Set amidst the gorged hillside of Ladakh, the Hemis Festival takes place every year at the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery at Hemis, one of the most awaited monastic festivals, marking the victory of good over evil with a holy masked Cham dance performed by the Lamas, in celebration of its glory, held in commemoration of the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. This vibrant day-long fiesta adds all the more thrill & excitement for the travellers visiting Ladakh, a major tourist attraction, while the monastery is believed to be the biggest, richest and most powerful monastery in Ladakh.
The Hemis festival rejoices the ancient Tantric traditions blossom in all their opulence – the nuns, lamas and tourists flock in large numbers, the festivities full of elaborate costumes, dramatic dances, ornate traditional settings that leave you in awe, luring tourists & pilgrims from all over the globe to relish in the sacred festival. The people showcase their handicrafts, traditional rituals take place, everyone makes merry with the traditional food & drinks served on the occasion, while the festival is marked with the unfurling of the sacred “Thangka” every 12th year.
This year, the date is set for the festival to begin – the 3rd of July & will go on till the 4th of July.
THINGS TO DO
• One can explore & indulge in the local food & cuisine, exclusive with its Tibetan influence.
• What can be better for a traveller than to interact with the locals & other tourists, get to know the area, experiences, history of the place for an enlightening experience!
• One should plan the trip to Ladakh accordingly, keeping in mind the dates of the festival & your itinerary – play out your checklist wisely as to explore & experience as much as possible in the limited time. You can probably drop in a couple of days before the festival to experience the monks preparing in full enthusiasm – a sneak peek into behind the scenes!
• Also while you plan your trip to the festival, you can explore the rugged terrains of Ladakh, indulge in adventure sports, take up trips to the many monasteries of the area & get a full feel of the travel experience.
HOW TO REACH THERE
By Road: The monastery is well connected with private & public transport facilities, situated 40kms away from Leh city. You can opt for whichever is the best suited option; give it a little research though, for the route can get confusing at times. You can also drive up to Leh through the Manali-Leh highway via the Rohtang pass. Other options include trekking from the following routes – Spiti-Kaza-Tso Moriri, Padum-Zanskar-Leh, Baralacha la to Hemis, Chandratal-Spiti-Baralacha la, Garhwal-Changthang, Udaipur (Himachal)-Padum-Shingola pass.
By Air: One can opt for daily flights from Delhi to Srinagar & drive up to Leh by the Zoji-La pass, with a stop-over at Kargil or the Lamayuru monastery. Another option is to take up flights directly from Delhi to Leh.
THE MONASTERIES OF LADAKH
Apart from the Hemis monastery, there are a plethora of monasteries to explore in the beautiful landscapes of Ladakh, the most visited & popular ones being the Diskit Monastery, Matho Gompa, Sankar Gompa, Shey Gompa, Thiksey Monastery, Likir Monastery among others, bearing testimony to Buddhist cultures and stimulating religiousness, an integral part of Ladakh’s culture & tradition.
These monasteries are great in number, many of them world renowned, holding the great wealth of ancient historical traditions & living heritage, having functioned till today as both centres of learning & religious awakening, a pure cultural & architectural delight reflecting Buddhist & Tibetan influence, luring pilgrims, followers & travellers from all over the world.
These monasteries are valued gems of learning & Buddhist traditions – each with its own unique features, weaved through their age-old histories, scattered across the vast expanse of the mountains.
Whenever planning a trip to Ladakh, make sure these monasteries count as a must visit on your checklist apart from all the adventure & exploration that the land offers. This way, the festival comes across as a golden opportunity to explore the culture & local life of the region, while one may primarily opt for road trips & adventure sports to the land, the festival & monasteries add all the more colour & flavour to your travel to this exotic location. One can not only indulge in the thrill & adventure that the place offers but also relish in the spiritual awakening & find the peace & calm of your heart & soul with these events & places on your travel checklist. What better can there be to travel to the Mountain Kingdom, live in its vibrant life & local culture, explore to your heart’s content & embark on a new journey of adventure & learning! So pack your bags, make your itinerary & set on this trip to find your own!