The Trans Himalaya Challenge to Kashmir 2016
August 19 to Sept 6, 2016
The Journey of a Lifetime over five of the Greatest Motorable passes in the World
The Trans Himalaya Challenge is exactly what it says on the tin! if you have a head for heights and a thirst for adventure then this is the challenge for you. It’s 2,500kms of testing terrain that, not only takes you over the highest motorable pass in the world at over 5,359 metres, but also through some of the most stunning scenery you are ever likely to see.
To ensure you have a great trip we include a Toyota Fortuner 4x4 as part of the event.
There is no other event quite like this one which takes you from the low lying plains of Delhi to Srinagar itself in the heart of the state of Kashmir. En-route you climb five times to 4,000 metres and above! From Srinagar we take the easier roads to Amritsar and the fabulous Golden temple then back to Delhi where the adventure ends.
The middle point of the event is Leh in Ladakh, one of the most important towns in the region with its unique collection of monasteries, tranquil life style and stunning location.
By now you will have driven the Rohtang Pass (a mere 3,980 metres), the Baralacha-La pass (4,892 metres) the Nekeela pass (5050metres) and the Lachulung Pass (5,150 metres).
From Leh we cross the Zoji La pass (3,528 metres), descend into the Drass Valley, the second coldest place on earth and stop en-route at Sonamarg glaciers. In Srinagar your home is one of the exotic luxury houseboats on Lake Dahl.
DAY 01 ARRIVAL DELHI
Welcome to New Delhi’s new International Airport
You will be met with a traditional Indian floral welcome by a local representative following customs, immigration formalities and baggage collection.
is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines the ancient with the modern. Amidst the fast spiralling skyscrapers and flyovers, the remnants of a bygone time in the form of its many monuments stand as reminders to the region’s ancient legacy. The first impressions for any visitor travelling in from the airport is of a town in a hurry. Using your horn is de rigeur to warn of your presence. Cyclists, pedestrians and public transport stream down the main roads in a dance of organised disorder. It is quite simply a unique country so expect a unique experience.
DAY 02 DELHI
After breakfast you have the option of a highly recommended sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi.
Begin your journey starting Old , the tour begins at Raj Ghat, a simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi; it continues past the magnificent Red Fort which stands majestically over the river Yamuna. It was built from 1638 – 48 when the Mughal Empire was at its peak. Next is the Jama Masjid, one of ’s largest mosques. The presence of a nearby bazaar means that the area is rarely quiet.
You can visit the Qutub Minar, which is the tallest stone tower in and one of the finest Islamic structures ever raised in . Started in 1199 AD by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak it was completed by the sultan’s successor and son-in-law, Iltutmish. The building is 72.5 m high and has 379 steps from the bottom to the top. The Minar is a tapered column with the diameter of the base being 14.3 metres while at the top floor it is 2.7 metres.
In the afternoon, you can get acquainted with your hire car, GPS, Roadbook, route and do the paperwork.
DAY 03 DELHI TO SHIMLA (350 Kms – 8 Hrs.)
After an early breakfast you start your journey to Shimla – the Queen of the Hill Stations. Set at an altitude of 2130 metres, Shimla is the capital and the most important town of . It was discovered by the British in 1819 but it was only in 1822 that the first permanent house was built here by a young officer, Major Kennedy – and it is still there.
Shimla became the summer capital of the British Raj and was not only famous for its high-flown social life, but eventually became a centre of many important activities which are landmarks in the political history of India. The most significant was discussions that led to the partition of in 1947. Here we will stay at the magnificent , the first hotel in the Oberoi group and a monument to luxury living.
DAY 04 SHIMLA REST DAY
After breakfast we have arranged a heritage walk of Shimla. First stop is the former Viceregal Lodge, now known as the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies.
This walk takes in the major buildings of the British era including the Shimla Club Gaiety Theatre, The Mall, The Ridge and which is now the office of The Accountant General and the State Museum of Himachal.
DAY 05 SHIMLA TO SHOJA (143 Kms – 6 Hrs.)
Sojha is a little village at about 5 kms from the Jalori Pass that links the Shimla and Kullu districts. The thickly wooded mountainside, densely populated with conifers, deodars and toosh characterize the beauty and uniqueness of Sojha. With unending slopes of emerald forests, verdant and pristine, nature is at its most alluring. Located in Seraj valley, still undiscovered by many, Sojha is a breathtakingly beautiful place. The mornings are particularly invigorating. One can just stroll around, walk up to the meadows or perhaps take the pathway into the jungle. Nature lovers can enjoy thick wooded hill slopes starting from bottom as far down or up or sideways or deep as one can look. One can see the great snow clad peaks beyond the tree line and some great cloud formations. The whole region is a part of the Great Himalayan National Park
DAY 06 SHOJA TO MANALI (105 Kms – 4 Hrs.)
After breakfast drive to Manali, which is 1896mt (6,220ft) above sea level and situated at the northern end of the Kullu valley. A picturesque little town bustling with activity, Manali is the most popular place in Himachal Pradesh during the summer season. Around Manali, nature has lavished the region with forests, waterfalls, green slopes, rivulets and soaring snow covered mountain peaks. Manali also boasts a Mountaineering Institute, which trains mountaineers, skiers and others.
DAY 07 MANALI
Morning visit to Naggar- 22km from Kulu, Naggar was The capital of KulluRajas till A.D. 1660. The Ancient castle, now converted into Tourist Bungalows, overlooks the entire . Nicholas Roerich, the famous Russian painter and philosopher lived here and his quaint little house has been converted into a small museum. There are two old temples near castle. Afternoon explore Manali town, its old wooden
temples and its folk music and dances.
