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
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 general bustle and sense of occasion.
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 (late July or early August), Tak-thok (about
ten days after Phiyang) and Karsha in Zanskar (11 days after Phiyang).
Like Hemis, the Phiyang festival too involves the exhibition of
gigantic thangka, though here it is done every year.
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.
At the appointed time, offerings of storma, ritual figures moulded
out of dough, are brought out and ceremonially cast away into the
desert, or burnt. These scapegoats carry away with them the evil
spirits of the old year, and thus the town is cleansed and made
ready to welcome the new year.
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.
Day 2: Leh
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
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.
Day 3:Leh Festival:- Surface:
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 of Stok and Matho.
Afternoon: Proceed to the Polo ground to witness the
inauguration of the traditional horse polo tournament.
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.
Day 4:Leh Festival:-Surface:
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.
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.
Day 6:Leh:- Surface: Morning:
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.
Day 7:Leh Festival:-Surface:
Proceed to visit
one of the most special Monastic dances of Ladakh. Join at the main
Chaukhang Gompa in the centre of the town where monks dresses in
bright colorful religious robes dance slowly wearing fearful masks
around the center flagpole.
Afternoon:- Walkdown through narrow streets of Leh Bazar to
enjoy the final of the Polo Tournament which concludes in a
fashionable manner. Overnight stay at the hotel.