Expert-Led Group Tour

India Group tour - Journey through Kashmir

Discover this magical part of India with Zara Fleming

Limited OfferSave £300 per person on our Kashmir group tour

13 days

from £3,695pp
Limited Offer
  • Save £300pp on our Journey through Kashmir group tour to India.
  • Was £3,995 now £3,695
  • Explore Kashmir and Ladakh with Zara Fleming.
  • Float on the serene surface and little-known backwaters of Srinagar's iconic Dal Lake
  • Sample Kashmiri hospitality; stay on an ornately decorated wooden houseboat.
  • Attend morning prayer ceremonies and experience Ladakh's vibrant Buddhist culture.
  • Visit remote monastic villages and discover the region's Tibetan influence.

Under the expert guidance of our expert, Zara Fleming, trace the history of the predominately Muslim region of Kashmir, known for being a troubled region but arguably the jewel in India's crown. Continue to neighbouring Ladakh, with its strong Buddhist influences and sharing more in common with Tibet than India. 

WHERE DOES THIS GROUP TOUR VISIT?

Begin in the snow-capped mountains and picturesque lakes of Srinagar; explore this ancient city with its impressive Mughal gardens and mesmerising views from traditional Shikaras. Venture up into the region's breath-taking mountains. Fly over stunning Himalayan landscape to Leh, sitting on the Tibetan Plateau at the heart of India's least accessible region, Ladakh. Explore the dramatic, unspoilt scenery, peppered with fascinating monasteries and religious sites. 

Why should I join this group tour to Srinagar and Ladakah?

For those that aspire to visit these high kingdom regions,  to explore the age old handicrafts for which Kashmir is famed, gain a better understanding of current Kashmiri events, explore the contrasting regions  of Srinagar and the Buddhist Kingdom that is ancient Ladakh.

WHY TRAVEL WITH zara fleming?

Zara Fleming is a real expert on the Himalayan regions; its people, culture, and art, as well as Tibetan Buddhism. To travel with Zara really ‘opens up’ this interesting high altitude region which is surely one of the world’s most fascinating Kingdoms.  

IS THIS GROUP TOUR SUITABLE FOR SOLO TRAVELLERS?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Expert.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

DO I NEED A VISA FOR INDIA?

All visitors need a visa for India. There is now provision for an online e-visa for citizens of certain countries, including UK citizens. The visa must be obtained before arrival in all circumstances but can be arranged as little as four days before departure.  Standard issue tourist visas sourced from the UK have six months’ validity from date of issue.

WHAT IS THE ACCOMMODATION LIKE IN srinagar and ladakh?

Stay on traditional houseboats located on Dal Lake whilst in Srinagar. We are using the best accommodation available in Leh. Outside of the city the accommodation will be more rustic, located in fruit orchards and countryside. Throughout the stay there is access to ensuite facilities, and electricity.

WHAT IS THE FOOD LIKE IN srinagar and ladakh?

Both regions have distinctive cuisine. Kashmiri Wazwan cuisine is primarily famous for its non-vegetarian dishes and Rogan Josh is its signature dish. This spicy red lamb-based curry is ideally eaten with saffron rice. Street foods are popular in the city, with chutneys and lawasas coming free with each marinated skewer of mutton and chicken.

Ladakh has traditional foods like mukh mukh available at restaurants. A traditional tea suitable for chilly winters called gur gur chai (buttered salty tea) is available at tea shops. Local breads called Khambir can be sampled when in Leh Bazar. Cheese is sourced from Yak’s milk, known as Chhupri, and Momos are available all over Leh as is clear Tibetan soup. 

WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE?

Autumn is pleasant in Kashmir. The orchards are full of apples. Snow-capped mountains will be on show in Gulmarg. The weather in September is usually dry with beautiful, clear views of the mountains. Daytime temperatures reach the high twenties with low humidity. When arriving at higher altitude in Ladakh it will be quite cold so it is advisable to pack warm clothes and dress in layers. Mornings and evenings can feel chilly hovering around 13 degrees. Afternoons will warm up reaching low twenties. The weather in September in Ladakh is extremely dry and ample sunshine allows clear skies and great views this month.

