Ladakh Festival Tour

Lahakh Festival

Lahakh Festival

The Ladakh Festival – 4 days

Leh, the former Kingdom of Lakakh sits on the rugged Himalayan plain with Buddhist monasteries perched on soaring hilltops, shattered looking landscapes splashed with small but brilliant patches of green and ancient palaces clinging to sheer rock walls. Join us to experience the colour and festivity of the annual Lahakh festival whilst discovering the sights of this magical city.

Date:  25 September – 28 September 2019

Tour Plan:

Day 1: Flight from Dehli to Leh

Friday. Delhi – Leh. Early morning flight from Delhi to Leh. Flight prices do vary and when booked in advance cost less. Flights can be booked with us or independently. Upon arrival to Leh onward transfer to your guesthouse where the remains of the day can be spent at leisure.

leh from aeroplane
leh from aeroplane

Leh is the capital of the former Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh that now sits in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The region is a vast highland desert sitting at 3524 metres above sea level, lying between the Karakoram and the Himalayan ranges characterized by a desolate moonlike landscape and snowy peaks. The town is still dominated by the now ruined Leh Palace, former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace. The 28 000 residents of the the city are predominantly Buddhists and accordingly, Leh is the very much the heart and soul of Buddhist culture in the region. Overnight – Leh & Ladakh

Day 2: The Ladakh Festival & city sightseeing tour

This morning the monastic festival of Leh comes to life with the rhythm of drumbeats and dance. The streets and alleys are blazing hues of every color and pulsate with life. Gathering at approximately 8am we take our spots to watch the inauguration procession of village people making their way down the mountain passes to the city wearing their finest gold and silver ornaments and exotic turquoise headdress.

Lahakh Festival

In tow with the procession we’ll arrive to the main market area of the city where the celebration continues on a grand scale with various cultural troupes and village contingents participating in full ceremonial costumes or traditional Ladakhi dresses singing songs and performing various dances to the tune of village folk music. As the parade arrives at the Polo ground participants break into a variety of folk and popular dances, presenting the best samples of the region’s performing arts and sporting events including archery and polo. Traditional Mask Dances of the monasteries can also be seen with monastery lamas wearing their ritual regalia in accompaniment to their elaborately decorated masks dance in slow, languorous movements to the rhythm of cymbals, flutes and trumpets. This is a truly amazing sight.

Lahakh Festival

It also may be possible to watch a polo match of the ‘Ladakh Festival Cup’ comprising of various polo teams in the region (subject to festival scheduling). Here in the western Himalayas the game is played in its original form with fewer rules and frenzied crowd involvement.

This afternoon offers a guided sightseeing tour of the town, dominated by Sengge Namgyal’s, nine storey palace. Sengge Namgyal a Buddhist and known as the Lion King was the King of Ladakh from 1616 to his death in 1642. His legacy lives in the many monasteries, palaces and shrines of Ladakh that were built under his reign. This grand nine story stone structure is one of the most captivating architectural ruins of the region. Built in traditional Tibetan style it sits on the foothills of the barren landscape. Constructed in the 17th century as the residential palace for the King to mark the reunifying Upper and Lower Ladakh, it showcases excellent example of the medieval Tibetan architecture with its colossal inclined buttressed walls and protruding wooden balconies.

Leh Palace leh ladakh

Above Leh Palace, on Namgyal Tsemo (Victory Peak) overlooking the town, are the ruins of the earliest royal residence at Leh a fortress type structure built by King Tashi Namgyal in the 16th century. In the bazaar the main sites to visit are the Jokhang, the new main Buddhist temple built in the 1980s by the Ladakh Buddhist association and an imposing mosque reflecting a mixture of Islamic and Tibetan architecture that accommodating more than 500 worshippers dating from the late 17th century situated opposite each other.

jokhang temple

Visits will also be made to Sankar Gompa to view the image of Avalokitesvara, inset with turquoise and shown with 1000 heads, arms and feet and 100000 eyes, Shanti Stupa – built to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism and inaugurated by his holiness the Dalai Lama in 1985 and Stok Palace – a museum where in the Sengge Namgyal family heirlooms and relics are displayed. Overnight – Leh & Ladakh

Day 3: Shey and Thiksey Monestories, Hemis Gompa

Today offers guided tours of Shey, Thiksey and Hemis monasteries.

