The 12-days India-Tibet trip takes you around the majestic places of Tibet following the Golden Triangle Tour in India.The trip begins at Delhi and post a city trip moves ahead with Jaipur and Agra city sightseeing. The main attraction of the tour is covering Tibet and its places like Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyantse treat your eyes with their thrilling lakes and mountains as well as with the cultural dose of the monasteries and shrines.
Welcome to the capital city of India – which has been a capital of many kingdoms from time to time. On your arrival, you would be transferred to your hotel. Inhabited since the 6th century BC, the city has been destroyed and built many times and is called the “city of cities”.
Delhi has been influenced by different cultures as ruled by different rulers which is portrayed in the amazingly constructed monuments, forts, minarets and also displayed in the variety of cuisine served and festivals celebrated. The Mughal rulers influenced the food habits of the residents since several decades and Delhi is hence the hub for Mughlai cuisine.
While the old city is a maze of small lanes and narrow streets with old construction and busy markets, the new city is a metropolitan with broad and organized roads with high rises and other modern amenities. New Delhi is the capital of India and a major political hub.
Spend the entire day taking a city trip of Delhi. Begin with Old Delhi where Mughal emperor Shah Jahan ruled in the 17th century. You would be taken to Raj Ghat where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated and the adjacent museum which treasures his memories.
On the way to the next stop Jama Masjid, you would be driven past the iconic Red Fort and Chandni Chowk which happens to be one of the busiest markets in Old Delhi. Red Fort is a historic fort in Delhi, which was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years, until 1856. It houses a number of museums.
Reach Jama Masjid which is one of the iconic, historic and largest mosques in India built by Shah Jahan. The complex is UNESCO World Heritage Centre. And so is Qutub Minar which happens to be the next destination. Touted as India’s largest minaret, Qutub Minar was built in 1192 by Turk ruler Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak.
Up next is Humayun’s Tomb, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site which was commissioned by Humayun's first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum and designed by Persian architects chosen by her. Your next spot is India Gate which is a war memorial located across the Rajpath built in the memory of the Unknown Soldier.
Drive past the Parliament House, President’s House and other Government Secreterial Buildings and reach your last spot of the day – Lakshinarayan Temple dedicated to Lord Narayana and Goddess Lakshmi.
Next day you would be transferred to Jaipur by road. Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and has derived its name from Maharaja Jai Singh who built the city. The place is a treat to the eyes for its mesmerizing architectural designs. The city was painted pink in the 18th century as a color of hospitality to welcome Prince of Wales, and Jaipur is also called the pink city since then. The place dates back to more than 260 years.
This day is dedicated to city tour of Jaipur and Amer Fort. Start your day with Amer Fort which is also known as Amer Palace, the earlier capital of Jaipur. Enjoy elephant ride on the way of ascending the fort (descending is on car). The magnificent fort was constructed by Raja Man Singh in red sandstone and marble. It is divided into four sections each with a courtyard.
Surajpol is the main entrance with an eye-catching architecture. Near the Ganesh Gate, there is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Sila Devi. The other places include Diwan-e-Aam (Hall of public audience), Diwan-e-Khas (Hall of private audience), Sheesh Mahal - palace of mirrors and Sukh Niwas which are all equally captivating to the eyes. Sukh Niwas exhibits a unique phenomenon where a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over a water cascade inside the palace.
Drive to Jaipur where you will be taken to Maharaja City Palace, a royal palace with seven storeys and an observatory Jantar Mantar, which had always attracted the mathematicians as well astronomers from across the world. The City Palace beautifully blends all three cultural styles – Mughal, Rajput and European.
Hawa Mahal is yet another must visit – built of red and pink sandstone in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Its unique five-story exterior is akin to the honeycomb of a beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas decorated with intricate latticework.
Drive past the pink rose garden and the business centers of Jaipur. The city is famous for clothes, carpets, precious and semi-precious stones and jewelry and various handicrafts made of wood, metals, etc. and also for silk paintings and miniatures. You may pick few from the local stores.
You will be driven to Agra by road enroute Fatehpur Sikri. The city was built by Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. It is a well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site of India and displays various historical monuments as witnesses of exceptional testimony of Mughal civilization.
