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Hemis Festival: Your window to get a glimpse of the magical realm of Ladakh

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

What is the one thing that identifies every traveler?

No, it’s not an identity card. That shit is only for the confines of the office.

It’s the prayer flag of Ladakh. If you want to know more about it, click here.

Speaking of Ladakh, do you know what is one thing in Ladakh that is popular among the people who live there and a couple of outsiders, but hardly known by most of the outsiders who just go there on their bikes just to ride there? Well, today I am gonna be sharing a secret with ya-all… technically, not a secret, but a piece of unknown information. In this post, I’ll be sharing with you information about the unparalleled beauty of the Hemis festival. If you haven’t attended this festival, it is the best way to absorb the culture of the place and get the best soul-touching experience. It is one of the, if not most popular festivals of the Ladakh region and one of the most vibrant events you’ll ever come across. So, if you are planning to visit Ladakh soon, and want to get some information about this festival, I’m adding a few details like the festival dates, celebration process, reasons to celebrate, and much more. Also, if any of your friends or relative is going there, do share this blog with them to make them aware of this awesome festival.

Let us first see why the Hemis Festival is celebrated?

Hemis festival is celebrated in Ladakh every year on the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. It is celebrated for two days which marks the victory of good over evil, much like Dussehra. According to legends, it is said that Guru Padmasambhava defected the dark forces with the help of “Vajrayana Buddhism”.

Statue of Lord Padmasambhava

This is the largest festival in the region and people from the entire Ladakh region visit the location to attend this festival.

What is so unique about the Hemis festival?

Hemis Festival is celebrated in Hemis Monastery and that’s how it got its name. The monastery itself dates back to 300 years and is currently under the rule of Namgyal. During the festival, you can almost feel the entire valley, mountains, and rivers resonating with the beats of the drums, trumpets, and cymbals.

Hemis Monastery

Hemis monastery festival begins with the followers seeking the blessing of the Guru from the portrait. This ritual takes place early morning and is the ceremony begins with the musicians playing music. What makes the festival more attractive is the masked performance called Cham. It is a slow-paced dance form showing the war between good and evil where good wins.

The entire performance is jaw-dropping as the colorfully dressed people who are often Lamas, bring happiness and enthusiasm in the whole crowd.

Apart from the celebrations, there is a fair that is organized where you can buy Tibetan souvenirs and there are people all over dressed up in their best traditional attire. It’s definitely a sight to behold.

When is it celebrated?

The festival is said to be celebrated in the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar. This year, it was celebrated on June 30th to July 1st. During these days, the whole place comes alive like never before.

Highlights of the festival

  • Chham Dance: This fantastic masked dance depicts the win of good over bad and is one of the main highlights of the festival. This is one thing that you should experience once in your life.

  • Devil dances: Like the Chham Dance, this is also an eminent part of the festival.

  • Handicrafts: This is available at the fair that is organized near the venue and exhibits/sells local handicrafts that everyone loves.

  • Chang: This is a local fermented drink that is served at the festivals and you must try it when you are visiting.

How to reach Hemis?

You can reach this place by air, train, or even by bus. But the most exciting would be to drive there yourself. By Air: If you are coming by air, you need to reach Leh airport and take a cab from there to reach Hemis monastery which is around 35kms away.

By Train: The nearest railway station to Hemis is Jammu Tawi Station which is more than 750kms. Once you reach, you can hire a cab to cover the rest of the distance. Another way would be to take a bus from the station.

By Bus: You can also reach Srinagar and take a bus from Srinagar to Leh. From there, you can reach the Hemis monastery by hired cab.

Some FAQ:

  1. Where is the Hemis Festival Held? Hemis Festival is one of the most popular Ladakhi Festivals that takes place in the honor of Lord Padmasambhava. The venue is in Hemis Monastery in Ladakh.

  2. What is the meaning of Hemis? Hemis is a small village located in the Leh district of Ladakh. It is well known for the Himalayan Monastery and Hemis National Park which is also the home of the super elusive snow leopard.

  3. What are the places to stay in Hemis? There are many good hotels near Hemis Monastery where you can stay comfortable during your trip. Some of the worth mentioning hotels and resorts are The Driftwood Ladakh, Ladakh Sarai Resort, Hotel Royal Palace, and many more.

So, what do you think about visiting this place to watch the festival? Opposed to what many bikers show Ladakh as a desolate place and a barren desert, Ladakh is full of culture and interesting finds. You just have to look for it. Let me know if you are planning to attend this festival. Also, I’d love to hear from you if you have visited Hemis of even better, attended the Hemis festival.

Disclaimer: The pictures on this page are not taken by me and I don't claim any rights on the pictures. The credits go to the respective owners of the pictures.




Hi, I am Chandan

I am a traveller, photographer and a tech-savvy person. 

Through this blog, I will help you find unexplored destinations all around India.

Also, sometimes, I will share information about travel and photography tips. 

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