Ladakh Tourism: Shakti Himalayas
Often referred to as ‘little Tibet’ — Ladakh, the high altitude desert with an area of 45000 square kilometres — is situated to the far north of the Indian subcontinent. Rugged snow-capped mountains, fast flowing rivers with thin ‘green veins’ along the sides in the otherwise stark topography and beautiful turquoise lakes, not to forget the crisp mountain air — these are the features that attract people to this unspoilt land. Ladakh Tourism
Remoteness and inaccessibility turned out to be an advantage for this picturesque land, whose history is thankfully different from the rest of the plateau.
Ladakh has one of the most intact Tantric Buddhist societies remaining on earth. It was part of British India and subsequently absorbed into independent India in 1947.
Shakti Himalayas enables its guests to experience the beauty of this land in a manner that is refreshing, rejuvenating and an ideal ‘tonic’ for the weary mind and body.
The unique tourism concept started by Shakti in the year 2004 in Kumaon was followed by the one in Sikkim in 2007, on the same lines.
The village experience chalked out by Shakti is a unique tailor-made 7 day itinerary of pure bliss!
The Shayok river journey is available as an extension to the village experience or separately and lasts 3 days.
May to September is the right time to make the trip and mid-June to mid-September is ideal for rafting.
However, the programme is subject to change, depending on weather conditions and the water level.
Shakti Himalayas ensures a perfect experience for visitors with an ever willing support team of guides, cooks and drivers.
Shakti believes in eco-friendly tourism and ensures employment to locals.
The village experience enables the guests to get a taste of the unspoilt and simple lives of the Ladakhi people.
Experiencing all of this while enjoying stunning views, taking in the beauty of monasteries, the palace, museum etc—and traversing from one village to the other on foot, by river rafts and sometimes by road — is indeed a unique and pleasurable experience.
Shakti has renovated three village houses to suit the needs of the adventurous traveller in the luxury segment.
While the houses have been renovated and decorated to high standards, care has been taken to preserve the authenticity and charm of the grand traditional architecture of Ladakh.
Sun-baked mud bricks with white clay plaster imparting a beautiful bleached look and wood (poplar and willow) used in good measure; enhance the appeal of these rugged, rustic village houses.
All three houses have three bedrooms each and are beautifully furnished with Tibetan carpets, charming wooden furniture, wooden or ‘chettai’ mat flooring and comfortably furnished roof terraces that offer commanding views.
The Shakti village experience/Shayok river journey starts from the pick-up point/hotel in Delhi, as the guests are taken to the airport to fly to Leh. At Leh airport, the guests are warmly welcomed by the guide and thereafter a half-hour drive will get them to the first destination – Stok village, at the foot of Stok Kangri, one of the most beautiful mountains in Ladakh.
The royal family of Ladakh live in a Tibetan style palace in this picturesque village with barley fields, apricot orchards and pretty village dwellings exemplifying vernacular village architecture. The Stok village house on the edge of the village is home to the guests for the first few nights.
On the first day, the guests are treated to a leisurely experience – soaking in the beauty of the surroundings while getting acclimatised to the high altitude.
Delicious meals served in the traditional Ladakhi kitchen downstairs gives visitors a ‘taste’ of local culture and prepares them for the enchanting sights and experiences in store.
A lot of leisurely walking, all the while feasting your eyes on the beautiful sights, along with visits to the Palace, the museum and the Heritage house are the activities in store on the second day.
Early birds can start Day 3 with a visit to the Thiksey monastery — one of the finest examples of Ladakhi religious architecture.
One hundred monks of the Yellow Hat Buddhist sect reside in the houses on the hillside and the monastery itself is built in twelve levels going up the hillside with the current Lama residing at the topmost level.
Guests can participate in the uplifting experience of early morning prayers and are also given a private audience with the Rinpoche (head priest).
On Day 4, an exhilarating rafting experience and some more sightseeing is on the cards before heading onward for the overnight stay at Taru village house, perched on the edge of the village— with spectacular views over the mountains, clear skies, beautiful fields, orchards and traditional structures — soothing your senses.
On Day 5, the guests are taken to Nimoo – the journey partly traversed by vehicle and then walking through a barren valley and descending into the village which is situated along the Indus valley, and blessed with lush green fields and orchards.
The village house at Nimoo is the best of the three with the first floor built around a ‘C’ shaped courtyard.
The terrace dressed in locally sourced grey slate is the ideal spot to relax, indulge in reading or enjoy a meal — all the while feeling on ‘top of the world’!!
Guests enjoy the comforts of this village house for the next couple of nights as well.
Days 6&7 have some more interesting activities in the vicinity and on the eighth day guests are taken to Leh airport for the flight back to Delhi— unless they opt for the Shayok River journey as well.
The Shayok River journey can either be a three night extension to the Ladhak village experience or a standalone experience. You get to feast your eyes on dramatic scenery along the rafting routes and though the accommodation will be simple yet comfortable dome tents, the service and standard of food are not compromised upon.
Snow capped peaks and stunning rock formations are part of the breathtaking scenery that you get to enjoy along the rafting route.
Experience the famous Silk Route, enjoy a thrilling camel ride and travel on the world’s highest motor able road – the Khardungla (5385 m), before returning to Nimoo after the rewarding journey. On the final day, guests are driven to Leh airport for the return flight to Delhi.
Being a high altitude desert Ladakh has very little rainfall and enjoys sunny weather most of the year.
However, temperatures fluctuate and there may be drastic differences in the day and night time temperatures.
Hence, it is advised to go in for layered clothing and carry enough warm clothes and proper footwear to enable walking.
Shakti Himalayas promotes sustainable eco-tourism in India. Shakti’s approach towards tourism has enabled travellers to enjoy nature at its best in the remote and breathtakingly beautiful Himalayan region.
The Shakti Ladakh experience is one that will be cherished forever, by the lucky souls who get to experience it!