India North  In High Places

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In High Places (Delhi – Kalka – Shimla – Sarahan – Chitkul -Nako – Tabo – Dhankar – Kaza – Batal – Keylong – Manali – Mandi -Chandigarh – Delhi)

Duration: 18 days and 17 nights

Description: In this tour, you will drive along the Old Hindustan-Tibet highway, which was used by the traders long time ago for going to Tibet. This area offers many activities like trekking, mountaineering and fishing.
(B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)

Day 01 (_/_/_)
You will be met by our representative in the arrival hall of the airport after you have completed all the formalities. Then transfer to your hotel. Already on the way to your hotel, you get your first impressions of the lively capital of India.
After resting in the afternoon, you will set out to explore the city.

Delhi has always had a mysterious quality; the city having witnessed empires rise to glory and fall to ashes. Contemporary Delhi is a culmination of seven cities built by different emperors. Ruins of this ancient city are found even today and now these are converted to some major tourist attractions. Among some spectacular historic sites, the most prominent ones are: Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Jama Masjid, India Gate, Lotus temple, Humayun tomb and Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Humayun’s Tomb
Located near the crossing of Mathura road and Lodhi road, this magnificent garden tomb is the first substantial example of Mughal architecture in India. It was built in 1565 A.D. by Humayun’s senior widow, Bega Begum, nine years after his death. Inside the walled enclosure the most notable features are the garden squares (chaharbagh) with pathways, water channels, centrally located well proportional mausoleum topped by double dome.

Qutab Minar
Qutab Minar is a soaring, 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak, immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom. The tower has five distinct levels, each marked by a projecting balcony and tapers from a 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top. A 7 m-high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. It is said that if you can encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it, your wish will be fulfilled.

Red Fort
The Red sandstone walls of the massive Red Fort (Lal Qila) rise 33-m above the clamor of Old Delhi as a reminder of the magnificent power and pomp of the Mughal emperors. The walls, built in 1638, were designed to keep out invaders; now they mainly keep out the noise and confusion of the city.

India Gate
At the center of New Delhi stands the 42 m high India Gate, an “Arc-de-Triomphe” like archway in the middle of a crossroad. Almost similar to its French counterpart, it commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the World War I. The memorial bears the names of more than 13,516 British and Indian soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan war of 1919.

Bahai Temple
This temple is built in the shape of a lotus flower and is the last of seven major Bahai temples built around the world. Completed in1986, it is set among the lush green landscaped gardens. The structure is made up of pure white marble. The architect Furiburz Sabha chose the lotus as the symbol common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate. Around the blooming petals there are nine pools of water, which light up, in natural light. It looks spectacular at dusk when it is flood lit.
Overnight at hotel in Delhi.

Day 02 (B/_/_) DELHI – KALKA – SHIMLA
After early breakfast, board the Himalayan Queen for Kalka in the morning.
In Kalka, transfer to the toy train platform.
Kalka-Shimla rail route, after 100 years, still offers the charm of old-world travel amidst lofty pines and lush green, misty mountains. The rail line begins its climb almost immediately after its departure from the Kalka railway station. The toy train chugs along the line, whistling through the deodar, pine, ficus, oak and maple woods at a speed of 22 km an hour. As the journey begins, one is taken in with the change in vegetation, and the majestic glory of the railway stations and Gothic-style bridges en route.
Upon arrival in Shimla, transfer to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 03 (B/_/_) SHIMLA
Morning sightseeing tour of Old Shimla.
The former summer capital of the British in India, and the present capital of Himachal Pradesh, has been blessed with all the natural bounties which one can think of. It has got a scenic location and is surrounded by green hills with snowcapped peaks. The spectacular cool hills, accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era, create an aura which is very different from other hill stations. Bulging at its seams with unprecedented expansion, Shimla retains its colonial heritage, with grand old buildings; among them are the stately Viceregal Lodge, charming iron lamp posts and Anglo-Saxon names.

Visit the Mall Road in the evening.
The Mall, Lower Bazaar, Tibetan Bazaar and Lakkar Bazaar. There is an enormous range of goods that Shimla has to offer. This includes handicrafts, wood, and metalwork, shawls, pullovers, local tweeds, wooden articles and toys, caps, Tibetan carpets and pickles, jams and squashes. The Lakkar Bazaar is famous for its Wooden Crafts and Articles. There are many emporiums and showrooms at the Mall from where one can buy Himachali shawls, pahari caps, pullovers, handicrafts and toys. The day-to-day items can be purchased from the shops in the lower bazaar. The Tibetan Market is famous for imported goods mainly electronics and fancy items.
Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 04 (_/_/_) SHIMLA – SARAHAN
Morning, leave for Sarahan en route visiting the busy market place in Rampur.