Shey Monastery

Shey monastery situated on a hilltop, 15km from Leh, was the summer palace of the royal family of the region. The monastery houses a two storey high-seated image of Buddha cast from copper and covered with gold leaf. It is also believed that Kings of Leh were born here in the monastery.

Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey Monastery

Thiksey monastery is situated on a hilltop and the views of the green Indus valley from its rooftop are splendid. This monastery has a number of chambers full of statues and stupas. Courtyard murals are bright and this imposing structure is in many respects a replica of Potala Palace in Lhasa.

Hemis-monastery-ladakh

Hemis Gompa is the biggest and wealthiest monastery in Ladakh which contains a large number of gold statues, stupas and thangkas, one of which is reputed to be the largest in existence and is exhibited once every 12 years. Overnight – Leh & Ladakh

Day 4: Leh to Delhi by flight

Leh – Delhi. Early this morning (dictated by flight times) we transfer to the airport for our flight to Delhi (booked independently in addition to our tour cost) arriving at approximately 8:30am you will be transferred to the international airport for your connecting international flight.

Opt to extend your stay and explore the sites of Delhi. Additional tour accommodation is available in Delhi should you require. You may another of our tours that starts today, upon arrival to Delhi from Leh you will be transferred to your start hotel for the commencing of your new tour.

Pushkar Camel Fair Tour

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair – 5 days Tour of Delhi, Pushkar and Ajmer

Discover the fascinating spectacle of cattle trading, religious pilgrimage, celebration and festivity at Pushkar Camel Fair. Aside from the serious business of livestock trading, there’s the longest mustache competition, a camel beauty pageant, a cricket match, musicians, dancers, magicians and snake charmers hundreds of authentic stalls to explore.

Dates: 4 Nov, 2019 – 12 Nov, 2019

Tour Plan:

Day 1: Welcome to Delhi

Jama Masjid Delhi
Jama Masjid Delhi

Welcome to India and the start of your holiday! Today offers free time for you to explore the colourful sights of Delhi. Opt to visit the imposing Red Fort, Jama Masjid – India’s oldest and largest mosque, Raj Ghat – the site of Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation, Humayan’s Tomb and Qutab Minar. An airport to hotel arrival transfer can be arranged should you require. Overnight – Delhi

Day 2: Pushkar Camel Fair

This morning is an early start as we board the Ajmer Shatabadi express bound for Ajmer. Seated in the air conditioned chair class carriage and leaving the city behind we look out upon a landscape of golden desert studded with green fields of agriculture and peaceful villages. Upon arrival to Ajmer a short drive leads us to our accommodation, a kilometre from the uproarious gathering of the Pushkar Camel Fair.

For the next few nights we bed down in our comfortable Swiss style permanent tented camp. Each high roofed tent with solid flooring, proper beds and linen offers the facilities of air conditioning, en suite with a bath and hot and cold running water.

Pushkar Camel Fair

After lunch and time to freshen up we head over to the frenzy of activity and riot of colour that is associated Pushkar – possibly the world’s largest camel fair. Attracting some 300 000 visitors, 40 000 camel, cattle and horses the fair draws sightseers, pilgrims, nomads, breeders, herdsmen, farmers and traders with their accompanying family, livestock and wares from all over the state of Rajasthan. Pushkar is an authentic cultural spectacle that’s totally unique and promises to be good fun. Overnight – Pushkar

Day 3: Camel judging, cricket, music & magicians

Pushkar Camel Fair

Today offers a glimpse at the serious business of livestock trading and the judging of the best bovine and camelids in each category. There are also more light hearted activities on offer such as the camel running races, tug of war, awards for the best dressed camel and a beauty pageant. Take a look in at the longest moustache competition or keep score at the cricket match between the local Pushkar club and a random assortment of tourists. There are also vibrant folk music and dances, magic shows and various other traditional entertainment and competitions as well as hundreds of authentic stalls to explore, packed with jewelry and textiles from the surrounding areas.

Pushkar Camel Fair

This evening can be spent watching the various entertainments offered at our camp, outdoors and under a blanket of stars. Overnight – Pushkar

Day 4: Pushkar – bathing at the ghats

Today marks the start of the Kartik Poornima, a Hindu holy day celebrated on the full moon or the fifteenth lunar day in the month of Kartik. According to the Hindu scriptures the lake relates to Brahma, the god of all creation and is one of the five most holy Hindu pilgrimage sites in India. The Brahma temple here is the most important temple in Pushkar, and is in fact the only Brahma temple in the whole of the country.

