HEMIS FESTIVAL OF LADAKH
As winter fizzles out enfolding its long drapes of snowfall, the valley of Ladakh is filled with a refreshing zeal to celebrate their grandest fiesta called ‘Hemis festival’. The majestic mountains, rolling hills, barren landscapes, and rugged terrain start sparkling gorgeously in the colors of festivity.
Hemis festival of Ladakh brings the arid land of the valley into life with its grand celebration. Don’t be surprised if you find air whispering the rustles of festivity, mountains manifesting the untold saga of culture, dust evincing the different shades of diversity, and people breathing in the vibes of festivity during Hemis festival in Ladakh.
Today, let’s hop in the slab terrain of Ladakh capturing the vibrancy of Hemis festival
WHAT IS HEMIS FESTIVAL
Hemis festival is one of the biggest festivals in Ladakh. Ideally, it is a soothing respite for people of the valley after biting winters. Hemis festival of Ladakh has a deep association with history and culture too. As you know, Ladakh is called ‘Mini Tibet’, Hemis festival is all about Buddhist people and their culture. In a real sense, it is the grandest display of Tibetan culture in India.
The festival takes place at the sweeping courtyard of Hemis monastery, the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh. This is where the festival got its name. All Tibetans come together and celebrate their day performing alluring dances and various cultural activities. You can see multitudes of onlookers at Hemis Gompa reveling in the fun of Hemis festival of Ladakh.
The real charm of Hemis festival of Ladakh is that it is a perfect assimilation of history, culture, spirituality, entertainment, and enthusiasm. With its gaiety and ebullience, the festival creates a magical aura inevitably.
SIGNIFICANCE OF HEMIS FESTIVAL
If you think Ladakhi people celebrate Hemis festival just to showcase their culture, and there is no particular reason behind its celebration, you’re doing injustice with the glorious Tibetan history. Know why? Well, because Hemis festival of Ladakh is probably as old as the Buddhist legends. The festival traces back its origin to the 8th century. Yes, since then.
Can you imagine, Hemis festival has survived every onslaught of nature and glorifies in the same splendor even after thousands of years. Hemis festival is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of Lord Padmasambhava, who is held in high reverence in Tibetan history. Also known as Guru Rinpoche, Lord Padmasambhava was a spiritual leader who threw out demons and evil spirits from Ladakh during the 8th century. Thus, Hemis festival of Ladakh also symbolizes a victory of good over evil.
Lord Padmasambhava was also the man who introduced Buddhism in the Himalayan kingdom. No wonder why people regard him as an incarnation of Lord Buddha himself. Other than being a religious event, Hemis festival of Ladakh is also a fathomless pool of exhilaration and vivacity.
Learn the significance of Hemis festival someday later. Right now, just feel and behold this festive aura.
HEMIS FESTIVAL TIMINGS
Festivals are not like your night out parties that you can enjoy whenever you want. Instead, they have a particular date and time. Hemis festival of Ladakh is no an exception. It also takes place on a fixed date of a month. The calendar is different, though. And, that fixed date is the 10th day of 5th month of Tibetan calendar. Hemis international fair starts on this specific day and lasts until the next day.
According to the English calendar, dates vary every year. However, it generally takes place between February to July. So, make sure you visit Ladakh during these months. If you want to witness the most pulsating celebration of Hemis festival, visit it in ‘Tibetan Year of Monkey’, which falls in every 12 years.
According to Tibetan astrology, ‘Tibetan Year of Monkey’ is considered very auspicious. Therefore, people celebrate the Hemis festival on a grand scale in this particular year. A 12-meter long embellished Thangka (a sacred Tibetan silk painting) of Lord Padmasambhava is unfurled from the second floor of the monastery. It is really a breathtaking moment. We can guarantee you must have never seen such a meticulous painting before. Unfortunately, now you have to wait a long 10 years to catch the glimpse of this spectacular Thangka.
