Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Manali to get modern monal breeding centre

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Former state bird of Himachal, monal (impeyan pheasant), an endangered species, will soon get an advanced breeding centre in Manali. The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has approved the proposal for it and design for the centre been finalized.

Himalayan Monal

The exercise to build a centre for keeping a close watch on the breeding of Himalayan monal was started in 2009, but the centre is in a bad condition due to lack of funds. Now the advanced centre would come up in its place. Many designs were rejected and finally the Zoo Authority of India ratified an ultra modern design for a centre for the Himalayan monal (lophophorus impejanus). To keep a close watch on birds, cameras would be installed in the cages and a stud book would be maintained. Each bird will get a name and their complete case study data since birth would be prepared. At present, the Manali centre has 5 pairs of monal while Himachal has about 5,000.
Divisional forest officer (wildlife) B S Rana told Himachal Vacation Travels that CZA will soon install cages and cameras to record the activities of monal. "This would definitely prove a vital step in the conservation of the Himalayan monal. They would get a new life after this move," he said. Rana said cages would be designed according to the weather conditions in Manali, so that even heavy snowfall would not have any effect on them.

Great Himalayan National Park

A Monal in Manali breeding center
Great Himalayan National Park director Ajay Srivastava said poaching for its crest, human interference with nature and increasing pressure on jungles were some of the causes for the dwindling monal numbers. "A number of monals have been killed merely to obtain their beautiful crests. They breed between April and August but their numbers have declined in recent years," Srivastava said.
The monal centre in Manali would be the first such breeding centre in western Himalayas. Officials at the wildlife department believe that the Himalayan forests will again chirp with the voice of the rare but beautiful monal. The Delhi zoo authority will be spending about Rs 1 crore on this project.
In Himachal the male lophophorus impejanus is called monal, while the female is known as kardi.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Delhi Manali Leh road and weather updates

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: As on August 24, 2011, Delhi-Manali and Manali-Leh highways are fully operational. However, only SUVs (Tata Sumo, Qualis, Tavera, Jeep, Innova, Traveller buses or middle/large sized vehicles) and four wheel drive with high ground clearance vehicles are able to ply the highway.
Around 200 meter stretch near Rahni Nullah, around 10 km below Rohtang, is still sinking due to regular flow of water and landslides. But the highway is in much better condition than that of last month. Rest of highway is worth enjoying the safari.
With little rains, fog, weather is quite pleasant (between 12 degree C to 23 degree C). One can have an experience of being above the clouds at Rohtang pass. Beyond Rohtang, the weather is dry (not much) up to Ladakh.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Landslides, snowfall drowns tourism in Spiti

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Tourism in Spiti has suffered major drop in number of tourists who are fearing their safety in tribal mountains following landslides and heavy rains this month.
Thee Spiti Valley in Himachal

Chandertal, Kibber, Kaza, Losar, Nako, Tabo, Kunzum pass, Dhankar monastery, Kungri Gompa and Thang Yug gompa are the main tourist destination in Spiti, the cold desert of Himachal. Due to snowfall and frequent landslides on connecting roads to Spiti, tourists, mostly domestic, are not daring to visit this hill resort. Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti which is well known as the first choice of foreigners, is recording a major drop in tourists this year.
“My jeep and clients trapped between snows at Chandertal for six days,” said Pritam Thakur, a driver, adding, “I had to bring my clients, all trekkers, to Manali from Chandertal on August 14 but snowfall blocked all the highways. We camped in Chandertal for two days and reached Rohtnang on August 16. Another landslide had blocked the highway here. Having no other option, my clients had to walk on foot but my jeep could reach Manali on August 20. Many tourists fear only with the name of Spiti.”
Spiti valley
Being blocked for a while after landslides, Spiti-Kinnaur highway remains operational for most of the time but tourists prefer a round trip of Manali-Spiti-Kinnaur which covers all the attractions of cold deserts. In such if landslide or snowfall blocks highway at any place, tourists have no other option than to wait for its reopening. Otherwise, they will have to travel back on the same route for many days in vain.
A shopkeeper in Kaza, Satpal Mahajan, said landslides and rains are posing threat to the tourism, ruining season in the second consecutive year. Recalling last year’s season, Mahajan said, “Incessant rains had ruined last year’s tourism season in Spiti and again this year many tourists have cancelled their bookings. For many residents, seasonal tourism is the only source of income but weather has stood against us again.”
Tourism in Spiti begins after June and ends in October. Residents have only five months to cash the tourism. Once the season is over, connecting roads to this beautiful valley will acquire a blanket of snow for next six months.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Temperature dips in Manali, woollens come out of closet

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: With temperature dipping below 15 degrees Celsius, woollens are out in Manali in mid-August. The incessant rains in mid and lower hills and snowfall on high altitude peaks have caused a dramatic fall in mercury this month.
Manali this month recorded minimum temperature of 10.5 degrees Celsius and the maximum temperature was 23 degrees Celsius. The shops where fashionable clothes were available a month ago have been filled with sweaters, jackets and other warm clothes. Travel agents are advising their clients from plains to carry a pair of woollens with them to Manali. Locals and tourists, all are clad in warm clothes. It looks like as if the winters have begun in August.
A person shops warm sweaters in Manali
A garment shopkeeper in NSC market Manali, Mohd Maqbool said the warm clothes; especially sweaters and jackets are in great demand. “I’m looking forward for a good business this year. As the temperature is falling down drastically, clients are rushing the woollen shops. I’ve replaced all the casual wearing by warm clothes. I think this time the August is much colder than last years’,” he said.
Vineet Agrawal, a tourist from Ghaziabad, who is travelling in his own car, said weather was warm till Punjab and he had to use his air conditioner but as he entered the Himachal, he had to switch it off. He added, “Temperature beyond Kullu was extremely cold. My son was shivering without warm clothes so we shopped a lot in Manali. I was cursing my decision to find an air conditioned room in hotel. It’s really stupid thing. This is the real feeling of being on hills.”
Battered by cold, locals are thronging natural hot water springs of Bashisht and Kalath in Manali. The springs were wearing deserted look a month before. “I cannot dare to bathe with cold water. Along with a quilt, I am using a blanket in nights. Sweater is must even in daytime in Manali,” resident of Manali, Ramesh Thakur said.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Flash flood kills many, damages Chandigarh-Manali highway

Himachal Vacation Travel News

MANALI: Many persons are feared killed after a flash flood caused by downpour swept away a Van at Rangri village near Manali at around 4.30pm on Tuesday. One more vehicle is feared buried in the flood. Work was on to recover the buried bodies. 

