Stok Kangri Expedition
If you’re someone who is open to adding an adventurous title on their list of travel goals in 2018, this one is for you. After a successful expedition to Everest Base Camp last year, we are thrilled to organise yet another one and this time to Stok Kangri (Ladakh), in the mightly Himalayas.
While the summit is the highlight we shall also experience the vibrant Leh Festival, the mysterious Hemis National Park and some off beat places in Leh. It is definitely a must for someone who wishes to revisit the Land of High Passes.
ABOUT STOK KANGRI
Stok Kangri (6,153 metres (20,187 ft)) is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas in the Ladakh region of north-west India. The peak is located in Hemis National Park, 12 km southwest of the trailhead (3,610 metres (11,844 ft)) in the village of Stok and around 15 km southwest of the city of Leh, the capital of Ladakh.Despite its high altitude, Stok Kangri is a popular trekking peak and is often climbed as an initial non-technical foray into high altitude mountaineering. However, the difficulty of Stok Kangri is often underestimated and the need to acclimatise before and during the ascent makes Stok Kangri an enduring challenge.
Over the last few years, Stok Kangri has become tremendously popular amongst trekkers and novice mountaineers due to its non-technical nature. The peak is considered non-technical from July–August, but becomes quite technical during the height of winter. Even in summer, novices should be well prepared, with appropriate physical fitness and equipment. The climb is exhausting and requires a good amount of stamina, both physically and mentally.
Despite its relative ease, the 6,153 m peak presents the usual challenges of a mountaineering expedition. Acclimatisation in Leh, particularly for those who fly in from lower altitude , before attempting the trek/climb and altitude acclimatization during the ascent, is essential. The biggest hurdle at such altitudes is rarefied air, which can cause acute headaches, nausea and other symptoms of altitude sickness even in fit climbers.
DETAILED ITINERARY: 10 NIGHTS / 11 DAYS
TRAVEL DATES: 19th SEPTEMBER TO 29th SEPTEMBER 2018
DAY 1 - 19TH SEPTEMBER: ARRIVAL IN LEH & ACCLIMATIZATION
Upon arrival, transfer to a hotel in Leh. A day of rest is highly recommended as it eases the process of acclimatization. Also sipping hot tea while stretching your legs in the lap of Himalayas is definitely not a bad way to start you trip. Alternatively, you can also choose to visit the local market in the evening. We can also visit the famous Shanti stupa.
Shanti Stupa: A spectacular white domed structure, the Shanti Stupa located on a hilltop at Chagspa offers magnificent view of the sunset. It was constructed by a Buddhist organization, known as 'The Japanese for World Peace'.
Dinner & Overnight stay at Leh Hotel.
DAY 2 - 20TH SEPTEMBER: ATTEND LEH FESTIVAL & LOCAL SIGHTSEEING
Post breakfast, we head to attend annual Ladakh Festival. The festival showcases ancient traditions and folk heritage that highlight the distinct Ladakhi cultural. Post lunch, head out for full day leh sightseeing.
Leh Festival - Leh festival is celebrated every year in Leh and its villages. The inauguration ceremony of the festival takes place in Leh on a large scale with a procession of several cultural troupes from different part of the region which traverses through Leh Market. There is dancing, singing, traditional music, people wearing colorful traditional Ladakhi dresses. It comes to end at the Polo ground. The festival is for one week with regular celebration in various villages including archery, polo and dances by cultural troupes from the villages.
Sindhu Ghat: The Sindhu Ghat at Choglamsar village at the bank of Indus is where 50 senior Lamas hold prayers to mark the beginning of the Leh festival.
Thiksey Monastery: Thiksey Gompa is the most beautiful of all monasteries in Ladakh which lies on a hilltop to north of Indus River. The monastery is home to a 35ft Buddha statue, a must visit.
Leh Palace: The erstwhile palace was home to the royal family, located on a hilltop it overlooks the Leh town and offers spectacular views of the same.
Dinner & Overnight at Leh.