Last time, it was unfurled in 2016 and next is due in 2028. Wait! Don’t cancel your plan. Hemis festival of Ladakh takes place annually anyway. Though Thangka ceremony is not going to happen this year, Hemis festival Ladakh 2019 has a lot more in store to please your eyes.
HEMIS FESTIVAL 2019 DATES
So, you have finally made up your mind for 2019 Hemis festival, Ladakh. Great! Buckle up and be all braced up because oodles of wonders are rolling your way. Before hitting the road, let us tell you the dates of Hemis festival 2019.
This grand fiesta will be taking place on July 11 and will wind up on July 12. However, the preparation for this fete starts weeks ahead and the air remains festive months later. Given the fact, you can plan your Leh Ladakh festival tour even weeks ahead. Just make sure to be there on these two particular days.
Commencing on: 11th July 2019
Culminating on: 12th July 2019
People start gearing up themselves for this gala affair ahead of weeks. From practicing their stirring dance performances to decking Hemis monastery exquisitely, people leave no stone unturned to charm the visitors.
The cymbals, drums, trumpets, and ear-splitting horns are set up in advance to beckon the worldwide people. Since people need to wear traditional dresses, they get it prepared beforehand too so that they don’t have to fritter away their precious time on these two days. On the given auspicious day, the celebration begins in Hemis monastery with the first ray of sun. If you wonder what you can expect in Hemis festival 2019, carry on reading. Don’t let your curiosity ease off.
HOW LONG HEMIS FESTIVAL IS CELEBRATED
Without beating much around the bush, let us come to the point. Hemis festival lasts for 2 days. During these two days, you’ll find every nook and corner of Ladakh seeped into the gush of jubilation. The joyous occasion takes over the entire valley. As long as your eyesight would reach, you’ll see the vibrant color of Tibetan culture.
Since it is a grand festival, these two days are filled with an assortment of activities, rituals, and events. People are all pumped up and drenched thoroughly in happiness. Better, you yourself clap your eyes on the two-day celebration of Hemis festival 2019 in India.
As dawn enters, Ladakh starts sparkling with the dazzle of its cultural fiesta. Men, women, kids, youths, oldies, and everybody gather in the far-reaching courtyard of Hemis monastery to celebrate the birthday of Lord Padmasambhava. The day starts with some rituals performed by head priests. They bring out a huge statue of Lord Padmasambhava in the courtyard and adorn it wonderfully.
People worship Lord Padmasambhava reverently and invoke his blessings. An assorted of items including uncooked rice and holy water are required to perform this ritual. Then, the pulsating dance performance known as ‘Cham dance’ breathes life into the festival. The performers gather around the center flagpole of the courtyard and gyrate blithely. The unstoppable celebration continues until the dusk marks its presence.
This celebration is so captivating that you can’t take your eyes off even for a moment. That’s why make sure to flip on your camera as you set your first feet in the courtyard of Hemis monastery.
During Hemis festival of Ladakh, people are so spirited that they are in no mood to stop. The festive aura doesn’t let them sleep. They eagerly wait for the next day. As the first ray of sun blooms, it brings along a wide smile in everyone’s face. People proceed on their throbbing celebration from the point where they have left it a night before.
On the second day, there is hardly any ritual. It is the day to enjoy, rejoice, and dance to the core. People wear traditional costumes like long gowns, headgears, mystic masks, and enthrall the onlookers with their swift moves. Further, melodious music accompanied by an array of musical instruments beef up the charisma of Cham dance. The music starts in a slow tempo and gains momentum gradually.
You can witness Cham dance at its full glory on the second day of Hemis festival. Believe us, it is so intensifying that you can’t resist yourself tapping your feet and swaying blithely to the tunes of absorbing music. We’re not exaggerating it at all. When the performers take the stage, entire monastery starts jumping to the beats of their dance.
Eventually, people destroy the flimsy sculptures of demons that are prepared with dough purposely for the dance. The black hat dancers smash the sculptures and throw the broken pieces in 4 different directions. For you, it might seem entertaining, but it is a part of a ritual in the Hemis festival.
MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF HEMIS FESTIVAL IN LADAKH
During Hemis festival, the barren land of valley gleams at its entire vista. Every corner of Ladakh entices the visitors. However, it won’t be possible to make it happen. Still, try to capture as much as you can in your heart and of course in your camera. Finding it hard what to catch and what to overlook in your Hemis festival tour Ladakh? Well, allow us to help you.
Make sure to explore these key attractions during the Hemis festival of Ladakh.
Cham dance is the gist of Hemis festival of Ladakh. Also known as ‘masked dance’, Cham dance is a deep insight into unfaltering Tibetan culture and heritage. The ultimate purpose of Cham dance in Hemis festival is to destroy all the evils and obstacles. The performers put on long gowns, elaborate masks and then enact good and evil characters associated with their legends. Guess what, their every mask holds a different significance.
Since it’s a different culture, you might not understand anything initially. But, as the performance proceeds on, their subtle expressions, swift moves, and ebullient enthusiasm portray everything explicitly. Euphonious musical instruments and soul-stirring music further flabbergast the people and make it a rapturous affair.
You’ll see the main dancers in big black hats. They take the center stage and other people perform around them. Some of them also hold a weapon in their hands. Soak your eyes with this pulsating Hemis festival dance and admire the glory of Tibetan culture.
Hemis Monastery is the crowning jewel of Ladakh. Even when it’s not the time of Hemis festival, Hemis Monastery will greet you in its all splendor. Nevertheless, it becomes an ethereal place during these two days of Hemis festival. Be its interior embellishment or the majestic façade, Hemis monastery will sweep you off your feet at the first sight itself.
During Hemis festival of Ladakh, it is adorned gorgeously and cleaned meticulously. The vibrant ornamentation kissed by the sun seduces the people from miles away. If you’re a photography buff, Hemis Monastery is not going to give even a moment’s respite to your camera. With the panoramic backdrop of Himalayan ranges and hued in the colors of festivity, Hemis monastery draws a lifelike painting of architectural beauty.
Other than its festive aura, capture its cultural saga, rich history, and stellar architecture too. Hemis monastery is steeped in history so deep that its every pebble manifests an evocative tale. You just need to feel it.
HEMIS MONASTERY MUSEUM
We have just talked about the sublime architecture of Hemis monastery that is further beautified by alluring ornamentation. Once you’re done with admiring the finest fusion of craftsmanship and adornment, get an eyeful of Hemis museum located inside the monastery.
Hemis monastery museum has stood the test of time and successfully retained some priceless artifacts and cultural treasures of Buddhism. Today, it showcases these antique vestiges gloriously in a vibrant way. Believe us, these indescribable relics are so absorbing that they’re going to suck up all battery of your camera. Seriously, you can’t put your camera off.
Be it fascinating paintings or elaborate murals and be it age-old statues of Buddhist deities or the richly preserved headgears, Hemis museum is a brimming pack of amusement for you.
Here comes the vital part that you can’t afford to miss in your Hemis festival Leh Ladakh tour. Whether you’re a shopaholic or not, the colorful stalls of Hemis festival will allure you impulsively. The captivating fun-fare will spellbind you in its absorbing air.
You’ll see myriad of small stalls in and around Hemis monastery. Entire Ladakh has something different in store for you during Hemis festival, but these small stalls are just irresistible. From enthralling handicrafts to peerless artifacts, from appealing jewelry to dazzling gemstones, from eye-catching accessories to vibrant clothes, from bewitching hand-woven carpets to lovely wicker baskets, and from intricate paintings to aboriginal goods, these stalls are replete with galore of Buddhist items.
Here, go on a shopping spree to your heart’s content. Fill your shopping bags with plenty of souvenirs for you and your loved ones. Believe us, you can’t find this far-fetched medley of things anywhere else in the country. If you’re fond of books, these stall of Hemis festival of Ladakh has some masterpieces for you. A bit of advice, please don’t bargain here.
