Majuli, Deori Tribe Culture

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Deori Tribe of Majuli

Deoris  migrated from hills staying at various places and then finally reached Majuli through river Brahmaputra, they call themselves children of Sun and Moon (Jimo – Chaayan) have their own culture and faith along with the Hindu Gods they worship their ancestors, they served as priests for the royal families even today they have same respect among the other tribal communities. Deori means wise male and female.

Deori Tribal Ladies , Majuli Island

Deori Tribal Ladies , Majuli Island

Houses are stilted built by using bamboo, cane and wood, animals are on the lower level and upper level family stays, normally there is a corridor till the center of house which is used for all day to day work, there is place for faith in God and each home have a reserved place for it.

Deori Tribal Village house , Majuli Island

Deori Tribal Village house , Majuli Island

 

Marriages are arranged by the family elders and day is fixed, as gift cloths and ornaments are offered and it is solemnized in the presence of community as a religious ceremony. They enjoy rice, pork, goat, fowl in their meals.

Deori Tribal Mother and Child, Majul Island

Deori Tribal Mother and Child, Majul Island

Two major festivals associated with the agriculture activity, Magiyo Bisu is celebrated in the month of January and Ibaku Bisu is in April, there are special rules, it is celebrated for seven days, the village elders shower blessings by visiting all the houses and, puja is performed in each house by the head of family, guests are treated with homemade rice beer “Suzen” young boys and girls gather in an open space and dance the whole night.

Bhohagiyo Bisu is a religious festival and a very important Deodhani dance celebrated for two weeks, it is believed that a special power is there with few who can be a Deodhani, they predict about the prosperity of village or person, it is a holy female god dance and during this period no men are allowed in colored clothes in the dance area called the “Than”. Joydam festival is celebrated in the month of February it is very important festival and cultural meet for all the four groups of Deori tribes, it is to pay the respect to motherland and celebrate the bumper harvest or before the sowing of seeds, the main profession of Deori tribe is agriculture .

One can reach Majuli from Jorhat to Nimatighat by road and the take a 1.30 hr. ferry to cross the Brahmaputra , it  is also a port of call for river cruise M.V.Mahabaahu 

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Majuli, Sonowal Kachari Tribe Culture

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Sonowal Kachari Tribe of Majuli

Sonowal Kachari Tribe have its origin with Mongoloid features, they have no language of their own at present and speak Assamese language.They got the Sonowal name because they were experts in extracting gold dust from the rivers, they also have a good knowledge about the medicinal herbs and using them for many ailments .

Sonowal Kachari Tribal family, Majuli Island

Sonowal Kachari Tribal family, Majuli Island

Believe in supreme power of creator and spirits worshiping the ancestors and sacrificing the animals and birds to please them but accepted the Vaishnave Satras followings in 17th century which is against any such things, each village have a place of worship called the “Namghar”.

They believe that they were the descendants of great Bhaskar Varma, Narakasur, Ban, Bhagadutta, Hadimba, Ghototkach, Bhim, Prahlad and Bali . They worship lord Shiva and performs the Bhouwa dance in praise of Lord Shiva. This dance signifies the beginning of a new life, a clean society and the removing of bad omen.

Bhouwa dance by Sonowal Kachari Tribe in praise of Lord Shiva

Bhouwa dance by Sonowal Kachari Tribe in praise of Lord Shiva

Family and village elders are treated with respect, villagers believe in cooperation and extend help in agriculture and house making in exchange for food and drink.

Sonowal Kachari Tribal Ladies , Majuli Island

Sonowal Kachari Tribal Ladies , Majuli Island

Beetle nut and beetle leave are a part of their life and symbol of welcoming the guests at home, it is an important part of any ritual to include these, their villages are full of trees of beetle nut .

Sonowal Kachari village, Beetle nut trees , Majuli Island

Sonowal Kachari village, Beetle nut trees , Majuli Island

 

Beetle leaves , Sonowal Kachari village, Majuli Island

Beetle leaves , Sonowal Kachari village, Majuli Island

 

In their family system there are clans and sub clans, marriages are forbidden in same and brother clan, they follow monogamy but having more than one wife is not objected, widow marriage is allowed.

Sonowal Kachari Lady at handloom , Majuli Island

Sonowal Kachari Lady at hand-loom , Majuli Island

In marriage it is must to present a hand-loom to the girl, they wear colorful home weaved dresses, dhoti, kurta and Gamsha. They love rice based food with less spices.

