Hemis Festival

Hemis Festival

The colourful Hemis Festival commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. The festival is held at Hemi Gompa, an incredible Buddhist monastery which is the most spectacular monastery in Ladakh with links to the Ladakhi Royal Family. Dressed in the dramatic red robes and tunics and blasting out tunes on large horns, the vibrantly-dressed monks make the Hemis Festival an incredible spectacle that each year attracts thousands of devotees from across the region. Another major attraction of the Hemis festival is its colourful fair displaying some of the most exquisite handicrafts of the Ladakh region. However, what takes the cake is the display of the two-story high ” Thanka” of the monastery. This Thanka is beautifully embroidered with pearls and semi-precious stones, and depicts Guru Padmasambhava. It is put on display only once in twelve years.


Day 1: Arrival in Delhi.

Transfer to hotel your Hotel.


Day 2: Delhi 

Morning rest after long flight. Afternoon sightseeing of Old & New Delhi including Red Fort, India Gate, Qutab Minar & riksha ride thru the market in Old Delhi.


Day 3: Fly Delhi – Leh  (3506 Mt)

Early morning transfer to domestic airport for flight to Leh. Flying  over snow-clad ranges of pristine Himalayan peaks, this is a never-to-be-forgotten travel experience as you arrive in the striking  land of Ladakh in the upper Indus Valley. On arrival transfer to hotel. This afternoon visit the town of Leh, a fascinating labyrinth  of winding streets and quaint bazaars. The spectacular eight-story  Leh Palace, looming above and overlooking the town, was built in the  16th century, about the same time as the Potala Palace in Lhasa.

Afternoon visit Sankar monastery (gompa) situated on a valley floor  right in the town. Sankar is the home for the Geluk-pa sect (yellow  hat sect). Afterwards visit the ruins of Tisseru Chorten, Changspa  Chorten and Sanchi Stupa. Overnight at Hotel Grand Dragon or similar.


Day 4:  Leh – Spitok -Leh (36 km) 

After breakfast visit Spitok Gompa, built about 550 years ago. The  head lama of Spitok is the head lama for Ladakh. Spitok Gompa  contains both old temples and those built in the 1970s. Ancient  thankas are preserved here, some having been taken from the Potala  Palace and Lhasa after the Chinese invaded. In the afternoon visit  Stok for a tour of the palace and museum. Stok Palace is the only  inhabited palace in Ladakh. This palace houses a fine private museum,  open to the public when the royal family is in residence. There is a  superb collection of thankas, said to be the best in the world. Some  of them have been created out of pure gold and paints made of crushed  semi-precious stones. Also of interest are antique robes and royal  jewelry specially noted for the turquoise and red coral. The  collection also includes artillery and animal skins. Overnight at Hotel Grand Dragon or similar.


Day 5:  Leh – Hemis – Leh (90 km) 

Morning drive to Hemis to witness the most famous monastic festival of Ladakh.

HEMIS GOMPA: Founded in 1630’s by Stag-tsang-ras-pa under the royal  patronage of Sengge Namgayl, Hemis is one of the largest and richest gompas of Ladakh.

Hemis festival, is one of the most famous monastic festivals and  especially the monkey year festival, which comes in a cycle of 12  years.  The festival commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava,  the founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet.  The sacred dance drama of  the life and mission is performed wearing facial masks and colorful  brocades robes.  The monks dressed in colorful robes wearing  different forms of masks dance slowly around the main  tarchen(flagpole) in the main courtyard. Afternoon join the 2nd  session of the dance which emerges into different forms. During the  festival, the 60 foot thanka of Guru Padma Sambhava is hung in the  courtyard and other precious thankas are also exhibited.

Later explore the richness of Hemis in its various Dukhangs(halls).  Find the huge silver Chortens(stupas) studded with precious stones,  old to very old Thankas brought from Tibet, huge statue of maitriya  Buddha & many statues of different god & goddesses. Late afternoon  drive back to Leh for overnight at Hotel Spic N Span or similar.


Day 6:  Leh – Hemis – Leh (90 km) 

Begin the day with prayers in the courtyard followed by the mask  dance bearing resemblance to certain legendary animals and illustrating various moods of the gods. The festival ends with a long  prayer meeting held by the Rimpoche of the monastery. Overnight at Hotel Grand Dragon or similar.

