DISCOVER LADAKH

LEH;-

attraction- leh palace- khardungla-la- shey- thiksay- hemis gompa.

NUBRA VALLEY;-

on the way sight seeing . the higest[18380.ft] motorable road in the world ; khardungla-la-khardung village - khalsar seenic beauty of shayok river.

attraction;- deskit monestry, rolling sand dunes at hundar, double humped bactrian camels, the nostalgic old silk route. marvellous moonlight camel safari on the rolling sand dunes.

DROK-PA ;ARYAN AREA;-

Domkhar- skurbuchan- achinathang- hanu- biama- dah

attraction;- the lost comminity of indo-aryan-drok-pa and wonder of nature beauty in indus valley.

PANGONG LAKE ;-

karu- chang - la -durbuk- tangse- lukung- spangmik. may be 30kms journey at lake side.

attraction;- view of the largest brackish lake . pangong

TSO-MORIRI LAKE ;-

Karu- upshi- chumathang- korzok; tso-moriri.

attraction;- panoramic view of brackish lake. tso-moriri and varieties birds.

KYANG PARK ;-

Karu- upshi- chumathang- nyoma-

attraction;- kyang the wild ass of the ladakh and tibet plateaux.......

SURU & ZANSKARA VALLEY;-

Kargil - sankoo - panikhar- parkachil - rangdum - padum.

attraction;- magestic view of mt. nun-kun also glacier spillind down .the rangdum monestery , magestic view of drang-drung glacier- along and winding river of ice . zanskar the virgin vale of ladakh.

LADAKH

Bound two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the karakoram in the north and the himalayas in the south, ladakh , a high-altitude desert, has been modified over the ages by wind and water erosion and sculpted in to a land of rugged landscapes. situated at altitudes ranging from about 9,000ft to 25,000ft , the summer temperatures in ladakh rarely exceed about 27'c in the shade and then plummet to a biling minus 20'c  in the winter. but regardless of the cold, which the people of ladakh exhibit a natural warmth that is given free rein by its ancient traditions.

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS.

A number of fairs and festivals are celebrated in ladakh , among which the annual  festivals of major monesteries are well  worth watching . these  take the form of dance -dramas enacted in the monastic courtyards. lamas, dressed in colourful robes and masks, perform mimes depicting various aspects of the religion , like the triumph of good over evil. the most famous festival is that of the hemis monastery, held in june or early july. every 12th years, a huge thangka of padmasambhava, founder of tibetan buddhism, is ritually exhibited during the festival - the next unvelling is due in 2004, 2016, 2028.

                     FESTIVALS OF LADAKH

GU-STOR

commemorating the victory of good over evil

monasteries- spituk and stongin zanskar valley- de -karsha -korzok shashukul- thiksey- likir in the indus valley - deskit in nubra valley

Gu-stor litetally mean's sacrifice of the 9th day and marks the birthday of tsongkha-pa,the  founder of Geluks-pa monastic order in tibet. a festival of sacred dances or chhams is held to commemorate the event in the major geluks pa monasteries

The Gu-stor tradition begins with the ceremony of gold libation [ser-kyem] in which liquid offering is presented to invite the gods of the four quaters to winterss the sacred dances and protect all living - beings from the evil spirits. Throughout the two days of the festival, sacred dances are perfored by the resident lamas of the monastery, wearing masks of various divinities, which include the guardians of law or 'dharmapalas' and patron divinities of the Geluks-pa monastic order. on the second and last day a 'sacrificial figure' moulded from dough is ritually dismembered with the help or ritual weapons in a ceremony called Dao tulva[killing of the enemy].its pieces are then dispersed in the 4 cardinal directions. This symbolises the banishment of the enemies of the religion , as well as the assassination of the Tibetan apostate king lang-dar-ma by a Buddhist monk during the mid 9th century. in the evening ,an effigy symbolising the stonger force of evil [stor-ma] is burnt with fanfare.

