After acclimatising to the altitude, you can explore Leh. It used to be one of the busiest market towns on the caravan trade between India and Central Asia. These days it retains a distinctly central Asian feel. You need one full day to explore the Indus Valley gompas of Shey, Tikse & Hemis. The Hemis monastery is the biggest and wealthiest monastery in Ladakh. Colourful flags flutter in the breeze from the four pillars in the courtyard.
Day 1 - Leh
Ladakh's principal town used to be one of the busiest market towns on the caravan trade between India and Central Asia. These days it retains a distinctly central Asian feel. Leh is dominated by the nine-storey Palace, a building in the grand tradition of Tibetan architecture, said to have inspired the famous Potala in Lhasa, which was built half a century later. Today is a free day so you can take it easy and acclimatise to the high altitude. Do not overexert yourself, rest and keep drinking a lot of water.
Day 2 - Leh
The best way to see Leh is on a walking tour. Along the main street the Buddhist women with their tall hats chatter freely as they sell vegetables. Narrow lanes veer up and wind their way through the old city. You pass old dwellings clustered together on the slope and finally end up at the 16th century Leh Khar Palace and its gompa, the Temple of the Guardian Deities perched on top of the hill. Though ruined and austere for ages, Leh Palace still makes an unforgettable backdrop to the mud city. A relatively new addition to the rocky skyline around Leh is the toothpaste white Shanti Stupa above Changspa village, 3km west of Leh's bazaar. Inaugurated in 1983 by the Dalai Lama, the "Peace Pagoda", whose sides are decorated with gilt panels depicting episodes from the life of the Buddha, is one of several such monuments erected around India by a "Peace Sect" of Japanese Buddhists.
Day 3 - Leh
Shey is the oldest of the three monasteries and is not in regular use. The monastery contains a two-story high statue of the Buddha seated in meditation. Up ahead is the twelve-story 800-year-old Thikse Gompa. This is a good place to witness religious ceremonies. It's a magical moment when the monks say their prayers amidst mystical chanting, the ringing of bells, the clashing of cymbals, and the blowing of horns. The Hemis monastery is the biggest and wealthiest monastery in Ladakh. Colourful flags flutter in the breeze from the four pillars in the courtyard.
Day 4 - Leh
Your tour ends after breakfast. You can extend your stay in Ladakh by taking a Nubra Valley Tour. If you want to continue your adventure then you can either travel overland to Srinagar (The Road to Leh in reverse) or follow the Leh Manali Highway. Alternatively, you can fly back to Delhi.