The Booking of your participation in any journey takes place in three stages:
First step: Filling the application form for participation in the tour. Be sure to include your full name, We work officially and all accounts are registered. Please write your contact so that we have the communication wit you. After your application come to our website - the site administrator will send you a bill at your name for a advance of the tour. Maximum response time: 6 hours. Usually responsible for 1 hour.
Second stage: The reservation to participate in any tour takes place when you make the advance payment of 30% of the tour price to the account of an Indian travel company PROJECT PHOTOTOUR PRIVATE LIMITED . The advance is transferred via bank payment systems in any bank, account details will be sent by the administrator to e-mail of participants after getting the application form for participation.
ATTENTION Booking the tour takes place only when the advance payment transferred. If, after receiving of the invoice for advance payment, you do not make a payment within three working days, your application form for participation is automatically canceled by site. If you still want to participate in the tour, you have to apply the form again. When we receive an advance on our bank account we sent payment receipts confirming your participation, as well as a contract for the provision of travel services on this tour. The administrator sends you the electronic copies of receipts and contracts with digital signature and seal by e-mail and if necessary - to the postal address - the original documents. The remaining amount is payable as ayou arrive at the beginning of the trip, in India.
The third stage: Preparing for the journey. We also have a verbal communication on Skype with members of our travels. 2 weeks before the tour we gather the whole group in Skype and discuss preparations for the journey. Also welcome verbal individual consultations on Skype, it helps us to answer all your questions maximized. Because the most of the year we are in India, the main communication with us is Skype.
Attention! You don't need to register on our site to join the tour. If you are unable to fill the application form, please just send your application in letter (free form) - by mail: email@example.com
Attention! If you have not received a response to your letter within 6 hours (maximum response time for a request), please look at the spam folder. Perhaps, our letter got there by mistake. We always reply to requests in a maximally short period of time.
Photo expedition to Ladakh, Zanskar and Kashmir.
Day 1, September 19: Delhi - Leh (flight). Adaptation to altitude and acclimatization. Leh, a walk in the center of Leh.
Day 2, Sept. 20: Leh. The opening of the festival of folk art. The parade of Masks.
Day 3, September 21: The Valley of the River Indus, car journey through Ladakh. Buddhist monasteries Tiksey, Chamdey and White stupas of Shey Gonpa.
Day 4 September 22: Ladakh: Monastery Spituk. Spituk village.
Day 5, September 23: Leh - Lamayuru – Kargil.
Day 6, September 24: Kargil - Padum, Zanskar.
Day 7, September 25: Padum: Buddhist monastery Karcha Gonpa. Convent Dordzhetszong.
Day 8 September 26: Padum: Buddhist monastery Stongdey Gonpa, Zangla Valley.
Day 9, September 27: Padum - Rangdum - Kargil.
Day 10, September 28: Kargil - Drass - Sonamarg - Srinagar. Kashmir. House-boat.
Day 11 September 29: Free day on the houseboat. In the evening 3-hour walk on the Dal Lake.
Day 12 September 30: Srinagar, Mughal Gardens: Chashma Shahi, Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bahg.
Day 13, October 1: Srinagar: Floating Market. Shankaracharya Hill, Temple of Shiva. Evening panoramic photographing of Srinagar.
Day 14, October 2: Flight Srinagar - Delhi. Homecoming.
Tour around Delhi (on request), in the evening transfer to the airport and return home.
Reservation for participation in the photo tour to Ladakh, Zanskar and Kashmir occurs when you make an advance to the account of the Indian travel company PROJECT PHOTOTOUR PRIVATE LIMITED of 20% of the tour price - 400 USD.
The advance payment is transferred by participant of photo tour via bank payment systems in any bank to the account of a travel agency Project PhotoTour, details are sent by the administrator after receiving an application for participation in the photo tour.
After you pay the advance payment a receipt confirming the payment is sent to you and confirmation of the booking of your participation in the tour to Ladakh, Zanskar and Kashmir, and a contract for the provision of travel services will be sent to you too.
The remaining amount is paid as a participant arrive at the place of the tour, in this case - on arrival at Leh, Ladakh.
1. Transfers to / from the airport to the hotel in Leh.
2. All transfers during the photo tour in Tibet in the comfortable cars.
3. Accommodation in double rooms in hotels and guest houses throughout the photo tour in Ladakh, Zanskar and Srinagar.
Accommodation is also available in single rooms - the cost of 397 dollars for the whole route of photo tour.
4. A 3-hour water-tour around the Dal Lake in shikhar (dinghy), 3 people in the boat.
5. Informational support from the organizers of the photo tour to Tibet from the beginning to the end of the tour.
6. Excursion support from local English-speaking guides.
7. Lectures on introduction to the culture of Tibetan Buddhism - Ladakhi, Zanskari, and culture of Srinagar.
8. Lecture on photography: "Features of ethnographic photography in the valleys of Ladakh, Zanskar and Srinagar."
1. Flight to Delhi and back to the country of residence.
2. Flight Delhi - Leh and Srinagar - Delhi. The estimated cost of a ticket from $ 120.
Attention! These tickets are redeemed immediately after making the advance payment for participation in the photo tour:
the Administrator of Project PhotoTour assists in the purchase of a ticket at the lowest cost.