Flash flood in Rangri near Manali

Lalit Kumar, an eyewitness told TOI that ashali Nullah was looking calm when he was behind the victim’s vehicle at 4.30 pm but suddenly it took form of a devastating flooded river coupled with debris and huge rocks. “I was lucky and survived but a green Van in front of me was struck by debris. I saw another vehicle crossing the highway which might be caught by the flood. They were more than three persons in the green van.
According to Manali SDM Balbir Thakur the number of casualty could only be confirmed after recovering the bodies. “Debris has buried a van. At this time it is not possible to say that how many vehicles or bodies have been buried. However, we have confirmed the presence of one damaged van while sources say there was one another vehicle plying the highway during tragic incident,” he said.
Firemen take stock of the debris
No dead body has been recovered so far. Police and fire personnel have rushed the spot to start search operation. There were possibilities that the bodies were drowned in the river Beas.
The flood has damaged the Delhi-Manali national highway No 21 too but the highway between Kullu and Manali was restored till late evening.
This is the fourth incident of flash flood in region in one month. Before this, cloudbursts on South portal of Rohtang tunnel had claimed 8 lives and cloudbursts near Mandi town and Naggar village of Kullu had blocked the highway for long time.
Wreckege of damaged Van

High alert after flood and landslides in Kullu-Manali

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Heavy rains, landslides and floods lashed Himachal on Monday, causing traffic snarls as many link and major national highways were blocked. High alert has been sounded in Kullu district and emergency holiday in schools has been declared. No serious accident has been reported so far.
Landslides caused by downpour have blocked the Chandigarh-Manali national highway near Hanogi temple in Mandi and Rangri near Manali. Also, flooded river Beas is flowing over the highway at Thalout in Mandi and Raison in Kullu. Kandi-Kataula, the bypass road to Kullu has also been blocked after landslides since Tuesday morning. River has damaged the Dador bridge in Ner Chowk and many properties near rivers has been damaged. Dozens of link roads of Kullu and Mandi have been blocked. Traffic has come to a complete standstill in Kullu district.
According to another report from Rohtang pass, landslide has damaged a truck carrying LPG cylinders to Lahaul-Spiti and the Manali-Leh highway too has been blocked. A huge tree has been collapsed in New Manali area which damaged a Tavera car.
Kullu deputy commissioner BM Nanta said alert has been imposed in entire district on Tuesday and people are advised to stop venturing close to rivers, brooks and mountains. “Disaster management teams are ready to face any untoward incident. We are trying to keep Kullu and Manali connected any way,” he said. Nanta added that a girl, student of fifth class in Bhekhli school was killed after she fell into a gorge.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Fresh snowfall on mountains near Manali and Imp Instruction for travellers

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: All the peaks near Manali including Rohtang, Deo Tibba, Hanuman Tibba, Seven Sisters, Hamta pass, Makarved and Shikarved are receiving heavy snowfall on Monday. Kullu, Manali, Mandi, Dharamshala, Dalhousie, Khajiar, Shimla and Kinnaur are experiencing heavy to moderate rains. Snow has blocked the Manali-Leh highway at Rohtang pass and Baralacha-la. The minimum temperature in Manali on Monday was recorded at 8.4 degrees Celsius while the maximum temperature was 18.1 degrees Celsius. Landslides on Chandigarh-Manali national highway has made the driving extremely dangerous practice.




IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS TO ALL TRAVELLERS/TOURISTS VISITING HIMACHAL AND LADAKH IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER
Hello traveller!!!
If you are visiting Himachal (Kinnaur, Dharamshal, Dalhousie, Kullu-Manali, Spiti, Shimla) and Ladakh in your own car (or any vehicle), please keep in mind few important things as landslides, snowfall or cold weather can make it really tough for you as you may be stranded for hours due to highway blockages in "No Civilization Areas":
1. Keep ready some woollens. (A warm clothe for each traveller)
2. Keep some bottles of drinking water and some food for at least 12 hours.
3. Do not park your vehicle below steep hill as it may slide any time.
4. Avoid going close to rivers, brooks or streams as they may flood withing few seconds.
5. If you are forced to sleep inside the vehicle with heater on, don't sleep keeping all windows shut. Keep some space for air, otherwise, the gas (nigtrogen-dioxide) may kill you while you are asleep.
6. If you are trapped in snow/blizzards on the mountainous highway and your mobile network does not work, do not leave your car and dont dare to find your way back to destination on foot. You may loose the actual path. Stay near the car and on the highway. This way, rescue teams will search you easily within few hours.
7. Avoid driving in nighttime, especially on passes like Rohtang, Baralacha-la.
8. If you are travelling on Manali-Leh highway, own a BSNL postpaid connection because this is the only service provider which allows you to make call even in Ladakh. However, in all 474-km-long Manali-Leh highway, cellular network works only in about 150-km-stretch. Pre-paid connections do not work in Ladakh.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Snowfall, landslides and flood bring disaster in Himachal, two dead

