Afternoon combined sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi visiting Qutub Minar, India Gate (War Memorial), Lakshminarayan Temple - a modern Hindu Temple and driving past President's House, Parliament House and Secretariat Buildings. Also visit Raj Ghat and Shanti Vana - the cremation sites of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, Jama Masjid and drive past Red Fort and Chandni Chowk.
The old summer palace of the kings of Ladakh, Shey (15 km from Leh towards Hemis) was built more than 550 years ago by Lhachen Palgyigon, the king of Ladakh. It stands next to the remains of a larger construction on the east side of a hill, which runs south-east towards the Indus. From the palace you can see over the fertile Indus plain, north-east to the Tiksey Gompa and over the Indus to the Zanskar mountain range. Hundreds of chortens of the most diverse form and size stand on the barren plains to the north, separated from the fertile riverbank along the Hemis road. The old palace gompa has the largest golden Buddha statue in Ladakh. Tiksey - The 500 year old Tiksey monastery, perched on a hill high above the Indus(17km from Leh towards Hemis) has about 100 yellow cap monks. On the right of the entrance to the main courtyard, a new chapel houses an enormous 15meter high, seated Buddha figure. The outside of the gompa is painted red and is visible from far away. If you get to the gompa by 6.30 am, you can witness the daily morning prayers but there are also prayers closer to noon, preceded by long mournful sounds from the horns on the roof. The monastery mountain is best ascended on foot although there is also a new 1 km road up to the monastery. The temple of Zan-La is beside the car parking area on this road. On the walls of the gompa courtyard are some interesting Tibetan calendars. In the chapel is a picture, near the central Chamba statue, of Tsung-Khapas, the founder of the Tugend (Gelugpa) sect. Some steps run up to a roof balcony from which there is access to the rooms of the head lama. Hemis - The Hemis gompa (45km from Leh) is famous far beyond the borders of Ladakh for its festival (Hemis Setchu or Mela of the Hemis gompa). Hemis gompa is the largest and one of the most important in Ladakh quite apart from its annual festival. It was founded about 360 years ago by Stagtshang Raspa, who was invited to Ladakh by King Singe Namgyal who also established the monasteries of Chemre, Hanle and Themisgam.. You can gain an impression of the extent of the monastery area on the climb to the eyrie, a hermitage known as gotsang or Kotsang gompa which is reached by a one hour, three km climb to 3900meters, 300 meters higher than Hemis. The 13th century monastery predates the Hemis Gompa and was built by Sylwa Gotsang-Pa, who meditated in a cave nearby. A small shrine has been built around the cave, where you can see his foot and hand prints in the rock.
On a hilltop above the Indus and beside the end of the airport runway, the Spitok gompa is 10km from Leh. The temple (Gonkhang) is about 1000 years old. It stands prominently on the top of a hillock, commanding a panoramic view of the Indus valley for miles. Many icons of Buddha and fine thankas are to be found in this 15th century gompa. The gompa also houses a collection of ancient masks, antique arms, and an awe-inspiring image of Mahakal. The face of the image is kept covered and is revealed only at the annual function in January. Phyang : 20 km from Leh on the Leh-Kargil road, Phyang looks like a huge palace from afar. Built by Tashi Namgyal in the later half of the 16th century AD, it belongs to the Red Cap sect of Buddhists. Hundreds of icons of Buddha and other gods are kept on wooden shelves. The Phyang gompa has 50 lamas and 7 novices of the red-cap sect and possesses 5 chapels. The Phyang monastery is interesting for its museum with some ancient Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian and possibly Serasan weapons and amour. The museum room is said to be nearly 900 years old and the monastery has had several renovations recently, including the addition of a large prayer wheel. The 650 years old Dukhang temple was renovated in the late '70s. Phyang's large and colorful festival rivals that of Hemis in the crowds it attracts. However, till recently it was always held in the winter. The lamas decided to move it to summer to take advantage of the tourist season and have also built new rest houses.
Morning drive to Uletopko (62km, approx. 3 hrs drive). On arrival check-in at tented camp. Afternoon excursion to Alchi. This monastery is the largest and has the most famous, widely renowned collection of paintings, with massive, lavishly carved and painted wooden statues, many of Buddha. The Alchi monastery is unusual because it is on low land, not perched on a hill top like other Ladakhi monasteries. Overnight at the tented camp.
Lamayuru - This monastery was first built by Rinchen Zangbo at the end of the 10th century, under the orders from the King of Ladakh. Its five building were built on a broken mountain in the valley. Only the central building stands toDAY, yet you can still see remains of the four corner buildings to the west. The gompa has an impressive 11-headed, 1000-eyed image of Chenrezig Afternoon drive to Leh. Overnight at he hotel.
Stok - The Palace of the banished royal family, Stok has a museum which displays fabulous period costumes and jewellery of the royalty along with exquisite thankhas representing the life of SakyaMuni. Interesting historical objects like coins, seals, amour, weapons, precious jade and Porcelain can be seen here. Choglamsar - is the main training place for Buddhist monks in Ladakh. Since the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the School of Buddhist Philosophy, on the road from Leh to Hemis, has become an important centre for study of Tibetan Literature and history. Many westerners, interested in Buddhist learning and meditation have studied here.