Their main occupation is agriculture, dairy farming, poultry and hand-loom cotton and silk cloth, all ladies are expert in weaving .

Sonowal Kachari, mother and child, Majuli Island

Sonowal Kachari, mother and child, Majuli Island

Sonowal Kachari ladies performing Bihu , Majuli Island

Sonowal Kachari ladies performing Bihu , Majuli Island

Kacharis celebrate their festivals with great joy and enthusiasm there are three Bihu festivals, marriage, harvesting or any opportunity is enjoyed with dance.

One can reach Majuli from Jorhat by road to Nimatighat and then 1.30 hrs. ferry to cross the river Brahmaputra to  Kamalabari ghat and the by Jeep / bus to Gramur , it is also a port of call for river cruise M. V. Mahabaahu .

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Majuli, Treasure Island of Assam

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Majuli, Cultural capital and Treasure Island of Assam

Situated in the river Brahmaputra one can reach from Jorhat to Nimatighat by road and then by a ferry sailing for about 1.30 hrs. to reach Kamalabari ghat , one can reach by road from North Lakhimpur a 85 km distance is covered in about 3 hrs. It is the cultural capital of Assam spread over one hundred and forty four villages .

Crossing of River Brahmaputra by Ferry

Crossing of River Brahmaputra by Ferry

It is also a stopover destination for Brahmaputra river cruise M.V. Mahabaahu

According to a popular legend Majuli Island in Assam was created by the rivers Dihing and Bhramputra about 450 years ago as a result of earthquake and floods, It is a place of assimilation of different races and tribes , the Worlds largest river island is also the holy place of Neo Vaishnavite religion flourishing since 15th century , at one time there were sixty five Satras (monasteries) out of which twenty two are still active here carrying forward the unique cultural heritage of Assam, the others have shifted else where out due to the floods and soil erosion.

Mask making at Majuli Island

Mask making at Majuli Island

From May till the middle of September  the rains and flooding waters from Brahmaputra submerges most of the island and when it recedes leaves behind lots of water bodies suitable for fishes to breed and land becomes fertile for the paddy crops, these wetlands then becomes home to more than 80 species of migratory and more than 30 resident birds.

Tribe weavers at Majuli Island

Tribe weavers at Majuli Island

There are three tribes living here the Mishing, the Deori and Sonowal Kachari with altogether different life style.

Tribe ladies in home woven colorful cloths , Majuli Island

Tribal ladies in home woven colorful cloths , Majuli Island

Fishing , Bamboo & cane craft, Weaving, Mask making, boat making, cultivating paddy, rearing silk worms and pottery is the main occupation of its residents, Tourism is becoming quite popular as it is a birds watchers paradise, study of the tribal life style and the Neo Vaishnavism’s no caste based Hindu society .

 

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Lamayuru Gompa , Monastery, Ladakh

 Lamayuru is one of the largest and oldest gompa in Ladakh, situated in Kargil district on Srinagar- Leh highway at a height of 3510 meters,127 km from Leh about 15 Km from Fotu-La, it was originally the Bonpo Monastery   called gYung-drung Monastery, a Swastika symbol and  gYung drung bon  is the name of the Bon religion , The Maha Sidhachrya Naropa founded the Lamayuru Monastery , he was a Buddhist scholar from Nalanda University who came here in search for his guru Tilopa, a master of Tantra,  the oldest temple  Seng-ge-sgang  was built by Monk Rinchen Zangpo who came from Tibet , great translator of Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Tibetan, he under the patronage  from  King of Ladakh founded 108 Gompas in Ladakh, Spiti , Kinaur and Zanskar region.

Lamayuru Gompa ( Monastery)

The monastery is made up of a number of shrines and also has a very rich collection of thankas and magnificent wall paintings.

