Jammu and Kashmir– It’s the most significant happening controlled every year by the J&K Tourism Department, in partnership with the local communities and the district administrations of Leh and Kargil from 1st to 15th September. Its chief purpose is to renew and promote the richness, depth and pomp of Ladakh’s centuries-old culture, traditions and folk heritage for world-wide admiration and pleasure.
Initial gathering is held on grand scale at Leh with an extravagant parade in which a variety of cultural troupes and village contingents contribute in full ceremonial costumes, singing songs and performing various types of dances to the tune of the customary orch
Between the regular programs, the most colorful and interesting are the village archery festivals held in selected suburban villages of Leh. Every villager is required to formally participate in these events in accordance with the established social code.
Each male participant is likely to try his skill with the bow and arrow in interchange rounds of archery and dancing while the ladies have to join in as many rounds of the mandatory folk dances. Other programs of the festival include a series of evening musical concerts, mask dances by lamas of selected monasteries and mock marriage ceremonies full with all the related traditions.
The festival is also concurrently organized in different parts of Kargil district. These include traditional archery tournaments, besides presentation of programs showcasing the cultural heritage and traditions of different ethnic groups of the area. Of particular curiosity are the cultural programs presented by the Brok-pas people based on their ancient social customs and ceremonies. Among the programs presented by the Dards of Dras is the game of polo, the ancestral sport of the Dards of the western
The Ladakh Festival is an inimitable project of the State Department of Tourism to support the revival and promotion of Ladakh’s age-old traditions and customs, its cultural heritage and the performing arts. For the visitors to Ladakh, the festival provides an opportunity to witness and experience the lifestyle and cultural ethos of a people who have lived for centuries on the crossroads of
Hemis Festival is celebrated at the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh (the biggest monastery in Ladakh) and marks the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambahava (Guru Rimpoche), the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. He is believed to have fought with demons for the safety of the local people.
Hemis festival is celebrated on the 10th day (Tses-Chu) of the Tibetan lunar month and lasts for two days. The festival occurs only once in 12 years (as per the Tibetan calender it takes place in the year of the Monkey).
During the Hemis festival, a two storey high "Thankga," a religious icon painted or embroidered on cloth, depicting Padmasambahava is ritually exhibited. This year, i.e., 2004 will again witness Ladakh getting ready to unveil the "Thankga" and celebrating the auspicious occasion on June 28th and 29th.
People who are touring
Usually, tourists land up in Ladakh to attend this festival and later on plan out visits to nearby
The religious philosophy of Buddhism, however, profound and subtle doesn’t preclude an immense joie-de-vivre among its Ladakhi adhe-rents, and even solemn religious enactments are made the occasion for joyous celebration. Many of the annual festivals of the gompas take place in winter, a relatively idle time for the majority of the people. They take the form of dance-dramas in the gompa courtyards. Lamas, robed in colourful garments and wearing often startlingly frightful masks, performs mimes representing various aspects of the religion such as the progress of the individual soul and its purification or the triumph of good over evil.
Local people flock from near and far to these events, and the spiritual benefits they get are no doubt heightened by their enjoyment of the party atmosphere, with crowds of women and men, the opportunity to make new friendships and renew old ones.
The biggest and most famous of the monastic festivals, frequented by tourists and local alike, is that of Hemis, which falls in late June or the first half of July, and is dedicated to Padmasambhava. Every 12 years, the gompa’s greatest treasure, a huge thangka – a religious icon painted or embroidered on cloth – is ritually exhibited. The next unveiling is due to take place in A.D. 2004. Other monasteries which have summer festivals are Lamayuru (also early July), Phiyang
Spituk, stok, thikse, chemrey and Matho all have their festivals in winter, between November and March. Likir and Deskit (Nubra )time their festivals to coincide with Dosmoche, the festival of the scapegoat, which is also celebrated with fervor at Leh. Falling in the second half of February, Dosmoche is one of two New Year festivals, the other being Losar. At Dosmoche, a great wooden mast decorated with streamers and religious emblems is et up outside Leh.
Losar falls about the time of the winter solstice, any time between 8th and 30th December. All Ladakhi Buddhists celebrate it by making offerings to the gods, both in gompas and in their domestic shrines.
Early morning transfer to airport to airport to board flight for Leh. Welcome upon arrival and transfer to hotel. Day at leisure for high altitude acclimatization. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Morning: Proceed to the main Bazaar to witness the Inaugural procession of the Cultural Troupes, Monks, Polo players and participants of the Silk Route trade caravan in colorful traditional costumes. The procession starts from London school, via main bazar, to the Polo ground, where there are colorful burst of cultural dances.
Afternoon: Proceed to Archery stadium to witness traditional Archery competition and cultural dances.
Evening: Enjoy musical concert at the Archery stadium. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Proceed to visit Sankar monastery and Shanti Stupa (a Japanese peace pagoda which provides panoramic view of the entire Leh town. In the distant you can see snow-capped peaks.
Evening: In the main bazaar see in reality a procession of the famous Silk Route Traders. The traders mounted on double-humped Bacteria Camels depict the early trade scenes between Yarkhand and Ladakh. Ladakh was the major trade centre on the Silk route. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Leh Festival:-Surface: Morning:
Proceed to Saboo village or Stok or Matho village for the Archery festival (depending on where the archery festival is scheduled. The competition is made more colorful by the folk dances of the particular village.
Afternoon: Drive to visit Stok palace and museum:- Stok Palace 10 kms from Leh has the only museum of Ladakh which houses one of the most precious belongings of the earlier Royal families. In its many halls, displays include rare precious stones, old Thanks, Queens jeweler, arms & armory and the Royal Crown of the King. EVENING: You can join the Silk Route trade show at the main bazaar of Leh. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Leh/Hemis/Leh:-Surface: Moring :
Indus Valley Monastery . Drive along river Indus to visit one of the most famous monasteries of central Ladakh. Includes visit to she palace and little further the most richest, oldest and the famous Hemis Monastery Afternoon: Free at leisure Enjoy ongoing Polo match at the polo ground. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Leh:- Surface: Morning:
Proceed for halfway River Rafting in Indus. Drive to Stakna beyond Thiksay. Start on one of the most thrilling rafting to reach Choglamsar. Enroute pass through villages of Chushot, Thiksay and Shey. Return to hotel. Afternoon: Drive to Phayang village (14 kms) to see the unique Phayang monastery
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