Take a trip to the Jama Masjid, followed by the Tomb of Salim Chisti, the five storied Panch Mahal and Buland Darwaza a graceful monument and stupendous piece of beautiful architectures. It is central portico with a total of three arched entrances and is locally known as Horseshoe gate. The other buildings of this place include IbadatKhana, Mariam-uz-Zamani’s palace, NaubatKhana and Birbal’s house.
Agra was once the capital of Hindustan and is located on the banks of river Yamuna. Agra is a major tourist destination of India and a part of the Golden Triangle Tour along with Delhi and Jaipur. Agra also known as Akbarabad went through its peak during the time of Mughals and was the capital of under the Mughal rulers Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjehan.
This is the day to treat yourself with the beauty of Agra. Start the city trip with Taj Mahal – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The magnificent construction was built in white marble by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between the years 1631 to 1648 in the memory of his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Standing majestically on banks of Yamuna River, this breathtaking, immensely beautiful monument is a synonymous to romance and love.
Up next is Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known for its architectural structure, it was built in the 16th century during the Mughal Empire. There are several fairy-tale palaces like Khas Mahal and Jahangir Palace, and Diwan-e-Aam (public audience hall) and Diwan-e-Khas (private audience hall). Agra is famous for inlaid marble work and handicrafts.
Morning at leisure and you would be transferred to Delhi airport by road to board the flight to Lhasa.
Get received by our representative at the airport by being welcomed with Khaada/Mala/White Scarf. Khaada is the traditional way of Tibet to welcome and bless the guests.
Begin sightseeing right from Lhasa Gongkar airport which is 70 kms from the main city of Lhasa. You will be driven past by Lhasa River and Yarlungzanpo River. You would also see the Nyetang Giant Buddha and the exotic mountains by the side. However, your transportation will not halt to take you around these spots and it is advisable to take rest and get acclimatized on the first day.
Spend the entire day sightseeing the architectural beauties of Lhasa - Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and Sera Monastery.
Potala Palace: This wonderful architecture is Lhasa cardinal landmark. It can be seen from all directions for miles around. Built in the 7th century AD during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo, Potala is located on the Red Hill at an elevation of more than 3,700m and occupying an area of more than 360,000m. It has 13-storeys in the main portion that reaches a height of 117m. The entire complex consists of halls, stupa-tomb halls (where the relics of supreme lamas are preserved), shrines, prayer rooms, monks’ dormitories and courtyards, and stands proudly as the world's highest and largest castle palace.
The palace is made of clay and wood and hence is fragile and might collapse if there is an extreme footfall of tourists. So the number of tourists is limited every hour and the tourists are not allowed to stay inside the palace for more than one hour. So be prepared to get your sightseeing schedules reshuffled due to the availability of tickets inside Potala Palace.
Sera Monastery: Being counted among the greatest monasteries of Tibet, the Sera Monasteries belong to the lineage of Gelugpa started by Je TsongKhapa in early 15th century. Interestingly, these monasteries are not places of worship and rituals but monastic universities providing religious education to the monks between the age of 8 and 70. The Sera Kora walk for about an hour to watch the famous debate session on the monks is worth the visit before coming back to Lhasa.
Norbulinka Monastery:The construction of the park began in early 1755 by the initiatives of the 7th Dalai Lama. The Norbulingka Park and the Summer Palace were completed in 1783 under Jampel Gyatso, the 8th Dalai Lama at the outskirts of Lhasa. It became the summer residence during the reign of the 8th Dalai Lama.
Within the premises is the Kelsang Potang Palace which is the earliest building built by the 7th Dalai Lama that portrays a beautiful architectural example of Yellow Hat architecture. The fully restored throne room is a treat to the eyes.
Coming to the “New Palace” which was completed between 1954 and 1956 by the present Dalai Lama contains chapels, gardens, fountains and pools. The gardens are exceptionally beautiful and serve multiple purposes like picnic spots and venues for theatre, dancing and festivals like Sho Dun or “Yogurt Festival” at the beginning of August. Several families go camping in the grounds for days surrounded by colorful makeshift windbreaks of rugs and scarves and enjoy the summer weather.
This palace is located three kms west of the Potala Palace (winter palace). There are many new constructions added to the park in the first half of the 20trh century. There is a zoo at Norbulingka – the home to the animals that are given to the Dalai Lamas.