Just keep in mind that as earlier you purchase your tickets, the cheaper they are.
3. Entrance fees to the monasteries and monastic buildings, on the order of $10 for all the time.
4. Payment for the boat trip to take photographs at the floating market: paid individually depending on the time and can cost from 5 to 20 $ per person in a boat.
5. A tourist visa to India $ 60, made out online in the last 7 days before arrival to India (for the countries included in the registry), the rest tourists get visa at the consulates in the prescribed order.
The information about tourist visa in India.
6. Meals during the photo tour: about $ 150 for the entire trip.
7. Health insurance: issued individually by each participant in the country of residence.
8. Tipping for drivers, donation (offerings) in the Buddhist and Hindu monasteries.
9. Anything that is not specified in the "included in the price".
The photographers and travelers from all over the CIS countries and the world can take part in the photo tour to Ladakh, Zanskar and Kashmir.
For the participants of the photo tour to Tibet is recommended for compulsory reading:
Guidelines and rules for photo-travelers and travelers in Ladakh, Zanskar and Spiti (Little Tibet).
RECORDING FOR PARTICIPATION in photo tour is possible until 1st of September 2016.
But an entry in a photo tour can be terminated earlier - as soon as collected a group of 7 people.
If you want to go to this photo tour to Tibet, please book your participation.
Minimum number of participants in the group of this photo tour is 7 people.
Maximum number of participants in the group of this photo tour is 10 people.
Phototour thought out with comfortable level for the Himalayan highlands.
Accommodation in this photo tour to Tibet:
In Leh: hotel with hot water, a bathroom and a toilet in the room.
In Kargil: guest house, shared facilities, hot water brought in buckets. Clean and comfortable. Host family prepares food: delicious and very satisfying.
In Padum: guest house - hotel with hot water, a bathroom and a toilet in the room.
Srinagar: Houseboat - a house on the water at one of the lakes in Srinagar, with all the amenities.
In Padum it is possible to stay in the private extra class hotel.
The conditions there are much comfortable than in ordinary hotel: large bright rooms, its own power station, guaranteed electricity and hot water, daily cleaning, and sometimes - the Internet connection.
For Zanskar it is really extra-class - an unusual and luxurious.
The number of rooms is limited: just 9 rooms. Surcharge is 40 USD per day.
If you want to ask the questions about the organization and participation in the large photo tour to Zanskar, please contact:
+ 91 94 19 274 735 (India) - Ilona Kryzhanovskaya, the director of the Project PhotoTour, India.
+7 967 037 28 11 (Russia, India) - Maxim Savchenko, the direction of extreme festivals in Project PhotoTour.
il-il-il (or search by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) - Ilona Kryzhanovskaya, the director of the Project PhotoTour.
Brasilia3090 - Nina Lozenko, the manager of the Project PhotoTour.
email@example.com - Ilona Kryzhanovskaya, the director of the Project PhotoTour
firstname.lastname@example.org - Nina Lozenko, the manager of the Project PhotoTour
email@example.com - Maxim Savchenko, extreme festivals Project PhotoTour.
A team of organizers working on the photo tour in Zanskar:
Ilona Kryzhanovskaya: photographer, ethnographer, ethnographic photography, genre photography, subcultural practice, the construction of the myth in photography.
Maxim Savchenko: direction of extreme festivals in Project PhotoTour.
Nina Lozenko: Manager and administrator of Project PhotoTour.
Pravish: Ladakhi English-speaking guide of the Project PhotoTour.
Sanjay: Indian English-speaking guide in Srinagar.
The team of drivers-guides working with us along the entire route.
In terms of individual preparation for photographing in photo tour of Ladakh, Zanskar and Kashmir we recommend to view and to read the following articles:
Photo expedition to Tibet: Valleys of Ladakh and Kashmir, August 2011.
August 2011: passed and almost completed a 32-day photo expedition to Tibet.
Photos from the tour Legends of Tibet, September of 2013.
Photos from the Tour Legends of Tibet, September 2014.
View photos from the photo tours to Tibet.
It is difficult to announce this journey in a few sentences, probably because: it is an event-rich tour of three very remote and unique culture: Ladakh, Zanskar and Kashmir.
About each of these cultures I can talk endlessly.
Ladakh - the very name of this place means "The land of the passes," Alpine Valley of Little Tibet - the only place on the planet, which to this day has remained a real living culture of Tibetan Buddhism.
Zanskar is a kingdom of the mystical sky-high, indeed the kingdom, because until now the most respected authority in Zanskar is His Majesty the King of Zangla, by the way, we will be in the audience with him.