The Dukhang (Assembly hall) is on the right side of the courtyard  with a colourful depiction of the Guardians of the Four Directions. The mural on the left wall of the verandah depicts the proper way for a lama to live ,The temple has an image of Vairocana or the Teaching Buddha is seated on a lion serving as a throne and a Garuda (mythical bird) and sea monsters surround his head . In the wall on the right side of the Dukhang is a small cave with three statues known as Naropa’s cave, where he is supposed to have meditated ,  other two statues are of Marpa (Naropa’s student who became a translator of religious texts and famous poet) and Mila Ras-pa (Marpa’s student and a spiritual head of the red-hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism). The right side of the Dukhang has three complete sets of the Kandshur (the 108 volumes of Buddha’s teachings)

Lamayuru Gompa Assembly hall

 

Stupas at Lamayuru Gompa

Legend is that this valley there use to be a lake  at the time of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha). Nags (holy serpents) used to reside in the lake. Bodhisattva Madhyantaka pridicted that  the lake would eventually be dried, making way for the construction of a Buddhist monastery.  Maha Siddhacharya Naropa,  meditated for years in one of the caves  , a crack developed in the hillside surrounding the lake. When the lake dried out he found a dead  tiger, he constructed the first temple at this site , known as the Singhe Ghang (Lion Mound).  Later, Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial offered the monastery to Chosje Danma and started  observance of the rituals of the Digung Kargyud School, the monastery was  renamed as Yungdrung Tharpaling. At present the Lamayuru Monastery is served by the successive reincarnations of Skyabsje Toldan Rinpoche.

Mahasidhacharya Naropa meditated in this cave

Lamayuru Gompa plays host a masked dance, The Yundrung Kabgyad festival which takes place on the 17th and 18th day of the 5th month of Tibetan lunar calendar which falls in the month of July. The monks from the monasteries of the nearby areas also come to take part in the celebrations.

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Mulbek , Ladakh

Mulbek is located on a Srinagar – Leh NH 1 D National Highway 45 km from Kargil and and  Leh is further 197 km , it is at an altitude of 3304 meters from sea , just a kilometer from the town is the famous statue of Chamba  the figure of Maitreya Budha , represents the important part of Gandhara Art , on the main National highway.

Rock cut 9 meters tall statue of “Future Budha” the Maitreya

The scholars believe it to be of 8th centenary but there is a thought it is of a Kushan period about 1800 years old.

Mulbek rock carved Buddha

There is an inscription on a near by rocks  orders from the King  Lde for not to sacrifice a goat at the altar of a deity , there is also an inscription that this order of King is too hard if goat is not sacrificed what will the deity say .

 Shergol It is a  picturesque village of the Wakha river Valley  it  is situated across the river, right of the Kargil-Leh road. This village is full of Popalar trees , orchards of Walnut and Apricots The main attraction is a cave monastery which is visible from a far as a white speck against the vertically rising ochre hill from which it appears to hanging  out. Below this small monastery is a larger Buddhist nunnery with about a dozen residents. The village is accessible by the motorable road that branches off from the Kargil-Leh road, about 5 km before  Mulbek. Shergol is a convenient base for an exciting 4-day trek across the mountain range into the Suru valley. It is also the  base for visiting Urgyan-Dzong, a meditation retreat lying deep inside the mountains surrounding the Wakha River valley.

Nature’s art , Rock called Mother and Child at Mulbek

 Wakha Rgyal tucked away inside the picturesque upper part of the Wakha Valley, up streams of Mulbek.                         Mulbek Gompa : Situated  atop a rocky cliff, Mulbek Gompa (monastery) dominates the valley. It is easy to see why in bygone times this site served as an outpost to guard the caravan route. Like all Buddhists monasteries it is adorned by frescoes and statues .

Shergol Cave Monastery

Rgyal gives the appearance of a medieval settlement of cave dwellings transported in to the modern times with some improvements and extensions. The houses, neatly white-washed and closely stacked, are dug into the sheer face of a vertical cliff that rises high above the green valley . From a far the village looks like a colony of beehives hanging from the  Cliff side

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Kargil , Ladakh

Kargil lies on National Highway 1D which connects Srinagar to Leh , it is on the banks of Suru river , the name is from two words “Gar” means in local language “Any Where” and “Khil” means central place “where any one can stay”. Total population of Kagil 80% follows the Shia faith of  Islam and are inhabited in Kargil, Drass and lower Suru valley, Tibetan Bon Buddhist are mostly in Zanskar valley with small population in Shergol, Mulbek and Upper Suru valley.  There are about 4%  Hindus and Sikhs . Most of the people are of Burig and Balti of Tibetan origin mixed with Dard , Mon and Aryan people.