The day is spent visiting the Drepung Monastery in the morning, followed by a visit to Jokhang Temple and then a walk on the Barkhor Street which is a big free market with its prolific stalls for selling local specialities.
Drepung Monastery: This monastery was built near Lhasa in 1416 by ChojeyTashiPalden. It has four departments and the Loseling or “The Hermitage of the Radiant Mind” is the largest which used to house more than three quarters of Drepung’s 10-15 thousand monks. Drepung Loseling was mainly close to the Dalai Lama incarnations. The second Dalai Lama made his residence here in 1494 and the link was maintained afterwards by the subsequent incarnations.
Jokhang Temple: The Jokhang temple is a huge building with three floors and an open roof all filled with chapels and chambers. The building had undergone several reconstructions and additional constructions since the 7th century and mostly during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama during the 17th century.
You may find parts of the existing temple structures dating back to much earlier times, but most of the murals are from the 18th and 19th centuries and few statues, excluding the notable Joyo Sakyamuni, are older than the 1980s. The temple had been sacked several times during the Mongolian incursions. However, it was treated the worst by the Chinese since they occupied Tibet in 1959.
The Jokhang is the most celebrated temple in Tibet, and stands out because it is not controlled by a particular sect of Tibetan Buddhism but it attracts adherents of all the sects and followers of Bon-Po (Tibet’s indigenous religion).
Barkhor Street: Located right at the center of the old Lhasa, Barkhor is a circular street which happens to be the oldest street in Lhasa and still remains very traditional. Here you would see how Tibetan culture, economy, religion and arts all come together and is a place of must visit. Barkhor is the road which pilgrims tramped out around Jokhang Temple through centuries. Buddhist pilgrims walk or progress by body-lengths along the street clockwise every day into deep night. They comprise most of Lhasa's floating population.
After the sightseeing and strolling around the free market, you will be driven back to Lhasa taking the north route. Overnight stay in Lhasa.
Get ready to explore Gyantse on the 11th day of your trip and enroute find some awestruck natural beauties like the scorpion-shaped Yamdrok Lake and the Drolma Lhakang Temple. Want to check the shape of the lake? Get the best shot at the highest elevation enroute to Gyantse, Kampa La above below 4800meters.
Yamdrok Lake: Reach the foothill of Kampa La after an hour or so drive from Lhasa. The viewpoint of Kampa La gives you the best view of the lake. No, you can’t locate the scorpion shape from here, but you would see the sky blue water which is snow-capped in winter.
Take a drive along the Yamdrok lake for about an hour to Gyantse. Visit the most popular spots here – Kumbum and Pelku Chode.
Kumbum means 10,000 images in the local language. The first Kumbum was founded in 1427 by a Gyantse prince. With nine lhakangs or levels, it is 35 metres (115 ft) high surmounted by a golden dome, and contains 77 chapels which line its walls. It is in the shape of a 108-sided mandala. The stupa raises over four symmetrical floors and is surrounded by a gold dome, which looks like a crown over four sets of eyes that gaze serenely out in the cardinal directions of the compass. Inside the compound of Kumbum, is the Pelku Chode monastery.
You will be driven to Shigatse, 95 kms from Gyantse. Reach Shigatse, take a visit to Shalu Monastry and stay overnight in the hotel of Shigatse.
Shigatse is the second most important city of Tibet. You will be taken to visit Tashilunpo Monastery which was founded in 1447 and is the largest Yellow Hat sect monastery in Tibet. It used to be the seat of the Panchen Lamas. The Tashilunpo Monastery contains chortens, temples and the Panchen Lama’s palace. Tashilunpo had more than 4,000 monks in its 4 monasteries during its peak time.
The construction is a striking red, white and black Tibetan structure with a golden roof. Within the monastery there is a 5 story temple, which contains a 26 meters (86ft) sitting statue of the Maitreya Buddha. The statue was cast from 6,700 ounces of gold and over 115,000 kg of copper, making it the biggest copper Buddhist statue in the world.
The massive Thangka Wall at Tashilunpo can be clearly seen from most places at Shigatse. The wall is used for displaying enormous Thangkas - religious painted banners - for only a few festival days each year.
You will be transferred to the airport to board your onward journey.