Arrive by international flight in Delhi. We’ll be there to meet you from the airport and help you transfer to JW Marriot New Delhi Hotel Aerocity. Relax at this stylish and comfortable hotel or, if you can’t wait till tomorrow, take a fledgling foray into the new world of colour, spice and sensation that’s waiting just outside your door.
Fly from Delhi to Leh, the capital of the region of Ladakh, where you’ll be met on arrival and taken to your hotel. There are no planned activities on your first day of arrival as it’s recommended for tourists to undergo minimal exertion as they get acclimatised to the rarefied oxygen levels in this high-altitude region on the high Himalayan plateau.
After early morning teas and coffees, you’ll be driven to Thiksey Monastery, situated towards the east of Leh on a hillock that also seats a two-storey stucco statue of Maitreya Buddha. Get there before sunrise if you want to see the monks gathered in the assembly hall for the morning ceremony and hear them chant their prayers. Later, take a short trip to Hemis Monastery, followed by a chance to explore the local markets of this traditional area.
After breakfast, proceed on a gentle tour of Leh with your guide. Visit the popular landmarks, such as the nine-storey Leh Palace built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century. Continue by foot to the Ladakh Arts & Media Organisation Centre on a short walking tour. The centre is located in a vital heritage building, Munshi House, at the foot of the Leh Palace. There will be a short talk by a Ladakhi scholar on the architectural heritage of the Old City.
It’s up to you to explore your vicinity however you want to today. Head back to the areas covered in yesterday’s tour or enjoy an overview of the old city from the many scenic spots. Try Ladakhi tea with light local snacks and explore the old town’s bazaars. Alternatively, The Grand Dragon Hotel offers a garden and sun terrace where you can relax and enjoy the views of the famous Cold Desert.
The Hemis National Park is close by and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re hoping to see some of the country’s most famous wildlife. You may spot Tibetan wolf, red fox and even the elusive snow leopard, most likely to be seen during mating season; February and March. You’ll also see a host of rare birds of prey, from golden eagle to Himalayan griffon vulture.
It’s off to Leh Airport, where you’ll fly to Chandigarh via Delhi. Then it’s a two-hour drive to Mashobra through wild mountain and forest backdrops. Arrive in Mashobra and check-in at Wildflower Hall Shimla. The rest of the day is at your leisure, whether you want to enjoy this five-star hotel’s facilities or explore the local area.
This morning, enjoy a half-day city tour of Shimla. Take in the fascinating history and architecture, local cultural festivals, India’s only natural ice rink, and the local markets which are famed for woodcraft and jewellery. Spend the afternoon however you wish, though you may not be able to drag yourself away from the market.
Drive to Chandigarh airport and fly back to your JW Marriot Hotel. Revisit your favourite areas from the first days of your trip, whether it’s the incredible ancient buildings, the irresistible eateries or the spots known only to locals and guides. Hiring bicycles is one way to fit as much as possible into your day here.
After breakfast, transfer to Delhi International Airport for your connecting flight. Absorb the chaotically animated lifestyle around you before it becomes only a memory – nonetheless, a memory you’ll carry with you for ever.