THE SPITUK MONASTERY

clings to a hillock overlooking the village, about 7km west of leh. originally founded during the 11th century as a kadam-pa establishment, it was converted to the Geluks-pa order during the early 15th century. to day, with about 100 resident lamas and several branch monasteries including those at sankar and stok, spituk monastery is one of the major geluks-pa establishments of ladakh. The festival of Gu-stor is held here every year on the 28th & 29th of the 11th Tibetan month which correspondingly falls in the month of January. The dances performed here are considered to be the best in terms of presentation and the costumes of the dancers.

THE THIKSEY MONASTERY

on the other hand celebrates its Gu-stor two months in advance, on 17th & 19th of the 9th Tibetan month, which generally falls in november.Thiksey, only 19kms from leh, is perhaps the most visited monastery after Hemis, on account of its excellent maintenance and impressive potala - like location, along the rising slopes of a hills, over looking many picturesque villages. founded about 550years ago on the site of an earlier kadam-pa establishment, today it is a major Geluks-pa monastery with about 100 lamas on its rolls and several branch monasteries affiliated ti it. the mystic dances here are considered to be among the most impressive, like those of spituk monastery.

In the Nubra valley, the tradition of Gu-stor offering is held in the Deskit monastery. This takes places on the same days on which the leh dosmoche festivals is held and accordingly it is also identified as Dosmoche. 

In the zanskar valley, the monastery of karsha, with more than a hundred resident lamas, is the largest Geluks-pa foundation. it is spectacularly located along the steep mountain- sides rising above the village of karsha, 12kms from padum, which is the regions ancient capital and present - day administrative head quater. The festival of karsha Gu-stor is held on the 27th and 28th day of the 6th Tibetan month which falls in the month of july. close by is the other major Geluks-pa monastery of the area at stong-de, believed to have been founded during the middle of the 11th century on the site used by the Tibetan yogi marpa for meditation. it was subsequently acquired by the Geluks-pa order in the 15th century. There are about 60 monks o its rolls. The festival of stong-de-Gu-stor is held on the 28th and 29th day of the 11th Tibetan month,which falls in january.

DOSMOCHE

The great winter fertival of leh.

Dosmoche is the annual prayer festival, which was instituted by the kings of ladakh on the pattern of the famous mon-lam [or great prayer] ceremony of lhasa. it is the last event of the new year celebrations , and is held every year on the 28th and 29th day of the 12th Tibetan month, which falls in february. the core event comprises sacred dances in the courtyard of the old chapel called the 'new monastery' situated below the gates of leh palace. lamas for this purpose are drawn from different monasteries of ladakh on rotation basis however, only the lamas of Tak-Thok monastery who are experts in tantric practices and astrology, can prepare the elaborate thread- cross model or 'do' which serves as the main votive of the festival. It is believed to ensnare all the evil spirits ,hungry ghosts and demonic forces when consecrated with prayers and the prescribed rites ten other kinds of votive offerings of different shapes and sizes complement the main offering . these are abought down from the venue of the dances and carried through leh's historic bazaar, in an elaborate procession in which thousands of colourfully attired local people as well as the lamas of various monasteries participate both the common and the monastic orchestra lead the way. as the procession reaches the end of the town the great 'do' or thread- cross model is overturened and the offerings are burnt with great fanfare. all the participants join in chanting prayers to wish away the evil spirits and seek protection against natural calamities and disasters in the coming year.

DOSMOCHE AT LIKIR AND DEKIT.

concurrent with the leh 'dosmoche' the tradition of offering Gu-stor votive and the performance of sacred dances is also observed in the monastery of likir, situated to the west of leh at a distance of 52kms likir monastery, with about 100 lamas on its rolls, is a major Geluks-pa foundation and one of the several monasteries of ladakh which are under the direct chargeof nari rimpoche, whose present incornation is the Dalai lama's younger brother. initial foundation of the monastery as a kadam-pa establishment is attributed to the year 1065 ad, while in the early, 15th century it was expanded and acquired by the 'Geluks-pa' order, much in the same way as the other old kadam-pa foundations were acquired. being a major monastery of the region, it attracts thousands of devotees and visitors from all parts of ladakh on the eve of Dosmoche festivals. Another monastery that holds the same tradition concurrently with leh Dosmoche is that of Deskit head quarters 'early 15th century Deskit monastery during the festival, lamas perform sacred dances while the devotees present folk dances of the area as intertudes.

