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KC11: 12N/13D - MONASTERIES AND MORE

This trip can be undertaken only after Rohtang Pass re-opens (after mid-June)

DAY 1: CHANDIGARH TO SHIMLA

Arrive at Chandigarh & drive to Shimla, a drive of around 5 hours. The evening is free to explore The Mall Road at Shimla. Overnight at Shimla.

DAY 2: SHIMLA TO SARAHAN

After breakfast, we drive from Shimla to Sarahan via Kufri, Theog, Fagu, Narkanda, and Rampur. Take lunch en-route in Rampur. Arrive at Sarahan & check-in to your hotel. Sarahan commands a view of the Srikhand Mahadev Peak & is famous for its 800 year old Bhimkali Temple, one of the best examples of hill architecture. Enjoy the panoramic view of the Shrikhand peaks in the evening, and visit the Bhimkali Temple – one of the 51 Shakti Peeths. Attend the evening aarti. Dinner & overnight stay at hotel

DAY 3: SARAHAN TO SANGLA

Participate in the morning aarti at Bhimkali Temple. After breakfast, checkout from the hotel & depart for Sangla – via Karcham. Your journey from here will take you to another spectacular destination in the central Himalayas, which is also known as the Baspa valley – the prettiest valley in Himachal. Arrive at Sangla & check-in to your hotel. Post lunch, rest in the hotel. Overnight at Sangla.

DAY 4: SANGLA – CHITKUL– SANGLA

Today, you explore the vicinity around Sangla, including the ancient Kamru fort & temple dedicated to the Goddess Kamakhya Devi, the statue of whom was brought from Assam. Post lunch, depart for an excursion to Chitkul – the last village on the old Indo – Tibetan trade route. A short 1.5km walk from Chitkul is Nagasti, which is the last civilian point on the Tibetan border. Chitkul is famous all over the world for its potatoes. Walk through green orchards & beautiful streams. Return back to Sangla for dinner & overnight stay.

DAY 5: SANGLA TO KALPA

After breakfast, check-out from the hotel & drive to Kalpa, via Recong Peo, the district headquarters of Kinnaur. Kalpa was once a favourite haunt of Lord Dalhousie. Arrive at Kalpa & check-in to your Hotel. Kalpa was known as Chini back in the days when it was the regional capital. Kalpa has changed very little in the last 500 years. It is said that as & when Lord Dalhousie wanted to take a break from his hectic schedule in Shimla, he would come here on horseback. Each & every corner of Kalpa faces Jorkanden & the Kinner Kailash Peak, which is considered as one of the mythical homes of Lord Shiva; by its side is a 79 foot rock formation that resembles a Shivlinga that changes colour as the day passes, & is visible to the naked eye on a clear day. Post lunch, rest in the hotel & in the evening visit a Buddhist gompa. Dinner & overnight stay at Kalpa.

DAY 6: LOCAL SIGHTSEEING AT KALPA

Early morning, enjoy the sunrise over Kinner Kailash Peaks. After breakfast, explore Kalpa, which is famous for its apples & chilgoza plantations. The chilgoza tree belongs to the pine family, & the fruit is about an inch long with a soft cover. Visit the Narayan Nagini temple complex, which has the shrines of Hindu, Buddhist & local Deities. Post lunch, embark on an excursion to Roghi Village to explore the ‘pahari’ Life. Interact with the locals. Return to Kalpa for an overnight stay.

DAY 7: KALPA – NAKO

After breakfast, check-out from Kalpa & drive to Nako. En-route, we take a halt at Khab village. Khab sangam is the confluence of the Spiti river and Sutlej river.
Welcome to Spiti Valley – with few signs of vegetation. Yet, this land renders visitors speechless with its harsh raw beauty of the landscape. Rudyard Kipling describes Spiti in “Kim” in these words: “At last they entered a world within a world – a valley of leagues where the high hills were fashioned of the mere rubble & refuse from off the knees of the mountains…surely the Gods live here.” Arrive at Nako & check-in to your hotel.
Visit Nako Lake – Kinnaur’s most picturesque hamlets. Nako is slated to be declared a heritage village built around a small lake. It has an important Buddhist gompa which is 1000 yrs old, & a small temple. A footprint like impression on a rock is ascribed to the saint Guru Padmasambhava.

