MONASTERY. 40 km from Leh, it is the wealthiest, best-known
and biggest of Ladakh. Its popularity stems from the major
annual festival held here in summer in honour of Guru Padma
Sambhav's birth anniversary. It also has the largest Thanakha
in Ladakh, which is unfurled, once in 12 years (next in 2016).
Hemis was built in 1630 during the reign of Sengge Namgyal,
an illustrious ruler of Ladakh. It flourished under the Namgyal
dynasty for the royalty favoured the Drugpa sect, which managed
the monastery. It is divided into two, the assembly hall on
the right and the main temple on the left. The hall Dukhang
is also used as "green room" by the dancers during
the festival. The temple is known as Tshogkhang. The Varandahas
have a surfeit of frescoes, among them the Buddhist 'wheel
of life' (Kalachakra) and the lords of the four quarters,
besides the prayer wheel. Splendid masked dances are performed
to the accompaniment of cymbals, drums & long horns. A
colorful fair, displaying some beautiful handicrafts, is the
special highlight of the festival.
Indian Festival Tours have various tailor-made
programmes to Leh & Ladakh which can be booked during
the festival to see this colourful festival and one of the
suggested programme is given below.