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CHAR DHAM TRAIL – 12 Nights / 13 Days

Location –Delhi-Haridwar-Barkot-Uttarkashi-Rudraprayag-Kedarnath-Rudraprayag-Badrinath-Rudraprayag-Rishikesh-Delhi

 

Trip Type – Spiritual Tours in India

Trip Duration- 13 Day(s) – 12 Night(s)

Overview

The natural wonders in the Central Himalayan region have been identified as manifestations of the Gods themselves, or of places where mythical events took place. In the backdrop of this, four Himalayan sites came to be known as undisputed important shrines for Hindus. Named as ‘Char Dham’ (four seats), they have been the most important Hindu pilgrimage centers which have been visited by devout Hindus for ages. The circuit consists of four sites: Yamunotri, the source of the Yamuna river and seat of Goddess Yamuna; Gangotri, the  source of the Ganges river and seat of Goddess Ganga; Kedarnath, where a form of the Hindu God Shiva is acclaimed as one of the twelve jyotiling; and Badrinath, the seat of the Hindu God Vishnu.  Experience the divinity and mysticism of these sacred shrines as we take you on a journey to the Abode of Gods.

Meet & assist on arrival followed by transfer to your pre-booked hotel.

Morning rest and recuperate from long flight. Those with energy can take a stroll around the area near the hotel which boasts cafes, bookstores, and local bazaars. Afternoon sightseeing of Old & New Delhi including a rickshaw ride through the old Chandi Chowk bazaar. Overnight in Delhi.

Early morning transfer to the train station for the Shatabdi Express to Chandigarh. Drive to Shimla. Lunch will be enroute. Rest of day free to explore the shopping areas of the Mall. Overnight in Shimla.

Early morning breakfast, drive to the base of Jakhu (Hanuman) Temple. It is a short 15 minute climb uphill on well laid-out steps to the temple. We then drive to Sarahan, a beautiful village surrounded by apple orchards and dominated by Shrikhand Mahadev Peak (5155 M/ 16,912 feet) which resembles the “Shivling.” We visit the Bhimakali Temple, a wonderful mixture of Buddhist and Hindu architecture. It is very sacred to both communities. The Bhimakali goddess idol is approximately 200 years old. Overnight in Sarahan.

Sangla Valley, also known as Baspa Valley, is by far the most beautiful valley of Himachal Pradesh, full of wooded slopes and surrounded by green fields and lofty mountain peaks as far away as Chitkul, the last inhabited village in this valley. After settling into your deluxe camp, walk across a small foot bridge to the enchanting village of Bisteri. Overnight in Sangla.

 

Drive to Kalpa. Enroute visit Rakcham and Kamru villages in the Sangla Valley. Looming above Kalpa village is the impressive Mt. Kinner Kailash (6050 M/ 19,850 feet). Arrive in time for lunch. Afternoon, walk the Old Hindustan Road to Roghi Village. 

Overnight at the beautiful Kalpa Villa, situated at the base of Mt. Kinner Kailash.

Full day for walking the ancient and exquisite villages of Chitkul, Chini, Peo, Kothi, Pangi and Telangi.  Overnight in Kalpa.

Visit to Nako subject to road connectivity, otherwise we drive from Kalpa direct to Tabo. The village of Nako lies at an altitude of 3625 meters (11,893 feet), high above the last stretch of the Spiti Valley. It was once a very important center of Buddhism in the region. There are at least seven temples belonging to different periods between the 11th and 12th centuries distributed all over the village, including a monastic complex on its western edge. Boasting four temples and a number of additional buildings, this complex preserves the earliest artistic heritage. The austere and unornamented exteriors of the buildings give little hint of the important artistic and religious legacy that lies within the walls. Overnight in Nako.

Today we enter the Spiti Valley. Geographically and archeologically, Spiti is a living museum. The mountains are devoid of any vegetation due to erosion by wind, sun and snow over thousands of years.

Our vehicles climb up to the village of Tabo (3050 M/ 10,006 feet). Built in the year 996 AD, the Chos Khor Monastery at Tabo is the largest monastery in Spiti and one of the few remaining examples of the golden period of Buddhist Culture in the Himalayan Region. The wall frescos of the monastery are comparable in their antiquity and quality to those of the Ajanta caves, hence they are called the Ajanta of the Himalayas. It houses more than 100 Lamas, a large number of scriptures and pieces of art, wall paintings, tankhas and stucco. This monastery follows the Dalai Lama’s sect of Buddhism. We will reach Tabo for lunch. In the afternoon and evening we will visit the Monastery and village. Overnight in Tabo.

Our sightseeing in Thimphu will include the main Secretariat building – the Tashichho Dzong is the most prominent building consisting of the main Secretariat, the National Assembly Hall, the Office of the King and the Throne Room. Its remarkable construction is in traditional Bhutanese style without the use of nails or metal of any kind. We also visit the large Stupa dedicated to the late King HM. Jimge Dorji Wangchuk, regarded as the founder of modern day Bhutan.

