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Home » Festival Tours
Hemis Festival
Dressed in vibrant, vibrant brocades with brightly decorated & richly adorned paper-mache masks the monastery lamas perform to a cacophony of drums, cymbals & long horns at the birthday celebrations of Guru Padamasambhava. Join us in Leh, the capital of the former Kingdom of Ladakh to discover Buddhist gompas & monasteries perched on soaring hilltops, ruinous ancient palaces, snow peaked Himalayan landscapes, local culture & ancient traditions of the annual Hemis festival.
Day 1: Flight from Dehli to Leh
Hemis Festival in LehMonday. Delhi - Leh. note: The flight from Delhi - Leh is not included in the cost of this tour. A lot of airlines fly direct. In the event you provide us along with your flight details, they will be there to meet you at Leh Airport & transfer you to your hotel. The evening is free to explore Leh.
Leh is the capital of former Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh that now sits in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The region is a giant highland desert sitting at 3524 metres above sea level, lying between the Karakoram & the Himalayan ranges characterised by a desolate moonlike landscape & snowy peaks. The town is still dominated by the now ruined Leh Palace, former mansion of the royal relatives, built in the same style & about the same time as the Potala Palace. The 28 000 residents of the the city are predominantly Buddhists & accordingly, Leh is the very much the heart & soul of Buddhist culture in the region.

Day 2: The Hemis Festival & city sightseeing tour
Hemis Festival TourHemis Gompa, is the largest monastery in Ladakh & the site of the annual festival commemorating the birth of Guru Padamasambhava, who is said to have brought Vajrayana Buddhism to Bhutan & Tibet. Revered throughout the Himalayan ranges & thought about the second Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava, the Lotus-born (popularly known as Guru Rinpoche, the Precious Master) was invited from India in the 8th century to conquer the dark & hostile forces transforming them in to guardians & protectors of the pure dharma. In the process the guru brought Vajrayana Buddhism - a revelation of the whole & ideal path to awakening.

Followers think that their path is the purest type of Buddhism with the aim of liberation from suffering and attainment of enlightenment. It is believed to be the path actually practiced by Buddha with the teaching indelible, even still today within the whole Himalayan region.

This morning they make our way to the Hemis monastery (one.5 hrs drive), the largest and richest monastery in all of Ladakh. In the courtyard filled to capacity with local Ladakhis and pilgrims (at 9am) Guru Padamasambhava birthday celebrations will commence.
A raised dais with a richly cushioned stool with a finely painted tiny Tibetan table is placed with the ceremonial items - cups filled with holy water, raw rice, tormas made of dough & butter & incense sticks. A variety of musicians play the traditional music with pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, tiny trumpets & giant size wind instruments. Next to them a tiny space is assigned for the lamas to sit.

The festival highlight is the gathering of the lamas around the central flagpole performing the mystic mask dances (Chams) & sacred plays. Chams are fundamentally an element of Tantric custom, performed only in the gompas that follow the Tantric Vajrayana teachings & where the monks perform tantric worship.
Dressed in vibrant bright brocades with vibrantly decorated and richly adorned paper-mache masks (some extending over one metre in height) the masked dancers simulate combat between lovely spirits and nasty demons to the cacophony of drums, cymbals and long horns. The crowd unites in uproarious song and dance when the dough idol of nasty is destroyed by the leader of black hat dancers signifying that lovely has prevailed.

This afternoon offers a guided sightseeing tour of the town, dominated by Sengge Namgyal’s, nine storey palace. The colossal stone structure is of the most captivating architectural ruins of the region. Built in traditional Tibetan style it sits on the foothills of the barren landscape. Constructed in the 17th century as the residential palace for the King to mark the reunifying Upper & Lower Ladakh.

Above Leh Palace, on Namgyal Tsemo (Victory Peak) overlooking the town, are the ruins of the earliest royal residence at Leh a fortress type structure built by King Tashi Namgyal in the 16th century.
Visits will even be made to Sankar Gompa to view the picture of Avalokitesvara, inset with turquoise & shown with 1000 heads, arms & feet & 100,000 eyes, Shanti Stupa - built to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism & inaugurated by his holiness the Dalai Lama in 1985. Overnight - Leh & Ladakh

Day 3: Time to Explore
Sightseeing in Leh & LadakhToday offers free time for you to independently explore the area. You may require to return to the Hemis Grompa today as the festival continues (on a smaller scale) with a program of music, song, dance & drama. Transportation to the monastery can be arranged locally ought to you require.

If staying in town for the day thinking about visiting the Leh bazaar. The main sites to visit are the Jokhang, the new main Buddhist temple built in the 1980s by the Ladakh Buddhist association & an imposing mosque reflecting a mix of Islamic & Tibetan architecture that accommodating over 500 worshippers dating from the late 17th century situated opposite each other. Overnight - Leh & Ladakh

Day 4: Shey and Thiksey Monestories, Stok Palace
Thiksey Monestories in LehToday offers guided tours of Shey & Thiksey monasteries & Stok Palace. Shey monastery situated on a hilltop, 15km from Leh, was the summer palace of the royal relatives of the region. The monastery houses a storey high-seated picture of Buddha cast from copper & covered with gold leaf. It is also beleived that Kings of Leh were born here.
Thiksey monastery is situated on a hilltop & the views of the green Indus valley from its rooftop are splendid. This monastery has various chambers filled with statues & stupas. Courtyard murals are bright & this imposing structure is in plenty of respects a replica of Potala Palace in Lhasa.

Stok Palace now operates as a museum where in the Sengge Namgyal relatives heirlooms & relics are displayed. Overnight - Leh & Ladakh



Day 5: Leh to Delhi by flight
Friday. Leh - Delhi. Early this morning (dictated by flight times) they transfer to the airport for our flight (booked independently & in addition to our tour cost) to Delhi arriving at about 8:30am. Later today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward international flight.

Opt to extend your stay and explore the sites of Delhi. Additional tour accommodation is obtainable in Delhi ought to you require.


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