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Heavy snowfall, landslides and floods have brought disaster to the Himachal Pradesh. Most of the highways and link roads have been blocked, flights have been cancelled, hundreds of tourists are stranded on highways and many trekkers, shepherds have been feared trapped between snows in mountains.
Rohtang pass has received more than one foot snow and entire Lahaul-Spiti district has been covered with a thick blanket of snow. Manali-Leh highway has been blocked following heavy snowfall on Rohtang and Baralacha-la. Highway is damaged by landslides at many places. Hundreds of vehicles carrying tourists are reportedly stranded between Aut and Mandi after landslides on Chandigarh-Manali national highway No 21 since Saturday morning. In Thalout, flooded river Beas has engulfed about 15 meter stretch of highway. Meanwhile dozens of trekkers and shepherds with thousands of sheep are feared trapped between blizzards on mountains. The exact figure could only be known after the snowfall would stop.
Mandi deputy commissioner Devesh Kumar said heavy rain since past 24 hours has wreaked disaster in the district. “It’s raining hard here. A person is reported dead in Aut who attempted to reach near flooded river and a rock hit him. Some huts near Mandi temple have been washed away by river and landslides are blocking the highways repeatedly since Friday night,” he said. He added that police force, SDMs and all officials have been deployed to check the disasters caused by nature’s fury.
Kullu deputy commissioner BM Nanta said Manali-Leh highway has been closed for the safety of people. He said, “Rohtang has been experiencing heavy snowfall. A woman is killed after a rock hit her in a remote village of Manikaran Valley. Currently there is no more bad news from the district.”
About 50 foreigners are reported to be stranded in Lahaul-Spiti and Sarchu near Baralacha-la. Communication mediums in district have been snapped after power failure since Friday. District chief medical officer Shamsher Singh Pujara said, “Cold waves are back here. Roads have been blocked from both sides. Two to eight inch of snow has covered entire district. It may prove fatal for apple, peas and all other cash crops.”

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Cloudburst in Chhaki village of Kullu

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI: Flashflood caused by cloudburst over Chhaki village of Kullu damaged the highway connecting three villages at 6.30 pm on Friday evening. No casualties were reported while the flashflood is continuing in the region.
“Pulag, Shoran and Rumsu villages of Kullu are affected by the cloudburst as highway connecting these villages has been washed away. People are traumatized here,” Naggar gram panchayat pradhan Jindu Ram said. Pradhan said that no loss of life was reported as roaring sound of cloudburst had already alerted the people.
Chandrakiran, resident of Pulag village said over phone that villagers heard a cracking sound in mountains over the village at 6.30pm and suddenly the Chhaki Nullah was in flood. “Everybody vacated the place. Still the brook is in spate. It’s raining hard here. We have decided shift for watch keeping tonight.  It is so scary,” he added.
This is the third incident of cloudburst in region in one month. A massive cloudburst in South portal of Rohtang tunnel in Manali had killed 8 labourers on July 21 while another cloudburst near Mandi town had blocked national highway for more than eight hours on August 6.

Snowfall on Baralacha-la doubles the joy of Jeep safari to Ladakh

Himachal Vacation Travel News
http://himachalvacation.com
MANALI: Snowfall on 16,500 feet high Baralacha-la on Manali-Leh highway has doubled the adventure of jeep safari. Hundreds of vehicles are leaving for Ladakh from Manali everyday – mostly carrying the passengers from Mumbai, West Bengal and abroad.
Crossing the flooded brooks, snowcapped mountain tops, unmaintained roads and cold deserts has made this seasonal highway full of traffic. Baralacha-la has been experiencing mild snowfall every day. The temperature has fallen many notches below the normal for this time of season and tourists are enjoying this cool weather.
Harsh Mukherji, a tourist from Kolkata said he experienced the scorching heat of Punjab, dry weather of Ladakh and snowfall on Baralacha-la. “The safari was amazing. We experienced all phases of weather in a single journey. We started from Delhi and entered Ladakh from Srinagar and now reached Manali via Baralacha-la. The condition of highway is pathetic but it adds to the joy of adventure enthusiasts,” he said.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

All you want to know about Leh-Ladakh

Himachal Vacation Travel News
LEH: Joy of riding double humped camel on silk route in Nubra Valley, peace of Pangong Lake and Tso Moriri lake, jeep safari on inhospitable terrains of cold desert and religious climate when one find himself surrounded by dozens of ancient monasteries – yes, this is Ladakh, rooftop of the world where Buddhism reflects from every particle.
Through this post, I’ll try to make travellers aware of the different aspects of Ladakh. Some pics have been adopted from third party sources; I think the owners won’t mind.

The most attractive feature of the landscape of Ladakh are the Buddhist monasteries situated on the isolated hillock in the vicinity of villages, these aesthetically pleasing, architecturally interesting monasteries provide the focus for the faith of the highly religious Buddhist people. Monasteries are the places of worship, isolated meditation and religious instruction for the young. Many monasteries celebrate their annual festivals in winter, which are marked by gay mask dances. Monasteries have a wealth of artefacts, Lamayuru, the oldest religious centre of Ladakh, beats all other in sheer grandeur. In its uniqueness of wood carving, statues and frescoes, Alchi offers the highest rewards. The wealth of its possession and its annual summer festival make Hemis the most popular, while Thiksay rates high in terms of architectural impact and the beauty of the festival performances at Likir and Phyang with their proximity to Leh are great attractions in their favour while the accessibility of the Shey, Spituk and the Sankar monasteries make them suitable for visitors with time at a premium.
The town of Leh
The approach to the monasteries is lined with mane walls and Chortens. Mane walls are made of votive stones on which prayers and holy figures are inscribed, while Chortens are semi religious shrines or reliquaries, containing relics of holy people or scripts. Besides monasteries, the 9 storey Leh Palace, Stok Palace Museum and the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies Choglamsar, Mosque and Moravian Church at Leh are added attraction for the tourists. Most of these can be conveniently visited from Leh as buses ply daily between Leh and those monasteries. Most of the monasteries remain open throughout the day.



