A short introduction...
This 23-day journey will lead through two beautiful and very distinct valleys in the Himalayas. Starting slowly exploring Srinagar and the valley and foothills in picturesque Kashmir, we will continue to the heights of the mountains, with enchanting landscapes, between passes and peaks, secluded monasteries, and innumerable unforgettable views. We will take time to explore the second valley of Zanskar, wild, remote and rarely visited. Continuing via Lamayuru monastery we have time to explore Alchi, Hemis and monasteries and other places of stunning natural and cultural beauty.
This is an inner and outer journey into great depth and inspiration!
Provisional programme (to be confirmed):
1. day: flight (Saturday afternoon or evening). I will suggest flights, so we arrive around the same time
2. day: arrival New Delhi early morning, late morning or lunchtime flight to Srinagar and transport to house boat on Dal Lake, where we will stay. Four nights in Srinagar, in the Kashmir Valley.
3. – 5. day: Time to rest and for sightseeing in Srinagar: old mosques, Dal Lake, Mughal Gardens, old city. Opportunity to do some shopping of the beautiful artefacts made in Kashmir. Early morning boat ride to floating gardens and market.
6. day: After breakfast drive to Sonamarg (2 hrs) and afternoon trek through the alpine landscape. Night in Sonamarg.
7. day: Drive via Kargil to Sankoo (4.5 hrs), in a beautiful lush valley. For a full day we can explore the forests and the exotic wildlife of the region and visit the ancient shrine dedicated to a Muslim scholar-saint, Sayed Mir Hashim. Two nights in Sankoo (2,903 m).
9. day: Drive along the Suru river to Rangdum (3.5 hrs). The beginning of our trip into the Zanskar Valley. Two nights in Rangdum (3,657 m).
10. day: all day around Rangdum, one of the most extreme and isolated parts of the Suru Valley, Rangdum is an oblique extended plateau encompassed by breath-taking hills on one side and encrusted rocky mountains on the other. We will visit the 18th century monastery, perched atop of a centrally rising mound.
11. day: From Rangdum to Padum (3 hrs) – four nights in Padum (3,669 m)
12. – 14. day: visiting monasteries and enjoying phantastic vistas around Padum, Sani Gompa, Dzongkhul, the meditation cave of Naropa, and Karsha monastery – in Karsha we will come in time for the morning ceremony.
15. day: Padum via Zangla Palace and Nunnery to Lingshed – one night in Lingshed (3800 m)
16. day: drive to Lamayuru, one of the oldest Kagyu monasteries in Ladakh. (6 – 7 hrs drive). Two nights in Lamayuru (3,500 m).
17. day: All day around Lamayuru, meditation and exploration of all the different parts and temples.
18. day: Drive to Alchi (2 hr), an old monastery, famous for its stunningly beautiful wall paintings. Short drive to Leh (2 hrs). Four nights in Leh (3,500 m).
19 - 21. day: Local sightseeing and time to rest in Leh. Possibilities to have a look at the old town, visit an organisation that concerns itself with the ecological development of Ladakh. Also visits and short trek around Hemis monastery and morning ceremony in Thiksey.
22. day: Morning flight to Delhi. Rest and local shopping in Delhi. One night in Delhi.
23. day: Transport to the airport and flight to home country
In 2019, because of unrest in the valley of Kashmir we had to make changes to a planned programme. We hope we can visit Kashmir in 2023, but adjustments of the itinerary might be necessary. Please note that this itinerary is provisional.
Mindful travel ...
We travel in order to discover unknown parts of the world – maybe also unknown aspects of ourselves. Everyone who has travelled to India can vouch for the fact that it is a very different place than the Western or European cities most of us live in. New sights, smells and sounds open us to deeper differences; show us alternative ways of living, of communicating, present us with different sets of meaning and values. While a lot of the trip will fascinate and inspire with new vistas, some of it might baffle us, some even invoke dislike.
In a spiritual setting, travel like this is sometimes described as a pilgrimage: ‘a journey, often to an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about the self, others, nature, or a higher good.’ The journeys that Play of Now offers follow this spirit of pilgrimage: not just focused on outer sight-seeing, they seek to introduce participants to new and foreign ways of living in the world, and maybe inspire reflection on the choices we make in our own lives.
While not structuring the trip with typical elements of a pilgrimage, like prayer or devotion, we will mix some practices of mindfulness and meditation into the journeying: a conscious encounter with new outer impulses, as well as what they spark inside of us. We will have some time to reflect and discuss as well as to see and experience.
From the experience of facilitating journeys in India over more than 22 years it has become clear that these trips offer the possibility to reflect deeply and give new impulses, even change lives. With this offer we do not want to lead anyone to a specific spiritual path, but would like to help participants to use this opportunity as fully as they choose to do.
Cost and practical details ...
The price for this 23-day tour will be available once the dates of the trip is clear. It will include all accommodation (in twin rooms) with full board, all transport in India, including two flights, entrance fees and special visa. The flight to India is not included.
As flights are organised by the participants themselves (but we are happy to help!) it is possible to either arrive earlier or stay on longer We can also assist with the arrangements of hotels and transport for independent onward travel, if desired.
Please get in touch with any question or for the booking form with all additional details.
Continued below ...
The team ...
Jaya has been assisting people on trips to India since 1997. Having practiced Buddhism for nearly 40 years she can offer explanations for the iconography that we will encounter, as well as introduction to meditation for those who would like to try it out. She will be a bridge for Western participants, and especially help people become more at ease in the different ways of Indian culture and customs.
Feroz is from Kashmir and is very familiar with the land and people. He speaks good English, as well as the local languages, is very friendly and helpful, and his main concern is that all participants have a brilliant trip! He lives in Srinagar and has been organising tours in the Himalayas for many years.
Both tour guides will try and help in all possible practical ways to enable participants to have a wonderful journey.
Cost and practical details continued ...
*The Euro cost is the basic one. The exact amount in other currency might need to be adjusted according to the exchange rate at the time of booking.
Disclaimer: Both guides have many years of experience of travelling in India, the Himalayas, and accompanying groups on their journeys. Our wish is to share our fascination with the beauty of the land, culture and people with our friends, and others who would like assistance on their trip there.
We are not a travel agency and therefore cannot offer the insurance cover that is part of a journey with an agency. We would like to stress that participation on this trip is undertaken entirely at an individual’s personal request and at their own risk. The journey is to be understood like one that is organised by each individual themselves, with our advice and support in matters of route and organisation.
Participants are advised to have medical and travel insurance before travelling to India. In the unlikely event of accident or injury, health or medical issues or misadventure, missed travel connections or delays, accommodation or food/beverage issues, political or any other unforeseen issues, changes to the itinerary might be necessary. We cannot be held accountable for additional costs arising from this. If the participant is unable to take part in a portion of the tour, due to illness or for any other reason, no financial compensation can be made.
We do however want to stress that we joyfully see our task as making the trip for our groups a happy and entirely enriching experience, which will be looked back on as the journey of a lifetime. Security and comfort of all participants are most important to us. All routes and modes of transport, as well as hotels and guesthouses are chosen accordingly. As you can see in the comment section, we have had fabulous feedback from participants so far, who felt well cared for.