Does a drink is a key attraction? We know you must be thinking this. No? Well, we agree with you. It’s certainly not a key attraction, but it is something you must try in your Hemis festival Ladakh tour. Chang drink is to Hemis festival of Ladakh what Bhang is to Holi. Actually, Chang is a Tibetan wine, mainly prepared from rice water. People also add other ingredients to make it more delicious.
Hemis festival of Ladakh is incomplete without Chang drink. In fact, it is the traditional drink served to everyone during the festival. Don’t worry, it has little alcoholic content. You won’t lose your consciousness. It is just to arouse your gusto. So, quench your thirst with a glass of Chang drink and dance wildly to the electrifying beats of the drum.
An alcoholic drink intensifies the enjoyment of a festival million times more. No? Then, don’t hold back yourself from Chang drink during this extravagant festival. You can get Chang drink anywhere in the market during Hemis festival of Ladakh. It is also prepared in every household.
GUIDE FOR HEMIS FESTIVAL IN LADAKH
If you’re going to attend Hemis festival of Ladakh for the first time, you should keep certain things in mind. Else, you’ll end up ruining all the fun of Hemis Leh festival 2019.
● If you’re a person who doesn’t bother much about the revolving sticks of the clock, you have to be punctual in order to get the most out of Hemis festival of Ladakh.
● Hemis monastery is 45 km from Leh, and the festival begins the early morning. So, make sure you leave for the place ahead of scheduled time.
● Here you have to follow ‘first come, first served’ rule because there is a huge throng. Obviously, everyone wants to be on the front. So, the earlier you come, the better for you. You’ll manage to grab front seats easily.
● If you want to capture every bit of Hemis festival in your camera, you have to grab a front seat. Else, you’ll end up capturing unnumbered of heads of onlookers.
● Since the festival goes daylong, keep some snacks with you. However, you can buy them from the Tibetan stalls too, but this will cost you losing your seat along with some pennies. You won’t definitely prefer this. No?
● Here, some seats are reserved for the monks. Make sure you check them before occupying. In fact, there is a separate sitting arrangement for the tourists. Look out for that.
● If you’re having any problem, turn to the monks. They’re very amicable. Don’t do anything that you don’t know.
● Hemis monastery is sweeping and rambling. So, make sure to be a bit conscious while exploring it.
HOW TO REACH HEMIS MONASTERY
We have suggested you be on time for Hemis festival of Ladakh. Now, your mind must be rumbling that how you’re going to get there. After all, Hemis monastery is long 45 km from Leh. You can’t go on a walk, and getting public transport is not so easy in Ladakh. Feeling stuck? Well, leave the worries for us. We’ll guide you in every step.
Though the public transports are not easily available in Ladakh in usual days, you can get the infinite number of vehicles during the Hemis festival. No matter where you land in Leh & Ladakh, Hemis monastery is easily accessible from every corner of the valley. The best and the most affordable means of transport are buses.
Other than buses, private jeeps and cars are also available. To your delight, you can even get a Royal Enfield. However, there are certain numbers of bikes, so they’re not available all the time. Bike trip is really thrilling in Ladakh. Just go for it.
The shortest ways to get the monastery are Srinagar-Leh highway and Manali-Leh highway. They both would take around 1 hour to reach Hemis monastery.
FACTS ABOUT HEMIS FESTIVAL OF LADAKH
It’s not only the cultural display of Hemis festival that bewilders the visitors but there is also a set of mind-boggling facts that leave the people amazed. So, are you ready to blow your mind with the far-fetched facts of Hemis festival? Yes? Okay, here you go:
● Hemis monastery is the largest and oldest monastery in Ladakh. It houses a number of Buddhist statues. Each of them has a particular significance.
● Hemis monastery also boasts the honor of housing the largest Thangka (sacred silk painting) of 12 meters.
● Ideally, Hemis festival is a celebration of faith, devotion, culture, togetherness, and, of course, enthusiasm.
● A wide array of luscious Buddhist cuisines further glorifies the festivity of Hemis festival.
● Hemis festival marks the birth anniversary of Lord Padmasambhava. The festival is believed to bring good wellbeing and spiritual strength in people.