Pushkar Lake
Pushkar Lake

On this day of celebration countless pilgrims swathed in colourful fabric converge for a holy dip in the sacred lake before the morning sun has cast its first rays on the earth. Surrounded by 52 bathing ghats (a series of steps leading to the lake), throngs of devotees line the water’s edge praying to the deities before washing away the sins of a lifetime.

brahma temple pushkar
brahma temple pushkar

After all sin has been absolved, the atmosphere is electric and the carnival, music, dancers, magicians, acrobats, snake charming, horse and camel racing continues. If all the excitement becomes to much and you’re in need a breath of fresh air remember you can always take stroll and explore any one of the 500 Hindu temples surrounding the lake and the local area.

This fascinating spectacle of cattle trading, religious worship, celebration and festivity at Pushkar during this time of year is globally famous. Your baggage allowance may not allow you to take home a camel, but you’re sure to find something truly unique and authentic here at the annual fair. Overnight – Pushkar

Day 5: Ajmer Sherif and onward to Delhi

Ajmer Sharif

Pushkar – Delhi. This morning offers free time before visiting the town of Ajmer Sherif. The most notable site is the resting place of the Sufi seer, Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chisti who died here in 1236 after six days of fasting and praying. Possibly the most important Muslim shrine in India fervent pilgrims patronize the shrine as did many of the Mughal rulers including that of Emperor Akbar.

Leading off the Dargah Bazaar we enter the shrine via a gateway of immensely beautifully intricately carved silver doors. In the courtyard stands two huge cauldrons with capacity of 2240 kg and 4480 litres! That’s a lot of chicken soup!

Onward to the station we board our train to Delhi arriving at 22:45 in the evening and transfer to the airport for your onward international flight.

Jaisalmer Desert Festival Tour

Jaisalmer Desert Festival

Jaisalmer Desert Festival

Jaisalmer Desert Festival – 15 days Tour of Delhi Agra Jaipur and Rajasthan

Join us on a Rajput Extravaganza – the ultimate trip through the Land of the Rajput Kings with the unique opportunity to experience the exciting spectacle of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival. As the drums of Rajasthan beat out aloud brightly adorned elephants with their mahouts and tassel laden camels and riders, colourful floats, singers, dancers and marching bands will waltz on by in the city’s annual street parade.

Dates: 7 Feb 2020 – 9 Feb 2020

Tour Plan:

Day 1: Delhi

Welcome to India and the start of your holiday! Arrive Delhi, included transfer to hotel. Overnight – Delhi

Day 2: Sightseeing in Old & New Delhi

Jama Masjid Delhi
Jama Masjid Delhi

This morning, our Welcome Meeting takes place. We’ll then enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Delhi, taking in the impressive Red Fort, Jama Masjid – India’s oldest and largest mosque, Raj Ghat – the site of Gandhi’s cremation and more. Tonight, we enjoy a group Namaste Dinner at a restaurant specializing in classic Indian cuisine. Overnight – Delhi

Day 3: The Taj Mahal

 

taj mahal
taj mahal

Departing Delhi, we journey to Agra, once India’s Mughal capital. Here we explore the legendary Taj Mahal. Built entirely of white marble, the Taj Mahal has no peers. Continuing, we visit Agra fort, which boasts some of India’s finest Mughal buildings behind it’s fortified walls. We also visit a marble craftshop. Overnight – Agra

Day 4: Jaipur

fatehpur sikri
fatehpur sikri

Agra – Jaipur. En route to Jaipur we visit the stunning former Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri – Emperor Akbar’s vision in red sandstone. We enjoy lunch at Udai Vilas Palace in Bharatpur, before taking a walk in the traditional rural village of Peharsar. Later, in Jaipur, we visit a cotton trading/tailor shop where you can get clothing tailored for delivery to your hotel before we leave Jaipur! Overnight – Jaipur

Day 5: Jaipur

amber fort jaipur
amber fort jaipur

This morning, we travel beyond Jaipur to the 16th century Amber Fort. An exotic elephant ride transports us to the lofty fort, where we’ll enjoy a tour of this Rajput extravaganza. Why not bolt on an early morning amazing hot air balloon ride? Later in the afternoon we tour the City Palace, which boasts an interesting museum of regal attire and Jantar Mantar, an ancient astronomical observatory. Overnight – Jaipur

