A Rare Look at Off-the-Beaten-Path India

A tour that offers a glimpse at some of India’s less-visited regions

Srinagar, Kashmir, India
Srinagar, Kashmir, India. KennyOMG/Wikimedia

India is a bucket list mainstay. With its major showpiece, the Taj Mahal, there are few travelers who don't desire a trip to the country. But the real magic of India can be found in some of its less-visited locales and Geringer Global Travel is taking guests to see some of the country’s most unique destinations with a special guide – acclaimed tour leader and Kashmir native -- Muzaffar Andrabi and Geringer owner, Susan Geringer.

If India is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit.

The tour begins in Delhi on July 12 and will split time between Ladakh and Kashmir, which offer perspectives on two very different cultures. Ladakh, an extension of the Gobi desert and Tibetan plateau, comprises the world’s highest and harshest terrain, with large stretches of stark high altitude deserts and “moonscapes” bringing a mystic beauty to this stark landscape. The area is predominantly Buddhist and gompas (monasteries) cling to its mountaintops.

Kashmir is almost the opposite. It is often referred to as “Paradise on Earth” and is nestled below snow-covered mountains and idyllic lakes surround the area. It also has a unique culture as its peculiar beauty has attracted Chinese, Mughal and British rulers along with an enduring heritage of Sufism.

In Kashmir, visitors will stay in the city of Srinagar, and divide their time between nights in houseboats, a popular type of accommodation in Kashmir and at a stay at The Lalit Grand Palace Srinagar, which overlooks the picturesque Dal Lake and was once home to the maharajas.

Highlights in Kashmir include a Srinagar Heritage Walk, dining on authentic Kashmir cuisine called Wazwaan for lunch; a craft tour to learn the arts of Kashmir handicrafts; a tour of the famous Mughal Gardens in Srinagar, built in the Islamic style of architecture with Persian influence; lunch with a local family in Srinagar; a picnic and a hike in Yusmarg as well as a visit the Sufi shrine at Chrar-i-Sharief; and a visit to Dachigam National Park with a naturalist in search of the endangered Kashmiri stag.

In Ladakh, guests will enjoy a stay at the upscale Hotel Zen in Leh with day excursions like rafting on the Indus River in the Sham Valley and an overnight stay at the tented Desert Himalaya Resort in the Nubra Valley.

Highlights in Ladakh include premium seating at the Hemis Festival, a visit to the Central Institute of Bodhi studies, participation in the ‘Morning Prayer’ at Thiksey Monastery, a visit to the Oracle Lady in Saboo Village, a visit to Hemis, Alchi and Thiksey Monasteries, Diskit Gompa and Leh Palace. Guest will also pass through Khardung La Pass, the world’s highest motorable road at 17,582 feet, see the  famous sand dunes of Hundar and visit with a local family.

Pricing for the single departure, 15-night guided tour of Ladakh and Kashmir begins at $5,795 per person, based on double occupancy, and $7,365 for a single room.Quote includes all hotel accommodations, meals, domestic flights (subject to increase until booked), transfers and ground transportation, guiding and entrance fees. International airfare is not included. Travelers who book by March 31, 2016 will save $200 per person.