HOW FIT SHOULD I BE TO ENJOY THIS TOUR?

An average level of fitness is enough to get the best out of this tour. Rather than the walks being the challenge, it is more likely the altitude when in Ladakh, however we have built in enough time for the group to acclimatise properly so the chance of this is minimal. If you enjoy walking and the great outdoors, then this is the perfect trip for you. There are several walks during the tour where you will be able to walk at your own pace and we incorporate plenty of rest stops.

WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM GROUP TOUR SIZE?

Unlike other companies Steppes Travel guarantee that you join a small group with a maximum of 15 people.

CAN I EXTEND MY STAY IN INDIA?

Yes, this can easily be arranged at the end of the tour. Private travel arrangements with a car and driver will be provided and a private guide arranged for sightseeing.



Departing on:
  • 15th September 2017

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

DEPART UKARRIVE UKPrice Excluding Flights (£)Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
15th Sep 2017 27th Sep 2017 £ 3,695 £ 700 £ 725 Zara Fleming Available

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Delhi


You will be staying at Claridges

Day 2

Fly Delhi to Srinagar


Afternoon Shikara Ride on Dal Lake
Take a leisurely Shikara ride on Dal Lake, through winding waterways covered with water lilies and lotus flowers.
Visit the famous 'floating gardens', man-made islands on which local people - living in villages around the lake - cultivate vegetables. Watch the sun setting across the lake against a backdrop of the Hari Parbat Fort and snow-capped Pir Panjal Mountains.

Famous for its serene Dal Lake that stretches along the city's eastern edge and noses its way towards the centre, Srinagar is surrounded by picturesque Kashmiri landscape. An integral part of everyday life, the lake plays host to floating vegetable gardens and lotus blossom fields, whilst small villages dot the shores.

In recent times, the city's tragic problems have managed to overshadow this idyllic location, but its relaxed lakeside ambience seems at odds with simmering regional tensions.


You will be staying at The Royal Houseboat

Day 3

Heritage Walk and Visit to Mughal Gardens
Begin with a visit to Srinagar's famous Mughal Gardens, built by the Mughal Emperors in the 17th century. These beautifully designed gardens incorporate terraced lawns, fountains, pools and flowerbeds; interspersed with examples of Mughal-era Islamic architecture.
Continue on to the Heritage Walk, starting at the Shah-e-Hamdan Sufi shrine in Old Srinagar. From here, explore the old city and walk through the narrow alleys, passing by local markets, historic buildings and everyday hustle-and-bustle. End up at the city's Grand Mosque, famed for its 370 beautiful wooden pillars.
Afterwards, head to the old wooden bridge that spans the River Jehlum. Traditional houses lie on both sides of the river, built by the city's rich elite when the waterways were still the main method of transportation.


Half Day Trip to see Kashmiri Handicrafts
Spend some time examining a selection of the handicrafts for which Kashmir is famed.


Afternoon Hi Tea with writer & philosopher Mr. Fida Hussain at his home


You will be staying at The Royal Houseboat

Day 4

Morning Visit to Dachigam National Park
Start early in the morning for the drive to Dachigam National Park. Once known as the royal hunting ground of the Kashmiri Hindu Maharajas and the British aristocracy, this natural reserve houses the remaining population of the Hangul - one of the most sought after animals on the planet. The park is manned by several guards and forest rangers, because of its other potentially ferocious resident - the Himalayn Black Bear, although these are mostly found in the higher reaches of the park. The forest reserve has many different types of soil, plants, animals and birds roaming around. There is also a famous rainbow trout farm and a rehabilitation centre for wounded animals found on the jeep tracks. Spend the morning within the national park, where the informative rangers can assist with searching for wildlife.


