Ladakh, renowned as India's cold desert is an enchanting place dotted with the snow-clad Himalayas, verdant valleys, high passes, peaceful monks and beautiful monasteries. The fairs and festivals of Ladakh have played a key role to showcase the true Buddhist culture, traditions of this sacred and enchanting land. Hemis Festival is one such prominent festival that attracts people from all parts of the world.
The two day Hemis Festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and pomp all over the Ladakh region. The festival is organized in Hemis Gompa, which is one of the largest and richest Buddhist monasteries in the world. The Buddhist festival is held by the Lama Head to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, the Tibetan Buddhism founder. Hemis is located in the Ladakh division of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, however, it is best known to tourists because of its colorful festival held in July.
The courtyard of Hemis Gompa-the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, is the stage for the famous 'Hemis' festival, which celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. The colorful two-day pageant falls on the 10th day (Tse-Chu) of the Tibetan lunar month. The local people are seen dressed up in their finest traditional garb for the occasion.
The Hemis Monastery is situated about 40 Km away from Leh. It is a UNESCO world heritage site that is owned by Drukpa Lineage. The monastery is enveloped by the majestic mountains that captivate the attention of the travelers visiting the monastery. The monastery was primarily founded by the first incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in the year 1630. Offering prayers to the copper-gilt statue of the Lord Buddha provide inner peace and knock out all the stress and worries. There are several stupas made up of gold and silver and holy thanks inside the monastery.
Celebrations of Hemis Festival
Hemis Festival is one of those festivals that reflect the history, tradition and Buddhist culture. On this day, a ritual is followed by the people of Ladakh. They wear colorful masks, dance and celebrate the festival with great fervor. One of the prime attractions of the festival is the mask dance performed by the Lamas of the Hemis monastery. The dance illustrates the victory of good over the evil. The Lamas dress themselves in dazzlingly patterned brocades and perform the dance around the central flagpole, which is situated in the courtyard of the monastery.
Souvenirs, Souvenirs Everywhere
Take back beautiful souvenirs for your loved ones. The colorful fun-fair has numerous stalls where one can purchase untold riches. These Ladakhi handicrafts and indigenous goods are marvelous pieces of work. There are hand-woven rugs, wall hangings, and shawls in bright colors. There is pottery, woodcraft, wicker baskets, woollens, bags, and trinkets galore. You can get postcards, prayer flags and books to gift your friends and family.
Season of Hemis Monastery
Tourists wishing to visit Ladakh and Leh only during the monsoon season because the most colorful and highly popular Hemis Festival is celebrated at the Buddhist monastery of Hemis Jangchub Choling only during this season. This monastery that is situated near Leh is more than 3 centuries old and therefore, if tourists visit the place during this festival, they can know the ancient history of the place and also the monastery culture. Visitors at this time of the year in Ladakh are amongst the lucky ones as they get to attend such an auspicious festival, plus the unique handicrafts, that are sold in a hefty amount at the monastery, can add to their interest. Antique objects and artifacts like Buddhist idols, Tibetan gems and jewelry, and handwoven dresses are some of the prime attractions of the numerous shopping stalls, temporarily set during the festival.
How to Reach Hemis Monastery
By Air: The nearest airport to reach Hemis is Leh that is about 32 km away. Upon arriving at the airport, taxis are readily available to reach Hemis monastery.
By Train: Jammu is the nearest railhead to reach Hemis. The visitors have the option of hiring a bus or taxi to reach Manali through Shimla. From Manali, frequent taxi and bus services are available to reach Leh. Upon reaching Leh, one can opt for bus or taxi for Hemis.
By Road: There are two routes available for the visitors to reach Hemis via Leh - one is from Srinagar - Leh (434) highway and another is Manali-Leh (473) highway.