One of the most remote and mythical regions of India, Ladakh is a landscape of unearthly beauty. Carved through its center by the headwaters of the Indus River, Ladakh sits high in a Himalayan valley between the Ladakh and Zaskar ranges, close to the Chinese border. The wall of the Himalayas blocks precipitation, and the resulting terrain is dry, barren, and poetically austere. Life here has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. A thousand years ago Leh was the commercial center of central Asia on the Silk Route’. This is the route that Genghes Khan, Alexander the Great, and Marco Polo once passed. The greatest attraction of Leh is its Buddhist culture, similar to Tibet with monasteries carved into the hillsides. It is a land of magnificent statues of Buddha in precious metals studded with prismatic stones; rich art treasures; timeless Thankas and forceful murals with Tantric Symbols, signposts of a glorious culture long gone. In Leh we’ll visit the royal palace of the Erstwhile King of Ladakh, Hemis Monastery -the largest in Ladakh. It contains a number of gold statues and Stupas decorated with precious stones and a superb collection of the Thankas, including the one that is largest in existence. Hemis Gompa is the home of the three stories high statue of Buddha. We’ll also meet with the Monastery’s resident Lama if permitted. Afterwards proceed to Aichi & Likir Monasteries, which house statues of Buddha and 1000 year old religious wall paintings. Before we start our trek from Padum we’ll have a day to explore Kargil and its rural life and to acclimatize ourselves. You will experience the virgin beauty of this desolate rugged mountain range and its cheerful inhabitants the Zanskaris as we call them, who welcome us with smiles and prayer wheels along our route. Definitely an experience to treasure.