Afternoon visit to Shankracharya Temple and Hari Parbat Fort
Afternoon visit to Shankracharya Temple and Hari Parbat Fort
Post lunch visit Shankracharya Temple. The temple dates back to 200 BC, although the present structure probably dates back to the 9th century AD. Situated on the top of the Shankaracharya hill or the Sulaiman Hill in the Zabarwan Mountain in Srinagar, Kashmir. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is on the summit of the same name at a height of 1,000 feet (300 m) above the plain and overlooks the city of Srinagar (camera's are not allowed inside the temple)
Continue to the Hari Parbat Fort and stay till sunset. The imposing 18th-century Hari Parbat Fort is visible from virtually anywhere in Srinagar but was closed to the public, for military use, for many years.
On the hill's mid-slopes, Muslims pay homage at the large Makhdoom Sahib Shrine, reached by steps that pass the ruined 1649 stone mosque of Akhund Mullah Shah. The steps start a few hundred metres beyond the scant remains of Srinagar's Old City walls and the large Chetipacha Gurdwara. The views of the city from the fort are magnificent and it is best seen at sunset with the changing light.


You will be staying at The Royal Houseboat

Day 5

Early Morning Trip to Floating Market
Before breakfast, take a Shikara ride to visit Dal Lake's floating fruit and vegetable markets.
Every morning the farmers emerge from a maze of floating gardens and canals - their Shikara's laden with vegetables, fruit and flowers - to gather in an open waterway and trade from boat to boat. The ensuing scene, with haggling and paddling both on display, is a riot of noise and colour.


A Shikara Ride
Take a Shikara ride from Nageen Lake to Dal Lake passing through the floating vegetable garden. This will take approximately two hours through beautiful scenery made up of mountains.


You will be staying at The Royal Houseboat

Day 6

Fly Srinagar to Leh


Spend the rest of the day at leisure to allow for acclimitisation


You will be staying at The Grand Dragon Hotel

Day 7

Full day exploring Leh

You will be staying at The Grand Dragon Hotel

Day 8

Full day excursion to Shey, Thiksey and Hemis Monasteries
15kms from Leh, the ruins of the once beautiful Palace of Shey stand high on a sheer rock cliff and appear to be an architectural extension of the rock formations. The palace contains the largest golden Buddha statue in Ladakh

Noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Thiksey monastery is an impressive complex and the largest monastery in central Ladakh. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect and is home to about 500 monks. It is a 12-storey complex housing many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, wall paintings and also an enormous two-storey statue of Maitreya (the future Buddha.

The 17th century red hat Hemis monastery is the most important monastery in terms of spiritual hierarchy and is also the richest in Ladakh. The Dukhang houses the throne of the Rinpoche (abbot) alongside another larger throne for the Dalai Lama. There is another Dukhang, which has a large statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. Behind the statue is a huge chorten made of solid silver, with edgings of gold, and studded with turquoise and coral stones. Hemis possesses a gigantic thangka - believed to be one of the largest in the world - that depicts a beautifully embroidered figure of Padmasambhava and is displayed to the public every 12 years.


Once the capital of the Himlayan Kingdom of Ladakh, Leh lies on edge of the Tibetan plateau at a height of more than 3,500 metres. Closer geographically, culturally and anthropologically to Tibet than India; the city's dominating palace - with its clear architectural similarities to Lhasa's Potala Palace - highlights this connection.

Surrounded by irrigated barley fields and overlooked by rocky peaks, the city sits in the fertile Indus River Valley. In this idyllic location, modernity has only just started to take hold. Traditional Ladakhi buildings, with their flat roofs and solid walls, still fill the area surrounding the city's age-old bazaar.


Evening a special Tibetan Meal Prepared "GYAKHO" in a Special Pot


You will be staying at The Grand Dragon Hotel

Day 9

Drive from Leh to Uleytokpo (Road Journey)


Visit Alchi Monastery
This morning drive to Leh via Alchi monastery. The monastery is located near the small village of Saspol and it is one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. The first temple of importance is the oldest - Sum-stek temple, surrounded by wooden pillars and carved woodwork of mythological animals. The woodwork is original and reflects Kashmiri influence. The walls along both sides of the Dukhang are covered by mural painintgs, believed to date back to the time of the monastery's founding. Of particular interest are the miniature scenes of royal life, the best preserved of which is the royal drinking scene, in which the costumes clearly depict central Asian dress. The chortens around Alchi gompa also contain numerous wall murals. After the monastery visit, continue to Leh.