Day 6: Surajgarh – rural India

beautiful-Havelis-of-the-Shekhawati-region

Jaipur – Surajgarh/ Shekhawati region. Today, we drive to the semi-desert Shekhawati region. The small towns in this region became important trading posts, a lasting legacy of which are the beautiful painted havelis (mansions) constructed by wealthy merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries. Enjoy an afternoon village walk. Overnight – Surajgarh

Day 7: Bikaner

junagarh fort
junagarh fort

Surajgarh – Bikaner. Travelling west, our next stop is the 14th century desert town of Bikaner. Once an important staging post on the great caravan routes, much of the atmospheric old town which we will explore is still encircled by massive fortified walls. Within these walls are havelis, artisan shops and people going about their daily lives. We also visit the spectacular Junagarh Fort & museum, built between 1587 and 1593 during the rule of Rai Singh. Overnight – Bikaner (B)

Day 8: Jaisalmer

patwon ki haveli jaisalmer
patwon ki haveli jaisalmer

Bikaner – Jaisalmer. Driving through the Rajasthani Thar desert we arrive at the medieval caravan outpost of Jaisalmer, one of the jewels in India’s crown. Exquisite wood and yellow sandstone buildings dot the town and within Jaisalmer Fort are homes, hotels and shops hidden in ancient lane ways. Late afternoon and evening at lesiure. Overnight – Jaisalmer

Day 9: Jaisalmer Desert Festival

Jaisalmer Fort
Jaisalmer Fort

Today we have a wonderful opportunity to experience the exciting spectacle of the golden city’s grand parade. As the drums of Rajasthan beat out aloud brightly adorned elephants with their mahouts and tassel laden camels and riders, colourful floats, singers, dancers and marching bands will waltz on by in the city’s annual street parade. Bright and early this morning we take a guided tour of the Jaisalmer Fort. Afterward we’ll wait in readiness at the First Gate of mammoth stone fort. Here, with the honey colored fortress as a backdrop there will be plenty of photo opportunities as the procession marches by. Then, together we can walk alongside the festival and street parade as it weaves its way through the city streets of the Rajputs to gates of the town stadium.

Jaisalmer Desert Festival

We too will enter the stadium (scheduled to arrive at 12 noon) and watch the festival events for an hour or so before continue with our city sightseeing tour (time permitting). Later in the afternoon after time to freshen up and have some lunch we enjoy a camel ride across the vast, rolling sand dunes of the desert. Overnight – Jaisalmer

Day 10: Jodhpur & the Mighty Thar Desert

Blue City Jodhpur

Jaisalmer – Jodhpur. An interesting drive through increasingly varied scenery takes us to Jodhpur, a town at the edge of the mighty Thar Desert. Dominated by Meherangarh Fort which sits majestically atop a hill, Jodhpur is known as the Blue City. This is because of the coloured houses in the old town, painted indigo. We’ll enjoy some touring in this colourful Rajasthani city, taking in the mighty fort and bazaars of the old city which are gathered around the city’s tall clock tower. Overnight – Jodhpur

Day 11: Ranakpur

ranakpur-jain-temple
ranakpur jain temple

Jodhpur – Ranakpur. Leaving Jodhpur, we drive to Ranakpur, a small town tucked away in a remote valley and famed for its beautiful 14th century Jain temples. We’ll enjoy some exploration here and time to relax at our hotel. Overnight – Ranakpur (B)

Days 12 – 13: Udaipur – picturesque Lake Pichola

pichola lake udaipur
pichola lake udaipur
city palace udaipur
city palace udaipur

Ranakpur – Udaipur. Continuing south, we arrive at Udaipur. An oasis of cool, with its massive lake and Venetian-like appearance, Udaipur is one of the most romantic towns in Rajasthan. A favorite amongst travelers, Udaipur is crammed full of palaces and temples. During our stay we’ll enjoy a cruise on Lake Pichola, plus touring of the imposing City Palace, not to mention free time to explore and perhaps shop for colourful Rajasthani souvenirs and Indian spices. Overnight – Udaipur

Day 14: Fly back to Delhi

Udaipur – Delhi. Departure transfer to the airport to board a morning flight to Delhi / Mumbai, see note below. The afternoon is free for you to relax at the hotel or to head out and further explore Delhi. Overnight – Delhi

Day 15: Delhi

Saying goodbye to our new found friends, our tour ends, hotel check-out and included onward transfer to airport.