Rampur Market
One of the biggest commercial centers of Shimla, Rampur town is located at a distance of around 135 kilometers from Shimla. It is one of the most important markets and business centers of Shimla. Rampur used to be the capital city of the Bushahr Empire during the 18th century in India. Located near Shimla, Rampur falls along the ancient trade route to Afghanistan, Ladakh, China and Tibet. It is located on the banks of the mighty river Sutlej.
The place is one of the best shopping hubs and one can get just about any exotic item over here. You can pick up handicraft items like wooden carvings and clay sculptures. The most popular items are the handspun woolen shawls and rugs that are warm even in the coldest weather. Rampur is famous for its handspun blankets that are popularly known as “Rampuri Chaddar” (Chaddar is Hindi for blanket). The blankets are known for their softness and durability and tourists make it a point to buy at least one from here.

The Gods were generous when they gave Sarahan (2165m) its settings. Located halfway up a high mountain side, the road to Sarahan winds past flowering pine trees that give way to stately aaks. Dozens of small streams rush past. The fields and orchards that surround the small villages with their slate roofed houses, compose pictures of pastoral perfection. Above Sarahan, many deodar trees ride the slopes and higher still; encircling the Bashal peak, are trees of smooth birch and variety of wild flowers and rare medicinal herbs. This sparsely populated tract is steeped in ancient legends and here is the famous Bhimakali temple regarded as one of the 51 sacred Shaktipeethhs. The temple’s unusual architecture and wealth of carvings have made it a resplendent example of what is loosely called the Indo-Tibetan style. Deep down the alley flows the river Sutlej and across lies the snow-clad Shrikhand peak.

Overnight at camps.

Day 05 (_/_/_) SARAHAN – CHITKUL
Morning drive to Chitkul, en route visit Kalpa.

Kalpa situated in the Kinner-Kailash range, lies in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh. It is situated at an elevation of around 2,758 meters above sea level. The ancient headquarters of Kinnaur region, Kalpa was replaced by the modern town of Rekong Peo. The River Sutlej makes its way through the Great Himalayas along with rock face highways from Kinnaur.

Kinner-Kailash, the sacred mountain, is visited by natives as a place of pilgrimage and is also one of the main attractions of the destination. There is a 70 meter high Shivalinga atop the peak that is visited by devotees and travellers. Sangla Valley on Baspa River banks, at an altitude of 8,900 feet above sea level, is another attraction of the destination.

Chitkul is the last and the highest Indian village in the Baspa valley in Kinnaur district. It is a Tibetan village, located at an altitude of 3500 mts and is surrounded by the best of natural beauty located on the banks of Baspa river. Tourists are advised to enjoy a walk from Mastrang to Chitkul, which is an easy walk and has loads of natural attraction on the way.

Overnight at camps.

Day 06 (_/_/_) CHITKUL – NAKO
Morning drive to Nako.

Situated about 2 kms above the Hangrang valley road and is 103 kms from Kalpa on the western direction of the huge mountain of Pargial. This is the highest village in the valley and the existence of lake formed out of the masses of the ice and snow above adds beauty to the village. The local village deity is Deodum and another Lagang temple with several idols exists here.

Arrival at Nako and check in to camps.

Visit the Nako Lake.
Nako Lake is surrounded by willow and polar trees. There is a small village on the bank of this lake – and the village seems to be half buried by the lake’s borders. On the water’s northern side, are four Buddhist temples with stucco images and murals. Near Nako is a footprint-like impression ascribed to the saint Padmasambhava. The Nako lake freezes in winter and people enjoy skating on it. Nako Lake is a pilgrim destination for the Buddhists. 

Overnight at camps.

Day 07 (_/_/_) NAKO – TABO
Morning drive to Tabo.

The town of Tabo is located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, in the Spiti valley. This town is located at an altitude of 3050 meters, and it is a major tourist stronghold. The Spiti valley is one of the least explored valleys in Himachal Pradesh, and adventure buffs will love travelling to the town of Tabo because of its serene and secluded nature. Tabo is the right tourist destination to go to, if you’re looking for a place that is not infested with tourists and is moderately populated and peaceful. The town has also been built around a very old Buddhist monastery, which serves as the centre of the town. 