The government of India has declared following historical monuments in Ladakh as national importance under Archaeological Survey of India.
1.  Sculpture at Drass          
2.  Rock Cut Sculpture at Mulbekh.
4.  Likir Monastery.
6.  Phyang Monastery.
8.  Leh Palace.
9.  Old Castle Tsemo Hill.
10. Stupa at T- Suru.
11. Shey Palace

THE CASTLE OF LEH AND THE TEMPLE OF NAMGYAL TSEMO.

 Leh is the capital of Ladakh and there are many temples, castles and stupas here, which were built by the ancestral Dharmaraja. Leh was the Ist of all the capital of King Takspa Bum-lde who rules over the area of Stod, which included Leh from 2400 to 1430. It was he who built the ‘Red Chapel’ containing the statue of the Buddha Maitreya, three storeys in height with the statue of Avalokitesvara & Manjusri on either side, each one storey in height. As speech-supports he had the Sungbum Chenmo and many other sacred texts written out in gold & silver. As a mind- support he built, the stupa of Ti’u-Tashis Od-phro containing 108 temples inside. This he built on top of the so-called’ Yellow- Te’u Demon’ which had been harming the valley of Leh. The ruin of the stupa can be seen to this day and is known to everyone as Tisuru. Thereafter, the temple of Namgail Tsemo was built during the lifetime of King Tashi Namgial who rules from 1500 to 1532. He founded the village of Chubi.
Namgyal Tsemo

The Leh Palace, known as “ Lhachen Palkhar ‘ was built by Dharmaraja Singey Namgial in 1600. It has 9 storey. The historians say that its completion took three years. In the Leh valley, there is Sankar monastery to be seen which the first Skyabsje Bakula Rinpoche founded. It is a branch monastery of Spituk Monastery.In the town of Leh there is a yellow stupa called the “ Mani Sermo’ which was built by Rinchen Zangpo, the Translator.In the centre of Leh there is the “ New monastery’ calledThe Buddhist Association of Ladakh in 1957 built it. Inside, there is a sacred image of the Buddha Shakya Muni that was brought from Tibet. Close by the Radio Station in Leh there is two large Mani walls. The one built in the Centre of the open plain known as her son Deldan Namgial in about the year 1635 built Rongo Thang as a memorial to Queen Skalzang Dolma. At its head and end there are the stupas of Enlightenment and of victory which contain relics. Tsetan Namgail in 1785 and intended as a memorial built the long Mani wall further down from this one to his father king Tsewang Namgial.
The festival of Dosmochey in Leh takes place every year in the 28th  & 29th of the Tibetan 12th month. The monks of different monasteries are invited by turn to perform the ceremonies, which ensure health & prosperity. The monks of Takthok monastery come and erect a large thread-cross model (Dosmochey) after which the festival is named. Continuing on the Changspa Lane across the stream, you reach the start of the stiff climb up to the new white Japanese Shanti Stupa ( 1983). There are good views from the top. There is also a jeepable road.
The architecturally striking Leh Mosque, in the main Bazaar is worth visiting. The Sunni Muslim Mosque is believed to stand on land granted by King Deldan Namgial in the 1660s, his grand mother was the Muslim Queen of Ladakh.

STOK PLACE  & MONASTERY.

15 Kms South of Leh at the West Bank of river Indus is the Royal Palace dating from the 1840s when the invading Dogra forces deposed the king of Ladakh. The Palace is a rambling building where only a dozen of the 80 rooms are used. The Palace Museum (3 rooms) is worth visiting. It is a show piece for the royal thankas (many 400 years old), crown jewels, dresses, coins, peraks encrusted with turquoise and lapis lazuli as well as religious objects. The monastery founded by Lama Lhawang Lotus in 14th century, a short distance away, has some ritual dance- mask (Guru Tseschu) held on the 9th and 10 th day of the Ist month of Tibetan calendar.

SHEY PLACE & MONASTERY.

King Deldan Namgial (1620  - 1640) built Shey palace in the beginning of the 17th century AD. The main image in the monastery is the 3- storey statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, made of copper guilt, which was made by King Deldan Namgail in the memory of his father Singay Namgail. The statue is the only of its kind in the region.

TRESTHANG MONASTERY

It was build during the reign of King Singay Namgial, containing the two-storey statue of Buddha. (Shey Srubla) festival is also held here at Tresthang Gonpa. The rock- curved statue of five Buddhas can be seen below the Palace on the roadside.


Thiksay Gonpa, 18 Kms from Leh is the most beautiful of all monasteries in Ladakh, belongs to the Gelukpa order. The Gonpa was first build at Stakmo by Sherab Zangpo of Stod. Later the nephew of Sherab Zangpo, Spon Paldan Sherab, founded the Thiksay Gonpa on a hill top to north of Indus river in 1430 AD.There are sacred shrines and many precious objects to be seen there. Eighty monks are in residence. The successive reincarnations of the Skyabsje Khanpo Rinpoche act as incumbents of the monastery. Sacred dances are held at the time of the Gustor ritual, which is performed every year from the 17th to 19th day of the 9th month of Tibetan Calendar. Although there was a very large temple built in ancient times at Thiksay by Rinchen Zangpo, the Translator, now it is in ruins. What remains of the building and walls can be seen at the site of the temple which was called Lakhang Nyerma and which was dedicated to the goddess Dorje Chenmo.


