The road from Srinagar to Leh negotiates high passes and fragile mountainsides. There are dramatic scenic and cultural changes as you go from Muslim, verdant Kashmir to Buddhist, ascetic Ladakh. After crossing the Zoji La pass you will drive through rugged mountains to arrive at lush green villages set in valleys. Along the way you visit Lamayuru with its moonlandscape and the 12th century Alchi monastery.
Day 1 - Mulbekh
Drive from Srinagar to the Zoji-la Pass till you reach Mulbekh (249 km, 7 hours drive). Mulbekh is a small village, 45 km east of Kargil, which forms the cultural border of the state as Buddhism is predominant towards the east from here and Islam towards the west. Mulbekh Gompa (monastery) dominates the valley and it is easy to see why in bygone times this site served as an outpost to guard the caravan route. Although one is not allowed to take photographs of the statue, the statue itself is a must see for anyone passing through Mulbek. Like all Buddhists monasteries it is adorned by frescoes and statues.
Day 2 - Themisgaam
From Mulbekh you first drive to Lamayuru, one of the most famous and spectacular gompas in Ladakh, perched on a steep cliff overlooking a strange and alien land formation called 'moon landscape'. The first Lamayuru monastery was built at the end of the 10th century. In its heyday up to 400 monks lived in the monastery but today there are only 20 to 30 left. You can visit here the newly renovated prayer hall. From Lamayuru you continue to Themisgaam, the richest valley of Ladakh. Apricots, apples and nuts are plenty here, and a beautiful village with its gompa can be visited.
Day 3 - Leh
Drive to the famous 12th century Alchi Monastery, 70 km from Leh. Alchi is a religious enclave which houses an extraordinary wealth of ancient wall paintings and wood sculpture. Barely a handful of the monasteries founded during this era escaped the Muslim depredations of the fourteenth century but the Alchi treasures were miraculously preserved for over nine centuries insides five tiny mud walled temples. After visiting Alchi you continue and finally reach the city of Leh with the dramatic backdrop of mountains, snow peaks and fortress-like monasteries. Your tour ends on arrival in Leh so you can extend you stay here by following our Leh module. Please note that you can also do this itinerary in reverse.