● Hemis festival has a set of customary rituals, traditional costumes, and cultural events, which all make it unique in its own way.
● The grand celebration of Hemis festival takes places in every 12 years when ‘Tibetan Year of Monkey’ is back on Tibetan astrology.
● The theme of Cham dance is always a tale taken from their mythological legends.
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN LADAKH DURING HEMIS FESTIVAL
You have enjoyed exhaustively the two gala days of Leh Hemis festival. But, it’s not the all. Don’t take off your hat and rucksack yet. There is still a lot more to feel, experience, explore, and enjoy. Don’t restrict yourself just to the four walls of Hemis Monastery. Go out and cruise through entire Ladakh, which is all ready to imbue you with a sense of sheer delight. Ready to plunge in this dripping ocean of happiness? Okay, let’s embark on.
HEMIS NATIONAL PARK
So far, you have seen people at their wildest during the Hemis festival of Ladakh. Now, turn your gaze and see the animals of Ladakh at their grandest glory. Perched high above in 4400km2 area, Hemis national park is a visionary treat to your eyes. It is home to some indigenous species of flora and fauna. If you crave to capture the snow leopard at the closest proximity, Hemis national park has a lot more for you.
Its unrivaled topography matched with the panoramic charm of nature will spellbind you. To add further, the rigid rocks and sloppy hills of Hemis national park would be a delight for you if you’re a trekking beast.
Surrounded by the dense shrubs, majestic mountains, arid fields, and incredibly stark slopes, Nubra Valley is the most intriguing creation of God in Ladakh. The alluring sand dunes of Nubra valley infuse a mystical fascination in the air. If you manage to keep all your senses awake amid this irresistible lure, hold your camera tightly because Nubra valley won’t give it even a moment’s respite.
Glorified by Shyok and Nubra Rivers and replete with verdant greenery, Nubra valley is a heaven for the peace seekers. If you’re the one, Nubra valley is calling you.
If you want to visit a place where calmness whispers the melodious songs in the praise of nature, head over to Pangong Lake. Located at a high altitude of 4350 meters, Pangong Lake is a trove of impeccable beauty. Fortunately, this impeccable beauty sparkles at its entire glory during Hemis festival of Ladakh only.
In other seasons, you’ll find it thoroughly frozen. So, make sure you don’t miss a visit to Pangong Lake in you Hemis festival tour 2019. The water of Pangong Lake keeps changing its color in every season. So, don’t be surprised if you find Pangong Lake in different colors every time you visit it.
KHARDUNG LA PASS
Here comes the delight for bikers. If you’re a passionate biker and haven’t been to Khardung La pass yet, you need to perk up your bucket list right away. Located at a high elevation of 5359 meters in Ladakh region, Khardung La Pass is one of the highest motorable roads in the world.
Acting as a gateway to Shyok and Nubra Valley, Khardung La Pass generally remains closed during winters. However, it is open during the Hemis festival of Ladakh. Therefore, make sure to capture this ethereal thrill in Hemis festival Leh tour.
Khardung La Pass is often draped with the snow. Riding through the narrow trail and slippery land is thrilling beyond your imagination. This breathtaking ride will rush the stirring blood in your nerves in the midst of the freezing atmosphere.
After visiting Turtuk village of Ladakh, you’ll scream out with amazement “Ladakh, why are you so mesmerizing”. Believe us, this little village of Ladakh is so enthralling that it will make you go weak at the knees. Located at the northernmost part of India, Turtuk is an unexplored pearl in Ladakh. To be more specific, it is an unearthly elope, where nature still rules over the science.
There is no Wifi, no internet, and no modern-age vibrancy. Still, you’ll find people smiling and enjoying their life to the core.
The crabby mountains, unspoiled nature, sloppy hills, and far-reaching deserts make Turtuk Village a mysterious offbeat destination in Ladakh.
It goes without saying that Ladakh is famous for unnumbered of monasteries. And, these monasteries come at their all glory during Hemis festival of Ladakh. You would be doing injustice with your Hemis festival Ladakh tour if you miss any of them. Therefore, after Hemis monastery, rush for Thiksey monastery, which is just 20 km from Leh.
