DESTINATIONS: : Srinagar - Gulmarg - Pahalgam - Srinagar - Kargil - Leh - Khardongla Pass - Pangong Lake - Leh - Departure
A famous thirteenth century Indian poet and scholar Amir Khusro described the beauty of Kashmir thus, “If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this”. Sir Walter Lawrence in 1895 in his book ‘The Valley Kashmir’ writes “In latitude, Kashmir corresponds with Baghdad and Damascus in Asia, Fez in Morocco and South Carolina in America, but it represents none of the characteristics of these countries. People have linked the climate of Kashmir to that of Switzerland until end of May and Southern France in July and August. But it is impossible to speak of Kashmir as possessing only one climate or group of characteristics. Every hundred feet of elevation brings some new phase of climate and vegetation.”
Kashmir is nothing short of awe-inspiring beauty with stunning valleys, spectacular snow-clad mountains, magical meadows, winding rivers, serene lakes, romantic gardens and more, thus making Kashmir, blessed with nature’s abundance. Enfolded by stark, arid, astounding, spectacularly jagged mountains, Ladakh, the land of challenging high ‘Passes’, crowned by milky white snow, exotic lakes, sparse but mesmerizing meadows and inhabited by warm people is home to many natural wonders. a place that can make you forget the rest of the World. This ‘10 nights and 11 days’ tour offers a quintessential Kashmir and Ladakh experience where you’ll explore places like Srinagar, Gulmarg, Kargil and Ladakh.
1. Stroll through the beautiful Mughal gardens in Srinagar.
2. Get spectacular views of the valleys of Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam.
3. Drive up the world’s highest motor-able pass at an elevation of 17,852 ft
4. Find solace in the awe-inspiring Tibetan Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh.
5. Lose yourself in the serene surroundings of the Pangong-Tso Lake.
6. Private tour guide for a more personalized experience.
7. Transport in a private chauffeur driven air-conditioned vehicle including hotel pick-up and drop-off.
Day 1: Arrive Srinagar
On arrival at Srinagar Airport, our company representative will greet you with a warm welcome and then escort you to your hotel / houseboat in Srinagar. Check-in and relax.
Overnight in Srinagar.
Day 2: Srinagar
After breakfast, we’ll guide you to Srinagar sightseeing tour. Srinagar located 5,200 ft, is also known as "Paradise on Earth" and is one of India’s top tourist draws. Explore the famous Mughal Gardens portraying fine example of Mughal style of garden design and architecture. The Mughal gardens are a combination of three renowned gardens developed over a period during the seventieth century. The Shalimar Bagh (the Abode of Love) - the largest was laid by Emperor Jehangir in 1619, Nishat bagh (the Garden of Pleasure) - a beautiful terraced garden with a backdrop of the beautiful mountains, and the Chashme-Shahi (the Royal Spring) - one of the most charming of the gardens along the banks of the Dal Lake, was laid by emperor Shah Jahan in 1632.
Overnight at hotel in Srinagar
Day 3: Srinagar - Gulmarg
Breakfast and check-out of the houseboat / hotel and drive to Gulmarg (8,500 ft) popularly known as the "Meadow of Flowers". During summers, it has a functional 18-hole golf course, probably the highest in the world and in winters, a premier Ski resort. Check-in at the hotel, rest for a while and get ready for a Gondola ride, the world’s second highest operating cable car ride that goes up to the height of 13,780 ft. from the base of Mt. Apharwat, which has the Gondola's ticket office. From here you are ferried to Phase I. You need to take another gondola lift to get to Phase II. The gondola passes over the beautiful pine forests, over lush green hilly terrain offering a panoramic view of the picturesque surroundings.
A short hike of 1.5 km, brings you to Alpather lake, a stunning natural attraction at the foot of the twin Apharwat peaks. It is a picturesque serene water body, triangular, embraced by Rocky Mountains and endless meadows that are covered with wildflowers. Alpather lake is undoubtedly "nature photographer's" delight. If 1.5 km walk does not suit, you can hire a pony to take you to the Alpather lake.
Return to the hotel for over-night stay.
Day 4: Gulmarg - Pahalgam
After breakfast, check-out of the hotel and proceed to Pahalgam (7,200 ft.) or "Valley of Shepherds". Pahalgam is a scenic hill station and a popular shooting location for the Indian film Industry (Bollywood). It is also famous for its trekking routes and is the base camp for Amarnath Pilgrimage.
On the way to Pahalgam, you’ll cover places such as the world-famous saffron growing fields, Awantipura ruins (dating to 9th Century) with remnants of number of ancient Hindu temples built during the reign of King Awanti Varman who ruled Kashmir during the 9th century, and Martand Temple (Sun temple).
