We begin our program this summer with a flight from New York to India. After we arrive, we will check into a hotel and have the next day to explore India’s capital city by visiting one of the most colorful markets in Asia, Chadni Chowk; India’s largest mosque, Jami Masjid; and the historic Red Fort. Then we board a train to Chandigarh and then a bus to foothills of the Himalayas arriving in Dharamsala. There, we will check into a guest house and begin an orientation in this bustling town which is the epicenter of Tibetan culture in exile. After we are settled, we will begin home stays with Tibetan families which will continue for several days. Students will enjoy traditional Tibetan meals with the family (usually breakfasts and dinners) and spend the days with the group participating in lectures on Tibetan culture, religion, politics as well as a host of other issues. At the conclusion of our stay, we will join in the celebration of the Dalai Lama’s 72th Birthday on July 6th, a colorful festival which is enjoyed by all....
The next day, we begin our drive north and east to Manali, where we will spend the night in the beautiful resort town. From there, we continue to drive east over the Rothang Pass and enter the Spiti Valley. We then will continue to drive through the towns of Darcha and Zing Zing Bar and arrive at the village of Losar. Then we drive over over Kunzam Pass and arrive at Tabo Monastery, a magnificent structure built in the 10th century where we will stay for the night. Here, students will have the opportunity to experience first-hand the daily rhythms of monastic life.
After a few days to explore the ancient towns of this region, acclimatize to the altitude of the Tibetan Plateau, as well as have an option to summit a nearby peak from the village of Kibber, we will begin our eight-day trek to the north and west across some of the most beautiful and unspoiled landscapes of the Himalayas. Our trek takes us to Ladakh.
Our first destination will be a beautiful village outside of Leh, the region's capital. There, we will have our second home stay experience, this time in traditional Ladakhi houses which may be several centuries old. We will also begin a group service project. At the conclusion of the service project, we will have time to explore the monasteries of the Leh Valley including nearby towns including Stok, Tikse, and Stakna.
After our stay in Ladakh, we will board a flight to Delhi and take an express train to Agra to see India’s greatest architectural achievement, the Taj Mahal. We return to Delhi that night. The next day we will have free time in small groups in Delhi with optional trips to traditional handicraft centers. That evening we will meet for a farewell banquet and then drive to the international airport for our return flight home.