DAY 08 MANALI – JESPA (140km / 7 hrs)
After an early breakfast drive to Jespa a small village in the Lahaul region. En route cross the (13,057ft/3,980 M) and visit Keylong village. The lofty Shingri Glacier is seen in all its grandeur, it’s high passes standing between them and the civilized world. The people of these valleys have an intense love for their home culture; their songs and dances are as chaste and pure as the snow that envelopes the mountains around.
DAY 09 JESPA – TSOKAR (224 kms. / 6 hrs)
This day we will have fairly a long drive and we gain the altitude gradually which helps acclimatisation. Beyond Jespa, the region’s main town, the road follows the Bhaga River up towards its source. It hairpins up to the Baralacha-La (16,050 ft/4,892m), a pass that is perhaps unique in its being a tri-junction, with a trail from Spiti coming in from the southeast. We also cross over Nakeela (16,568ft/5050mt) and Lachulung la (16,896ft/5150mt). After crossing the More Plains we turn right towards Tsokar and this night we will stay in fix camp situated at a height of 4000 mt (13,123ft). in the . Each Tent has cots, mattress, quilts and blankets and has en-suite attached bathrooms. Evening meals are served in the dinning tent.
DAY 10 TSOKAR – LEH (230 kms. / 7 hrs.)
After breakfast drive to Leh. From we drive along the Indus river (which gave its name to ) to Leh. En-route visit Nomads and beautiful villages. Leh is rapidly spreading in all directions from its original position beneath the long abandoned . While the town has come a long way from the days when polo was played on its main street, Leh still remains a pleasant, traditional Himalayan town.
DAY 11 LEH
Morning free to rest and relax. Afternoon visit Shankar Monastery – a relatively modern monastery, it is closely associated with the Spituk monastery and serves as the residence of the head priest Kushak ba kula. A number of gold icons are to found here. 8km from Leh, Spituk monastery stands prominently on the top of a hillock commanding panoramic views of the . Many icons of Buddha and fine thankas are to be found in this 15th century gompa. The gompa also houses a collection of ancient masks, antique arms, and an awe-inspiring image of Mahakli. Also visit Phyang Monastery which is 17kms from Leh-Kargil road, built by Tashi Namgyal in the later half of the 16th century AD. It belongs to the Red Cap Sect of Buddhist. Hundreds of icons of Buddha and other Gods are kept on wooden shelves.
DAY 12 LEH
After breakfast full day sightseeing to the massive Tibetan Buddhist Gompas & monasteries of Hemis, Shey and Thiksey. A few kilometres up the is Shey, the ancient capital, with its palaces, temples, and vibrantly colored murals, cleaned and restored in the mid 1980’s. Hemis was founded under the direct patronage of members of the ruling Namgyal dynasty.
DAY 13 LEH LAMAYURU – MULBEK (175KMS. / 06 HRS)
Drive to Lamayuru monastery situated enroute to Kargil, which is one of the most important cultural sites in Ladakh. Built in the 11th century, it is a treasure of the early Buddhist art in the Kashmiri tradition, a style quite different from the Tibetan art. Here you can also take lunch. After the visit continue the drive to MULBEK.
DAY 14 MULBEK – SRINAGAR (235 KMS / 07 HRS.)
Leave for early in the morning with a packed lunch. Proceed to crossing Zoji La Pass (11,575ft/3,528mt) and the 02nd coldest inhabitant place in world. En route stop at Sonamarg one can visit Thajiwas Glaciers. Day free to rest and relax. Srinigar is famous for its houseboats and we will stay in one of the finest.
DAY 15 SRINAGAR
is a city of great antiquity. This paradise valley reflects the moods of the changing seasons. Spring breathes life into a frozen world and the air is heady with the fragrance of a million flowers that bloom on trees, shrubs and creepers. Summer heightens the effect and autumn is poignant in its colours of warm introspection. Winter brings with it a blanket of snow. Sometimes the freezes and beneath a leaden sky, the aroma of roasted chestnuts, promise warmth and comfort.
Enjoy the Shikara ride on to view the floating vegetable gardens. The jewel in the crown of is eulogised by poets and praised by tourists. changes its moods through the day. Later in the afternoon visit Pari Mahal and beautiful gardens of Srinagar.
DAY 16 SRINAGAR – AMRITSAR (465 KMS. / 12 HRS.)
Early morning we leave for Amritsar. It is a long day and by late in the afternoon we reach the holy Sikh city of .
DAY 17 AMRITSAR
Amritsar, literally translated means a pool of nectar. Located in the state of Punjab, Amritsar is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in the world for Sikhs. The Golden Temple, where Sikhs from all over the world come to pay their reverence to Guru Granth Sahib and take a dip in the Amritsara Kund (Pool of Immortality) for spiritual purification is the major landmark in the town. Afternoon free to rest and relax. In the evening visit the as the sun sets.
DAY18 AMRITSAR – DELHI (440 KMS. / 08 HRS.)
After early breakfast drive back to . Later in the evening is our farewell dinner.
DAY 19 DEPARTURE DELHI (INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT)
We have found our way through the hills up to the Kashmir valley, discovered excellent roads, navigated the rivers and found some surprisingly good accommodation along the way. Each night you will have a hotel room. Breakfast is included and so are most of the evening meals.
We will provide the mechanical back-up and will be taking a doctor for those little ailments.
All roads have been checked and the route is completely open. However, many of the roads are unmade dirt rather than tarmac. We are providing you with a 4x4 capabale of doing this jouney with ease.
It is dry in August and although delightful during the day can be very cold in the evening. We start and finish in Delhi which will be very hot at this time of year.
An incredible journey
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