Holi and Elephant Festival Tour

Elephant Parade jaipur

Elephant Parade jaipur

Holi Festival and Elephant Parade Tour covers Delhi Agra and Jaipur – 8 Days

Combine a tour of the famous Golden Triangle with the exuberant festivities of Holi – India’s most dazzling celebration, and the Elephant Festival of Jaipur, when exquisitely decorated elephants from the Amber Fort parade through the showground and play the regal game of polo.

Dates: 9th and 10th March 2020

Tour Details:

Day 1: Delhi

Saturday 23 March 2013. Welcome to India and the start of your holiday! Arrive Delhi, included transfer to hotel. Free afternoon and evening. Overnight – Delhi

Day 2: Old & New Delhi

Jama Masjid Delhi
Jama Masjid Delhi

This morning, our welcome meeting takes place. We’ll then enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Delhi. Tonight, we enjoy a Namaste Dinner at an Indian restaurant. Overnight – Delhi

Day 3: Jaipur

City Palace jaipur
City Palace jaipur

Delhi – Jaipur. Today, we drive to Jaipur. Affectionately known as the Pink City as Maharaja Ram Singh had all of the Old City painted a welcoming pink in 1876 to herald a visit by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), it is also the bustling capital of the state of Rajasthan. We enjoy a tour of the City Palace and Jantar Mantar – an old yet cleverly designed space observatory. Overnight – Jaipur

Day 4: The Elephant Festival of Jaipur

Early today, we travel beyond Jaipur to the stunning 16th century Amber Fort – a sprawling Rajput concoction which hugs the hill on which it was built and overlooks the hot plains below. We enjoy a stately elephant ride (Subject to Government regulations & availability) to the fort proper and tour the fort’s well-preserved interior and grounds.

Elephant ride to the fort
Elephant ride to the fort

This afternoon its festival time for the elephants of Jaipur and we will not be missing the parade! As we arrive to the showground at approx 4pm we’ll see camels and horses and lively folk dancers and musicians lead the carnival into Jaipur’s open air Rambagh Polo Ground. Groomed to perfection, glittering in gold, laden with silk tassels and intricately decorated with brightly coloured motifs, row upon row of elephants parade past the crowds.

Elephant Parade jaipur

Hoping to be ringside, we’ll witness the colourful celebrations which include the crowning of the Best Decorated Elephant, a regal match of polo played from elephant back and the comical bout of man verses elephant in a game of tug of war. For some wonderful pic’s of our groups and guides at the Elephant Parade in 2012, head over to our Facebook page. The days activities come to a close at approx 7pm. Overnight – Jaipur (B)

Day 5: India celebrates Holi

Holi
Holi

Jaipur – Bharatpur via Peharsar. It’s an early start today as the Holi festivities bring thousands of devotees out onto the streets in dazzling colour and good cheer.

Celebrated all over India since ancient times, Holi is an annual festival which takes place on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna. Originally Holi was an agricultural festival celebrating the arrival of spring. In keeping with this tradition people now choose to celebrate the occasion by throwing brightly coloured spices or herbal powders into the air, symbolically they are ridding the gloom of winter and rejoicing in the colours and liveliness of spring.

Holi

Today the central ritual of Holi incorporates the applying and throwing of coloured water and powders on friends and family which gives the holiday its modern name ‘the Festival of Colour’. This ritual also believed to be based on events in Hindu mythology relating to Prahlad worshipping the god Vishnu and being set ablaze with his wicked aunt Holika. As the fire was lit Holika asked for forgiveness and Prahlad decreed that she would be remembered every year at Holi. Holi is also associated with Krishna’s playful splashing of the maids with water, but most of all it celebrates the coming of spring and the vibrancy of colour that the season brings.

Arriving at the small rural village of Perharsar, we tour a charming, rustic haveli (mansion house) with small courtyard and lawned gardens which has been carefully restored to its former glory. From here its a short drive to our hotel in Bharatpur.