Kargil City view from Leh-Srinagar Highway

The Tibetan influence is seen in Kargil and Leh people , the Islam came here with Persian influence which has lots Persian words , phrases and even the religious songs in their language , the marriages are solemnize with common rituals of  Buddhist and Islam customs .

Mt. Nun & Mt. Kun from Suru valley trekkers hot spot

It was a transit point of caravans on their way to and from China, Tibet, Yarken and Kashmir till 1949, but since 1974 with the influx of tourists the region has been replaced as center for tourism related activities. Tourists traveling between Zanskar, Leh and Srinagar stop for  a night stay , before proceeding for onward  journey.

People visit Kargil with the memories of 1999 India and Pakistan conflict as it lies very close to the line of control .

Bomb Shell splinters holes fired from Pakistan

The Suru river flows through Kargil , Suru valley extends till the Pensi-la where there is a famous peaks of Nun and Kun , Karaste kar is a small village on Leh highway where 9 meter tall rock carved statue of Maitriya Buddha attracts the tourists from far places . There are other magnificent Stupas and rock carved statues to be seen in Suru valley . Most of the trekkers take a hike to  the Nun- Kun view saddle (3810mtr. ) in the Parkachik ridge. It is a  3 hours of walking along the slopes  overlooking the fertile valley below.

Pakistani post was captured and pushed behind this peak

The road connection from Srinagar is open from May till November , rest of the year there is a heavy snow in the Zoji-la , this area is cut off by road in winters from rest of India , the Indian Air Force  operates few flights to help the local people to come in out of the valley. summers are warm with cold nights , Drass which is 56 km from Kargil is coldest inhabited place in India. The only  road link to Zanskar  is from Kargil .

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Drass Valley , Ladakh

Drass is a small town on Srinagar – Leh National Highway 1D , 147 km from Srinagar and 60 km from Kargil at a height of 3230 meters from sea level  , it is also called the Himalayan gateway to Ladakh , it starts from Zoji-la and extends till Kargil , it is the second highest coldest inhabited place after Siberia on earth , the temperature goes down till minus 60 degree centigrade in winters , in the local Baltic language Dras means ” the Hell” There are heavy snow fall and storms from November to April May . During spring and summer, the valley transforms into lush green Meadows splashed with a variety of fragrant wild flowers

Drass River originates from the Machoi glacier near the  Zozila Pass. The river is joined  by many other rivers and streams flowing in from snowfields from the nearby mountains. The river Shigar flows in from the north drains and joins it in the Drass valley.

The Puga Valley is famous for its hot water springs ,visitors come to this valley for a bath in these springs as this is known to help people suffering from rheumatism and skin diseases , Drass is a convenient base for a 3-day long trek to Suru valley This trek passes through beautiful upland villages and wild flower  meadows on both sides of the  Umba  – La pass ( 4,500 meters )

 

Dras War Memorial at the base of Tololing Ridge

The town got famous after the 1999 Kargil War when it was being shelled by infiltrators till the Indian Army recaptured the three heights, namely Tololing, Tiger Hill and The Three Pimples overlooking National Highway 1D that passes through Drass.

 

View of Tiger Hill from Srinagar – Leh Highway 1D

 

Tiger Hill view from Srinagar-Leh Highway 1D

Its inhabitants are mainly of the Dard origin , an Aryan race that migrated from Central Asian steppes. They speak Shina ,belongs to the Indo-European linguistic family. Their ancestral sport, horse-polo that the Dard plays with particular zeal, resembles our modern polo . The  people inhabiting these regions faces  the harshness of the valley’s winter; negotiate the formidable pass to transport a trader’s merchandise. The citizens of Drass can be described as the guardians of Ladakh’s gateway.

Tourism is being promoted in this region by organizing the Polo matches among the villages and teams from outside the valley. Polo stadium is named  after an army officer Lt. Conolel Vishwanathan who sacrificed his life to push the Pakistani intruders out of this valley in 1999 .

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Ladakh the Moonland, Last Shangrila, Little Tibet

Ladakh is located in the North-Eastern part of Jammu & Kashmir state in India , it is a remote Tibetan plateau, primarily Buddhist and Tibetan in its culture and in a very clear contrast to rest of Kashmir, indeed to the rest of India as well.