On arrival in Pahalgam, check-in to the hotel. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 5: Pahalgam - Srinagar
This day after breakfast, enjoy free time exploring the natural beauty of Pahalgam. Proceed to Chandanwari (9,500 ft), 16 Km from Pahalgam, which is also the starting point of pilgrimage to Amarnath, "the abode of Lord Shiva". Take a horse riding trip to Baisaran meadows (horse ride at own expense). Visit Aru Valley (10 Km from Pahalgam) with fine meadows of picturesque scenery and is the starting point of trekking of Liddarwat, Kolahoi Glacier and Tarsar lake.
After sightseeing in Pahalgam, leave for Srinagar. On reaching Srinagar, check-in to your hotel and stay overnight.
Day 6: Srinagar - Kargil
Today we head out to Kargil. 80 kms from Srinagar, is Sonamarg “the meadow of Gold” with snow-capped mountains se against a spectacular blue sky with the Sindh River flowing through the valley. The torrential flow enriches the natural beauty.
The road follows upstream of the River Sindh leaving behind picturesque meadows, gradually climbing till Baltal. Thereafter, it begins to gain height rapidly covering a few steep hair-pin bends towards Zozila Pass, the gateway between the Kashmir on one side and Ladakh on the other, overlooking snowcapped summits and dense jungles. From the top at 11575 ft, the descend starts towards the lush green Dras valley, set at an elevation of 10,750 ft. Dras is widely considered as the second coldest inhabited place (Siberia being the other).
60 kms ahead and we reach our destination, Kargil. As you enter the main street, the atmosphere gets vibrant with shops selling all sorts of knick-knacks. The beauty of Kargil (situated 8, 780 ft above sea level) is further enhanced by the sheer contrast provided by the massive towering peaks of Nun (at an elevation of 23,409 ft.) and Kun (at an elevation of 23, 218 ft), which loom over the skyline in their crystalline majesty.
Enjoy dinner and overnight stay at the camp in Kargil.
Day 7: Kargil - Leh
Post breakfast, embark on a full-day road journey to your next destination: Leh (11, 562 ft.).
The first 36 kms is a gentle climb up to Mulbekh, a short descend thereafter for the next 37 kms up to Heniskot from where the steep climb of around 2000ft is negotiated in 13kms to Fotu-la pass which is at an elevation of 13,500 ft. and is the highest point on Kargil-Leh highway. The descend is as steep with quite a few hair-raising steep descending loops. 13kms on the descend path is Lamayuru famous for its incredible "lunar" landscape and its ancient monastery built into the 'moonscape'. The monastery has beautiful frescoes and frightening masks.
Overnight stay at hotel in Leh.
Day 8: Leh (Monastery Tour)
Visit in the morning: 17kms east of Leh is twelve storied Thiksey monastery built on top of a hill. It has a striking resemblance to the Lhasa’s Potala Palace. The monastery is affiliated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It exhibits a gold-plated statue of Lord Buddha, called the Maitreya Buddha, which is the largest statue in Ladakh. It houses around 120 monks.
Hemis monastery is situated 45 km from Leh. It was re-established by King Sengge Namgyal in 1672. The Hemis Festival is held annually in June and is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava who is believed to have been born on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Monkey year. The architecturally excellent Hemis monastery belongs to the Red Sect of Buddhism and is enriched with large number of thangkas (religious and historical Buddhist paintings), which are exhibited during Hemis Festival.
Post lunch: Stok Palace: This historical Palace was built in 1820 on the southern bank of Indus river. It continues to be the abode for the Namgyal dynasty which traces its origin to its founder, Lhachen Palgygon as early as 10th century. In 1980, it was opened to public by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Day 9: Leh - Khardungla Pass - Leh
Post breakfast, we head for Khardungla Pass which lies north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. It is the world’s highest motorable pass situated at an elevation of 17,852 ft. To most visitors, going across the Khardungla pass gives the satisfaction of having triumphed over the un-conquerable. In the afternoon, visit a local family to enjoy the butter tea and barley drinks.
Overnight stay at hotel in Leh.
Day 10: Leh- Pangong Lake - Leh
Leh to Chang-la Pass: 71kms from Leh, the road goes through Chang-la pass at an elevation of 17590 ft and considered to be second highest motorable road in the world. Chang-la to Pangong Tso: 81kms Pangong Tso or ‘high grassland lake’ in Tibetan is 152kms from Leh at a height of 14,270 ft. It is 134kms long and 5kms wide at its broadest point. Approximately 60% of its length lies in Tibet. It is an endorheic lake having hardly any outlets. The lake does not support any aquatic life. Despite its salinity it freezes completely in winters. A unique feature of the lake is that it changes colors from azure to light blue to green and even grey. First glance of this alluring lake and its blue waters is enough to leave a lasting impression.
As it is on Sino-Indian ‘Line of Actual Control’, one is required to obtain an ‘Inner Line permit’. Also, as it is situated close to the border, you will be allowed to visit only till Spangmik village, approx. 10kms from the beginning of the lake.
In the evening, return to your hotel in Leh, for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 11: Leh Airport Drop for Departure
Morning after breakfast, we’ll transport you to Leh Airport to take the flight to your onward journey.