Gay India Travel: Ladakh
Shangri-La, on the Edge of Time
Ladakh was probably the idyllic Himalayan province that inspired James Hilton's 1953 novel Lost Horizon. This remote, mountainous corner of India sometimes called "Little Tibet" because of its rugged mountains and because so many Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, fled to Ladakh when the Chinese "annexed" Tibet. People living here are said to have longer lives than people anywhere else on earth. Maybe it's the water.
Day One: Ladak's Mystical Ambiance
Travel to Ladakh by air. Assistance on arrival and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the morning free to get acclimated and take in the mystical ambience of the place.
After a leisurely Lunch your guide will accompany you to explore the ancient town of Leh. Afterwards you are driven to visit the “Shanti Stupa”, inaugurated by the Dalai Lama and erected by the Japanese Buddhists. The peace Pagoda, decorated with gilt panels, depicts episodes from the life of Buddha. A panoramic view of the Leh valley is available from the site. From there, you continue to “Shankar Monastery,” nestled amidst a cluster of trees and terraced fields of Barley. The Gompa (monastery) contains a formidable collection of miniature statues of pure gold, and ancient thangka (mystical religious paintings), also in gold.
Day Two: Monasteries of "Little Bhutan"
Early breakfast precedes a full day journey to the famous Buddhist monasteries beginning with Shey, the former summer palace of the king of Ladakh. You will also visit Thiskey, which is located on a hilltop with breathtaking views of the valley.
The most interesting of the three monasteries is Hemis, a treasure houses of Buddhist art & culture. Hemis is most famous for the major festival held here in summer, in honor of Guru Padma Sambhava's birth anniversary. It has the largest thanka in Ladakh, which is unfurled every 12 years. (The next one is in 2027.)
Hemis was built in 1630 during the reign of King Sennge Namgyal, an illustrious ruler of Ladakh. The monastery itself is divided into two sections. The assembly hall on the right and the main temple on the left. The hall is also used as a theater for dancers during the Hemis festival. The verandas of the monastery have are decorated with frescoes, one depicting the Buddhist wheel of life.
Day Three: Spectacularly Picturesque
After breakfast, we start our drive to “Lamayuru”, 124 km away, on the road that leads to Kargil. Arrive at Lamayuru and visit the spectacularly picturesque monastery, believed to be the oldest in Ladakh. It was a Bon shrine prior to the advent of Buddhism. Also known as Yung Drung (Swastika), it is sited on a high promontory overlooking the village and the valley. For sheer spectacle value no other Gompa can match Lamayuru. You will also explore the Lamayuru Village. Afterwards drive to Alchi to visit the Monastery there. Return to Leh late afternoon
Day Four: Back to the Real World
Transfer to the airport this morning for your morning flight to Delhi.