Zanskar is unique in all its manifestations: from the biggest female Buddhist monasteries, polyandrous families (polyandry) to Gonpas, the atmosphere that breathes with mysticism.
Kashmir - the history of this place goes back to the millennium BC, for centuries it was said about this place: if there is a heaven on Earth, it exists here in Kashmir.
Three sacred cultures, hidden in the majestic high mountains of the Himalayas: in Ladakh, in Zanskar and Kashmir everyday life is inseparable and full-breathes with spirituality.
People come here not only and not so much for the beauty of the mountainous landscape under heaven, but to visit, to meet, to feel the interaction with those that are called the places of power.
In terms of photography: landscape in the modal time, ethnographic portraits, genre, macro, animalistic and, of course, architecture - ancient monasteries on the slopes of rocks in Ladakh and Zanskar and unimaginable Gardens of Mughal in Srinagar - the tour will be oversupplied in photography, from these travels our guests bring personal exhibitions.
In terms of experience: there are a lot of variety and, in these 14 days the Time stretching endlessly and is full of impressions and emotions, filling them to the limit - returning to the homeland after this round is equivalent the returning home from another planet.
We have tried as much as possible to describe in detail every day of the travel, but to talk about these places - it is difficult, almost impossible, they are too multifaceted and ambiguous at all levels, they are not just beautiful visually, all three places-cultures filling with their energies, restoring force, provide an opportunity to understand something important in yourself.
Not by chance the most ancient spiritual teachings and practices were born here.
Not by chance thinkers, philosophers, finally, saints, sought to get here through the high mountain passes for centuries, nothing stopped them on the Way.
Not by chance these areas are told as a place where miracles accomplished, where you can change the line of the fate, just to get to this land, breathing the local air, full of power.
Most of the photos shown in the description of the photo tour, are clickable to large in size, simply click on the picture and it will be opened in a new window.
Day 1, September 19: Delhi - Leh (flight). Adaptation to altitude and acclimatization. Leh, a walk in the center of Leh.
The flight from the country of residence to the international airport of New Delhi.
Transfer from the international airport of New Delhi to the airport of domestic airlines (inside the airport by free shuttle bus), and the flight Delhi-Leh.
It is common practice in our photo tours to Ladakh: when the participants arrive at Delhi airport, they usually arrive in the terminal D3 from 2 to 5 am, immediately move by shuttle-bus to the terminal D1 and a morning flight to Leh.
The tickets for flights Delhi-Leh we will buy so that margin of time between the external and internal flights was a minimum - 3-4 hours.
Flight Delhi - Leh, 1 hour 20 minutes.
By the way, the flight Delhi - Leh – is a stunning photo-shooting as we fly over the beautiful peaks and glaciers of the Himalayan Range.
Photography of that air travel can be found here:
Homecoming. Blog in LiveJournal by Ilona Kryzhanovskaya. We returned to Ladakh!
Upon arrival at the airport in Ladakh, Leh, at the exit of the terminal the team of organizers with a sign PhotoTour meet the participants, then - we go to our cozy, quiet hotel and have a rest after the flight.
The first day in Leh is for acclimatization: we drink tea, coffee and talk about the program of photo tour, in the afternoon - go on a leisurely walking through the center of Leh for the adaptation.
We have supper in the wonderful cafe "Penguin", drinking fresh juices.
In the evening, after dinner, is a lecture about the introduction to the culture of Tibetan Buddhism in English.
The hotel in Leh.
Day 2, Sept. 20: Leh. The opening of the festival of folk art. Parade of Masks.
The first day of our photo tour coincides with one of the most beautiful folk festivals of Ladakh - autumn festival of folk art and culture of the region of Ladakh.
And that means that in the coming days we can visit in the Work-shops, concerts and fairs of the Festival.
Today in the morning and all the day long we attend the festival of folk art of Ladakh and take pictures.
This is truly an amazing sight: a huge parade with demonstration of dances and chants stretchs across the Leh, the peoples of Ladakh in national costumes will be attended the parade.
This is one of the most beautiful holidays of Leh, and most importantly for photographers – the photo shooting is easy and affordable in the festival.
As part of the parade is usually a Sacred Mask Parade and Parade of Snow Lions.
The hotel in Leh.
Day 3, 21 September: The Valley of the Indus River, car journey through Ladakh. Buddhist monasteries Tiksey, Chamdey and White stupas of Shey Gonpa.
At 5.00 o'clock in the morning we leave for the morning puja in a Buddhist monastery Tiksey Gonpa of Gelug tradition.
Puja is very beautiful, and it's possible to make photo pictures on puja correctly.
We spend morning in Monastery Tiksey gompa, exploring the monastery.
Tiksey Gonpa itself is a huge - in fact the town-monastery, it has a magnificent library as well.
From the roof of the monastery you can make photo- panoramas of the middle flow of the river Indus, the valleys of Ladakh.
Breakfast in the restaurant in Gonpa Tiksey.