From Thimphu, we drive for about three hours to Wangduephodrang (locally known as “Wangdi”), changing climatic zones from mountainous to tropical. On the way, we cross over Dochu La, a 3150-metre-high pass marked by prayer flags and a chorten and, if the weather is fine, a view of the eastern Himalaya including the highest mountain in Bhutan, Mt Gangar Punsum (7520m). We drive through forests of rhododrendron and magnolia, before the road descends into the warmer lowlands around Punakha.

On arrival transfer to our pre-booked hotel. Overnight in Wangduephodrang.

Full day visit to the village and monastery of Mane followed by a drive to the Pin Valley National Park. Afternoon is free to explore the valley for wildlife with a picnic lunch. Mane is just 4 km west of the Pin River and situated at a height of 3700 M (12,140 feet). There is a small village full of green fields and a beautiful gompa built in the 14th century by the Geluk-pa sect. Ancient paintings and statues of Avalokitesvara and Sakyamuni are are very impressive. The view from the village is breathtaking, with the valleys of Tabo and Kaza on either side. Overnight stay in Kaza.

Visit the ancient Ki and Kibber Gompas and the village of Gete, which are among the highest inhabited villages in the world. Overnight in Kaza.

Morning drive over the famous Kunzum Pass, enroute visit Lahaul Valley, between Kunzum and Rohtang. The drive offers magnificent views. Continue to Manali over Rohtang La (3980 M/ 13,058 feet). At Rohtang Pass we relax and enjoy the breathtaking beauty. Optional guided horse ride up the mountain.

Overnight in Manali.

An easy day of strolling around Manali. Visit Dhungri Temple (also known as Hadimba Temple by locals) and the quaint village of Nagar with its many ancient temples, including the 11th-12th century Temple Gauri and the Tripura Sundri Devi Temple. Overnight in Manali.

Drive through Kullu to Kangra – the Valley of Temples to Palampur. Overnight in Palampur.

We start with a visit to Bir, a predominantly Buddhist town with some nice new monasteries. Just below the village, a road to the west leads to a tiny Tibetan settlement with a fine gompa which belongs to the Nyingmapa order of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a beautiful and peaceful location. The monks, who are not accustomed to visitors, are very friendly. Many peaks between 3500M – 5000M (11,483 – 16,404 feet) of the Dhauladhar are clearly visible from here.

 

Baijnath (5 Km) is a pleasant little town surrounded by tea plantations and the Dauladhar range. This village houses the oldest existing Shiva temple. Just below the village is the Tashijong Gompa, which is the focus of a small Tibetan community who hail from Kham province in Tibet. This fine gompa also belongs to the Nyingmapa order of Tibetan Buddhism. We will visit the Sherab Ling Monastery and hear the award-winning chants of the monks (2003 GRAMMY Award Winner for Best Traditional World Music Album). Sherab Ling Monastery is nestled in the gentle pine-forested foothills of northern India’s Kangra Valley, the seat of its founder His Eminence Ti Situpa XII, a leading Tibetan Buddhist teacher and peace campaigner. Here the monks perform prayer ceremonies as part of their daily lives, originating many centuries ago in the great Buddhists monasteries of Tibet. The monks begin their day with the Lineage Prayer, offering respect to a line of great meditation practitioners going back as far as the 7th century. The Mahakala Ceremony is part of each day’s closing ritual in which the monks ask for purification and dedicate their blessings to all sentient creatures. We will attend the evening chants beginning at approximately 3 pm. Overnight in Taragarh

Enroute we visit the Institute of Tibetan Arts and Handicrafts in Norbulingka. Upon arrival, we visit the Center of Tibetan Medicines and Astrology, time permitting. Afternoon: attend puja at the Karma Pa Monastery. Evening: you are free to explore the Tibetan Markets. Overnight in McLeodganj.

Early morning walk to the Dalai Lama’s Monastery to attend the monks’ rituals followed by circumambulating the monastery complex along with the locals. Return to hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, drive to Amritsar, in the state of Punjab, in the Himalayan foothills called the Shivaliks. Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, is one of the most ancient and fascinating cities in India. It is an important seat of Sikh history and culture. The Golden Temple was founded by the fourth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Ramdas, and completed by his successor Guru Arjan Dev. It is famous for its full golden dome, one of the most sacred pilgrim sites for Sikhs. The Temple is built on a 67-foot square of marble and is a two-storied structure. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had the upper half of the building adorned with approximately 400 kg of gold leaf.

After lunch we visit the Golden Temple of the Sikhs. We will circumambulate the temple, stopping periodically for moments of quiet reflection. The temple complex is like a small community, filled with many different activities. We will visit the kitchen where free meals are prepared by volunteers throughout the day; the temple where the holy book, Aad Guru Granth Sahib, is read aloud from 4 am to 10 pm daily.

Travel to the border town Wagah to see flag ceremony at dusk. We return to the temple in the evening for the closing ceremony. Overnight in Amritsar.

Morning independent. Transfer to airport for flight to Delhi. Transfer to hotel close to the Airport shared rooms for wash, change. Dinner and late night transfer to airport for flight home.

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