Nestled high above on a hill, Thiksey monastery looks like an entire kingdom. It is so exquisitely etched that it manifests the finest craftsmanship of Tibetan architecture. As you’ll get inside the monastery, the vibrant embellishment will enrapture you. A massive pillar carved with Buddha’s teachings is the center attraction of Thiksey monastery.
Overlooking majestic Indus River, Spituk monastery is probably the most precious treasure of Buddhist culture. Other than soothing tranquility, Spituk monastery has a lot more to offer its visitors. From a priceless collection of artifacts to an exemplary assortment of murals, Spituk monastery has enfolded a deep culture and history within itself.
Perched atop a hill, Spituk monastery offers a captivating view of the entire valley from the high above. With the breathtaking backdrop of Himalayan ranges and awe-inspiring surroundings, this quaint monastery will make you capture the glorifying nature in your digital lens.
Phyang monastery is another Buddhist Gompa known for its rich history and sublime architecture. It is perched atop Phyang hill that’s why it is called Phyang monastery. If you fall short of time, leave out other monasteries but not this one. Wonder why? Well, it has something different in store to satisfy your curiosity itch. Unlike other Buddhist monasteries, Phyang monastery is an unmatched fusion of Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian culture.
This consummate amalgamation makes it an apt place for the photography buffs. If you want to treat your eyes with sheer amazement, set your feet in its extensive museum. The museum has superbly preserved the longstanding relics of all these three cultures.
Shey monastery is the second most popular monastery in Ladakh. It has shrouded many wonders to throw out your way. Hence, don’t miss this one. You don’t have to reserve a particular day for Shey monastery. It is on the way to Hemis monastery. So, you can cover up both the same day.
Speaking of transcendent splendor of Shey monastery, it will leave you astonished with its regal charm. Shey monastery is actually located inside Shey Palace, which was built as a summer resort by Namgyal kings. Each and every corner of Shey monastery grabs the eyeballs. Among all, the huge statue of Sakyamuni Buddha sculpted with sparkling gold and copper is the center of attraction.
Amid the boulder terrain, sloppy hillocks, and imposing mountains, if there is anything that bears testimony to time, it is Leh Palace. It has withstood the ravages of time, and today evinces the regal history of Leh magnificently. Rested atop desolate Namgyal hills, Leh palace is a nine-storey grand palace.
Though today it is in a derelict state, the glorious history of Namgyal rulers in still resonant within the giant four walls of Leh palace. Reflecting the finest craftsmanship of Tibetan architecture, Leh palace is beautifully adorned with wooden work, paintings, murals, and interior embellishments. If your camera is looking for something more breathtaking, just head over to the roof where a phenomenal beauty is ready to embrace you in its lap.
ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS:
Do you need to know anything else about Hemis festival 2019? No? Think again! Okay, let us allow read your mind. Well, your mind wants the answers to these questions about Hemis festival in India.
Who celebrates Hemis festival of Ladakh?
Hemis festival of Ladakh is a Tibetan festival celebrated by Buddhists. Nevertheless, people from all over the world come to witness this gala affair.
Is Hemis festival a cultural festival?
Yes, you can call it a cultural festival as it exhibits Tibetan culture on a grand scale. However, Hemis festival of Ladakh holds a prominent religious significance too.
What kind of clothes do you need to pack for Hemis festival?
This is a no-brainer that you need to pack a heap of woolen clothes. After all, you’re going Ladakh, a frozen zone. Particularly for the Hemis festival, you don’t need any special packing.
Is Hemis festival celebrated every year?
Yes, Hemis festival of Ladakh is celebrated every year. It commences annually on the 10th day of 5th month of Tibetan calendar. This day generally falls between February to July in the English calendar.
Where Hemis festival takes place?
Unlike other festivals, Hemis festival of Ladakh is not celebrated in households. Rather people come together and celebrate it grandiosity in the all-encompassing courtyard of Hemis monastery.