Alchi is home to one of the two oldest monasteries of Ladakh (the other being at Lamayuru). What remains at the Chhoskhor Temple Complex is perhaps the last of the showcase monasteries built in the 10th and 11th centuries. The wooden sculptures, stucco images and the Indo-Tibetan art are exclusive and the style is not to be found in any other monastery in Ladakh. Alchi village is home to a few tourist stalls and markets but the majority of visitors stay nearby on the banks of the River Indus. Use Alchi as a base to explore the river, and surrounding monasteries and villages.


Half Day Visit to Ridzong Nunnery and Monastery
Explore the nearby Ridzong Nunnery, the only nunnery in Ladakh, and try to understand the role of women in Buddhism. Also known as Chomoling, a small group of nuns live here and spend their time studying a religious curriculum, as well as working to support their way of life.

Afterwards, visit the monastery of the same name, which is a short drive further up the hill. Beautifully situated in a gorge, this 19th century monastery is renowned for its particularly strict rules and standards.


You will be staying at Ule Ethnic Resort

Day 10

Drive from Uleytokpo to Tingmosgham (Road Journey)


The largest village in the Sham Valley, Tingmosgham is famed for its impressive hilltop monastery. Still one of the most affluent villages in the region, it was once the choice of residence for royalty and was made the capital of King Drag-pa-Bum's kingdom in the 16th century.


Visit Dha & Hannu enroute


You will be staying at Namra Hotel

Day 11

Drive from Tingmosgham to Leh (Road Journey)


Visit Tia, Lamayuru and Matho.


You will be staying at The Grand Dragon Hotel

Day 12

Fly Leh to Delhi




Blaring horns and the babble of its many inhabitants often drown out the fact that there is more to Delhi than the chaos on its busy streets. It may be one of the world's largest metropolises, but architectural wonders - new and old - fill the city, hidden beneath Delhi's urban sprawl.

Mughal treasures, including the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, are complemented by more recent additions to Delhi's architectural heritage, such as the stunning Lotus and Akshardham Temples.

Meanwhile, contemporary Delhi thrives in Connaught Place, which - with its colonially-designed buildings - is the most westernised part of the centre. Globalisation is in evidence, with brand names splashed across every storefront.


You will be staying at Claridges

Day 13

Fly Delhi to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

The Grand Dragon Hotel

The Grand Dragon Hotel

Located in the heart of the ancient city of Leh, the Grand Dragon Hotel's design takes inspiration from traditional Ladakhi architecture....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of India

Charlotte Lawton, Sales Consultant

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Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Lecturer

Zara Fleming

Zara Fleming
Zara Fleming is an independent art consultant, researcher, cataloguer and exhibition curator with specialist knowledge of Buddhist art.



Zara first visited Nepal in 1973 and Bhutan in 1976 and has been returning to these areas on a regular basis ever since. Initially based at the Victoria & Albert Museum, with general responsibility for the Tibetan and Nepalese collections (1974-81). She was then affiliated with the Central Asian Department at Bonn University cataloguing the Tibetan, Bhutanese and Mongolian collections of all UK Museums, part of a larger cataloguing project throughout Europe (1981-88) and was the Assistant Director in Europe for the Orient Foundation (1984/5). Zara has curated many exhibitions, most recently “The Tiger in Asian Art” for Asia House, London (2010/11).



Zara is a lecturer for the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies (NADFAS) and delivers talks for museums, universities, and Asian art societies.
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 5 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Zara Fleming

Departure Date (S):

  • 15th September 2017

  1. Active – The tour may involve daily walks and will have a faster pace in certain areas. Walks will be no longer than 6 hours. The pace of this tour will be quite busy, expect long travel days and very little time at leisure.

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