DAY 3 - 21ST SEPTEMBER: LEH TO ZINCHEN & TREK TO RUMBAK
Post breakfast, we head to the Hemis National Park. From Phey Bridge onwards we start hiking along side Indus towards the Zingchen Gorge. We continue up the gorge and soon enough lay our eyes on the high altitude Hemis national park, the home of the Snow Leopard. Keep your senses sharp and look out amidst the cliffs and at the base of rocks where they mark their turf. We spend the night in Rumbak Homestays and it is our first night in the stunning Hemis wilderness.
DAY 4 - 22ND SEPTEMBER: EXPLORE RUMBAK & BACK TO LEH
We trek around Hemis National Park tracking the Snow Leopard and its wildlife prey. Hemis National Park is home to blue sheep, argali (a large horned sheep), numerous mountain and migratory birds, as well as an occasional Tibetan wolf, one of the most prolific hunters of the region. You are likely to see signs of Snow Leopard, If lucky, you’ll actually see one perched high in the rocks or balanced on a near vertical ridge. post lunch descend down & reach leh Dinner & overnight stay at Leh.
Trekking time: 9 – 10 Hours Elevation: 6153 m/20,180 ft
Trekking time: 6 – 7 Hours
Overnight in Leh.
Post breakfast, depart back home with memories for a lifetime.
04 Nights in Leh - Ladakh Hotel or Equivalent Visit Website
01 Night : Homestay in Rumbak
TRIP COST : Rs. 65,000/- + 5% GST PER HEAD
HEMIS NATIONAL PARK AND OTHER WILDLIFE
Hemis National Park in the Ladakh region is a high altitude national park in the eastern Ladakh region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. It is the only national park in India north of the Himalayas, about 4,400 sq. km and thus the largest notified protected area in India.
Although it is of course these magnificent felines that we are looking for, there is also lots of other interesting wildlife to be seen. The local mountain goat, known as the Ibex is a stunning woolly creature that can weigh up to 200 pounds. Their colour ranges from pale to dark brown and they have a darker dorsal stripe. The Ibex has distinctive horns which curve backwards and are bigger on the males. The Eurasian lynx is a medium size cat that is reddish brown in colour with black spots. They have black tufts on top of their ears and a short bobbed tail. They prey on smaller animals than the leopard like rabbits, hares, foxes and deer. The Tibetan wolf varies in colour depending on the season and the part of their body. The back and tail are usually black and white, the chest, belly and inside legs are white ears are grey. Its legs are slightly shorter than the European wolf and it is one of the region’s most prolific hunters.
Amidst the barren yet breathtaking Himalayas exists the fragile and vibrant cultural landscape of Ladakh. Since 1985, the annual Ladakh Festival showcases ancient traditions and folk heritage that highlight the distinct Ladakhi cultural ethnicity that is foreign to the rest of us Indians. Every villager is to participate in the festivities in accordance to an established social code. Unlike other festivals of Ladakh, which celebrate a monastic or an auspicious occasion, the annual fifteen-day Ladakh Festival, brings together the cultural heritage of various village contingents and troupes from the plateau.
Ladakh translated as "Land of high passes" is a land like no other, it is bound to exceed every expectation that one can muster. A synonym for heaven, solace and nirvana. Bounded by the Great Himalayas on one side and the Karakoram on the other, this is the highest plateau (over 3000 mts) and houses the largest district in India, Leh.
Jungle Lore organizes road trips, trekking expeditions, specialized high altitude wildlife trips and customized trips to Ladakh.
Ladakh is also known as "Little Tibet" as it is heavily influenced by Tibetan culture. Over the years, Ladakh has gained strategic importance being at the crossroads of several trade routes, though the Chinese closed this route off in 1960s. A high altitude desert created by the Great Himalayas - which provide a rain shadow- meaning they prohibit the entry of rain bearing clouds.