After Poo you will enter Spiti area of Himachal Pradesh.
Transfer to the camps for overnight stay.

Day 08 (B/_/_) TABO – DHANKAR – KAZA
Visit the famous Tabo monastery
Tabo Monastery is situated in the village of Tabo, in the secluded Spiti valley of the state Himachal Pradesh, India. Spiti Valley forms one of the Trans-Himalayan frontier regions of northern India with a population of around 10,000 people. It is bound by Ladakh in the north, Lahaul and Kullu district in the west and south-east respectively, and by Tibet and the Kinnaur district in the east. Tabo Monastery was founded in 996AD. With its original decoration and art images intact, it is considered to be the oldest continuously functioning Buddhist monastery in India and the Himalayas.
The main temple preserves an extraordinary wealth of documentation of the history and culture of the period. The iconographic program, dating from the restoration time of 1042, is complete. This includes paintings, sculptures, inscriptions and extensive wall texts.

Proceed to Kaza en route visiting Dhankar monastery.

Dhankar monastery
It is situated about 25 kms east of Kaza and serves eastern part of central Spiti. Dhankar is a big village and erstwhile capital of Spiti Kingdom. On top of a hill there is a fort which used to be the prison in olden times. The Monastery has about 100 Lamas and is in position of Buddhist scriptures in Bhoti language. Principal figure is a Statue of “Vairochana” (Dhayan Buddha) consisting of 4 complete figures seated back to back. It has relics in the shape of paintings and sculptures.

Transfer to the camps for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 09 (_/_/_) KAZA
Excursion to the Kibber and Ki monastery.

Its claim to fame as the highest village in the world is certainly untrue (although it may well be the highest village connected by tarmac road, there is a nearby village higher up), but it’s location at an altitude of about 4200 meters is spectacular nonetheless. Set in the Himalayan mountain deserts of North East Himachal Pradesh, Kibber village is an oasis of vegetation and white houses amid the barren, dusty and harsh landscape of the Spiti Valley.

Ki monastery
The oldest and the biggest monastery of Spiti is the Ki-Village. About 300 lamas are receiving their religious training here, which houses rare paintings and beautiful scriptures of Buddha and other gods and goddesses. It is serving the population in the western part of Spiti and is the largest in the sub-division. It is a collection of rooms and a labyrinth of corridors that do not follow any defined plan, but seem to have grown over the years.
Dinner and overnight stay at camps in ‘Kaza.

Day 10 (_/_/_) KAZA – BATAL
Morning drive to Batal en route stopping at villages and Losar to visit the small Gompa.

It is situated near the confluence of Losar and Peeno streams at height of 4080 m above sea level. This village is worth a visit being the first big village and because of its location. Yak and horse riding are other charms to add to its beauty and unique experience.

Arrival at Batal and transfer to camps.

Day 11 (_/_/_) BATAL – KEYLONG
Morning proceed to Keylong.

Situated at an altitude of 3350m, Keylong is the headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. The region is strange, exciting, primitive mountainous and delightful. Rudyard Kipling said of the region “Surely the Gods live here, this no place for men.” Keylong (3340 m) is the district headquarters of Lahaul Spiti on the main road to Leh over Rohtang. It is an oasis of green fields and willow trees, water streams surrounded with brown hills and snowcapped peaks. There are hotels, tourist bungalows and rest houses to stay.

Overnight at camps.

Day 12 (_/_/_) KEYLONG
Visit the Khardung monastery (The climb takes around 2 hours)
Option is available for visiting the Keylong village and Shishir monastery.
Drive up to Shishur monastery, which was built around the 17th century by Dawa Gyatso of Ladakh. The main attraction of this monastery is a festival, celebrated every year in the month of June/July with the resident Monks performing masked dances. Drive back to Tandi to visit the Khardung monastery. Khardung, the old headquarters of Lahaul valley, is situated on the left bank of the Bhagha River. Visit Khardung monastery, the largest in the Lahaul valley, built about 900 years ago.

Overnight stay in camps at Keylong.

Day 13 (_/_/_) KEYLONG – MANALI
Proceed to Manali.

One of the most beautiful hill stations of India. Plan tours to Manali in Himachal Pradesh and get drenched into sheer and pleasant ambiance of the region. Explore beautiful landscapes, lush green valleys, meadows of wild flowers, or fruit laden orchards on your Manali tours. You will also love to watch captivating view of snowcapped mountain peaks. If you think about adventure and sports, well, Manali tour is right for you. There are numerous options for adventure and sports like mountaineering, trekking, rock climbing, water rafting, skiing, playing with ice, etc.
On arrival check in at hotel.