Keoladeo Ghana National Park

After hotel check and time for lunch, you can pull up a chair and watch the Holi celebrations taking place out on the lawn. Later we will go to Keoladeo Ghana National Park for a late afternoon bicycle rickshaw ride and birdwatching. Overnight – Bharatpur

Day 6: The Taj Mahal – built for love

taj mahal
taj mahal

Bharatpur – Agra. En route to Agra, we visit Fatehpur Sikri, former imperial capital of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Built between 1569 and 1585, it has been deserted for more than four centuries, by all accounts abandoned in 1600 due to a meagre supply of water. In Agra, we visit the impressive Agra Fort before touring the legendary Taj Mahal and witnessing a glorious golden sunset. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who tragically died in childbirth in 1631, the Taj Mahal in Agra is described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love and remains one of India’s most enduring symbols. Overnight – Agra

Day 7: Onward to Delhi

Agra – Delhi. After breakfast we return to Delhi, the latter part of the afternoon is free for you to relax or independently explore more of Delhi. Overnight – Delhi

Day 8: Delhi

Our tour concludes after breakfast. Goodbye India! We transfer you to the airport for your onward international flight.

Hola Mohalla Sikh Festival Tour

Hola Mohalla

Hola Mohalla

Hola Mohalla Sikh Festival – 5 days Tour Anandpur Sahib Punjab

Head north to the Punjab and attend the amazing Hola Mohalla Sikh Festival in Anandpur Sahib! Experience magnificent displays of horsemanship and exciting mock fighting (Gatka), witness the tremendous colors of the Sikh faith, including the stunning blue and orange blend of the Nehang Sikh Army.

Dates – 10 – 12 March 2020

Hola Mohalla Tour Details

Day 1: Delhi

Welcome to India! Arrive into New Delhi and be transferred to our hotel. The remainder of the day can be spent at leisure exploring India’s capital. Overnight – Delhi

Days 2 – 3: Holla Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib

Delhi – Kangar Village. After breakfast on day 2 we climb aboard the Shatabdi Express train north to Chandigarh, passing through the picturesque state of Haryana which is blessed with lush green scenery and beautiful lakes and rivers. Upon arrival in Chandighar we are driven to the tranquil Kikar Lodge in Kangar Village. This is our base for the next 3 nights, while we attend the prestigious Hola Mohalla festival in the nearby holy city of Anandpur Sahib. Hola Mohalla is an annual 3 day festival which occurs during the first lunar month of Chet.

Hola Mohalla

We spend the remains of day 2 and day 3 at the Holla Mohalla Festival, where we’ll witness all the colorful festivities which include dramatic mock martial arts battles (known as Gatka), impressive displays of weaponry, archery and wrestling. There’s also music, poetry and prayers, singing and chanting, while food is served to pilgrims from all castes and creeds by women from the neighboring villages, who set up langars (community kitchens). This is impressive and humbling to watch as regardless of caste, all Sikh’s sit together.

hola mohalla

There are also exciting horse riding displays from the Nahib Sikh Army where the riders gallop bareback, performing tricks like riding astride two horses. One of the main attractions at the festival are the Nehangs – a prestigious armed Sikh order who wear a striking blend of blue and orange, with twisted moustaches and staggeringly giant embellished turbans. Any keen photographers will have a whale of a time here with all the amazing sights and vibrant colors on show. Overnight – Kangar Village

Day 4: Kikar

Today is yours to spend at leisure. Anyone who wants to return to the Hola Mohalla Festival can do so, or there are plenty of other forms of entertainment. The lodge is surrounded by nature trails for any keen walkers and wildlife is here in abundance. Sporting activities include volleyball and badminton and there’s the opportunity to take a leisurely buffalo cart or tractor ride. Overnight – Kangar Village

Day 5: Delhi

Kangar – Chandigarh – Delhi. Today we travel back to Chandigarh and explore its wonderful Rock Garden. This unique attraction displays numerous sculptures made entirely from industrial and urban waste. Look out for sculptures made out of mudguards and marbles, broken bangles and brake pads or even handle bars and hubcaps! Next we head over to Sukhna Lake. This picturesque manmade lake is 3 km in length and is very popular with water sports fans and is a great place to relax and unwind. Early this evening we travel by train back down to Delhi.

rock-garden-chandigarh

Once back in Delhi we are transferred back to the airport for onward journeys. Tour end.