Small Ladakhi girl

Ladakh is located in the North-Eastern part of Jammu & Kashmir state in India , it is a remote Tibetan plateau, primarily Buddhist and Tibetan in its culture and in a very clear contrast to rest of Kashmir, indeed to the rest of India as well.Little Tibet , The Moonland and The Last Shangrila are the alternate names for Ladakh, Himalayas are the most effective barrier to rain. A very few clouds creep across their massive height and as a result this land is barren beyond belief, The Plants and green belt are near the river’s bed that carry water from glaciers in the peaks of the Himalayas. A land of freezing winds and burning hot sunlight, this land is completely different from the green landscape of many parts of the Himalayas. Bounded by two of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karokaram, it is a land which has no match. In this region there is a long narrow valley known as Zanskar even more isolated than Ladakh Valley.

The Moon Land Ladakh

This land is connected to rest of India by a 434 km road from Srinagar, passing through Zozi-la Pass with an overnight stop at  Kargil , the first village after the Zozila is Drass the second highest, coldest habited place in the world , Kargil was once an important trading post. It was from here that one could turn south to Zanskar or go to Ladakh, en route to Leh one passes through village Shergol which is the dividing line between Muslim and Buddhist areas. Around Leh are the Age old Budhist Monastries and two highest motorable roads in the world the Chang – la Pass ( 17586 ft) the Khardung – la pass    ( 18400 ft) the crystal clear water lakes , Pangong, Tsmori, Tsokar etc. with breath-taking views.

 

Dry barren land and Popular tree of Ladakh

Another famous route to reach Leh is from Manali connected by road 479 km, road opens from mid June till September end every year , one is to stop at Keylong after crossing the Rotang-la ( Pass) 13051 ft  or at Sarchu or the last village of Himachal Pradesh before entring the Ladakh and Jispa in Ladakh  region, one is to cross the Baralacha- la ( Pass) 16050 ft, Lachulung -la (Pass) 16598 ft and Tanglang – La ( Pass) 17470 ft  . Due to low oxygen and high altitude many travelers face mountain sickness , this road was the main trading route  to Yarkand till 1962,

Leh is located in the Indus valley at an altitude of 11562 ft from sea, once very important trading route as it is on the junction of trading roads to Tibet, Kashmir and Kashgar. There is no recorded history before 7th centenary but the history of surrounding Arabs, Mangols and Chinese  indicate that  of a Greater Ladakh was once a kingdom spreaded from Kailash Mansarover till Dardistan and Baltistan . The original inhabitants were Dards the Indo-Aryan Race but migration from Tibet since 10th centenary is now of Tibetan features , it was a strong hold of Buddhism and it reached Tibet from here . There were small scattered group of villages and their rulers  it was brought under one control by  King Bhagan of Namgyal dynasty and expelled most of the Central Asian raiders and united  it to form Ladakh , the Moguls in India who were ruling Kashmir in 17th centenary helped the Ladakhi ruler on a condition to build a Mosque in Leh and converted the ruler to Islam. In 1834 General of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab , Zoravar Singh annexed it to the Dogra State of Jammu & Kashmir and the Namgyal family was given the Jagir of Stok, which it nominally retains to this day, in 1947 the Dogra Ruler Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with Govt of India and since then it is part of India. Before partition, Baltistan, was a district in Ladakh now under Pakistani control. Skardu was the winter capital of Ladakh while Leh was the summer capital.  China closed the border of Nubra and Xinjian in 1949 and closed the trade route, India constructed 434 km the Srinagar-Leh highway 16 days journey is now reduced to Two days .

Snow covered high mountains and passes all over Ladakh

Indus River is the back bone of Ladakh major historical towns are Leh , Shey , Basgo and Tingmosgang where as Kargil is on the banks of river Suru , the other two rivers are Zanskar and Shayok , Ladakh is a high altitude desert , the monsoon clouds are unable to cross the high Himalayan ridges, the main source of water is the winter snow fall in the region, Drass, Suru and Zanskar region in the north flank of Himalayas remains cut of most of the time  from the other part of India by road due to heavy snow fall temperature ranges from -20 to -30 degree centigrade , summers are short with temperature rages between 3-35 degrees Centigrade

Indus River , Green patches and Cold Desert

One can reach Leh by air from Delhi and Srinagar operating daily flights.

There are regular Jeep taxi service from Srinagar and Manali when high passes are open during the summer months , from Srinagar the pass opens in early May till October, while Manali side road opens little late end May  and closes early.