The Stakna monastery lies at a distance of 25 Kms from Leh on the Right Bank of the River Indus. The monastery formed part of the one of the many religious estates offered to the great scholar saint of Bhutan called Chosje Jamyang Palkar in about 1580 AD by the Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial who had invited his to Ladakh.The monastery was built on a hill shaped like a tiger’s nose and so its name was given as Stakna  (Tiger’s nose). The most important image in the monastery is that of the sacred Arya Avalokitesvara from Kamrup (Assam). There are about 30 monks in residence. The successive reincarnation of the Stakna Tulku act as the incumbents the monastery and they continue to fulfil the fine responsibility of upholding the teachings of the Dugpa order. The branch monasteries attached to Stakna are those of Mud and Kharu and those of Stakrimo, Bardan and Sani in Zanskar.


47 Kms from Leh on the west bank of the Indus, the monastery belongs to Dugpa Order, built on a green hillside surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, is hidden in a gorge. It is the biggest and wealthiest monastery in Ladakh and is a must for visitors. Sacred musk dance is performed on 9th and 10th day of the Tibetan 5th month. During the Hemis Tsechu held in the year of the Monkey it is possible to se the sacred appliqué- work tapestry wrought with pearls the depicts the precious teacher. Padmasambhava.Next display of great Thanka will be in 2004.Within the monastery there are to be seen a copper-gilt statue of the Lord Buddha, various stupas made of gold and silver, sacred thankas and many objects. The monastery was founded by the 1st incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630, which was invited to Ladakh by the king Singay Namgial and offered him a religious estate through out the region.

There is a pleasant 3 Kms walk, on the side of the mountain above the monastery there is a sacred hermitage founded by the great Gyalwa Kotsang where there can be seen his meditation cave, his foot-print and hand - print on the rock and sacred shrines. This Kotsang is an old hermitage, which was founded many years before the Hemis Monastery. A stay in Hemis over night enables you to attend early morning prayers, a moving experience and strongly recommended.


Chemday monastery is situated 40 Kms east of Leh. The monastery is situated there on the mountain side and was founded 365 years ago by Lama Tagsang Raschen with the Dharmaraja Singey Namgial acting as patron. There is a sacred image of Padmasambhava to be seen there, one storey in height. There are, furthermore, many shrines. A custom exists whereby every year on the 28th & 29th days of the 9th Tibetan month sacred dances are performed in association with the festival of an initiatory ritual. The successive reincarnations of Lama Tagsang Raschen act as the incumbents.


The monastery of Takthok is situated in the village of Sakti at a distance of 46 Kms from Leh. Before the monastery was founded there was a meditation cave of a Mahaadiddha called Kunga Phuntsog. After him, during the lifetime of the Dharmaraja Tsewang Namgial, 31st, in the line of the royal dynasty. Since the roof and walls of the monastery are all made of rock, it was given that name Takthok (rock-roof), There is a custom of holding sacred dances & the ceremony of hurling a votive offering during the festival of an initiatory ritual on the 9th & 10th days of the 6th Tibetan month. At present the Taklung Tulku administers it.


Matho is situated at a distance of 26 kms Southeast of Leh on the opposite bank of the River Indus. There is a monastery, which belongs to the Saskya Order. A Lama Dugpa Dorje founded it about five hundred years ago. Shrines and also a sacred temple dedicated to the guardian deities are to be seen there. A festival called the “ Matho Nagrang ‘ takes place there every year on the 14th and 15th day of the 1st Tibetan month. All the monks perform sacred dances and two gods known as the Rongtsan make their appearance. There is no incarnate being who acts as incumbent. However, Loding Khan Rinpoche is acting present performing the functions of an incumbent.





Indus river in Ladakh

8 Kms from Leh, the monastery standing on a conical hill with 3 chapels was founded in the 11th century by Od-de the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od, when he come to Maryul.He introduced a monastic community. When Rinchen Zangpo, the translator came to that place he said that an exemplary religious community would arise there and so the monastery was called Spituk (Exemplary). That time it belonged to the Kadampa School. Then during the lifetime of Dharmaraja Takspa Bum- Lde Lama Lhawang Lotus restored the monastery and the stainless order of Tsongkhapa was introduced and it has remained intact as such up till the present. The Principal statue is that of the lord Buddha.Within this status there is a sacred image of Amitayus, about the finger length in height, presented to Kind Takspa Bum-Lde by the great Tsongkhapa. Every year from the 27th to 29th days of the Tibetan 11th month the sacred dance associated with the festival of the Gustor are held. Stok Monastery, Sankar monastery and Saboo monastery are branches of Spituk Monastery. The incumbents of all these monasteries are the successive reincarnations of Skyabsje Bakula Rinpoche. The monastery is belonging to Gelugpa Order. There are about 100 monks in the monastery of Spituk.


Phyang is situated 17 kms west of Leh. The site for the monastery there formed part of one of the many monastic estates Offered to Chosje Damma Kunga from Digung during the time of Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial, who had invited the former to Ladakh.A monastery called Tashi Chozong was founded in 1515 there on the hill of Phyang and a monastic community introduced. It marked the 1stestablishment of the Digung teachings in Ladakh, teachings whose traditions began with Skyoba Jigsten Gonbo, Within the monastery there are sacred shrines and various wall paintings are to be seen which date from the royal period. The protective of the monastery is Apchi Choski Dolma.Every year from the 2nd to 3rd of the 6th month the sacred dances and the hurling of votive offering associated with the festival of (Gang-sngon Tsedup) are held. The successive reincarnation of Skyabje Toldan Rinpoche acts as the incumbents of the monastery.                                                                                                                         


Basgo lies at a distance of 42 Kms west of Leh.The castle known as Basgo Rabtan Lhartsekhar is situated there on a hill of clay. The Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial and Singay Namgial, father and son built it. The Principal image there is that of the so-called’Golden Maitreya,’ a sacred copper-gilt image of the Buddha Maitreya, two storey in height. The Dharmaraja Singey Namgail as funerary build it to his father, king Jamyang Namgial.There is also an image of the Buddha Maitreya made of clay three storeys in height, which can be seen at the top of the castle. The ruins of a temple and a stupa build by Rinchen Zangpo, the translator can also be seen.