If you are coming to India for the first time, have a few more days available then you may consider adding a Golden Triangle Tour of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur to the above tour plan for a rich experience. This is the best option because the 3 cities have unique past, forts, palaces and museums which offer a unique insight into the past.

Day 6: Old Delhi

Jama Masjid Delhi
Jama Masjid Delhi

This morning meet you guide and the any members of the group who are starting their tour in Delhi at the Welcome Meeting. We’ll then enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Delhi, taking in the impressive Red Fort, Jama Masjid – India’s oldest and largest mosque, Raj Ghat – the site of Gandhi’s cremation and more. Tonight, we enjoy a group Namaste Dinner at a restaurant specialising in classic Indian cuisine. Overnight – Delhi

Day 7: Taj Mahal

taj mahal
taj mahal

Delhi – Agra. Departing Delhi, we journey to Agra, once India’s Mughal capital. Here, we take a motorised buggy to the legendary Taj Mahal. Built entirely of white marble, the Taj Mahal has no peers. Continuing, we visit Agra fort, which boasts some of India’s finest Mughal buildings behind it’s fortified walls. Overnight – Agra

Day 8: Agra

fatehpur sikri
fatehpur sikri

Agra – Jaipur. En route to Jaipur, we visit the ghostly former Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri, abandoned due to lack of water. We enjoy lunch at Udai Vilas Palace in Bharatpur, before taking a walk through the nearby rural village Peharsar. In Jaipur, we visit a cotton trading/tailor shop where you can get clothing tailored for delivery to your hotel before we leave! Overnight – Jaipur

Day 9: Jaipur

amber fort jaipur
amber fort jaipur

Maybe opt for an early morning balloon flight over the pink city of Jaipur. Look out for the snake charmers that dot our route, as we travel to the 16th century Amber Fort. An exotic elephant ride transports us to the lofty fort, where we’ll enjoy a tour of this Rajput extravaganza. Later in the afternoon we tour the City Palace, which boasts an interesting museum of regal attire and Jantar Mantar, an ancient astronomical observatory. Overnight – Jaipur

Day 10: Village life, rural India

beautiful-Havelis-of-the-Shekhawati-region

Jaipur – Surajgarh/ Shekhawati region. Today, we drive to the semi-desert Shekhawati region. The small towns in this region became important trading posts, a lasting legacy of which are the beautiful painted havelis (mansions) constructed by wealthy merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries. Afternoon village walk and time to relax. Overnight – Surajgarh

Day 11: Surajgarh to Delhi

Shekhawati region – Delhi. Returning to Delhi, the latter part of the afternoon is free for you to relax or independently explore more of Delhi. Overnight – Delhi

Day 12: Delhi

Saturday. Hotel check out and included onward departure transfer to airport.

Hemis Festival Tour

hemis festival

hemis festival

Hemis Festival – 5 days Tour of Leh Ladakh India

Dressed in colorful, vibrant brocades with brightly decorated and richly adorned paper-mache masks the monastery lamas perform to a cacophony of drums, cymbals and long horns at the birthday celebrations of Guru Padamasambhava. Join us in Leh, the capital of the former Kingdom of Lakakh to discover, Buddhist gompas and monasteries perched on soaring hilltops, ruinous ancient palaces, snow peaked Himalayan landscapes and the local culture and ancient traditions of the annual Hemis festival.

Dates : 8 July – 15 July 2019

Hemis Festival Tour Plan:

Day 1: Flight from Dehli to Leh

leh from aeroplane
leh from aeroplane

Monday. Delhi – Leh. Early morning flight from Delhi to Leh. Flights can be booked with us or independently. Upon arrival to Leh onward transfer to your guesthouse where the remains of the day can be spent at leisure.

Leh-Bazaar
Leh Bazaar

Leh is the capital of former Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh that now sits in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The region is a vast highland desert sitting at 3524 metres above sea level, lying between the Karakoram and the Himalayan ranges characterised by a desolate moonlike landscape and snowy peaks. The town is still dominated by the now ruined Leh Palace, former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace. The 28 000 residents of the the city are predominantly Buddhists and accordingly, Leh is the very much the heart and soul of Buddhist culture in the region. Overnight – Leh & Ladakh

Day 2: The Hemis Festival & city sightseeing tour

Hemis-monastery-ladakh

Hemis Gompa, is the biggest monastery in Ladakh and the site of the annual festival commemorating the birth of Guru Padamasambhava, who is said to have brought Vajrayana Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet. Revered throughout the Himalayan ranges and considered the second Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava, the Lotus-born (popularly known as Guru Rinpoche, the Precious Master) was invited from India in the 8th century to conquer the dark and hostile forces transforming them into guardians and protectors of the pure dharma. In the process the guru brought Vajrayana Buddhism – a revelation of the complete and perfect path to awakening.