DAY 8: NAKO TO KAZA

After an early, we depart for Tabo – also known as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’. Visit the Tabo monastery. Constructed in 996 AD – not just in Spiti but in the whole of the Tibetan Buddhist world, it is called Chogs – Khor [‘Doctrinal Circle’ or ‘Doctrinal Enclave’]. It is a complex that holds 9 Temples, 23 Chortens, a Monk’s Chamber & an extension that houses the Nun’s Chamber. On the sheer cliff-face above the enclave are a series of caves, used as dwellings by the monks, & includes an assembly hall. The monastery contains large number of scriptures & pieces of art, wall painting & stucco. There is also a modern gompa & painting school founded by the Dalai Lama. Check-out from Tabo after lunch.
A short drive away is the Giu mummy lama temple. Next, proceed to visit Dhankar Gompa, the traditional capital of Spiti, which sits pretty on a hilltop. The hill-top fort that overlooks the Spiti Valley also used to serve as a jail in olden days. Today, more than 160 Lamas reside here. A statue of Dhyan Buddha, where four complete figures of Buddha sit back to back, is the main attraction of this older than 7th century monastery.
Continue your drive to Kaza – the Capital of Spiti Valley. Arrive at Kaza & check-in to your hotel. Dinner & overnight at Kaza.

DAY 9: EXPLORE KAZA

After an early breakfast by 7 a.m., leave for an excursion to the Ki Monastery. Situated at the foot of steep ridges & on the left bank of the river Spiti is the Ki Monastery, which is the Biggest Gelupa Sect Monastery in Spiti. Its hilltop position points to a post 13th century construction. The three storied structure consists largely of storage rooms at the bottom level, while the middle floor houses the Dukhang (the Assembly Hall), & the uppermost floor has another temple & the head Lama’s quarters on one side of an open terrace. The greatest wealth of Ki Gompa lies in its collection of ‘Thangkas’. Hundreds of Lamas receive their religious training in this monastery, & it is famous for its ancient murals & books. From here, a scenic drive takes you into the pasture country of Kibber. From Kibber, the pastures are spread over hundreds of square kilometers. Return back to Kaza for dinner & an overnight stay.

DAY 10: KAZA TO KEYLONG

After an early breakfast by 6:30 a.m., check-out from the hotel & drive to Keylong via the Kunzumla Pass which, at 4590 mts., is the highest pass on the Spiti Lahaul Road. Rudyard Kipling said of the region “Surely the Gods live here, this no place for Men”. Most of the Government offices are located at Keylong. This is also the hub-centre of all commercial activity, with a regular bazaar. The landscape is barren all around while the valley floor is lush green with fields of barley, potato & hops, fringed with trees of willow & poplar. Since the altitude is low, apples, walnuts, apricots, etc. are grown in this area. Because of its panoramic setting Lieut. Col. the Hon’ble C. G. Bruce, M. V.O. likened Keylong to a barbaric jewel – a roughly cut emerald in a bronze & silver setting. “It is an Oasis of green fields & willow planted water courses surrounded by brown hills & snowy heights”. En-route, stop at the tiny hamlet of Chattru for refreshment. Arrive at Keylong & check-in to your hotel. Dinner & overnight stay at Keylong.

DAY 11: KEYLONG – TRILOKINATH – UDEYPUR – KEYLONG

After breakfast, visit Gondla [3110 mts / 18 km] situated on the right bank of River Chandra which is famous for its ancient fort. After an early lunch, leave for Triloknath [2660 mts / 57 km] which is famous for its Triloknath Temple, sacred to both Hindu & Buddhists. On your return, visit Udaipur [2523 mts / 53 km], home to the Mrikula Devi Temple, which is famous for wood carvings. Udaipur is located in Upper Lahaul in the Pattan Valley. Earlier, this village was known as Margul, and was renamed at the time of Raja Udai Singh of Chamba [1690 – 1728 AD]. Return to Keylong. Free time for shopping at Keylong, which is famous for shawls, local tweeds, caps, rugs, footwear, natural olive & almond oil, silver jewelry, pullovers, woollen jackets, metal craft, bamboo products & fresh fruits. Dinner & overnight at Keylong.

DAY 12: DEPART FOR MANALI

After an early breakfast, visit Kardang [5 km], Shasur [3 km], and Guru Ghantal [8 km]. After early lunch check-out from the hotel & depart for Manali. Arrive at Manali & check-in to your hotel. Rest of the evening is free for rest. Dinner & overnight at Manali.

DAY 13: MANALI – CHANDIGARH

After very early breakfast, checkout from the hotel & depart for Chandigarh (9-10 hrs). Lunch en-route. Arrive at Chandigarh to catch late evening flight.
Alternately, overnight at Chandigarh and catch the next day flight back home