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Auspicious Festival of Ladakh

By PK Jha Subscribe to RSS | March 28th 2012 | Views:

The cold desert region of Ladakh awakes from a long and harsh winter as summer knocks the area. This is the time when tourists from far and wide arrive for trekking in Ladakh, climbing mountains, river-rafting and cultural tour.

Hemis monastery is the wealthiest, biggest and very famous among the all monasteries of Ladakh. One of the most prominent monasteries of Ladakh is located in the village of Hemis, which lies in the southeast of Leh and is about 45 km from the city.

The route to Hemis monastery is absolutely scenic with the Indus River to the right. Leh to Hemis monastery is one of the best routes for trekking in Ladakh. It is a motorable road, and vehicles like Jeep, car or bus can be parked in the parking area of the courtyard of the monastery.

Hemis Festival is one of the most famous festivals of Leh Ladakh. It is an extraordinary cultural festival to discover the best of Ladakh culture and heritage.

The two day Hemis Festival is celebrated on the auspicious occasion of the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, who founded Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. It's held in June or July (on the tenth day of lunar month in the Tibetan calendar) every year at the 300 year old Buddhist monastery of Hemis. Hemis Festival in 2012 is awaited by all festival lovers and tourists. This year Hemis festival will be celebrated on 29th & 30th of June 2012.

Hemis monastery was built in 1630 during the reign of Sengge Namgyal, an famous ruler of Ladakh.

The monastery is accommodating hundred monks on its premises. The main shrines of the monastery are built in the 3-storied structure, which stands on the top of a high platform. Gallery has been painted in the colors of red, yellow and black.

The collection of items kept inside the monastery consist of a copper-gilt statue of the Lord Buddha, various gold and silver stupas, sacred thankas and several other wonderful objects. Hemis Gompa is a holy hermitage, founded by Gyalwa Kotsang. The meditation cave of Gyalwa, along with his footprints and handprints on the rock and holy shrines are kept inside.

This festival associated with a legend. The founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Guru Padmasambhava fought with devils for the safety of the local people and was successful. Festival starts with gathering of the Lamas around the central flagpole in the courtyard of the monastery and they perform mask dances and sacred plays marking the victory of good over evil, which are accompanied by the music from drums, cymbals and long horns.

After these performances, an idol made of dough is destroyed by the leader of black hat dancers. The destroyed pieces of the figure are then spread in all directions. The festival is supervised by the head lama. A devil dance is organized for the entertainment of the people. Other major attraction of the Hemis festival includes a colourful fair displaying some of the most exquisite handicrafts of the Ladakh region. Hemis Gompa has the largest Thangkha in Ladakh, which is displayed, once in 12 years (next in 2016) on the occasion of Hemis festival.

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