: Hemis Gompa in Ladakh, situated at the extreme northern state of Jammu
Kashmir in India.
Time : June - July
Duration : 2 days
Significance : The birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava.
The Highight : A colorful fair, displaying some beautiful handicrafts.
Hemis Monastery, 40 km from Leh, is the richest, renowned and biggest Gompa of Ladakh. It is more popular for holding the major annual festival every summer - the Hemis Festival. The festival is commemorated in honour of Guru Padma Sambhav's birth anniversary. Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism is believed to have fought with demons for the safety of the local people. The colourful two day festival falls on the 10th day (Tse-Chu) of the Tibetan lunar month. The local people are dressed up in their finest traditional attire for the occasion. It also acquires the largest Thangkha (richly embroidered with pearls and semi-precious stones) in Ladakh, which is displayed, once in 12 years.
Spectacular masked dances and sacred plays are performed to the accompaniment of cymbals, drums & long horns. A colorful fair, displaying some beautiful handicrafts, is the special highlight of the festival. The so-called 'devil dances' constitute an important element in the social entertainment of the Ladakhis. The loud song-and-dance mirth, created by these mask dances, which invariably symbolize the victory of the right over evil, is kept by the all-round consumption of huge bowls of 'chang', Ladakhi liquor.
A colourful fair, displaying some beautiful handicrafts, is the special highlight of the festival.
Hemis lies 45-km southeast of Leh, the headquarters of Ladakh
Air : The nearest airport is at Leh
Rail : By car, Hemis is an easy day trip from Leh. By bus, services are only frequent during the festival; at other times a single daily service leaves at 9.00 am and returns at 12.30 pm, leaving no time to have a good look round.