Ladakh is a landscape photographer's fantasy land. It spreads over an altitude ranging from 9000ft at Kargil to 25,170 ft at Saser Kangri in the Karokoram. At this altitude the mountains take an aggressive form and the barren rocks stare right at you so as to shape your very imagination. The mountain ranges in this region were formed over a period of 45 million years by the folding of the Indian plate into the more stationary Eurasian Plate. The drift continues, causing frequent earthquakes in the Himalayan region.
Ladakh as they say is the Land of high passes and it lives up to the tag as the three of the highest motor-able passes - Khardungla, Tanglangla and Changla lie in Ladakh. Khardungla- the highest of them all, at 18,360 ft gives way to the Nubra valley - the land of sand dunes. The Pensi la at 14,436 ft is the gateway to Zanskar, one of the most unexplored destinations. The inaccessibility of this unique region can be attributed to it being blocked by snowfall for 8 months of the year.
Ladakh goes well with the tagline "All that's special", as everything here is unique and cannot be witnessed else where in the world. If you have been disappointed with something that hasn't lived upto the hype and more, try Ladakh.
Culture of Ladakh
Ladakhi culture is heavily influenced by Tibetan culture, in fact it is quite similar. There are more Buddhists than Muslims in certain areas and the ratio changes as we move towards Zanskar valley. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa (noodle soup) and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as ngampe (roasted barley flour).
A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is skyu, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables. As currency started making its place in the economy of Ladakh, food from the Indian plains gained popularity. Tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn and known as gurgur cha (Butter Tea), after the sound it makes when mixed. The milk and sugar based sweet tea made in Indian style is also common now. Most of the surplus barley that is produced is fermented into chang, an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive occasions.
Ladakhis are very fond of ice hockey which is generally played in the month of January on natural ice. Archery is a traditional sport and many villages still conduct archery festivals, which also include drinking, dancing and gambling as a medium of celebrating the sport. Polo is another traditional sport of Ladakh.
The architecture in Ladakh draw heavy influences from Tibet and India. The monastic architecture reflects a deeply rooted Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, is a common feature on almost every gimp, including the likes of Hemis, Thiksey, Alchi etc. Ladakhi Buddhist festival music is much like its Tibetian counterpart and often involves religious chanting. These chants are complex, often recitations of sacred texts in celebration of various festivals.
Festivals of Ladakh are an important part of life there which mark several occasions such as harvesting, commemoration of the head Lamas of the founding monastery, New Y,ear etc.The festivals of Ladakh conducted by various monasteries often have religious masked dances which are an important part of Ladakh's culture. The dances typically narrate a story between good and evil , which typically end up in victory of the former.
Hemis Festival : The most famous of all monastic festivals in June (a three day affair) to commemorate birth of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. The sacred dance drama of the life and mission is performed wearing facial masks and colorful brocades robes. The monkey year festival is a special treat which comes at a cycle of 12 yrs. The four-storey Thanka of Guru Padmasambhava is displayed during the festival.
Thiksey, Karsha and Spituk Gustor: Gustors takes place all the three monasteries at different times of the year. A two day celebration, to mark the victory of good over evil. Gustor literally means "Sacrifice of the 29th day" and it ends with burning of effigies representing evil.
Dosmochey : Celebrated with much fervor and delight in the month of February at the courtyards of majestic Leh Palace. Masked Lamas from different monasteries perform the Chams every year turn by turn. This festival is also celebrated at the Diskit monastery and the Likir with great enthusiasm. The start and end of the Tibetian calendar marks the occasion
Matho Nagrang: Matho Monastery of Leh Ladakh hosts the Matho Nagrang Festival, on an annual basis. The festival takes place on the 14th and 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar. All the monks participate in the sacred dances, performed at this annual event. The festival is famous because of appearance of the two oracles during the festival after a full month of meditation in complete isolation. Matho Monastery also boasts of housing an amazingly rich collection of four hundred years old Thankas.
Stok Guru Tsechu : Also held in February, a week before the Matho Nagrang. Monks from Stok monastery perform masked dances, but the highlight being appearance of two oracles who are laymen prepared and cleansed by the lamas to receive the spirit of the deities.
