I took a trip to Ladakh in June this year (2010) to be a part of Hemis festival. I had my best friend and travel partner, Neha for company. We managed to see quite a bit of this 'Little Tibet' and visited some of the famous buddhist monasteries in Ladakh namely Thikesey Monastery, Hemis Gompa, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Sankar Gompa.
After reaching Leh airport, we directly proceeded towards our hotel to get acclimatized with the high altitude climate. Next morning, we visited the Leh market to have a glimpse of local culture and stuffs. After sometime, we moved towards the Thiksey monastery (20 km from Leh town) to attend the praying ceremony. To know the history of this monastery, we inquired a Buddhist monk who stays here from several years. He told us that Thiksey monastery was built in 15th century A.D and belongs to Gelugpa Sect. It has ten temple inside the premise. Prayers performed by the monks are truly visual delight.
Thereafter, we returned to our hotel for dinner and night stay. Next morning, after early breakfast, we went to visit Hemis Monastery, which is located 45 km away from Leh town. This 45 km journey was little bit tiring because our jeep was punctured on the way. But, the moment when we reached Hemis monastery all our tiredness vanished in a moment. We were so lucky that we visited this monastery on the first day of Hemis festival, which was on 20th June. This is the annual festival of Hemis monastery and famed all across the globe for its colorful mask dance and sacred plays.
While witnessing the sacred mask dance, I asked a local Ladakhi woman about this festival. She answered me that every year on the tenth day of lunar month (in accordance to Tibetan Calender), Hemis festival is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. With the onset of dusk, we decided to return our hotel but the lady was so helpful that she offered us to spend a night at her house. We were really overwhelmed by this gesture and thanked her.
After attending the first and second day of Hemis festival, we returned to Leh and visited another ancient monastery of Ladakh region. This is named as Spituk monastery, which was constructed during 11th century. This is just 8 km from Leh town and owe its inception to Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub od. Here, we saw some rare collection of Buddhist artifacts. Spituk monastery also houses a fearsome image of Vajarbhairava, which is unveiled once in every year, during the annual festival.
Overall, it was a delightful tour and loved to witness the Hemis festival.
| By - Manav Mishra
About Jammu and Kashmir
People and Lifestyle of Jammu and Kashmir
|Jammu and Kashmir Pilgrimage
Buddhism In Ladakh
Jammu and Kashmir Festival
|Music and Dance
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