After breakfast we go to a distant Buddhist monastery Chamdey Gonpa.
Chemdey Gompa or monastery Chemrey, Chemre or Chimre is a Buddhist monastery, was built in 1664.
The monastery belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu school, it was founded by Lama Tagsang Raschen in memory of the king Senge Namgyal.
The monastery is known for a huge statue of Padmasambhava.
The walls in the main hall are painted with frescoes: Sakyamuni, Lama Tagsang Raschen, Akshobhya, Mahakala, Amitabha, Tara, Kubera, Yamantaka Kalachakra.
There is a a magnificent library in the monastery, 29 volumes covered with silver, and the texts were written by letters of gold.
Also there is one of the most interesting museums of Ladakhi Buddhist culture in the monastery.
Return to Leh, with stops in interesting places for photography.
The hotel in Leh.
Day 4 September 22: Ladakh Monastery Spituk. The village of Spiti.
Half-free day in Leh: in the morning we visit the main Gelugpa monastery of Ladakh Valley - Spituk Gonpa.
Spituk Gompa is a Buddhist monastery of the Gelug tradition, and it is situated 8 km from Leh.
Spituk Gompa founded by Aud-De, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Oda, in the 11th century.
Aud-De chose a place near the Leh and built three sanctuaries at first, and after - the monastery.
The name "Spituk" - “an exemplary”, given by Rinchen Zangpo (Lotsawa), who visited this gompa and was surprised by his godly community.
At first, the monastery entered the Kadampa school. Dharmaradzha Takspa Boom - Lde Lama Lhavang put a lot of efforts to help the monastery, and he brought it into the Gelugpa school, the teaching of the great Tszonkhapa.
Stok Gompa, Sankal Gompa and Sabu – obey to Spituk.
The monastery statues: Buddha Amitayus, Mahakala. The images: Tszonkhapa, Takspa Boom Lde. The throne intended for the Dalai Lama installed in dukhang (the assembly hall). There are five rows of seats for Lamas on each side and shelves with Tibetan Buddhist canon in dukhang.
Behind the main hall there is a small room with images of Tsonkhapa, two of his students, Tara and Buddha. The thangkas (some of them are brought from Lhasa after the Chinese occupation), ancient masks, antique arms are stored in this gompa.
Spituk Monastery is one of the most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh valley and if we have a good karma we get here the blessing for a good journey from the Lama of High Initiation.
Then we go down to the village Spituk, attending the school for young lamas at Spituk Gompa, Spituk shooting in the village.
By the afternoon return to Leh, rest, packing for long way in our journey.
The hotel in Leh.
Day 5, September 23: Leh - Lamayuru - Kargil, 234 km.
Today we are going for a long journey through the Zanskar and Srinagar.
On the first day of our way in Zanskar, we also pass through the valley of Lamayuru.
Numerous stops in Lamayuru - unearthly scenery is here, during the first day of the journey the landscape photographing has the “non-stop” mode.
On the way we pass through the village of Lamayuru, and, of course, visit the ancient Bon monastery Lamayuru Gonpa.
Buddhist monastery Lamayuru Gompa (XI century) - one of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh, existed in pre-buddhist times, belonged to the Bon religion and called Yung Drung (Swastika).
In it's place in the XI century was built a Buddhist monastery belonging to the Nyingma-pa sect (red hats).
It is believed that the famous Tibetan guru and yogi Naropa helped the creation of monastery, who a few years meditating in a cave near the monastery.
The monastery keeps a magnificent collection of tangkas and wall paintings, a large number of shrines and relics.
Gompa stands on the background of unreal, fabulously beautiful mountain landscape (picture is clickable to large).
View of the valley Lamayuru: Lunar Lamayuru scenery.
After lunch in the village of Lamayuru we will climb to the pass Fotu La, there are gorgeous views of the valley Lamayuru on this pass and we continue our trip with multiple stops for landscape photography.
We will spend the night in the suburb of a small Muslim village Kargil (altitude 2676 m), where we will arrive late in the evening.
Guest-house in Kargil.
Day 6, September 24: Kargil - Padum, Zanskar, 240 km.
Today we continue our way to Zanskar.
Zanskar is a lost world, which lies in the heart of the Himalayas. This is the most inaccessible mountainous area in Ladakh.
Surrounded by high mountains, which do not give to get there for almost eight months of the year, this world holds the nations with their unique culture and traditions.
The only road to Zanskar starts from Kargil and passes through a beautiful valley along the Suru River, through the numerous Muslim villages, fields and orchards.
Muslims, mostly Sunnis, settled here in the 16th century.
The majestic mountain peaks Nun and Kun, the highest in the region, are opened for viewing near the village Tongul.
Parakachik La Pass is the gateway to Zanskar. Population of Zanskar, with very few exceptions – are Buddhists.
Sunni Muslims compose a very small part of its total.
Most of nationalities living in Zanskar has a Tibetan and Indo-European origin. It Darda and Mona.