TSE-CHU FESTIVAL.

padma sambhava's anniversary

They  10th day [tseschu] of every Tibetan month is considered very auspicious. in particular, the 10th day of the 5th  and the 10th month are celebrated as the birth anniversary of padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism and the patron saint of tibet. on this occasion, the festival of Tse-chu is held in the major monasteries that fallows the kargyud-pa [old school] traditions. 

HEMIS TSE-CHU

In the Hemis monastery, the event is celebrated as a 2-day festival popularly known as hemis tse-chu for which ladakh is famous all over the world. 

                    SIGHT  SEEING 

LEH 

Town has many historic monuments to visit, starting from the nine- storey palace built by king singe namgyal in the tradition of tibetan architecture. above the palaces are the ruins of a fort, the earliest royal residence built in the 16th century .Down in the historic bazaar, the main sites to visit are the Jo-khang, a newly built buddhist temple, and the historic jamia mosque founded in the late 17th century. 

          strolling along the main bazaar, observing the crowd and looking in to the curio shops is an engaging experience.The tibetan markets offer bargain shopping for many kinds of semi- precious stones and jewellery, as well  as a whole array of curios.

outside the town, sites connected with the  former kingdom's history dot the central part of the indus valley from upshi down to khalatse. Apart from the Leh palace, there is the Shey palace, the ancient capital, with its palaces and temples. Down river, Basgo houses the remains of a fort and temple and across the river from leh is Stok palace, the present residence of the royal family, which also houses  a museum of artifacts associated with the dynasty. 

Then there are the buddhist monestries, of which as any as 12 major ones are situated on a near the indus .The oldest monastery is that of Lamayuru,which is believed to have been a sacred site for the pre-buddhist bon religion. on the other hand, the monasteries of Phyang, Hemis and Chemry were all founded under the direct patronage of ruling Namgyal monastery of ladakh, was established at the instance of king singe Namgyal, while his widow founded chemrey as a posthumous act of merit for him.

The monasteries of Thiksey , Likir, Ri-dzong and Spituk, and their branch monasteries as well as Takthok and Matho gompas are the other major monasteries.Tak-thok,situated at the foot of the chang-la pass. incorporates one of the many caves in the himalayas where the buddhist apostle padmasambhava is said to have rested on his journey to tibet,while Matho gompa is famous for the festival of the oracles held early in the  year, usually in the first half of march

But the most valuable monestery of the region is Alchi, which has been maintained by the nearby Likir monastery known as Chos-kor, or religious enclave, it comprises of five temples, all of which have murals dating form the 11th and 12th centuries. 

NUBRA VALLEY

To the north of leh is the nubra valley formed by the rivers Nubra and Shayok, which drains the saser sub-range of karakoram. the road to nubra crosses over the khardungla, which at 18,300 fts. is the highest motorable road in the world. prominent places to visit in the valley include Deskit, the capital and Hundar, just across the rolling sand dunes, where  a small population of Bactrian camels , a legacy from the central Asia trade route, is used by tourists for going on camel safaris . north of deskit the road leads in to the valley of thenubra rivers along which Sumur with the Samsta-ling monastery nestling along the mountain -side, is the main attraction Panamik, with its hot springs, is yet another sight seeing destination in the same valley.

HIGH ALTITUDE LAKES

Siyuated at an altitude of 14,000fts. Pangong lake is a long narrow basin of inland drainage about 6 to 7 km at its widest point  and about 145km long. it presents spectacular views of the chang-chenmo mountain range to the north,their reflections shimmering in the ever-changing blues and green of the lakes brackish waters.

TSO-MORIRI

The other high altitude lake of ladakh is set amidst the spectacullar landscape of the Rupshu plateau. it is famous as breeding ground of the rare bar-headed geese , besides a number of other sepecies, including the brahmini duck and brown -headed gull. the remote village of Korzok, with its dozen or so houses and its gompa, is the only permanent settlement in Rupshu, which is otherwise inhabited by the nomadic chang-pa herdsmen, who live in tents all year round.

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