RIZONG  MONASTERY

73 Kms from Leh, the monastery of Rizong was built in 1831 by the great Lama Tsultim Nima.The monastery upholds the teachings of the great Tsongkhapa.Dress and food provisions are provided for all members of the community by the governing body of the monastery. Nothing other than religious robes and books is permitted for the inmates of each cell. There are 40 monks in residence. The incumbents of the monastery are the successive reincarnations of Lama Tsultim Nima and of his son, Sras Rinpoche. Within the monastery there are shrines, the painting blocks of the biography of Lama Tsultim Nima, many objects made and books composed by the 1st Sras Rinpoche. The monastery is sited in a most solitary position. 2 Kms below it there is a nunnery called Chulichan (Chomoling) where about 20 nuns reside. The governing body of Rizong Monastery provides their food provisions and clothes. The walk of spinning wool, milking, extracting oil for the temple lamps and so forth has to be performed by all the nuns.                                           


Likir lies at a distance of 62 Kms west of Leh. During the time of Lhachen Gyalpo, the fifth king of Ladakh, a religious estate and the land on which to build the monastery was offered to Lama Duwang Chosje, a great champion of meditation. The Lama blessed the site and in 1065 the monastery was built. The monastery was encircled by the bodies of the two great serpent spirits, the naga- rajas (Nanda & Taksako) and so its name became widely renowned as Likir (The Naga - Encircled). In the 15th Century the disciple of Khasdubje known as Lhawang Lodos Sangphu caused the monastery to flourish. The monastery was brought into the order of the great Lama Tsongkhapa and up till present times the ritual and observances of the three basic Pratimoksa disciplines, which from the basic of Buddhist teachings, are preserved. There are many blessed shrines in this monastery and there resides a protective deity wearing golden armour and of stern command.Every year from the 27th to 29th of 12 th Tibetan month the votive offerings known as Dosmochey are assembled and sacred dances are performed. The successive reincarnations of Naris Rinpoche act as the incumbents of the monastery.


Although there are a great many temples, caves and stupas built in Ladakh by Rinchen Zangpo, Translator, Alchi Choskor is the large and most famous of all of them. Alchi is situated at a distance of 67 Kms west of Leh, founded by Rinchen Zangpo, Translator, in 1000 AD. The sacred temples, to be seen there include the Principal one of the Rinchen Lhakhang, at Lotsa Lhakhang, the Jamyang Lhakhang (Manjusri temple) and the sumtsag Lhakhang. The main image is that of Vairocana but there can also been seen the five Buddha Families together with their attendant deities, The paintings are not like the Tibetan style but rather they are executive according to the Indian tradition. In order to build these temples Rinchen Zangpo, the Translator is said in the various biographies to have brought with him from Kashmir (thirty-two sculptors and wood carvers). Other temples built by Rinchen Zangpo, Translator are to be found at Mangu and Sumda each containing a sacred image of Vaironica, various most beautiful images of the Buddhas and Bodhisatvas and many kinds of lovely paintings. They are also included among the 108 temples built by Rinchen Zangpo, the Translator, within the province of Naris Skorsum.


Lamayuru Monastery is situated 127 Kms west of Leh. In the 11th century the mahasiddha Naropa came to this place and the cave where he resided and meditated is still to be seen today. Then Rinchen Zangpo, the Translator came to build many temples and stupas and so the teaching of the Kadampa School came to flourish greatly there. There after, for many years the monastery was administered by the Zhwa-mar-pa (Red Hats), after which the Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial offered it to Chosje Danma, whom he had invited to Ladakh. The rituals and observances of the Digung Kargyud School were introduced and the monastery received the name of Yungdrung Tharpaling.The successive reincarnation of Skyabsje Toldan Rinpoche acts as the incumbents of the monastery. There is a custum whereby each year on the 17th & 18th of the 5th Tibetan month the festival of the so-called (Yuru Kabgyad) is held during which dances are performed. In this monastery there are various shrines to be seen, including thangkas and wall paintings.

WANLA MONASTERY


Wanla is situated close by Yungdrung to the Southeast. This old monastery was built in 1000 AD.during the time of Lama Rinchen Zangpo, the translator. The famous image of the 11 headed Mahakaruna (Avalkitesvara), built to a height of more than two storeys, is to be seen there. On the wall paintings there are depicted the Buddhas, Boddhisattvas, the Mandala and so forth. There is also a sacred image of Chovo-je-Paldan Atisha.


Tingmosgang lies at a distance of about 92 Kms west of the Leh.This castle was built at the time when Gragpa Bum, Younger brother of Takspa Bum-Lde, the 17rth king of the Ladakhi dynasty, was ruling over Sham in accordance with religious tenets. About 50 years have elapsed since its construction. Contemporary to this was the Red Chapel “ Tsuglagkhang Marpo “ containing an image of the Buddha Maitreya to the height of 3 storeys. In particular it was at those times that the self-originated image of Avalokitesvara from Kamrup was brought & installed inside the castle of Tingmosgang. The image is considered to be a most excellent object of pilgrimage which leads to the accumulation of great merit and to which prostration and oblations have been offered by the successive Dharmaraja of Ladakh and by the whole populations of Ladakh.