Considering the isolation of this area, its people have always had a tendency to self-sufficiency, while foreign trade was required to purchase goods that locals could not produce by their own.
The main business of people - it is the incubation of animals and cultivation of land, which is never enough.
Therefore, in Zanskar a complex system of irrigation is developed, in order to bringt o the fields enough water.
Due to the deficiency of land suitable for tillage, fertility and population are small in Zanskar.
The historical system of marriage and the family when several brothers are married to the same woman (polyandry), it was due to the need to maintain the population.
Buddhist monasteries in Zanskar are important monastic centers. Some of them are back millennia from the foundation.
Here, deep in the Himalayas, they protect and preserve the purity of the ancient teachings of the Buddha.
Again, we spend the whole day at the mountain road.
Numerous planned "landscape" stops: Penzi La Pass (4440 m), we will see many glaciers, beautiful alpine valleys with multicolored striped mountains, stunning glacier tongue of Drang Drung Glacier.
In the evening we arrive in Padum (3669 m), Zanskar, stay in the hotel, have a rest.
Guest house-hotel in Padum.
Day 7, September 25: Padum: Buddhist monastery Karcha Gompa, Convent Dordzhetszong.
On the morning we have a rest after a difficult road of two days.
At 11 o'clock in the morning after a calm and delicious breakfast on the terrace of the hotel we go to a Buddhist monastery Karcha Gonpa.
Karsha gompa or Kurcha gompa is the biggest monastery in Zanskar, according to legend it was founded by Saint Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava in the X century.
It belongs to the Gelugpa tradition, is a home for a large monastic community - about 150 monks, there are numerous shrines and relics, including the magnificent tangkas painted with gold.
Also there are wonderful 700-year-old frescoes that are close to what can be seen in Alchi preserved there.
The monastery has a painting of Lama Dzadla Dorje, Rinchen Dorje relics and the statue of Lhaso Cho Rinpoche removed here from Lhasa after the Chinese invasion of Tibet.
The statue has a crown of gold and decorated with turquoise and carnelians.
There are relics of Rinchen Zangpo in chortens near the monastery, according to the monks.
By tradition, a younger brother of the Dalai Lama manages the monastery.
In fact, this is town-monastery.
In the evening we also visit the Khagar, Purang and Phagspa gompas and the nearby convent Dordzhetszong in which there is a statue of eleven-headed Avalokiteshvara.
In the convent we have always met very friendly and it's a great opportunity to talk with the nuns of various ages about the faith, Buddhism, about how they choose their own Path.
Almost all the ladies-Lamas speak good English.
And on the way to Padum we expect numerous stops for evening photography.
Guest-house-hotel in Padum.
Day 8, September 26: Padum: Buddhist monastery Stongdey Gompa, valley Zangla.
Monastery Stongdey gompa is considered the second most important monastery of Zanskar and it is located at 18 km from Padum.
It was founded in 1052 by Lama Lhotak Marpa Cheski Lodos and belongs to the school of Tsongkhapa, this is the only monastery in Ladakh and Zanskar of Tsongkhapa school.
The monastery reached the greatest prosperity with the assistance of Shakya Zangpo.
It is believed that the supreme Lamas of the monastery are the reincarnation of Nari Tulku.
There are seven churches with a magnificent wall paintings decorating the interior.
The situation in the monastery is mystical, so the air seems to be saturated with a tantric energies.
In the afternoon we go to the Zangla valley and visit Zangla Gonpa, the royal palace, and with a favorable karma would get an audience with the King of Zangla, who is essentially is a King of Zanskar.
Buddhist monastery Zangla is the ancient monastery over the precipice, there are the ruins of the convent and the old castle near it. In the afternoon the ethnographic photography is planned in the Zangla village.
And late in the afternoon - we will take pictures of landscapes in the Zangla Valley under the evening sun.
Zangla is simply amazing by variety of forms of weathering on the banks of the numerous streams, and by the mountains – the mountains in Zangla have a variety of colors, rocks are crushed in the form of incredible folds.
Guest-house – hotel in Padum.
Day 9, September 27: Padum - Rangdum - Kargil.
We go way back by the known road.
Many stops at the known places that will see a completely new way in a different light.
The road between Kargil and Padum was built only in 1980, and before that time Zanskar had only pedestrian connection with the outside world, or riding on the undersized Tibetan horses.
At midday, we will stop for lunch in the alpine Rangdum village and visit Rangdum Gonpa.
Monastery Rangdum Gompa (XVIII century) - is a monastery on a hill and serves as an outpost on the way to the valley.
This is a typical example of a monastery-fortress, where all surrounding areas are clearly visible.
The monastery has a small museum with interesting Buddhist relics, stand with the photographs of lamas of the monastery, made in the last century.
We take a walk through the underground passages of Gonpa, roll the ancient prayer drums and go to our further way to Padum.
In the evening we arrive at Kargil, in a well-known guest house, have dinner and rest.
Guest house in Kargil.