Phyang Tsedup : This festival is held in the Phyang monastery in July/August. The monks as usual perform the Chams but the festival gets its popularity from the huge Thanka of Skyoba Giksten Gonbo hung during the celebrations.
Yuru Kabgyat: The two day festival is celebrated at the Lamaruyu monastery in the month of July. The lamas perform the masked dance or the Chams with great zeal .
Losar celebration : Losar stands for the Tibetian new year. The Losar festival is celebrated in the eleventh month of Tibetan calendar, two months ahead of Tibetan New Year. In early 17th century, King Jamyang Namgyal decided to lead an expedition against the Baltistan forces in winter; therefore he decided to celebrate the festival two months before. Later it became a tradition and being celebrated in the eleventh month. It lasts for over a month when Gods, deities, ancestors and even animals are fed without fail. Everyone in the family joins in for the celebration and if anyone is missing, they will have a cup of tea filled in their name.
Ladakh Festival: From September 1st to 15th every year in Leh and in the villages around, the Ladakh festival is celebrated in the grandest style. With cultural troupes performing from different parts of Leh, forming the part of the procession which leads to the Polo ground, for the big inauguration. Regular programs are held at the nearby villages during the 15 day period.
Sindhu Darshan: Sindhu Darshan is a three-day festival held from 1st to 3rd June, in Shey Manla around 8 kms. from Leh on the bank of Indus river (Sindhu Ghat). For the first time it was organized in October 1997, as a symbol of unity and communal harmony and national integration.
People of Ladakh:
Ladakh has a population which is a blend of many different races, predominantly the Tibetans, Mons and the Dards. People of Dard descent predominate in Dras and Dha-Hanu areas. The residents of Dha-Hanu, known as Brokpa, are followers of Tibetan Buddhism and have preserved much of their original Dardic traditions and customs. The Dards around Dras, however, have converted to Islam and have been strongly influenced by their Kashmiri neighbours. The Mons are descendants of earlier Indian settlers in Ladakh. They work as musicians, blacksmiths and carpenters. Most of the people in Leh district of Ladakh and Zanskar valley of Kargil district are Tibetian Buddhist, while most of the people in the rest of Kargil District are Shia Muslims. There are sizeable minorities of Buddhists in Kargil District and of Shia Muslims in Leh District. There are some Sunni Muslims of Kashmiri descent in Leh and Kargil towns and also Padum in Zanskar.
The Ladakhi society is considered one of the most peaceful societies in the world and that is largely based on the beliefs that follow through from the Buddhist way of life. There are a lot of practices in the Ladakhi society aimed towards nurturing such a concept, a brief introduction which may at least help us broaden our perspective, if not fully grasp them. One of the features of economic dealings are that there is always a third party observer who will acts arbiters- intervening to assist two parties in making an Agreement. When conflicts do arise, they are resolved by the elected head of the village called Goba. A feature of Ladakhi society that distinguishes it from the rest of the state is the high status and relative emancipation enjoyed by women compared to other rural parts of India. Fraternal polyandry is still practiced in some parts of Ladakh.
The harsh living conditions of Ladakh make co-operation among families imperative for survival. The Ladakhis establish co-operative groups called phasphuns, in which several unrelated families maintain alliances of friendship, co-operation, and helpfulness. If both parents in a family would die, other adults in the phasphun would adopt the young children. If a family separates, the other members of the phasphun make a fair division of the property. The families in the phasphun usually live in the same village, participate in group religious ceremonies, and worship a common god, though they are not necessarily neighbors and are often not related. Ladakhis tend to develop a very strong sense of self with deeply rooted self respect and noticeable lack of pride. They also have a strong sense of their place on earth developed by their daily interaction with their natural environment.
Trip Cost: Rs. 65,000 + 5% GST + Air Fare Per Person
Trip Dates: 19th September to 29th September 2018
Weather Link for Leh
Trip Leader: Kaustubh Upadhye