Take the morning flight from Delhi for Leh. Check into the guest house and relax all day to get acclimatized to the high altitude. Overnight.
Spend all day discovering the ancient monasteries of Shey, Thiksey and Hemis. The Shey Monastery or Gompa and the Shey Palace complex are structures located on a hillock in Shey, 15kms south of Leh. The palace and monastery complex, mostly in ruins now, was built in 1655, by the king of Ladakh, and was used as a summer retreat. It is noted for its giant copper with gilded gold statue of a seated Shakyamuni Buddha. It is said to be the second largest such statue in Ladakh.
Thiksey Gompa, on a hilltop, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Yellow Hat sect is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and is the largest in central Ladakh. The monastery, at 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) is a 12-storey complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. The Maitreya Temple commemorates the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama and 49ft high statue of Maitreya, the largest in Ladakh, is found here.
The Hemis Gompa is surrounded by mountain rocks and concealed inside the Hemis National Park. The world famous festival of Hemis Gompa marks the birth of 12th Gyalwang Drukchen Rinpoche, the chief spiritual head of the Drupka Kargyud lineage and head of the Hemis Monastery. Founded 350 years ago by Stagtshang Rinchen, it was built in the Tibetan style of architecture.
Leave Leh early morning by Jeeps and reach Spituk (1 hr). Visit the Spituk Gompa, built about 500 years ago. Start the trek from here by crossing a bridge and walking south-west of the river Indus.The gorge section leads to the confluence of Indus and Zinchen. Camp near the village of Zinchen. Overnight in tents.
It's a gradual climb from Zinchen to Rumbak. Enjoy fabulous views of the snow capped Stok Mountains. Move along the Rumbak Nala towards Yurutse. At Yurutse village you will find fields of barley and potatoes. Overnight in tents.
A gradual ascent followed by a steep climb gets one to the Ganda La (4900 M). From here views extend south to the Zanskar range and distant summits of the Himalayan range. This is followed by a long descent to Shingo village. From Shingo the trail heads into a narrow gorge leading towards Skiu. At Skiu there is a confluence of the rivers coming from Markha valley and Shingo. Overnight in tents.
It's a very pleasant hike, up the Markha valley today with the trail crossing numerous streams. Markha is a quaint village with a deserted fort and a small village Overnight in tents.
From Markha the country changes and the warm, relatively heavily wooded sections of the lower Markha is left behind. Cross the river several times as there are no bridges here. Hankar, en route, is the highest village in the Markha valley. Overnight in tents.
Trek starts on a good path with several small inclines and a series of grassy ridges. There are a series of mani walls (walls carved with Buddhist prayers) and chortens en route. This is one of the most beautiful high valleys in Ladakh and is dominated by the Kangyaze peak. Overnight in tents.
Today cross to the north of the Markha, climbing to the top of the highest of the three passes, the 5,306 metres high Kongmaru La, with its wonderful views. There are snow peaks in every direction and on a clear day the giants of Karakoram, including K2, can be seen on the north-western horizon. The trail descends to the Martselang valley, following the Martselang stream to the village of Sumdo. Overnight in tents.
Today make an easy descent along the Martselang to where it broadens into the valley of the Indus at Martselang village. Board the awaiting jeeps. Visit Hemis monastery and after that drive to Leh via Shey and Thiksey monastery. Overnight in a hotel.
Transfer to the airport for the spectacular flight across the main chain of the Himalaya to Delhi.
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