Followers believe that their path is the purest form of Buddhism with the goal of liberation from suffering and attainment of enlightenment. It is believed to be the path actually practiced by Buddha with the teaching indelible, even still today within the entire Himalayan region.

hemis festival ladakh

This morning we make our way to the Hemis monastery (1.5 hrs drive), the largest and richest monastery in all of Ladakh. In the courtyard filled to capacity with local Ladakhis and pilgrims (at 9am) Guru Padamasambhava birthday celebrations will commence.

A raised dais with a richly cushioned seat with a finely painted small Tibetan table is placed with the ceremonial items – cups full of holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and incense sticks. A number of musicians play the traditional music with four pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large size wind instruments. Next to them a small space is assigned for the lamas to sit.

The festival highlight is the gathering of the lamas around the central flagpole performing the mystic mask dances (Chams) and sacred plays. Chams are essentially a part of Tantric tradition, performed only in the gompas that follow the Tantric Vajrayana teachings and where the monks perform tantric worship.

hemis festival

hemis festival

Dressed in colourful bright brocades with vibrantly decorated and richly adorned paper-mache masks (some extending over 1 metre in height) the masked dancers simulate combat between good spirits and evil demons to the cacophony of drums, cymbals and long horns. The crowd unites in uproarious song and dance when the dough idol of evil is destroyed by the leader of black hat dancers signifying that good has prevailed.

This afternoon offers a guided sightseeing tour of the town, dominated by Sengge Namgyal’s, nine storey palace. The colossal stone structure is one of the most captivating architectural ruins of the region. Built in traditional Tibetan style it sits on the foothills of the barren landscape. Constructed in the 17th century as the residential palace for the King to mark the reunifying Upper and Lower Ladakh.

Leh Palace leh ladakh

Above Leh Palace, on Namgyal Tsemo (Victory Peak) overlooking the town, are the ruins of the earliest royal residence at Leh a fortress type structure built by King Tashi Namgyal in the 16th century.

Visits will also be made to Sankar Gompa to view the image of Avalokitesvara, inset with turquoise and shown with 1000 heads, arms and feet and 100,000 eyes, Shanti Stupa – built to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism and inaugurated by his holiness the Dalai Lama in 1985. Overnight – Leh & Ladakh

Day 3: Time to Explore

Today offers free time for you to independently explore the area. You may wish to return to the Hemis Grompa today as the festival continues (on a smaller scale) with a program of music, song, dance and drama. Transportation to the monastery can be arranged locally should you require.

jokhang temple

If staying in town for the day considering visiting the Leh bazaar. The main sites to visit are the Jokhang, the new main Buddhist temple built in the 1980s by the Ladakh Buddhist association and an imposing mosque reflecting a mixture of Islamic and Tibetan architecture that accommodating more than 500 worshippers dating from the late 17th century situated opposite each other. Overnight – Leh & Ladakh

Day 4: Shey and Thiksey Monestories, Stok Palace

Today offers guided tours of Shey and Thiksey monasteries and Stok Palace.

Shey Monastery

Shey monastery situated on a hilltop, 15km from Leh, was the summer palace of the royal family of the region. The monastery houses a two storey high-seated image of Buddha cast from copper and covered with gold leaf. It is also beleived that Kings of Leh were born here, in the monastery.

Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey Monastery

Thiksey monastery is situated on a hilltop and the views of the green Indus valley from its rooftop are splendid. This monastery has a number of chambers full of statues and stupas. Courtyard murals are bright and this imposing structure is in many respects a replica of Potala Palace in Lhasa.

Stok Palace now operates as a museum where in the Sengge Namgyal family heirlooms and relics are displayed. Overnight – Leh & Ladakh

Day 5: Leh to Delhi by flight

Friday. Leh – Delhi. Early this morning (dictated by flight times) we transfer to the airport for our flight (booked independently and in addition to our tour cost) to Delhi arriving at approximately 8:30am. Later today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward international flight.