Settled in the early 18th century by the French, Pondicherry on the Bay of Bengal in the state of Tamil ...
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Once you've arrived in Delhi, you'll be met and taken to a 3 stars hotel to freshen up. We can take you to a nice trusted restaurant for a nice lunch before then taking the train to Amritsar. Arrival in Amritsar our local guide will take you to the hotel. (Train travel in India is an absolute must-do experience for any visitor young or old! The friendly locals will be vying for a chat with you, it really is very fun)
This morning enjoy a tour of Amritsar, taking in the beautiful Golden Temple, considered the holiest shrine to Sikhs the world over, yet open to all. Surrounded by a complex of sparkling white marble and a lake for purification the lavishly guilded temple with bulbous golden domes houses the Adi Granth, the book of teachings for the Sikh faith. This evening we drive to the Wagah Border crossing (a land crossing between India/Pakistan) to watch the highly animated ‘Flag Lowering’ ceremony - a must for any visitor to the north of India.
Driving north to Dharamsala offers some dramatic scenery, where rolling foothills rise high toward snow capped peaks. Dharamsala, the British hill station turned Tibetan settlement, home to the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan refugees offers a sense of peace and tranquillity to all those who arrive.
Enjoy an included guided sightseeing of the area surrounding the Dalai Lama’s residence, Dharamsala’s main Buddhist Temple - Tsug Lakhang and the Norbulingka Institute - centre for Buddhist learning and handicrafts.
En route to Manali a stop is made at Palampur - a pretty hill station enclosed by aged British tea plantations. Touring a colonial plantation, set upon the mounting slopes of Kangra Valley, criss crossed by babbling brooks offers a chance to enjoy a fine cuppa. Arriving to Manali, the adventurous can opt to go white water rafting, mountain biking or skiing. Or simply spend the afternoon relaxing.
Continuing north and rising to 3980 metres above sea level along the Rhotang Pass we arrive at the village of Keylong - 120 km from the Tibetan border.
En route to Sarchu there is time to stop and explore Sahsur Gompa, a beautiful Buddhist Temple built in the 17th century housing priceless 5 metre ‘Tankha’, (wall painting) depicting all 84 sidhas of Buddhism. (Overnight in Sarchu staying at a seasonal permanent tented camp)
Rudyard Kipling said of the region “Surely the Gods live here this is no place for men.” Travelling over the Tanglang La Pass at a dizzying height of 5350 metres confirms our arrival to the remote and sparsely populated region of Ladakh. Cradled by the Karakoram and the Great Himalayan ranges, the vast and often snow covered desert is often discribed as the last ‘Shangri-La’, (land of high mountain passes) and is one of the last enclaves of Mahayana Buddhism, Ladakh’s principle religion for nearly a thousand years, now much suppressed in its native homeland of Tibet.
Enjoy a morning sightseeing tour of the town, dominated by Sengge Namgyal’s nine- storey palace, a building in the grand tradition of Tibetan architecture. Above it, on Namgyal Semo the peak overlooking the town, are the ruins of the earliest royal residence at Leh a fort built by king Tashi Namgyal in the 16th century. In the bazaar the main sites to visit are the jo khang a modern ecumenical Buddhist temple, and an imposing mosque dating from the late 17th century situated opposite each other. Rest of the day is at leisure.
Enjoy a full day excursion to Shey, Thiksey & Hemis monasteries.
Today enjoy the overnight excursion to Alchi is set amongst the desolate gorges of the Indus River and spectacular mountains. Here we will visit the Alchi Gompa, a must see Buddhist Temple dating back to 1000 AD.
Returning to Leh today, arrival and enjoy the afternoon to further explore in your own time.
Morning flight to Delhi and hotel check in upon arrival. We’ll then enjoy a morning sightseeing tour of Old Delhi, taking in the impressive Red Fort, Jama Masjid - India’s oldest and largest mosque. This afternoon enjoy a visit to the Akshadharm Temple and Lotus Temple in Delhi to afford you a greater insight into modern day Hinduism.
As you wanted a taste for the Hindu side of India today we will drive to Matura & Vrindavan. First stop is a town called Mathura now here is the birth place of the Hindu God Krishna and in this region many of his childhood pastimes took place the basis of which many ancient scriptures are written. Next stop is called Vrindavan this place is amazing, it has ancient temples absolutely everywhere you walk of various deities of Krishna (forms Krishna took in certain stories) and you will get to see them first hand usually the temple priests will be making music and the atmosphere around the old part of town is really magic. (Overnight at the Kridha Residency Vrindavan)
I would recommend to visit a temple in the very early hours you can see the ritual worship of the gods. When ready we will transfer you back to Dehli.
We will say goodbye with a transfer to the airport in time for your flight home.