its premises. A 900 years-old museum is an important attraction here. The museum has on display a fabulous assortment of idols, colourful thangkas, and ancient weapons of warfare.

Later in the afternoon, visit Shankar Gompa, Shanti Stupa and Leh Bazaar.

Sankar Gompa is the official residence of the head of the Gelukpa Sect, and a branch of Spituk Monastery. The main entrance fascinates visitors with its amazing decorations. The left wall is enhanced with a “Wheel of Life”, held by the god Yama. Another section to admire is the Dukhang, adorned with paintings of the Guardian of the Four Directions. It also boasts a throne reserved for the head monk. This monastery has a fabulous collection of exquisite paintings and murals of the Guardian Divinities of the Four Quarters of Heaven, the Old Man of Longevity, and Sakyamuni Buddha with his sixteen sages and thirty-five benevolent Buddhas. It also houses awesome statues of Avalokiteshwara Padma Hari – with a thousand heads and arms – and Yamantaka (the God of Death). Sankar Gompa also keeps Kanshur, 108 volumes of Buddha's teachings, and idols of three Buddhas: Shakyamuni, the Present Buddha, and Maitreya (the Future Buddha).

Shanti Stupa was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura to promote world peace, and holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. The stupa, at 4267 metres, overlooks Leh city with panoramic views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 8 In Leh

Post breakfast, go on a full-day excursion to Shey Palace, Thiksey, Hemis Monastery and Stok Palace Museum.

Shey Palace, the former royal residence of the Ladakh monarchs, is the main attraction of Shey town, and is situated 15km from Leh on the Manali highway. The palace was built by Ladakh’s King Deldan Namgyal in 1655. Namgyal also made Shey his summer capital. The palace offers views of the surrounding valleys. Currently, the palace serves as a centre of Buddhism and houses the Shey Monastery. It has a large golden Buddha statue, which fills almost three floors of the monastery. Paintings on the walls, as well as murals and sculptures of Buddha, are important attractions here.

Thiksay Gompa or Thiksay Monastery belongs to the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Situated at an altitude of 3600 metres in Indus Valley, it’s a twelve-storey complex that houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. One of the main points of interest is the Maitreya Temple, installed in 1970 to commemorate the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit. It contains a 15 metre high statue of Maitreya, the largest such statue in Ladakh, filling two storeys of the building.

The Hemis Monastery holds the distinction of being the largest and wealthiest monastery of Ladakh. It was founded by the first incarnation of Stagsang, Raspa Nawang Gyatso, in 1630. The Hemis Monastery is positioned inside a gorge and belongs to the Dugpa Order; it stands on the western bank of the Indus River. The monastery boasts a very rich collection of ancient relics. The array of items kept inside the monastery consists of a copper-gilt statue of the Lord Buddha, various gold and silver stupas, sacred thankas, and several other exquisite objects. Situated slightly higher than the Hemis Gompa of Leh Ladakh, this is a sacred hermitage, founded by Gyalwa Kotsang. The meditation cave of Gyalwa, along with his footprints and handprints on the rock and sacred shrines, still bring back memories of his life. The Hemis Monastery is also the venue of the annual Hemis Festival. This festival is a commemoration of the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhav. On the day of the Hemis Festival, the thangka paintings of the monastery are displayed, with a gap of twelve years between successive displays. The thanka is the sacred appliqué-work tapestry wrought with pearls, which depict Guru Padmasambhava.

Stok Palace Museum is situated within the Stok Palace, the residential compound of Ladakh's erstwhile royal family. The Stok Palace Museum provides a peek into the heritage of this secluded valley. Precious artefacts and relics related to Ladakh's old monarchy are well-preserved here. Ancient coins, royal seals, regal costumes, precious jewellery and photographs are also displayed. The Palace Museum has a separate room for exhibiting the warfare equipment of the Ladakh kingdom, where people can see an impressive assortment of swords, shields, bows, arrows, quivers and guns.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 9 Departure from Leh

Post breakfast, check-out and transfer to Leh Airport, or any convenient point for your onward journey.

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