Day 10, September 28: Kargil - Drass - Sonamarg - Srinagar. Kashmir. House-boat. 200 km.
Early wake up and we go by beautiful mountain road from Kargil to Srinagar.
The area changes considerably with each tens of kilometers: becoming more and more green, there are more and more numerous multicolored polygonal fields, large herds of long-haired sheeps - all these excellent reasons for numerous landscape stops on the road from Kargil to Srinagar.
The air becomes thick and heavy, you can literally drink the scent of alpine herbs, soak up with every sip-breath, we are gradually losing the height, descending lower and lower in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir - Srinagar.
We enter the Muslim India.
On the way we have stops at the Drass and Sonamarg.
Drass village: a charming mountain village situated in the valley with the same name, where winter temperatures drop to 65C degrees below zero, so the village is firmly holding the second place as the most cold inhabited round-a-year place on our planet.
From route the breathtaking views of Kargil and the famous Tiger Mountain offers .
Drass is located at an altitude of 3280 m in 56 km from Kargil in the federal highway Kargil - Srinagar, the village is often called the "Gateway of Ladakh".
There are a lot of Dards and Indo-Aryans who settled here in ancient times from Central Asia among villagers of Drass.
They talk on the Sheene, adardian dialect. Most of them are the Muslims and the rest are the Buddhists, the population in the village is about 1,500 people.
Drass Valley merges with Zodzhi Pass to Ladakh. Locals worked as a guides for the caravan crossing this difficult and dangerous pass.
Thus, they created a monopoly on the porters during the heyday of pan-Asian trade.
The harsh climate tempered Drass people and they rightfully could be considered as the guardians of the gates of Ladakh.
Sonamarg (Sonmarg) - a beautiful mountain valley completely covered with alpine meadows and the eponymous small village settlement on the road between Srinagar and Kargil, the height is 2750 m, 90 km to Srinagar.
At one time Sonamarg was a popular winter resort, but now it has more military than tourists because of its proximity to the disputed territory on the border with Pakistan.
You can meet a lot of pilgrims in the village of Sonamarg traveling from here, first to a small mountain village Baltal, where is the camp of the pilgrims, and then farther – to the one of the most famous Hindu shrines - the sacred cave of Amarnath (day of the journey), inside of which are never melting ice blocks, personifying the lingam of Lord Shiva.
According to legend, in this place the great Shiva explained the secret of the life to his wife Parvati.
We stop for lunch, take pictures. If you wish, you can take a short walk on horseback with local guides.
By the way, literally "Sonamarg" or "Son Marg" translates as "Golden Meadows" or "Golden Valley" and if we are lucky with the weather, we will be able to catch this amazing state-vision of Sonmarg.
And we continue our journey further - to Srinagar.
Srinagar is on the River Jhelum, at an altitude of 1730 m and 650 km north-north-west of New Delhi. Nine bridges connect the shores of the city with each other.
After days spent in quiet Ladakh the town seems huge and noisy, Srinagar population is nearly 1.5 million people.
Srinagar is an ancient city: it was founded, at least in the 3rd century BC. and was known under different names.
It is assumed that the city was founded by the king Pravarasena II about 2000 years ago under the name Parvasenpur.
During the reign of Ashoka in the Kashmir valley came Buddhism. Areas adjacent to the city and became the center of Buddhism.
In the 1st century, the region came under the control of the Kushan Empire, which controlled the territory of modern Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Some of the rulers of this dynasty supported the spread of Buddhist teaching.
Around the year 960 Srinagar became the capital of Kashmir.
Panorama with houseboats on the Lake Dal, Srinagar, Kashmir is clickable to a large size.
Buddhism came to the Kashmir valley during the reign of Ashoka. Areas adjacent to the city became the center of Buddhism.
According a legends, Srinagar is the place where is the tomb of Jesus Christ.
Mentions of the tomb of Jesus in Srinagar are from Sufi communities. In accordance with the Sufi tradition, the holy graves are more the places of veneration of saints and Sufi ritual places than the actual graves.
The tomb of Jesus Christ is called Rozabal and located in Srinagar near the mosque Dastgir Sahib.
This mausoleum of Jesus Christ has a form of a tall rectangular building, enclosed by an iron fence.
Purportedly there is the body of Jesus inside the tomb, and a stone imprint of his foot with signs of wounds received during the crucifixion.
Here Jesus of Nazareth buried, who had arrived in Kashmir, some time after the crucifixion and lived there for the rest of his life, got married, had several children and died at a ripe old age.
The population of Kashmir respected him as a prophet, and after his death the mausoleum was erected.
Kashmiri Muslims call it the tomb of the Holy Issa, son of Mariam, one of the 28 prophets of Islam (along with Muhammad and Moses), mentioned in the Quran in connection with the advent of Christianity as an intermediate form of the teachings of Judaism before the advent of Islam, Muslims believe that is the culmination of monotheism.
