Hidden heritage and India’s First Astrostay
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Hidden heritage and India’s First Astrostay
Experience the century old hidden heritage & latest tourism attraction – Astronomy at Pangong Lake
Why this experience is unique?
The roots of the existence of Ladakh go back to Neolithic times and Buddhism goes back to the 2nd century. Till date, the region has been preserving range of heritage gems. One of such hidden wonder is Sumda Chun Monastery in Markha Valley. The villages, monastery architecture, local lifestyle makes you feel that you have travelled back in time. Ladakhis keep inculcating modernity to keep up with the changing world. One of that modernity is Astronomy Sessions at the lakeside. Here in Maan Village near Pangong Lake, locals gather every evening, take out their high-tech telescope and see stars & planets while discussing fascinating folklores around them. It makes one witness how science & culture goes hand-in-hand.
Visit the secrets of Ladakh in culturally rich Markha Valley & a modern nature-based attraction at Pangong Lake in Changthang. Clean stays, organic food & warm hospitality services are ensured throughout!
We will pick you up from the Leh airport and transfer you to your eco-friendly homestay in Leh (11,500ft). You will be resting today and acclimatizing yourself to the High-Altitude environment amidst the picturesque Himalayan landscape. This day is called the Acclimatization day and is required to adjust your body to the low oxygen levels of this altitude.
Before we step into the villages of Ladakh we would acquaint ourselves with the Ladakhi culture, heritage, and lifestyle. As per your choice, you can pick local places to visit. Hall of Fame, Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, Central Asian Museum – these are the places we recommend you to visit. Come back after spending a day doing sightseeing and rest in the same homestay.
Sumda Chun village is at a height of 3500 meters from the sea level and to date is only accessible by a trek of about 4 hours from the nearby road. Sumda Chun Monastery has been attributed to the period of Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo (957-1055) and is believed to be one of the three temples founded by him in one night along with Alchi Monastery and Mangyu. Spend time observing the detailing of the Tibetan architecture in this unique monastery before you head to Tsogsty Homestay and rest for the day.
You will leave for village Maan, Pangong today. The journey will take approximately 7 hours. You will cross Chang La (17590ft) to reach there and stay at our unique homestay – Astrostay. Pangong Lake reflects different shades of blue and is considered sacred amongst natives. Reach the village and relax sipping different kinds of teas while enjoying the incredible views on the lake. The day will end in the Astrostay – India’s first initiative of its kind. It is called Astrostays because of the Astronomy sessions villagers conduct in the village. You will end the day today and be ready to explore more.
A morning walk to a sacred Pangong lake along with a climate change session is scheduled today. The local coordinator will share the effects of climate change at the Himalayas. You can witness and feel the impact of global warming and pollution at high altitude regions. The activities during the day include archery sessions and village tours. The villagers are traditional archers and you may learn a few techniques there. The team will experience the daily lifestyle of the villagers. During night time, the local team will conduct an Astronomy session and show you stars and planets.
On the way, you can click photographs at the famous ‘three idiot’ point. You can also stop at Chang-La to click photographs. Chang La (17950ft) is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. The name literally means “Northern Pass” (Chang =north, La = Pass). The small town of Tangste is the nearest settlement. The Changla Pass is the main gateway for the Changthang Plateau situated in the Himalayas. The nomadic tribes of the region are collectively known as the Changpa or Chang-pa.
The team will visit the famous Hemis Monastery & Shey Palace today. Hemis Monastery is a Himalayan Buddhist monastery gompa) of the Drukpa Lineage, in Hemis, Ladakh, India. Situated 45 km from Leh, the monastery was re-established in 1672 by the Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal. Shey was the summer capital of Ladakh in the past. The original palace was built near the Shey village by Lhachen Palgyigon, the king of Ladakh (then called Maryul), in the 10th century.
On the last day, the tour ends post breakfast in the homestay. One can fly back or keep exploring Ladakh for next few days.
– 7 nights in village family homestay
– Breakfast and dinner
– Responsible Traveller’s Kit – Towel, toiletries, women’s hygiene products, sanitizer and a local trail mix
– Astronomy session at Pangong Lake
– Tour Guide
– Entrance Fees
– All transportation within destination
– Air fare
– Travel visa and insurance
– Bottled water
– Room service
– Any private expenses
Are you travelling because you need some time away from your urban life? Does living a village life in the mud house in the mountains excite you? Are you ready to truly live the local lifestyle? If your answer is yes, take up this experience that will transport you to a different world. You might not get the internet here but you will also not feel the need for it as you will be busy exploring the unique sites, mountain views, and village life. The luxury here is living at the beautiful mountain destination, getting freshly cooked organic food at every meal, and having happy locals offering their warm hospitality.
Guests like to eat our Ladakhi food. They say it is delicious, even when it is prepared by an elderly ama (mother) like me. I always make sure I serve them the cleanest and healthiest food. My husband is a copper artist. When guests leave us, they say ‘Julley’, and hug us. It makes us feel happy.
I became a Mountain Homestay Host in 2018, and I have hosted many travellers since then. Running a homestay has helped me and my family a lot. Not only is the solar set up in our house useful for us, but even travellers prefer to stay in our homestay because of it.
The training we got in astronomy turned out to be a life-changing experience for our village. I felt happy and proud while mapping the position of the planets and sharing the secrets of the universe with the tourists. Tourists told me that even they didn’t know so much about the dark skies!