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The Himalayan Adventure (India-Nepal-Bhutan-India)

 

The following ten day itinerary can be personalized based on your requirement. Click here to book this tour.

 

The sojourn to the world's highest mountain ranges, the Himalayas is revitalizing. An abode to the countless valleys, series of interlocking ridges, streams, herbs, the holy Ganges & what not; preserved are a heterogeneous yet amalgamated mountain cultures like Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists & subcultures like Garo & Khasi, within its galactic confines, Himalaya draws the natural boundary of India to China, Nepal& Bhutan.

 

Himalayan Adventure

 

The sojourn to the world's highest mountain ranges, the Himalayas is revitalizing. An abode to the countless valleys, series of interlocking ridges, streams, herbs, the holy Ganges & what not; preserved are a heterogeneous yet amalgamated mountain cultures like Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists & subcultures like Garo & Khasi, within its galactic confines, Himalaya draws the natural boundary of India to China, Nepal& Bhutan.

 

Day 1 : Delhi, India

 

Arrive in Delhi, a quintessential city & the capital of India & pay a visit to the world famous sites like Red Fort, Lotus Temple, Qutub Minar, National Museum & if time permits the Connaught Place. Check in the hotel for overnight stay.

 

Day 2: Fly to Leh

 

The Himalayan adventure begins early this morning with a flight to Leh, capital of India’s northernmost region of Ladakh. Tucked against the leeward downwind slopes of the Himalaya on a high plateau at 11,500 feet, Leh is a traveler friendly city. On arrival in Leh rest in the hotel to get altitude acclimatized. By day’s end, take a short exploratory walk & meet the group to mingle in & plan the expedition.

 

Day 3: Leh

 

The morning of day 3 set out into the austere mountains east of Leh. The destination is Thiksey Monastery, one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist gompas in Ladakh. Terraced down a hillside, the magnificent 12-story complex contains many pieces of Buddhist art including stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. It also houses a 2-story statue of Maitreya Buddha, built for the Dalai Lama’s visit in 1970.

 

On arrival, gather in the assembly hall for a sunrise prayer ceremony with the monks which boosts the confidence in the upcoming adventure.After breakfast at the monastery, drive along the Indus River to Hemis Monastery and continue to the village of Stok.

 

Stok Palace is where the present king of Ladakh resides and its museum houses royal artifacts including crowns, precious heirlooms and jewels, prayer instruments and many 16th-century thangkas representing the life and teachings of Buddha.

 

Day 4: Leh & Surroundings

 

After breakfast, depart for the famous Buddhist enclave at Alchi, a monastic complex of five temples built in the 10th–11th centuries. Located west of Leh near Alchi village, the collection of monuments has survived through successive invasions over the centuries.

The 900-year-old wall paintings and murals are among the oldest, best preserved and most detailed in Ladakh, reflecting artistic and spiritual details of both Buddhism and the Hindu kings of that time in Kashmir. In the afternoon drive to Rizong Monastery, situated in stunning isolation at the top of a rocky gorge. The monastery, known for its strict adherence to tradition and discipline, houses a small community of monks. Return to Leh for a final night stay.

 

Day 5: Fly to Kathmandu, Nepal

 

Fly early this morning to Kathmandu via Delhi. Near the geographic heart of Nepal, Kathmandu is the kingdom’s storied capital. For centuries the city has been a center of religious art and architecture in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions and is renowned for its ancient temples and urban squares. The dinner evening is at a capricious Kathmandu landmark in the heart of the Thamel district: the Rum Doodle.

 

Calling itself “the tallest mountain in the world at 40,000-1/2 feet,” the celebrated restaurant and bar pay homage to Nepal's mountaineering culture and showcases a collection of signatures of Everest summiteers, the autograph of Sir Edmund Hillary being the first.

 

Day 6: Kathmandu

 

If weather shows the green signal take an hour-long sightseeing trip for a panoramic view of close-up vistas of Mt. Everest and neighboring peaks. After the flight,return to the hotel for breakfast. The afternoon is devoted to sightseeing in and around Kathmandu.

 

Places to explore are Durbar Square at the heart of old town and Hanuman Dhoka, Nepal’s ancient royal palace. Its dispersed temples and courtyards dates to the 16th century and was home to the royal family until 1886. A golden spire at mystical swayambhunath surveying the city from atop a wooded hill, is fascinating.

