The Markha Valley Trek is certainly one of the most varied and beautiful treks in the world. It ventures high into the Himalayas crossing two passes over 15,000 ft. as it circles from the edges of the Indus Valley, down into parts of Zanskar, and passes through terrain that changes from incredibly narrow valleys to wide open vast expanses. It is made all the more interesting by the ancient form of Buddhism that flourishes in the many monasteries that dot the landscape perched high atop hills. As we trek to the upper end of the Markha Valley we are rewarded with spectacular views of jagged snow capped peaks before cross the 16500 ft. Gongmarlu Pass and descending to the famous Hemis monastery, where we end our trek.
Destination: Markha Valley
Best Time: Oct to Feb
Duration: 12 Nights / 13 Days
DAY 01 : ARRIVAL IN LEH
Upon arrival at Leh Airport you will met by Mountain trails representative and Welcome in traditional Ladakhi style and transfer to our pre-arranged hotel, rest of the day at leisure to acclimatize. Overnight stay at hotel
Leh City: The capital of Ladakh, at one time was a major stop on the Asian “Silk Route”. A stroll along the main bazar, observing the varied crowd and peering into the curio shops, is an entrancing experience. Chang Gali, behind the main bazar is less bustling but has intriguing little shops selling curios and jewelry like pearls, turquoise, coral, malachite, lapis and many other kinds of semi-precious stones, as well as curiously carved Yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls etc.
Evening we visit Shanti Stupa A magnificent white-domed structure, The Japanese for World Peace built the Shanti Stupa, at Changspa, on the hilltop, and was inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 1985. Its state of the art work attracts a lot of tourists to Ladakh and is spectacular to watch. From there one can see the nice spectacular view of Leh town. The stupa looks best at night, when it is beautifully illuminated with glittering lights. A large number of tourists come to Ladakh every year to visit this amazing stupa.
Day 02 : LEH
AM: Excursion Spituk & Hall of Fame
PM: Excursion to Sankar Gompa & Leh Palace
Post breakfast we depart for AM Sightseeing tour to Spituk
Spituk monastery was built in 15th century during the reign of Grags ‘bum-lde, these new Gelug-pa monastery was built like fortress on the summit of crags. Spituk lies some 5 kms south of Leh. Nesting at the foot of the crags are the flat-topped houses which go to form the village of Spituk.
Spituk or dpe-thub mean ‘effective as an Example’ and this is thus a suitable name for the first Gelug-pa monastery in Ladakh. Inside the monastery, which includes several courtyards and temples of various sizes, has been built at different levels, following the shape of the rock.
And also visit Hall of Fame near Leh is worth a visit for every citizen. It is a glorious museum constructed by Indian army. You can see the memorabilia, eminent defence personalities with biographies, images and weapons used during Kargil war and belongings of enemy soldiers found at war site. Another section of this building is entirely dedicated to Siachen and its heroes. On display are attires, multi layered shoes to keep their feet from frost bites, their daily instruments, their day to day food mainly frozen and packed, which is heated by lighting small balls of Hexamycin tablets, as fire is difficult to ignite at a temperature dipping -30 deg to -50 deg centigrade. It is mentioned on a board that 97% of the casualties in Siachen are due to cold and terrain.
Later we drive back to hotel on time for lunch
Later in the afternoon, guided sightseeing tour visiting Sankar Gompa, located at a distance of approximately 3 km from the town of Leh. A subsidiary of the Spituk Gompa, it belongs to the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat Sect. The monastery also serves as the official residence of the Ladakh’s head of Gelukpa Sect, known as The Kushok Bakul. There are time restrictions for visiting the Sankar Monastery of Leh Ladakh. You can also go either between 7:00 am and 10:00 am, or between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. These restrictions have been placed because a few of the monks, of the yellow-hat sect, attached to the monastery reside here permanently.
Leh Palace is one of the most captivating architectural ruins that attract the attention of the tourists almost immediately with its majestic setting at the edge of the Namgyal hill and overlooking the town and at once looks like a reminiscent of Lhasa’s Potala Palace. The Palace was built in the middle of the 16th century by King Singe Namgyal and still belongs to the royal family that now lives in the Stok Palace. The nine-storeyed monument is now in ruins. The palace remains locked and may be opened at request by a monk
Leh Palace is also an excellent example of the medieval Tibetan architecture. It features colossal inclined buttressed walls and protruding wooden balconies.
Overnight stay at the hotel.
DAY 03: LEH
Today we proceed for Indus Valley monastery tour With Mahabodhi Meditation Centre.
We start with a visit to Shey the ancient capital of Ladakh. The monastery here has a huge gold-gilded statue of Buddha Sakyamuni with a large silver lamp burning in front of the statue, built in the memory of King Singee Namgyal by his son lDeldan Namgyal in 1633 A.D. It is the only kind of statue made of Gold, Gilt and copper in entire Ladakh.
Then we visit Thiksey Gompa an impressive complex rising tier upon tier on a hill above the village. The monastery has a beautiful 30 m high gold-plated statue of Maitreya Buddha, the Buddha of the future is one of the most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh,.