The name of Jesus is written on the tomb - Yuza Asaph where Yuza (Yuzha) - distorted Yeshua, Asaf is translated from the local language as the Shepherd ("Christ").
Jesus, not to mention Moses, whose tomb is located in Kashmir, 80 km from the tomb of Jesus, is not revered by Muslims as active as Mohammed, and this is one of the reasons for relatively deserted this place in the now 100% Muslim Srinagar, war-torn in result of forced Islamization of Kashmir last five centuries and also especially suffering from the last fifty years of constant conflict of Muslims with Hindus and Sikhs.
This place is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, but in 2010 the authorities closed the mausoleum of Kashmir to foreigners.
Srinagar amazes with its history and there you can be indefinitely, this time as if etched-frozen with majestic temples.
And yet – Srinagar is a very beautiful city: pouring Jhelum forms several lakes, the most famous is the Dal Lake, and Srinagar is especially famous for its canals, streets, reminiscent of Venice, and, of course, infinitely interesting place for photographers.
And at the end of our day we will stop to rest in the houseboat (the house on the water) on the Lake Dal.
What is the Houseboat: this is essentially a house on the water.
These houses do not float on the lake, and they are anchored near the shore or at some distance from the shore at special piers.
Houseboat is a wooden barge on the model of floating houses, which began to appear on the Dal Lake and in the surrounding waters in the 19th century, when the British began to actively come to Srinagar and Srinagar has become to transform beyond recognition under the influence of British culture: so the ruling Maharaja, frightened by too much pressure of English style on Indian architecture, banned the construction of houses on the ground foundation in Srinagar for foreign nationals.
But the British were allowed to build houses on the water.
The first such house with all the amenities launched the late nineteenth century. And then it began a massive construction of houseboats, known as "Little England corners on the Lake Dal."
Now houseboats of Srinagar are the national pride of Kashmiris.
Houseboat has several furnished in colonial style living rooms with a toilet, a shower with hot water, kitchen, hall, living room, service staff - in fact it is a small hotel.
It is usually attached with shikhara (dinghy) for trips on the lake.
As a rule, the houseboat is built from local pine trees and reach 24-38 meters long and 3-6 meters wide.
In this kind of hotel we will live three days in Srinagar.
Houseboat on the Lake Dal.
Day 11 September 29: Free day on the houseboat. In the evening we will have 3-hour walk on the Dal Lake.
Resting after a long and eventful mountain roads, clean feathers and techniques, view captured photos.
In the afternoon - water excursion on the shikhara around the Lake Dal.
What is the shikhara: a huge wooden boat with a canopy-booth.
A gorgeous special shikhara-men drives the shikhara, and quite brilliantly drives with just a single heart-shaped paddle.
It is said that this form of the paddle is a proof of the truthfulness legends and hypotheses about the life of Jesus and the Jews in Kashmir.
By the way, the heart-shaped paddles are also used in Palestine.
Shikhara-man is a very honorable profession in Srinagar, and, of course, is very profitable.
The boat trip on the Lake Dal: Kashmiris called the Lake Dal "jewel in the crown of Kashmir" and "Shrinagar treasure."
Shoreline length is about 15 kilometers of developed parks, hotels, canals.
The lake covers an area of about 18 square kilometers, but along with the marshes, flooded fields, floating gardens and canals total area is about 21.1 square kilometers, the maximum depth of the Lake Dal is 6 meters.
On the surface of the water are Komarov lotus, lily white, Nymphoides, Salvinia and other plants rise, taking up to 30 percent of the lake's surface.
Time of flowering of lotus on the Lake Dal - from June to September and is a strong likelihood that we will float and take pictures among the lotus gardens.
Also we visit the floating gardens that the Kashmiris themselves called "Rad": floating gardens grow in soil laid on reed rafts of two meters wide. If necessary, these rafts-gardens are fixed with anchors.
Deftly maneuvering in their boats, shrinagari farmers harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and colorful flowers.
It is believed that the vegetables from floating gardens are very tasty and juicy.
The lake is a home for many fish, which makes it an important part of the Kashmiri economy.
Houseboat on the Lake Dal.
Day 12, September 30: Srinagar, Mughal Gardens: Chashma Shahi (Royal Spring), Shalimar Bahg (Abode of Love) and the Nishat Bagh (Garden of Delights).
In the morning, after breakfast at the houseboat, we go to watch and take pictures of a beauty - in the literal sense of the word: today will be dedicated to the gardens of Srinagar, which are considered to be the eighth wonder of the world.
It is worth to tell apart about Srinagar gardens - a bit of history:
In general, the formation of orchards - as the most natural action on fertile soils near the Dal Lake, dates back to the second century - any ruler of Srinagar adorned his city with gardens.
On the orders of the ruling here Mughal emperors in the Middle Ages there were organized 777 terraced gardens decorated with marble pavilions, canals and fountains in the surrounding hills.
In 1585, Kashmir was conquered by Akbar, the emperor of the Mughal dynasty, and became part of the Muslim empire.
