The fairs & festivals of Ladakh, marked by beautifully synchronised masked dances, Buddhist rituals, ceremonies of various types & vigorous celebrations, are an integral and important part of Ladakh tourism. They offer an extremely useful insight into the heritage & culture of the people of Ladakh.
The influence of Tibetan Buddhism on this region is especially strong, and naturally, this is reflected in the festivals which are celebrated. Domestic as well as international tourists attend these festivals during their holidays in Ladakh in large numbers, since they offer an experience which is exclusive to this region. Attending the festivals in Ladakh also gives you an idea of the cultural diversity of Ladakh.
Some of the fairs & festivals held in Ladakh attract tourists from both India and abroad. They are extremely famous because of their grand celebrations, cultural significance & also because they attract people from all over the region. Here are some of them.
5 Nights - 6 Days
16 Nights - 17 Days
6 Nights - 7 Days
12 Nights - 13 Days
9 Nights - 10 Days
13 Nights - 14 Days
11 Nights - 12 Days
4 Nights - 5 Days
Losar is one of the biggest festivals in Ladakh which has its origins in the 7th century, and marks the arrival of a New Year in Tibetan Buddhism. It is celebrated for 15 days at a stretch, during which ancestors, gods & animals are fed. Changkol, or Tibetan Beer, is consumed by the people during this time. A staged fight between the forces of good & evil along with the Ibex Deer Dances are the highlights of the festival.
Hemis Tsechu is celebrated to mark the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, one of the founding fathers of Tibetan Buddhism. Celebrated in Hemis Monastery, what makes it a must attend festival in Ladakh is the masked dances & colourful silk costumes worn by monks. The dances are special too, since they depict the various magical deeds performed by Guru Padmasambhava in his eight manifestations to defeat evil.
The festival of Sindu Darshan, started in 1997, is held to pay respect to River Indus, as it is a symbol of civilization in the region. It is marked by Buddhist prayers by senior Lamas and several cultural programs by famous artists.
The festival is also held to pay respect to our soldiers who put their lives in danger everyday to ensure our safety and security.
Ladakh Harvest Festival, as the name suggests, is celebrated to mark the harvest season. The harvest season is a particularly special time in Ladakh and is marked by vigorous celebrations.
Masked dances, folk music, archery, concerts & theatre are some of the activities performed during the course of the festival. A major religious procession is also held during the festival.
Saka Dawa Festival is celebrated to symbolise the birth of Sakyamuni (another name for Gautam Buddha), when he attained enlightenment followed by Parinirvana. The mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum,” is chanted throughout the region.
No animals are killed or consumed on this day, and a new flag pole is erected at Tarpoche, and people hang new flags on it. In fact, the festival represents the spirit of Buddhism as a whole, and everybody can be seen immersing themselves into it.
Some of the other famous festivals celebrated in Ladakh apart from the ones mentioned above are:
Of course, you can plan your trip to Ladakh according to the dates when the famous festivals are held.
You should attend the festivals in Ladakh because they offer a valuable insight into the culture & heritage of Ladakh, and are marked by masked dances, folk performances & other types of rituals & ceremonies, all of which is sure to keep you fascinated.