 

The stupa, nicknamed the “monkey temple” for the hundreds of monkeys that trot on the grounds. After this, visit the vibrant Tibetan Buddhist enclave of Boudhanath. Its white-domed stupa is the largest in Nepal and a holy pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists.

 

Day 7: Nagarkot

 

Leaving the city's bustle behind this morning as drive across the valley to the resort village of Nagarkot. A tableau of scenes from rural life unfolds as you pass oxen ploughing the fields and women harvesting grain with large scythes. The sunrise views at Nagarkot and there is no more inspiring place to watch dawn break over the Himalayan massif. The view from Nagarkot, which lies on the northern end of the Kathmandu Valley, is a true panorama: the Himalayas stretch in an unbroken line from Dhaulagiri in the west past Everest to Kanchenjunga in the east. In the afternoon rambling through several local villages and nearby fields you can have a glimpse of how agrarian economy works. The villagers are friendly and to have a chat enhances your local experience.

 

Day 8: Kathmandu

 

Driving back towards Kathmandu this morning, explore the ancient cities of Patan and Bhaktapur that competed for domination of the valley prior to the 18th century. Separated from Kathmandu by the Bagmati River, Patan is revered for its immaculate cultural heritage, particularly its arts and crafts like bronze work and stone carving.

 

Like Kathmandu, its main center of attraction is its Durbar Square, one of the seven monument zones that make up the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site. Bhaktapur, the third regal city in the valley, traffic free, serene town is also the most traditional with cobblestone lanes linking a maze of temples, courtyards and squares. Just inside the old city gates the Palace of 55 Windows, a splendid example of the intricate woodworking and carving skills of its 15th-century builders is ideal for taking pictures.

 

After the tour you can have an unusual treat: a cooking class where you learn Nepalese culinary art as local chefs teach you to prepare a traditional Nepali meal of dhal (lentils), bhat (rice), curry, chutney(sauce) etc.

Of course, you can taste to see if the experiment was successful!

 

Day 9: Fly to Paro, Bhutan / Thimphu

 

Depart this morning for Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom steeped in myth and tradition. If the skies are clear on our flight to Paro, you can see the highest peaks on the planet visible below in a serrated white spine, setting a striking backdrop as you approach the green trough of the Paro Valley.

 

On arrival you drive to Thimphu, Bhutan’s idyllic capital and a stronghold of Bhutanese art, architecture and culture. Surrounded by mountains and monasteries, a fascinating country ,this is a harmonious mix of modern development and ancient traditions, the only national capital without traffic lights.

 

After checking in the hotel you can enjoy a guided walk through town in the afternoon.

 

Day 10: Thimphu, Tsechu

 

On day 10 you are in for an extraordinary spectacle as you join thousands of local roisterers for the Thimphu Tsechu, a sacred Buddhist festival that captures the color and culture of Bhutan in an annual rite of tradition each autumn ( if you are there in the season) that Masked dancers leap and whirl in the air, gyrating to the music of trumpets, cymbals and flutes in the honour of the great Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to the kingdom in the 8th century. The dancers are monks, elaborately costumed as animals, demons and demi-gods, engaged in a centuries-old storytelling ritual through movement and melodrama.

 

In an epic depiction of the power of compassion and the triumph of good over evil it is quite an epitome of celebration & relishing to be at.

 

Day 11: Punakha

 

En route to Punakha drive over Dochu La, a 10,000-foot pass marked by 108 chortens, fluttering prayer flags and a grand view of the entire eastern Himalaya. The road drops dramatically into the Punakha Valley, descending through oak and rhododendron forest into green lowlands fertile with rice, oranges, bananas and guavas. Punakha is the former capital of Bhutan and remains the winter residence of the monastic body. This afternoon you visit Punakha Dzong, the massive fortress-monastery known as the “Palace of Great Happiness.”

 

Sprawling the convergence of the Po (Father) and Mo (Mother) rivers, the 17th-century dzong was the seat of government until 1955 and home to Bhutan’s religious establishment. The palace occupies an especially scenic site; maroon-robed monks and  crossing a wooden foot bridge over the river to reach it is a must.