Day 14 (_/_/_) MANALI
Visit the Hadimba temple and walk through the main market street.

Hadimba temple
The Hadimba Devi Temple is dedicated to the wife of Bhim, one of the Pandava brothers. Bhim married Hadimba and they stayed together for a year. Hadimba gave birth to his son and took care of him till he was old enough to look after the kingdom. After this, she went into isolation and meditated. The place chosen by Hadimba for her meditation was Dhungri. Later, in 1553, a four storeyed wooden temple was erected in her honor. The temple is constructed in pagoda style and has no idol within. A footprint on stone is at the center of worship. A fair in honor of Raja Bahadur Singh (who constructed the temple) is also held on the first of Savan every year. This fair is known as the Bahadur Singh Re Jatar.

Shopping at Manali
There are a number of places at Manali where one can shop for some amazing products. Manali produces a number of really good products that one should try when they visit the town. There are a number of fruit products available at Manali and the jam produced at the Himcoop Juice Bar is famous for the wonderful taste and a high concentration of fruit pulp. The market is a great place to shop, especially for woolen products like sweaters, shawls and blankets which are famous here. There are also a number of shops at Old Manali selling hippie outfits and jewelry. There are several restaurants at Manali that serve some delicious food and also hotels where one can find good accommodation that fits any budget.
Visit the Naggar castle and the Roerich’s Art Gallery.

Naggar was the capital of the Kullu Rajas for about 1,400 years. The gallery housing the paintings of that Russian saint – cum – philosopher – cum –artist Nicholas Roerich is nearby and is a must in any itinerary when at Naggar. It is also known for its castle and the Nicholas Roerich’s Museum.

On the left bank of the river Beas and about three hundred meters above the river, Naggar is delightfully situated on the wooded slope and commands an extensive view, especially of the North-West of the valley. There are a large number of famous temples in and around Naggar and an excellent place for a longer stay.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 15 (B/_/_) MANALI – MANDI
Drive to Mandi en route stopping at Kullu to see the traditional weaving of the Kullu woolen products.

Mandi is situated on the banks of the river Beas. It has a rich culture and history represented by its temples which are a major tourist draw. Mandi is an important trading centre situated on the Pathankot-Kullu road. The town is also the gateway to Himachal’s most famous valleys – Kullu, Manali, Lahaul and Spiti. Mandi is also on the Kullu-Shimla road via Bilaspur. It is the headquarters of the district. The entire town has a huge sprinkling of temples. There are about 300 temples here dedicated to Lord Shiva and Kali, out of which, around 81 temples are the oldest ones made of stone with intricate carvings. Some of the popular ancient temples located here are Panchvaktra Temple, Ardhnareshwar Temple and Triloknath Temple.

Upon arrival, check-in at hotel. Later, a walking tour to the temples.

Drive to Chandigarh.
Chandigarh is the best-planned city in India, with architecture which is world-renowned, and a quality of life, which is unparalleled. As the capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh it is a prestigious city. The face of modern India, Chandigarh, is the manifestation of a dream that Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru envisaged and Le Corbusier executed.

Serenity and a city are two diametrically opposite concepts, which however, get belied in the ‘City Beautiful’. Chandigarh is a rare epitome of modernization co-existing with nature’s preservation. It is here that the trees and plants are as much a part of the construction plans as the buildings and the roads. India’s first planned city, is a rich, prosperous, spic and span, green city rightly called “ THE CITY BEAUTIFUL ”.
On arrival check in at hotel for overnight stay.

Visit the Rock Gardens and the Government Buildings.

Rock Gardens
Chandigarh has the distinction of having a unique world acclaimed Rock Garden. It consists of art objects, fashioned from industrial and urban waste. It is situated between the capital complex and Sukhna Lake in Sector1. It nestles amidst 20 acres of woods in the form of an open air exhibition hall, theatre trove and a miniature maze all rolled into one vast fantasy land of art and landscape. An unpretentious entrance leads to a magnificent, almost, surrealist arrangement of rocks, boulders, broken chinaware, discarded fluorescent tubes, broken and cast away glass bangles, building waste, coal and clay-all juxtaposed to create a dream folk world of palaces, soldiers, monkeys, village life, women and temples.

Proceed to Delhi. Overnight at hotel.

Day 18 (B/_/_) LEAVE DELHI
Transfer to the airport to board onward flight.