The land of high mountain passes, Ladakh is one of the last thriving centers of Mahayana Buddhism. Experiencing this serenity of Buddhism is the basic premise of Ladakh tour. Untouched by the waves of modernity, this region in the extreme north of India is bestowed with rare natural bliss in the form of pure Himalayan splendor, pristine valleys, lakes, and deserts.
The prevalence of Buddhism is what makes Ladakh unique. The outward symbols of the religion are present almost everywhere. In the form of fluttering multicoloured prayer flags, bright prayer wheels, whitewashed chortens (revered here at par with stupas) are some of the iconic Buddhist heritage. But what stands apart in this region is the illustrious presence of the medieval monasteries. Perched on the rocky peaks, these regional gompas are both repositories of ancient Ladakhi acumen and living centers of worship. Heritage wise, the tranquil monasteries here treasure remarkable cultural and religious wealth based on giant brass Buddhas, bejewelled thangkas, libraries of antique Tibetan manuscripts, musical instruments and painted murals featuring Tantric divinities.
Location of Ladakh
Ladakh abounds an area of 86,904 km˛ on the highest altitude plateau sandwiched between Karakoram and Himalayan mountain range.
Tourist attractions of Ladakh-
Shey Palace and Monastery
Both Shey Palace and Monastery crown the peak in Shey. Located 15 km from Leh, the capital of Ladakh, Shey once served as the summer capital of the region. The royal palace, ravaged by the time, is still a place of worship and the prayer room contains a two-storey gilded copper statue of Sakyamuni (the historical Buddha), installed in seventeenth century.
Exhibiting a fine example of the Ladakh Buddhist architecture, this monastery is a part of Gelugpa order. It is more of a town where hundreds of monks reside in the whitewashed huts. The gompa also has two prayer chambers. The eastern chamber features a mesmerising 14m-high statue of Maitreya - the future Buddha in a magnificent jeweled headdress. And the western hall has statues of dharmapalas / enlightened humans who have accepted a fearful aspect to show their indifference from the ignorance of the physical world.
Hemis takes its name from the world famous and revered Buddhist Gompa in Ladakh. This is the largest and grandest gompas to be explored during Ladakh Tour, famous for its Hemis Festival (June-July). During the festival, the masked Chaam Dance is performed by the monks. Also, once in every 12 years, the massive 12m-wide and four-storeys thangka in Ladakh is unfurled from the top of the monastery. The next Thangka unfurling ceremony is scheduled for the year 2016. The 8m-high statue of Padmasambhava stands in glory within the Hemis complex.
Stok Palace and Monastery
Stok Palace 10 km from Leh is the official home to the royal family of Ladakh. It is here that many precious belongings of the many royal dynasties are displayed. In its many halls, displays here include rare precious stones, old Thangkas, Queens’ jewelery, arms & armoury and the Royal Crown of the King.
The most famous festival in Ladakh - Hemis Buddhist Festival
The monasteries of Ladakh are also the center of cultural tourism in the region. Each monastery celebrates its own set of annual festivals. Of all the festivals, the one that is celebrated with zest is the Hemis festival. During this two day colourful event, many tourists from the world over take the Ladakh tour.
The famous mask or Chaam dance performed by the Lamas represents various gods and demons. In the end, the whole festival symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
What are the other festivals celebrated in Ladakh?
| Celebration Time
|End January-early February
|End February-early March
|End April-early May
|End June-early July
|Early to end July
|Mid July to early August
|Early to mid January
|Festival of Ladakh
|1st week of August