The Emperor Akbar moved to Kashmir for summer time. It was the perfect whereabouts since Kashmir was relatively close to Delhi - a stronghold of his reign - and not far from the trade routes passing through the mountain passes.
Emperor Akbar declared Kashmir as his personal garden and was confident that local residents to only exist to take care of him.
He commanded to begin construction of magnificent palaces with gardens in Srinagar.
All the gardens are divided according to a definite plan, the mandatory rectangular stepped terraces.
Water flows into gardens of Srinagar through stone parapets, flows under the pavilions with series of stages, crosses the entire territory and finally flows into the Dal Lake.
And later - in 1633 according the project of Asahi Khan, the brother in law of Shah Jahan - the creator of the palace of the Taj Mahal, the garden Nishat Bagh ("Nishat" in Hindi means pleasure, "Bagh" – "Garden", Garden of Delights) was established in Srinagar, it occupies an area of 548 m long and 338 m wide.
According to the project of Shah Jahan the garden Shalimar Bagh was also created. This garden with its magnificent pavilions, flowing waterfalls and plenty of exotic flowers is the most beautiful in the world.
Today we visit the Mughal Gardens:
1. Chashma Shahi: means "King's Source", a spring with healing water and the garden around. Chashma Shahi is above the Nehru Memorial Park. It is the smallest Mughal Garden in Srinagar, ranked 108x38 meters and has three terraces, an aqueduct, waterfalls and a fountain.
Ali Mardan Khan made the garden in 1632, and so that a spring fed a fountain. Water flows from fountains through a special gutters through several waterfalls and drips on the polished black stone.
2. Shalimar Bagh: the Biggest Mughal Garden, built in the early seventeenth century by Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan, who was just shocked by the beauty of Kashmir.
For a long time the couple have used this area as their summer residence and went here every spring from Delhi on a long journey on elephants. The next rulers landscaped the garden, expanding its territory and ennobling it with new plants and trees.
The famous pavilion have survived to our days, it was built of marble stone by Jahangir, with an inscription in Persian language - "If there is paradise on earth, it exists right here."
3. Nishat Bagh: This amazing and incredibly beautiful garden is called the Garden of Pleasure. The second largest Mughal Garden offers panoramic views of the snowy peaks of Pir Panjal Range and the Lake Dal.
Garden Nishat Bagh is a twenty minute drive from Srinagar.
If desired (for a fee) after an inspection of the Garden Nishat Bagh, you can go to Houseboat by water at the shikhar.
Houseboat on the Lake Dal.
Day 13, October 1: Srinagar: Floating Market. Shankaracharya Hill, the Temple of Shiva. Evening panoramic photographing of Srinagar.
At 4.30 in the morning we go to the floating market of Srinagar, the market itself is open daily from 5 am to 7 am, we sail on the market by shikharas and you can stay here as much as you want.
The market sell only the fresh products that have been grown by hand on the Lake Dal, basically - vegetables.
In addition to ethnographic photography this morning, there will be a landscape photography on the Lake Dal in the modal time in the morning.
By 10.00 we return to our houseboat for breakfast, and then go to our last tour in Srinagar – on the Shankaracharya Hill (also known as the Throne of Solomon), to the Temple of Shiva.
Shankaracharya Hill, Shiva Temple: The Holy Temple Shankaracharya, known as Dzhestetstvara, rises above Srinagar on top of a hill with the same name, 300 meters high.
Earlier in the centuries this place was called Gopadri and there was built a Buddhist temple in 250 BC., probably it was built by one of the sons of the emperor Ashoka the Great in honor of the visit of King Solomon in Srinagar in the 10th century BC.
In the 7th century it was rebuilt by Emperor of Kashmir Muktapida Lalitaditya.
The great Indian mystic Adi Sankara, who created the system of Advaita Vedanta, stopped in this church for debate and lectures about Vedanta, and in the 12th century the Temple get a new name - the temple of Shankaracharya, after the famous Indian saint and philosopher.
In a basis of the temple (high is 6.1 meter) is an octagonal stone pedestal, the temple itself is small and round in cross-section, a staircase leads from the ground to the church once covered with sacred inscriptions.
Later, on the ceiling of the temple was carved Mughal genealogy since Shah Jahan.
In the inner sanctum of the temple of Shankaracharya is a small pool of water in which the Shiva Lingam entwined with a snake is installed .
Shankaracharya Hill has a panoramic view of the whole Srinagar, and we will finish our tour with the evening photo-shooting.
Returning to the houseboat, dinner, packing.
Houseboat on the Lake Dal.
Day 14, October 2: Flight Srinagar - Delhi. Homecoming.
In the morning - transfer to the airport of Srinagar and the subsequent flight Srinagar - New Delhi, during the trip will also be an opportunity to take pictures of the peaks of the Himalayas from the air.
On arrival in Delhi tour around Delhi is possible (requested in advance), in the evening - transfer to the airport and return home.