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Hemis Festival 2016: Observe Vivid Hues of Ladakhi Culture

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Dancing to the sounds of cymbals, trumpets and drums, the people of Ladakh commemorate Guru Padamsambhav each year on his birth anniversary. A joyous occasion that further lights up with the performance of Cham Dance or Mask Dance is held annually in Hemis Monastery in the month of June. Amidst the incessant prayers, the message of triumph of good over evil is imparted and everyone returns home with unforgettable memories of this two-day festivity. Like every year, this year’s Hemis Festival 2016 looks promising and it indeed beckons globetrotters to march up to Leh to witness what is unparalleled. Here is what you should know about Hemis Festival 2016:

Where is Hemis Festival Celebrated?

Ladakh-Hemis Monastery

The colourful festival takes place in Hemis Monastery, which is situated about 45kms from Leh city. The monastery is believed to be at least 300 years old and has been under the Namgyal progeny.

What are the Dates of Hemis Festival 2016?

The festival is a two-day celebration and will be commencing on July 14, 2016 and its end will be marked on July 15, 2016. The festival is said to be celebrated in the 5th month of Tibetan calendar.

Why is Hemis Festival Celebrated?

Guru Padmasambhav is reckoned to be second greatest figure of Buddhism after Lord Buddha. The legend has it that Guru Padmasambhav conquered the dark forces, which he did with the help of Vajrayana Buddhism. This tantric form of Buddhism not only defeated the dark powers but transformed them into protectors and guardians of the region. Thus, Guru Padmasambhav has been marked significant; and that is why his birth anniversary is celebrated with much zeal and enthusiasm in the Buddhist community. Hemis Festival is also celebrated to commemorate the sacred Guru on his birth anniversary.

What to Expect in Hemis Festival 2016?


Like every year, the Cham Dance or the Mystic Mask Dance steals the show during the festival. This year again, the Cham Dancers are believed to be the ones in the spotlight. Their fancy brocade outfits, interesting masks and synchronized dance steps on the traditional folk music guarantees to win the hearts of the onlookers. Here is a clip that will give you an idea of how Cham Dance looks like:

About Cham Dance in Hemis Festival:

Do not expect rigorous dance moves, it is a slow movement dance that depicts the subjugation of the ruta demons; incorporates Yama, the God of demise and the black-hatted wizard, Guru Trakpo, the conqueror of all fiends.

How to Reach:

  • By Road: You can hire cabs from Srinagar, as Ladakh is well connected with Srinagar.
  • By Air: Leh Airport is 34kms away from the Hemis Monastery. One has to hire a cab to Hemis from Leh.
  • By Train: The nearest station to Hemis is Jammu Tawi Railway Station, once you reach Jammu Tawi, you can travel to Hemis by bus or a cab via Srinagar.
  • By Bus: You can reach Ladakh by a bus as regular buses ply from Srinagar to Leh. The J & K State Road Transport Corporation (J&K SRTC) operates regular Deluxe and Ordinary bus services between Srinagar and Leh with an overnight halt at Kargil. There are also buses between Manali and Leh, HRTC and J & K SRTC operate daily Deluxe and Ordinary bus services between the two destinations.

Where to Stay in Hemis:

There are number of hotels around Hemis that come in various budgets. According to your pocket, you can book for hotel or a camp in the area. Since, Leh is only 45kms from Hemis, one can also choose to stay in Leh as the city has more budget options.

Photo Credits: [Image1: Sylvain Brajeul ] [ Image2: Arun Sundar ] [ Image3: Shashanka Nanda ]

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From the Lake District, Nainital, Nidhi Singh is a well traveled writer whose love for nature can be seen in her writings. She loves to trek and enjoy nature and portrait photography. Nidhi has covered most of the valleys along the foaming streams of Jammu & Kashmir and aspire to cover all major trekking routes of Ladakh and Uttarakhand. She also takes keen interest in different cultures and traditions of the world and enjoys collecting mementos. With her flair for writing and personal travelling experiences, she offers vividly descriptive write ups.

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