KARCHA  MONASTERY  ZANSKAR

Karcha is the largest of all monasteries in Zanskar. Karcha Chamspaling to give its full name was first established by Phagspa Shesrab, the translator of Zanskar.The Teacher Dorje Shesrab who caused it to flourish built the present monastery. Shesrab Zangpo of Stod introduced the order of Tsongkhapa there. More than 100 monks are in residence. There are shrines and in particular, the wall paintings executed by the Lama Dzadpa Dorje. The Bone relics of Dorje Rinchen are also to be seen. Every year on the 28th & 29th days of the 6th Tibetan month the tradition of sacred dance is observed in association with the Gustor festival. In that place there are also two temples built by Rinchen Zangpo, the translator known as the Thugsjechhenpoi Lhakhang and the Lhakhang Karpo.Close by the village of Karcha there are the monasteries of Khagsar, of Purang in the village of Langmi, of Phagspa in the village of Nangbaphal and a nunnery called Dorjezong at the top of the valley.

ZONGKUYL MONASTERY

Zongkul is a sacred place of meditation, founded by the great mahasiddha Naropa, who when he was residing in his meditation cave (where his staff is still preserved) which is situated on the high and splendid rock face above the present monastery, he struck his ritual dagger in to the rock as a sign that he would found the monastery. The mahasiddha went there and founded the monastery. There after it became the sacred place of meditation for all the mahasiddha of Zanskar, including Dubchen Kunga Gyatso, Dubchen Nawang Tsering, Dzadpa Dorje, Karmapa, Kunga Choslag and lama Norboo. Inside the monastery there are to be seen many kinds of sacred shrines including the holy objects made by all those mahasiddha mentioned above, such as: an ivory image of Samvara, a crystal stupa and the texts containing the spiritual songs and biographies composed by the successive mahasiddha. Inside the meditation cave there is Panchen Naropa’s footprint embedded in the rock and his sacred spring

BARDAN  MONASTERY

The side of the Lungnak River situates Barden monastery at 8 miles distance from the capital of Zanskar Padum on top of a high cliff. The Lama Barapa founded it in 1270. The Principal image is a Gandhara statue of the Buddha Maitreya, 2 feet in high, which is said to have spoken. The Bodhisattva Deba Gyatso founded the present monastery. Since it was the seat (gdan-sa) of Lama Barapa its name became Bardan.The ruins of a monastery and a stupa can still be seen on top of the mountain called Thar-Lha.

STONGDE    MONASTERY

Stongde monastery is renowned as having been founded by Lama Lhodak Marpa Choski Lodos in 1052 and its name is also Marpaling. Later, Shakya Zangpo of Stongde caused it to flourish. Lama Gyaltsanpa Tundup Palzangpo introduced there the order of Tsongkhapa.There is many kinds of most beautiful shrines and wall paintings to be seen there. About 60 monks are in residence and every year sacred dance are performed in conjunction with the festival of Gustor which takes place on the 28th & 29th days of the 11th Tibetan month. The successive reincarnations of Nari Tulku act as the incumbent. It seems about 960 years have gone by since the monastery was founded.

THE CASTLE  OF  SANI

Not only in Sani a particularly sacred place due to its having been visited and blessed by Padmasambhava of Oddhiyana but it is also prophesied to be equal and importance to the cemetery of Dechendal in India. There can be seen a cemetery ground with cemetery trees and cemetery springs and also a footprint of Guru Nima Odzer. In the centre of the rockface on the opposite side of the River there can be seen a meditation cave and a footprint. It is said that the Guru stayed there practicing meditation for many years. In Sani is also the great Stupa of Kanishka founded in 124 AD. By king Kanishka and the sacred of Naropa which can be seen on the day of the pilgrimage to Sani which occurs in the 6th Tibetan month. Within the castle there can be seen the various and most beautiful wall paintings which were executed by Zadpa Dorje.

New Areas

Zanskar valley in Ladakh


Government of India, Ministry of home Affairs has recently declared some more a areas of   Ladakh opened for International Tourism. These areas are among the outstanding feature of Himalayan Panorama. It could be yet another destination for the global tourists. These areas are relatively more distinct for cultural and adventure tourism. While declaring the new areas of Khaltse, Nubra & Nyomo Sub-Division, Govt. of India however restricted the  movement of traffic flow on 7 different tour circuits to these divisions. Minimum period required for visiting these areas should not exceed 7 days.  To understand, these circuits are set here in sequence and those are outlined and separately explained here.
Khaltse Sub-Division (Drokhpa Area).
Khaltsi-Dumkhar-Skurbuchan-Hanudo-Bima-Dha

NUBRA SUB-DIVISION



Leh-Khardongla-Khalsar-Tirit upto Panamik
Leh-Khardongla-Khalsar-Hunder.
Leh-Saboo-Degarla-Degar-Labab-Khungru Gonpa-Tangyar
      (only for trekking accompanied by state police)

NYOMA SUB-DIVISION.

Leh-Upshi-Depring-Puga-Tsomoriri Lake-Korzok
Leh-Upshi-Puga-Tsomoriri Lake-Korzok.
Leh-Karu-Changla-Durbuk-Tangtse-Lukhung-Spangmik.
It will be obligatory on the part of Tourists, tour operators and other agencies related with the organised tour that the tourists travel on the identified tour circuits only. They should strictly follow the dos and don’ts as laid down by the Government.

DROGPAS

Drogpa areas have been outlined in the Tour Circuits. Out of 5 Drogpa villages in India two are open for foreign tourists. The greatest attraction in these areas are the villages of Dha and Biama which are entirely populated by last remaining remnants of the Dards in the District.Dards are considered as last race of Aryans confined to Indus Valley. These villages have considerable anthropological and ethnographic importance. Festivals of those villages are called harvest festivals. These are considered rare and eventful the year of Drogpa in which all the people of these villages come out of their colourful traditional dress and festival moods to celebrate the festivals. Preceding to the Drogpas villages the village which fall enroute are the villages of Domkhar Skurbuchan, Achinathang which are also important and which tourists can also easily visit. At this stage, tourism being like new-born baby, infrastructures are not adequate in this area.  However there is a very good road leading right upto Drogpa villages and tourist can stay over nights in some private guest houses and or at some identified camping site at Khaltsi, Dhomkhar, Skurbuchan, Achinathang, Hanu Do, Biama and Dha village.  Approximately distance between Leh and Drogpas villages are between the range of 150 to 170 kms from Leh.