Places of interest in and around Leh

Shanti Stupa – It is the most impressive structure visible from  almost every where in Leh. it is on a hill top north of Leh.

Spituk Gompa – It is the temple about 1000 years old on a hilltop above the Indus river near the airport

Leh Palace – It is a mini version of the Potala Palace in Lhasa , Tibet , built in 16th century.

Leh Gompa – Little above the ruins of palce is Red Gompa built in 1430 AD

Sankar Gompa – This is a little gompa is an impressive representation of Avalokkiteavara with 1000 arms and heads.

Choglamsar – It is an important Tibetan refugee center for the study of Tibetan literature and history.

Shey – This was the old summer palace of the kings of Ladakh built  around 1450 AD

Tikse Gompa – It is about 17 kms from Leh , visible from Shey. It is very picturesque and superbly sited on a hiltop overloking village and Indus river . This gompa has an important collection of Tibetian style books and some excellent artwork , one can watch religious ceremonies.

Hemis Gompa – It is one of the largest and most important in Ladakh, about 45 kms from Leh on the other side of Indus , It is famous for Hemis festival which usually falls in second half of June or early July. It has excellent library and well-preserved paintings.

Stok Palace – Close to the Choglamnsar bridge , on the left bank is the 200 years old Stok Palace where the royal family still lives.

Beacon Highway – If one gets the chance to visit the Nubra valley , it is the highest road in the world , the Khardung – la highest point 18500 ft. from sea level road only opens in July end, August to October , rest of the time it is under snow and thick fog .

Mulbek – Just beyond Mulbek village is the huge 9 meters Chamba statue,  an image of future Buddha , cut into rock face beside the road , there are two gompas on the hillside above the village Mulbek. these gompas are made into the rock .

Lamayuru – After crossing the Namik- La pass and Futu-La pass 13600 ft higest pass on Srinagar – Leh highway is the first of the typical Ladakhi gompa .

Alchi – Just before Saspul this Gompa is built on a low land , it has massive Budha statue and lavish wood carvings and art work.

Likir Gompa – It is shortly after Saspul it has a monastry school and a fort which is damaged , Basgo gompa has intresting figures of Buddha ,wall paintings are damaged due to water .

Gurudwara Pather Sahib –  Guru Nanak Dev Ji traveled to Tebet passing through Ladakh and stayed here for some time , the image in the rock is said to be of the Guru when he was hit by a rock which turned soft as wax upon touching his meditating body .

Sindhu Ghat – The river Indus ( Sindhu) flows through the Ladakh before entering Pakistan , every year a Sindhu festival is celebrated upon the banks of the Sindhu river.

Ma Kali Temple – It is an old temple dedicated to Ma Kali .

Chang-la – It is the second highest road in the world passing through the pass while traveling to Pangong Lake.

Pangong Tso lake –  This salt water lake  154 km from Leh , after crossing the Chang la , 4 km wide  about 136 km long , only 25% of it is in India rest is in Tibet / China at a height of 4250 meters .

Tsomoriri lake – This lake is 215 km from Leh, 19 km long and 3 km wide one of the largest high altitude lake situated at a height of 4595 meters in India .

 Khardong-la – It is the highest road crossing the pass ( 5359 mtrs.) in the world about 1 hr. drive from Leh city towards Nubra valley .

Nubra Valley – It 150 km from Leh , after climbing the Khardong-la pass the beautiful valley, Cold desert and home for Double hump camel, it extends as far as Seachin Glacier, it is also the fruit and food bowl of Ladakh

Fotu-la –  It is the highest point 4108 meters on Srinagar Leh highway .

Kargil – It is the second big town in Ladakh which got more popularity after the 1999 war , it is on the highway from Leh to Srinagar, from here one can travel to Zanskar Valley.

Drass Valley– It is the second coldest inhabited place on earth after Siberia in Russia one can have the beautiful views of Tololing and Tiger Hill famous after the Kargil war and pay a visit at War Hero’s Memorial.

Zanskar Valley – The most isolated , accessible in summers for four months only , kept the original Tibetian Budhisim alive.

Zoji-la – It is the dividing pass, on the one side is the Ladakh and the other side is the Kashmir valley.