 

Day 12: Paro / Taktsang Monastery

 

The 12th day is devoted to Bhutan’s most famous sight, Taktsang Monastery, also known as the “Tiger’s Nest.” The subject of many iconic photographs, the complex of 17th-century temples hugs the side of a sheer cliff nearly 3,000 feet above the valley floor.

 

A stunning view of the monastery is accessible via a short hike through oak, pine and rhododendron forest which is worth to ramble on & test your photographic skills.

 

Day 13: India / Glenburn

 

Fly once more to India this morning, arriving in Bagdogra and driving to the Glenburn Tea Estate, a heavenly plantation retreat that rests on a hill above the River Rungeet with commanding views of glacier-clad Kanchenjunga, third highest mountain in the world. En route a picnic lunch is appropriate, accompanied by magnificent mountain views. Glenburn is a 1,600-acre plantation established in 1859 by Scottish colonists and remains a working tea estate which is managed by Indian Families today. You may find The “tea estate” experience quite similar to the vineyards of Europe where you observe the wine-making process and sample the wines & to your surprise it is unique and nowhere inthe world.

 

A sojourn of  two days, to grasp Glenburn’s remote solitude as your base for exploring the Himalayan high country around Darjeeling and indulging in activities like trekking, perambulating & vitalising is a soul refreshing.

 

Day 15: Kalimpong

 

Drive to Kalimpong , a fascinating destination that blends Buddhist, Christianity and Hindu cultural influences in its monasteries, gompas and temples. The twice-weekly bazaar is a vivacious place to interact with the local people and perhaps pick up a handcrafted souvenirs  or two. Flower lovers are in for a treat today, as this is a top orchid-producing region with many nurseries. You can have a chance to visit one during our time in the area, which is pleasantly off the more well-trod tourist track.

 

At every turn, the snow-capped peaks of Himalayas in their most scenic state. At the end of the day, we return to Glenburn & have a quiet respite followed by a sumptuous dinner prepared with fresh herbs, spices and fruit and vegetables grown on the estate.

 

Day 16: Darjeeling

 

This morning set out for the misty hill station of Darjeeling. This large market town was once a strategic buffer between the old kingdoms of Sikkim and Nepal during the British Rule , and its temperate climate at 7,000 feet makes it a popular escape from the sweltering plains for the British colonists. Today Darjeeling is a small town and the salubrious climate makes walks around town an extremely enjoyable means of getting around.

 

Darjeeling tea is to connoisseurs what classic Champagne is to a wine aficionado. There’s leisure time to stroll the steep city streets lined with tea stalls and Victorian colonial architecture. Then, you go to the Snow Leopard Breeding Center, devoted to restoring this endangered native species, followed by a visit to Ghoom Monastery, a center for Tibetan Buddhism and preserver of rare Buddhist manuscripts. Nearby is the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, second highest passenger train in the world, operating continuously since 1881. While the steam engines of old have been mostly replaced except on short tourist portions of the line, the train still links the plains of Bengal with the mountainous heights.

 

If time allows, you may get to take a short ride which is a medieval experience.

 

Day 17: Glenburn Tea Estate

 

A full day is yours to enjoy the delights of Glenburn. Its astounding setting has inspired artists, writers and photographers. Apart from the peace and tranquility of Glenburn, there is also plenty of opportunity for fun and adventure. Explore the estate with its acres of tea fields and private forests either on foot or by jeep. Hikes range from gentle walks to challenging treks. It’s worth rising early for the sunrise, and you may wish to take a morning walk through the orange orchard to a local convent and boarding school run by the Irish Cluny Sisters. The Sisters are happy to entertain guests over a cup of local tea or coffee and introduce them to the children, as well as the baby animals they look after.

 

As a group, you tour the tea fields and factory with the Estate Manager, who gives you a comprehensive overview of how tea is grown, harvested and produced.

 

The tour ends with a tea-tasting session, where you discover the differences in aroma, flavor and appearance of tea produced in different ways and at different times of the year.

 

Day 18 : Fly to Delhi / Departure

 

A truly epic adventure comes to a close today as you return with full circle to Delhi. After an unhurried breakfast and a last, restful morning at Glenburn, you drive to Bagdogra airport for your mid-afternoon flight. Upon arrival at the domestic airport in Delhi catch the flight going to your respective locations.