Double hump camal in Nubra Valley

This valley is popularly known as Ldomra or the valley of flowers. It is situated in the North of Ladakh, between Karakoram and Ladakh ranges of Himalayas. Nubra lies at average altitude about 10,000 feet above sea level. The climate, of the areas being soft, soil is much fertile and the vegetation of the area is comparatively thicker than those of the other areas of Ladakh. Shrubs, bushes and trees grow in abundance wherever there is any source of water. Due to this reason Nubra has acquired its right name- Ldomra. Shayok river Siachan River forms largely drain Nubra its single largest tributary. Nubra is a broad valley with lofty mountains on its all sides. Valley assumes greater attractions at the site where both the rivers meet.  The formation of Central part of Nubra also takes place there. Diskit is the Sub-Division HQ. Of Nubra. Diskit Gonpa is also situated at a height of about 200 mtrs. Above the village, on the spur of rocky mountain and at the most commanding point having clear view of the entire central part of Nubra. Samstanling Gonpa is situated on the North facing Diskit Gonpa. This Gonpa is equally important and recreationally it assumes greater importance for being situated at a commanding scenic view point at the foot hills of Karakoram ranges up above Tegar and Sumoor village, amidst plenty of water and high vegetation.  Major village via Kardong, Khalsar, Tirit, Sumoor, Tegar Pinchemik, Titisha and Panamik all fall along the traditional silk route. The caravans travelling Central Asia and Kashmir through Nubra valley used to stay at those villages. Panamik was the most important place for haltage of Caravan. It served as last major village where the Caravans landed the facility of feed back, before they negotiated Saser and Karakoram pass towards Central Asia. The famous hot spring of Panamik also served them as a source for bath, drinking water and medicine purpose. Panamik has still got charms and potentiality to serve as a host to travellers. All areas around it including Iantsa Gonpa and Murgi waterfall across it combined with scenic view strengthens its beauty and hospitality.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

Major attraction of Nubra is the highest motorable Khardongla pass (18,383ft.) majestic peaks and glaciers enchanting valleys and villages. Diskit and Samstanling Gonpa, Panamik hot spring, double hump camel safari, river rafting, trekking and Sunbathe at Hunder are also a great source of attraction for the tourists.

FACILITIES AVAILABLE

There is a well-maintained road to Nubra from Leh. Tourist can avail the facility of P.W.D. Rest House at Khardong, Khalsar, Diskit, Sumoor and Panamik villages. There are private guesthouses and Tented camps (Identified as cam ping sites) at Khalsar, Khardong, Diskit, Hunder, Tisrit, Sumoor Tegar, Tirisha and Panamik. Besides there are shops and small restaurants/tea stall at places enroute to Nubra valley. Some Hotels are also coming up at Diskit, Hunder, Tegar and Panamik.  There is road head right up to Panamik and Hunder. Though the state of road stretch between sought Pule and North Pulu is rough yet travelling and passing through world highest motorable bus Khardongla (18,383 ft.) is the most exciting part of journey to Nubra.

CHANGTHANG (NYOMA DIVISION)

The upland plateaus of Changthang in Nyoma Sub-Division are possibly the most attractive areas in the District as far as scenic beauty, brackish lakes and Wild Life are concerned. The vast pastures with their gently flowing streams and the lakes amidst the spectacularly coloured mountains are quite unlike any-thing a tourist see anywhere in India.


Pangong lake in Ladakh
 This lake is situated at a elevation of 14,000ft.  In the Eastern sector of Ladakh, at a distance of 154km.from Leh across Changla pass (17,000ft.).This lake is one of the largest and most beautiful natural brakish lakes in the country.


This lake is situated at a elevation of 15,000 ft. above the sea level, at a distance of 240 kms. From Leh in the south-east sector of Ladakh. It is like a pearl shape and contains large mineral deposits. Korzok village is situated on the South West Bank of this lake. Korzok Gonpa and its inhabitants the nomads (Changpas) are most outstanding features of this lake.
Tsomoriri lake in Ladakh


Changthang also has an abundance of exotic Wildlife, Skyang, the Tibetan wild ass and snow leopard are found here. Wild asses are generally found grazing near Tsokar pastures and they seen moving in flocks. Rare and exotic birds like Bar Headed Goose, the migratory brids black Necked rare, the Great crested Grebe, the Tibetan crane and the Brahme Ducks are also found in Changthang.

FACILITIES AVAILABLE

Tourist can avail the facility of PWD rest house at Tangtse Chumathang, Korzok and Tourist Bungalow at Rumtse. There is private guesthouse and tented camps (identified as camping sites) at Durbuk, Tangtse, Muglab, Lukhung and Spangmik villages in the Pangong Lake area. There is road head right upto the lake. It is all metalled except the Changla pass and a stretch of  28 kms. From between Tangtse and Lukhung which is rough.
There are tented camps at Chumathang and Korzok. Campsites are also available at Skidmang, Tsokar, and Hemya. For the initial state there are two different approach, which both are given in the tour circuits 5&6 of Nyoma Sub-Division-one is from Leh-Manali road via Polo Kongka pass (13,500 ft) and other is from Leh Nyoma road which diverts at Mahey bridge. Both these roads meet at Sumda in the Puga valley. From Sumda onwards to Tsomoriri, there is a joint approach which is spread over a rough stretch of 43 Kms. Besides this the initial approach of 57 Kms. between Sumda and Manali road is also rough.