Drive return to leh on the way visiting Mahabodhi, Mahabodhi is the only centre in Ladakh to conduct Dhamma talks and meditation programs. Situated in the center of Leh city (which is away from the main bazaar and not too noisy) daily meditation courses are conducted for the benefit and happiness of the people those who come from within and outside India. At this centre, Mahabodhi conducts yoga and meditation classes (Monday through to Saturday) throughout the summer months.
Overnight stay at the hotel
DAY 04 : LEH -STOK (30 MIN DRIVE) – FOOT OF STOKLA (4900M) 3HRS TREK
After an early breakfast we visit the Stok Palace, Stok lies south south of leh on the opposite side of the singe Tsangspo River. The castle was built on a hill at the end of village in about the year 1825 by king Tsespal Tondup Namgyal. In stok there is also the sacred monastery of Gurphug, a branch of Spituk Monastery. On the 9th and 10th days of the first tibeten month of the festival called the “Guru Tshechu” is held during which the monks of Spituk Monastery come to perform the sacred dances. At that time two gods make their appearance. the Royal residence of the King of Stok and the Museum that has a rich collection of Ancient Ladakhi artifacts including old Than gkas precious stones arms and armoury the Queen’s necklace and the crown of the King of Ladakh among others..
Later after visiting the Palace We start our trek, after passing off Stok village and following left bank of the river for two hours, climb gently leaving a small pass on the left, continue onto a small valley, It is the foot of Stokla. Overnight in Tents.
DAY 05: FOOT OF STOKLA – STOKLA – YURUTSE 6/7HRS TREK
After by passing this beautiful stopp ing valley, ascent up to Stokla (4900m). By very steep zigzag, difficult footpath, by now it is 3 Hrs. Now steep descent to summer pastures of Stok and follow the river, which comes from Stok – Kangri massif.
Overnight in Tents.
DAY 06 : YURUTSE – GANDALA – SKIU 6/7HRS TREK
Yurutse follow path along the mountainside, then cross a small valley and follow zig zag steep path. Thereafter cross Gandala. Then long descent towards Shingo. After 2 Hrs. descent arrive in the valley of Markha and then after few hundred meters further will reach Skiu.
Overnight in Tents.
DAY 07: SKIU – MARKHA 7HRS TREK
From Skiu, follow a good path on the right bank of Markha where one can find great vegetation. Then cross right bank of river and cross through barren plain and arrive at Chaluk. Thereafter walk along the left bank of river and after another crossing climb towards Markha village. Good camp site beyond the village and near river.
Overnight in Tents.
DAY 08: MARKHA – TCHATCHUTSE 6/7HRS TREK
Start trek towards the main valley on the right bank. The path is sometimes difficult in the river bed and pass the monastery of Humlung. Then carry on trek along the right bank and arrive in Hankar where there are several houses. The path improve s and cross a broad valley on the right side. The valley becomes narrow and higher and cross bridges on to the left bank and then reaches Tchatchuste.
Overnight in Tents.
DAY 09: TCHATCHUTSE – NIMALING (4700 M) 3HRS TREK
Trek starts on good path and several small inclines. The river is rather far to the other side and walk near a small lake, then cross pasture to Nimaling. This is one of most beautiful high valleys in Ladakh dominated by the Kang Yaze. Trek ascent towards other side and gradually reach Nimaling.
Overnight in Tents.
DAY 10: NIMALING – KNOGMARULA (5150 M) – SHANG 8HRS TREK
Cross the Markha valley and follow long climb along the m ountain side, then zig zag road leads towards Kongmarula (5150m). Follow steep descent into gorges and then keep walking on the left bank to Chukirmo. Thereafter crossing right and left bank and arrive Shang, a beautiful camp in groves and there is a monastery an hour away from the village.
Overnight in tents.
DAY 11: SHANG – HEMIS (4HRS TREK) – LEH (1½HR DRIVE)
Trek starts from the riverbed, then follow a good path through large blocks and then go left bank. You reach a dusty trail suitable for motor vehicles and then pass a small house and series of Chortens. Leave Martsellang on the right and follow a gently rising trail towards Hemis.
We start with a visit to famous Hemis Gompa, This is the largest monastic foundation of Drukpa Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Most of the other Drukpa monasteries are the branch monasteries of Hemis. It was built during early 17th century with the blessing of Lama Stagtsang Raspa (Shambunatha), by famous Namgyal dynasty king Singee Namgyal.
The two-day festival of monastic dance in June-July has raised the reputation of Hemis particularly high. The festival is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava, popularly known as second Buddha and responsible for spreading Buddhism in the Tibetan world.
Later drive towards to Leh. Upon arrival at Leh check in at your pre-arranged hotel for overnight stay.
DAY 12: LEH
Complete day at leisure to explore the beauty of leh city on your own and time free for last day shopping.
one can take an optional excursion to KHARDUNG-LA-PASS (the highest motorable road in the world) at 18,390 ft, around 39kms from Leh.
PANGONG LAKE, situated at 14,000 feet (4,267 m). A long narrow basin of inland drainage, hardly six to seven kilometer at its widest point and over 130km long, it is bisected by the international border between India and China.
DAY 13: LEH
Tour concludes. Mountain Trails thank you for your patronage and ensure a punctual transfer to Domestic Airport to catch the flight for your onward Destination.