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Ladakh by Road | Preparations and Precautions

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Every year the motorbike and Jeep adventure lovers wait for the Manali – Leh – Srinagar Highway to open, around the first week May from Srinagar side and end of May from Manali side , at may places the BRO ( Border Road Organisation ) had to clear the 60 ft . of snow from the highway through the high mountain passes which becomes the lifeline and Adventure lovers delight for the next five/six months .

 

Ladakh by road

Ladakh by Road

To reach Leh by road there are two options first one is  Srinagar-Kargil-Leh which opens early May. one has to cross Zoji La pass ( 13000 ft/4000 mtrs.)  , Drass Valley ( 10990 ft/3230 mtrs.) one must visit and pay his / her respect to the martyrs at Kargil war Heroes memorial it is on the highway at the base of Tololing , one can have the best views of Rhino Knob , Tiger Hill .

Tiger Hill , Leh-Srinagar highway

Tiger Hill , Leh-Srinagar highway

Drass is the second highest coldest inhabited place on earth , Kargil , Mulbek , Namik – La ( 12198 ft/3827 mtrs.) Fotu – La pass (13478 ft./ 4104 mtr.)  and then to Leh , total distance is 450 kms.

Ladakh by Road

Ladakh by Road

The Second route Manali – Leh opens end May , passes through the two mountain ranges Pir Panjal and Zanskar with some of the highest  mountain passes in the world , there are many ice cold small streams originating from the Glaciers melts, where drivers skills are at test to negotiate through fast flowing streams . Starts from Manali , Rohtang – La ( 13054 ft./ 3979 mtrs.) Tandi ( 8430 ft/2570 mtrs.) , Keylong , Jispa ( 11020 ft./3360 mtrs.), Darcha , Baralacha – La Pass ( 16500 ft./5030 mtrs.) , Sarchu ( 15100 ft./4600 mtrs.) , Gata Loops ( 22 hairpin bends) , Nakee – La Pass , Lachulung – La Pass ( 16616 ft./ 5065 mtrs.) , Pang , Tanglang – La Pass ( 17480 ft./5328 mtrs.) , Karu , Leh ( 11483 ft./3500 mtrs.) total distance to be covered  490 km full of not even thought of surprises and scenery .

Baralacha La

Since 1974 when restrictions were removed to visit Ladakh, every year thousands of people travel to experience this part of India which is also known as Little Tibet , there are vast barren lands golden yellow, black and grey mountains, green patches near  crystal clear  Lakes and rivers . All this is available from May to October / November only, rest of the year most of these roads and high passes are under the thick blanket of snow. Days are warm when there is sun light but there is cool breeze from the snow mountains around  keeps the temperature around 10 degrees centigrade , weather changes are fast and unexpected , there are no rains as the entire area from Rohtang onward is  Rain Shadow area , the Monsoon clouds hardly enters this area, it does not mean that there are no rains , occasional drizzles are there  , the night temperature is at many places even drops to sub-zero and there are strong winds . weather is dry and ultra-violet rays which may have a bad effect on the skin , during the day the bright sun and rays reflecting from the snow effects the eyes. Most of the travels do not experience the Acute Mountain Sickness and there is no set rule who will be effected but if precautions are taken care of one can minimize its effect .

Driving on this terrain is an ultimate challenge for a human body and the machine, selecting a vehicle, importance of understanding of machine and body.  People 17-70 years of age with normal health can travel on these roads, one must prepare well in advance before starting for this journey to enjoy the unspoiled beauty and well preserved rich history & Culture of Tibetan Buddhism of  Himachal and Ladakh Himalayas .

Pangong Lake , Ladakh

Pangong Lake , Ladakh

Four wheel Jeep / SUV any vehicle with high ground clearance  or a Motor Bike (350 cc) are best suited for this trip, these custom made vehicles are available on rent per day basis or one can purchase from Delhi, there are clubs and few selected travel agents all over India who organizes  the logistics for this highly adventurous and beautiful journey in the months of June , July , August , September , October every year when the roads passing through the high passes are clear and with less snow.

High ground clearance SUVs at Pangong lake

To enjoy the beauty and adventure in this land one is to take few precautions and preparations , if one is taking his/her own vehicle then it should be of high ground clearance and preferably a 4 wheel drive , must have one extra tank for the fuel, extra Tyre , air pump, tool kit, Tyre puncture repair kit , strong ropes in case of emergency it can be towed , if driving a motor bike then extra pairs of clutch and brake wires , one must bear in mind that due to low oxygen the efficiency of machine reduces and one should not put extra burden on machine , the bags should be water proof or they must be warped with a water proof sheath .