Leh Palace overlooking the city, Ladakh, Leh, India.

Day 7:  Leh – Lamayuru (125 km) 

Drive to Lamayuru. Visit their monastery, the oldest in Ladakh. It is  believed to have been a sacred site for the pre-Buddhist religion  called Bon. This fascinating 10th century monastery is located in a spectacular setting overlooking verdant farming terraces and is home  to some of the finest frescos, carpets and tangkhas we will see. The  complex includes one of the oldest libraries in the region,  containing extensive books and other literature on the Tibetan  Kagyupa Sect. On our drive back to Uleytokpo, we will  visit both  Resong Monastery and Chulichen Nunnery. Overnight at Hotel Moonland.

Resong Monastery

Day 8: Lamayuru – Alchi (36 km)

Drive to Alchi, one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh,  dating back to the 11th century. Irrigated fields of brilliant green enliven the  rich earth tones of the surrounding Ladakh and Zanskar Ranges, rising  dramatically above the valley.Overnight at Hotel Alchi Resort.


Day 9:  Alchi 

Rest day. In evening enjoy a local dance performance. Overnight at HotelAlchi Resort..


Day 10: Alchi – Leh (76 km) 

Drive to Leh enroute visit Likir Gompa which was established around  the 15th century, and early in its history became responsible for the  oversight of Alchi Gompa, to which it has posted lamas up to the  present day. Likir belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism and is  set on an isolated ridge not far from the village of Saspol.  Overnight at Hotel Grand Dragon or similar.


Day 11: Leh- Shey – Thikse – Leh  (75 km)

Proceed to Shey Palace and Thikse Gompa. Shey, built in 1645 as a  summer residence for the kings of Ladakh, is the oldest palace in  Ladakh. The adjacent gompa houses a gilded copper two-story image of  the seated Buddha. Thikse’s twelve levels rise impressively on a  rocky hillside. This gompa out did Shey by constructing a  fifteen-meter-high clay statue of the Buddha to commemorate the 1970  visit of the Dalai Lama. Overnight at Hotel Grand Dragon or similar.


Day 12: Leh – Hundar  (135 km)

Early morning drive from Leh to Nubra (7 hours drive). The Nubra  Valley lies in the north of Leh and is accessible over the Khardung-la (18,380 ft) the highest motorable road in the world. The  valley was a trade route from Leh and Khasgar via Saser and Karakoram  passes. Apart from unparalleled trekking opportunities the valley has  several Buddhist monasteries namely Sumoor, Tygar and 350 year old  Diskit monastery famous for its murals. From Khardung-la drive to  Khardung village (13,464 ‘) through starkly beautiful country side to  the Traffic Check Post (TCP) at Khalsar where permits have be  registered and checked. Overnight in deluxe bedded camp in Hundar at at Chamba deluxe camp.  All tents have twin beds with clean sheets, quilts and sleeping bags  with shared bathrooms/toilets having modern western facilities.


Day 13: Hundar – Diskit – Hundar (23 km)

After early breakfast,  drive to Diskit and walk up to Diskit  monastery to witness the morning prayer ceremony. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the monastery through a long row of scattered  chortens. The monastery is one of the highest points near the villages belonging to yellow sect. The monastery has 120 resident  monks. The Prayer Hall (Dukhang) has many statues one of which holds  the head and left arm of Turkish invader believed to be about 5000  years old. After lunch leave for Hundar village through sandy desert  valley and visit old fort of Hundar village and small monastery.  Return to Hundar for overnight at Chamba deluxe camp.

The prayer hall, or dukhang of Ki Monastery, Spiti Vallery.

Day 14: Diskit – Leh (118 km)

Drive back to Leh. Overnight at Hotel Grand Dragon or similar.


Day 15: Leh – Delhi 

Transfer to airport to connect flight 9W610 dep. 0735 / arr. 0850 or IT3342 dep. 0810 / arr. 0925 to Delhi. At arrival transfer  to hotel for wash/change and dinner. Late night transfer to International airport to connect flight.