DREAM ITINERARY is just what the name reflects. It is a destination itinerary that I dream to visit and is born out of backgrowund research that I carry out on the dream destination. I do not know if this will be a regular feature on my blog, but even if it is not, I have no doubt that my dreams of traveling will and are rather regular.
I. How to reach
1. Fly from New Delhi
2. New Delhi to Manali by Bus (12 hours) + Bus/hired car from Manali to Leh (allows you to take pit-stops as and when the scenery turns breath-taking!) Buses begin plying from June 15 to September 15.
Hire a car in Manali and drive to Leh. Take a stop at Keylong and Sarchu making it a three day travel. Alternatively, some people stop only at Sarchu or Pang. Tour operators usually stop at Jispa which has a modern hotel. Try tented restraints for food and stay(stay only if you have a good winter sleeping bag!)
II. Eating out in Leh
1. La Terrace
2. Summer harvest
3. Tibetan Kitchen (momos)
4. Kokonoor (better momos than Tibetian Kitchen)
6. Mentokling Bar
III. Staying in Leh
1. Best hotels – Spic & Span, Lotus, Lharimo
2. Guesthouses (an extension of family houses usually serving tea and breakfast and making it a homely experience)
3. Guesthouse at Lamayuru monastery
4. Old guesthouses have rooms for Rs. 150- Rs. 400
5. Newer one’s having attached toilet are between Rs. 400 – Rs. 800
6. Some popular guesthouses – Ti-sei, Delux, Padma all three near Fort road) and rainbow, Oriental and wisdom are other popular ones.
7. Sarchu and Pang have tented accommodation usually advertised as Swiss cottage deluxe tents (but they hardly offer any luxury!) (on the way to Manali)
IV. Other Attractions
1. Polo match on 15th August is very exciting
2. Leh has world’s highest golf course
3. Check out local archery at Oracle and local Amchi (doctor, not the witch doctors!) to learn about zen, meditation and usual tourist traps
4. Ladakh Festival known as Hemis festival, from 1-15 September is very popular among tourists.
5. Good tourist books to refer to – Trailblazer by Charlie Loram and the local book Reach Ladakh are popular.
V. Day by day itinerary
Day 1: Leh
o Roam around the sundry markets
o Eat at food-joints at Chang-pa (Israeli part of Leh)
o Get inner-line for Nubra valley, Pangong Tso, Moriri Tso permit from DM’s office (near parade ground). Also keep 7-8 photocopies of the same to be given at various check points.
o Visit Shanti Stupa in the evening
o Watch the sunset
PS – for any travel help, meet ‘Dilli’ at Dragon Tours & Travel, fort road, Leh.
Day 2: Nubra Valley
o Drive to Nubra valley in Karakoram range (Leh is in Himalayan range)
o Nubra valley is Y’ shaped with Sumur and Panamik on the North and Diskit and Handar on the South.
o Stop at Sumur and see the Samsta-ling Monastery.
o Drive all the way to Panamik which has hot sulphur springs (till here no permit is needed)
o Head back to Diskit. You may visit the monastery if you’re interested.
o Stay the night in some Hotel in Hander.
o Hander has two-humped Bactrian Camels resting in the sand dunes amidst the snow-covered peaks. This was the part of ancient trade route to Tibet. It’s an amazing sight.
Day 3: Leh and around Leh
o Check out the camels in Handar if you could not spot them the previous night.
o Head back to Leh via Khardung La where you can interact with BRO guys. (this road is closed every Monday as the BRO guys do the servicing)
o When at Leh, head to Thikshey & Hemis Monasteries and Shey palace in the afternoon.
o The lucky one’s can spot monks in procession around the huge Buddha statues in different incarnations.
o Spend the night at Leh.
Day 4: Phey-Nimoo
o Try rafting in Indus River if you’re adventure inclined. Book yourself with a rafting tour operator, best one being Splash Adventure Tours located in Leh Bazaar.
o If you go in for rafting, request rafting in Phey-Nimoo rafting stretch where Indus and Zanskar meet. The rafting crew give you lunch and drop you off at Leh bazaar in the afternoon,
o You could also drive all the way to Nimoo and watch the confluence of Zanskar and Indus.
Day 5: Pangong Tso OR Moriri Tso OR Lamayuru
o Can be visited only if the army has opened the high passes
o Pangong Tso is the highest salt water lake in the world.
o It is a full day trip to the lake and its recommended that you spend the night here.
o Moriri Tso, another lake south-east of Leh.
o A picture-perfect town set on a cliff on Srinagar home to Yung-Drung swastika (Lamayuru Monastery)
o Stop over al Alchi, the cultural heart of Leh and famous for its caves, paintings and the oldest Gompa of the region.
The above three are in three different directions, so make a wise choice or do all three if you have time. You may also trek to near-by monasteries, esp. Spituk (near Leh). Don’t forget to try the salted butter tea.
Day 6: Likir and Rizdong Monastery
o Drive to Rizdong and see the Rizdong Monastery. It is the only Nunnery Monastery in Ladakh.
o Lekir monastery is set on a low-hill.
o Drive back to Leh.
Day 7: Sabu & Stok
o Drive to Sabu village after breakfast
o Visit the local Buddhist house to see private chapels and traditional kitchen
o Also get demonstration of preparing gur gur tea (local tea)(butter tea)
o Sabu can be seen by afternoon.. You can club Stok village with Sabu.
o Visit the Stok palace, museum with royal family heirloom, tibetian handicraft centre/school and then drive to Choglamsar (largest tibetian refugee village).
o Alternatively, you can also visit Stok and Choglamsar on the next day depending upon the time you have.
1. For non-trekkers, Nubra, Alchi and Moriri Tso are the best!
2. If you’re a pop music lover, check out local pop music termed as cherry pop in Ladakh and Spiti.
NOTE: The information given above is a consolidation of the text and opinions by other travellers that I've read. I take no responsibility fir the accuracy of the information stated above, nor do I claim that the day-wise itinerary will actually work. But this is possibly what I'd follow when I go there! :)