Personal clothing should be comfortable , woolen shirts , trousers , gloves ,woolen cap , colored and plain eye protector glasses, comfortable ankle leather boots and woolen socks, wind proof jacket, raincoat are recommended . Helmet , knee and elbow guards are must, there are Glacial melt streams one is to avoid getting wet there , if got wet change the cloths and shoes with dry ones as soon as possible. Air is dry which takes away the moister from the skin very fast , one must cover the body with woolen and wind cheater clothing .

There are two levels of mountain  driving at this route .

 High Altitude 2500 mtrs./8000 ft. to 4000 mtrs./13000 ft. (one night stay is must at this altitude for acclimatization)

Very High Altitude 4000 mtr./13000 ft. to 5500 mtr./18000 ft.  (avoid sleeping first night at this altitude )

Normal first aid kit and one must understand the symptoms of  Acute Mountain Sickness ( AMS) to whom it can effect or not there is no thumb rule  but any where when one feels heavy head / head ache , giddiness , Fatigue , Nausea , Nose Bleed, Pins and Needles , Swelling of hand, face and feet , High pulse rate ( 110). The best way is to drink adequate  liquids, 3-4 liters a day – clean  boiled and filtered or treated , tea/coffee/soup/juice etc.  avoid smoking and taking alcohol , avoid greasy / oily food , take rich carbohydrates . 48 hrs. before the  journey take DIMOX tablets , The usual dosage is 125 mg twice a day for a few days,  must consult the doctor for the potency of medicine , people use camphor smelling , chew Mint  or Polo while travelling , the Ladakhi local remedy is to chew one clove of garlic as soon as one feels  the heaviness , usually occurs following a rapid ascent and can usually be prevented by ascending slowly, It commonly occurs above 2,400 mtrs. / 8,000  feet ,one should not ignore or take lightly these symptoms, at places there are army medical help  available and oxygen is provided to bring the person to normal state. In the first 24 hours at high altitude reduces the symptoms of AMS.  The air is dry cold and chilly , it takes away the moisture from the body ,  best way to protect is to cover  properly , use a high neck , full sleeves woolen  shirts , avoid T-shirts and have warm water to keep the body warm and maintain water and  balance . Never travel alone .

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Vamana Temple of Love Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh

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Vamana Temple of Love Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh was built during 1050 AD to 1075 AD by the Chandela Rulers . It is a UNESCO Heritage site

Vamana Temple of Love Khajuraho

Dedicated to the Vamana, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and also the first incarnation where the Vishnu came in a full human form ( the form of a dwarf Brahmin).  Legend says that the Vamana came to earth to give back the authority of the celestial world back to Lord Indra (King of Heaven), after the benevolent Asura ( Demon) King Bali, took over the control of all the three worlds, Swarg ( Heaven) , Bhulok (Earth) and ( Pataal lok) the underworld.

Vamana Avtar the Fifth Incarnation of Lord Vishnu

The exterior of the temple has double walls with intricate carvings of Apsaras in various sensual poses or other carvings depicting everyday life, like musicians, dancers, women preening in front of a mirror, etc. The main doorway is carved with four armed Vamans. The temple is a sandstone structure with mortise and tenon joints to hold the adjacent stones together.  the  temple has a central chamber-the sanctum ( Garbha Griha), an atrium, a Maha Mandapa, a central towering spire – Shikhara and a porch leading to the main temple entrance.

Images on the outer wall of Vamana Temple of Love Khajuraho

It is nirandhara (one without ambulatory) temple, consisting on plan of a sapta-ratha (seven-projectioned) sanctum, vestibule, maha-mandapa with lateral transepts and entrance-porch, contrast to the developed local temples, erotic scenes are absent here.

At first sight many of the Khajuraho temple sculptures would appear to be naked, there is no nude body in Indian art. Adornment, associated with auspiciousness, The bodies lining the exterior of the Vamana Temple,  are represented decorated  in jewelry and draped in semi transparent veils. Associated with fertility, abundance, prosperity, and good fortune, voluptuous female bodies and loving couples are perfectly acceptable subject matter for temples.

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