Ladakh celebrates lots of famous festivals and one of the biggest and most popular festival is Hemis festival. The festival is celebrated in June to commemorate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava. In the month of September the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department with the help of local authorities organize Ladakh Festival. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir also organizes the Sindhu Darshan festival at Leh in the month of May–June. This Festival is celebrated on the full moon day (Guru Poornima)

Festivals of Ladakh are an important part of life there which mark several occasions such as harvesting, commemoration of the head Lamas of the founding monastery, New Year etc. The festivals of Ladakh conducted by various monasteries often have religious masked dances which are an important part of Ladakh’s  culture. The dances typically narrate a story between good and evil , which typically end up in victory of the former.


[tg_accordion title=”HEMIS FESTIVAL LADAKH” icon=”” close=”1″] The most famous of all monastic festivals in June (a three day affair) to commemorate birth of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. The sacred dance drama of the life and mission is performed wearing facial masks and colorful brocades robes. The monkey year festival is a special treat which comes at a cycle of 12 yrs. The four-storey Thanka of Guru Padmasambhava is displayed during the festival.[/tg_accordion]
[one_third]Matho Nagrang

[tg_accordion title=”MATHO NAGRANG” icon=”” close=”1″]Matho Monastery of Leh Ladakh hosts the Matho Nagrang Festival, on an annual basis. The festival takes place on the 14th and 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar. All the monks participate in the sacred dances, performed at this annual event. The festival is famous because of appearance of the two oracles during the festival after a full month of meditation in complete isolation. Matho Monastery also boasts of housing an amazingly rich collection of four hundred years old Thankas.[/tg_accordion]


[tg_accordion title=”DOSMOCHEY  (February)” icon=”” close=”1″]Celebrated with much fervor and delight in the month of February  at the courtyards of majestic Leh Palace. Masked Lamas from different monasteries perform the Chams every year turn by turn. This festival is also celebrated at the Diskit monastery and the Likir with great enthusiasm. The start and end of the Tibetian calendar marks the occasion.[/tg_accordion]

[one_third]Thiksey, Karsha and Spituk Gustor

[tg_accordion title=”GUSTOR FESTIVAL LADAKH ” icon=”” close=”1″]Gustors takes place at Thiksey, Karsha & Spituk  monasteries at different times of the year. A two day celebration, to mark the  victory of good over evil. Gustor literally means “Sacrifice of the 29th day” and it ends with burning of effigies representing evil.[/tg_accordion]


[one_third]Stok Guru Tsechu

[tg_accordion title=”STOK GURU TESCHU ” icon=”” close=”1″]Stok Guru Tsechu held in February, a week before the Matho Nagrang. Monks from Stok monastery perform masked dances, but the highlight being appearance of two oracles who are laymen prepared and cleansed by the lamas to receive the spirit of the deities.[/tg_accordion]
[one_third_last]Festivals of Ladakh

[tg_accordion title=”LOSAR CELEBRATION” icon=”” close=”1″]Losar stands for the Tibetian new year. The Losar festival is celebrated in the eleventh month of Tibetan calendar, two months ahead of Tibetan New Year. In early 17th century, King Jamyang Namgyal decided to lead an expedition against the Baltistan forces in winter; therefore he decided to celebrate the festival two months before. Later it became a tradition and being celebrated in the eleventh month. It lasts for over a month when Gods, deities, ancestors and even animals are fed without fail. Everyone in the family joins in for the celebration and if anyone is missing, they will have a cup of tea filled in their name.[/tg_accordion]


[one_third]Sindhu Darshan Festival

[tg_accordion title=”SINDHU DARSHAN” icon=”” close=”1″] Sindhu Darshan is a three-day festival held from 1st to 3rd June, in Shey Manla around 8 kms. from Leh on the bank of Indus river (Sindhu Ghat). For the first time it was organized in October 1997, as a symbol of unity and communal harmony and national integration.[/tg_accordion]


[one_third] Phyang Tsedup

[tg_accordion title=”PHYANG TSEDUP” icon=”” close=”1″]This festival is held in the Phyang monastery in July/August. The monks as usual perform the Chams but the festival gets its popularity from the huge Thanka of Skyoba Giksten Gonbo hung during the celebrations.[/tg_accordion]
[one_third_last]Ladakh Festival

[tg_accordion title=”LADAKH FESTIVAL” icon=”” close=”1″]From September 1st to 15th every year in Leh and in the villages around, the Ladakh festival is celebrated in the grandest style. With cultural troupes performing from different parts of Leh, forming the part of the procession which leads to the Polo ground, for the big inauguration. Regular programs are held at the nearby villages during the 15 day period.[/tg_accordion]



Leh Ladakh is an oasis of nature and serenity. Arid Leh features a unique Buddhist lifestyle. The Buddhist monasteries built centuries ago bring global tourists to Leh and Ladakh. The ancient rock carvings, large pillars and peace in the monasteries still leave a deep impact on the hearts of travellers. Apart from the sightseeing options, the culture and lifestyle of Leh Ladakh is one of the reasons why tourists love to flock here.

The culture of Leh Laddakh is quite similar to the Tibetan culture because of the region’s close proximity with Tibet. In Ladakkh the cuisines are mostly of Tibetan origin like thukpa and tsampo. Nowadays however it is also getting influenced by the cuisine styles of Central Asia and the rest of India. The architecture of Leh Laddakh also is influenced by the Tibetan style and has references to the existence of dragon. The religion of the state also follows Tibetan as well as Buddhist influences. Most of the chants are in Sanskrit or Tibetan.

Ladakhi culture is heavily influenced by Tibetan culture, in fact it is quite similar. There are more Buddhists than Muslims in certain areas and the ratio changes as we move towards Zanskar valley. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa (noodle soup) and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as ngampe (roasted barley flour).

A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is skyu, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables. As currency started making its place in the economy of Ladakh, food from the Indian plains gained popularity. Tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn and known as gurgur cha(Butter Tea), after the sound it makes when mixed. The milk and sugar based sweet tea made in Indian style is also common now. Most of the surplus barley that is produced is fermented into chang, an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive occasions.

Ladakhis are very fond of ice hockey which is generally played in the month of January on natural ice. Archery is a traditional sport and many villages still conduct archery festivals, which also include drinking, dancing and gambling as a medium of celebrating the sport. Polo is another traditional sport of Ladakh.

The architecture in Ladakh draw heavy influences from Tibet and India. The monastic architecture reflects a deeply rooted Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, is a common feature on almost every gimp, including the likes of Hemis, Thiksey, Alchi etc. Ladakhi Buddhist festival music is much like its Tibetian counterpart and often involves religious chanting. These chants are complex, often recitations of sacred texts in celebration of various festivals.


For nearly 900 years, from the middle of the 10th century, Ladakh was an independent kingdom, its ruling dynasties descending from the kings of old Tibet. The kingdom attained its greatest geographical extent and glory in the early 17th century under the famous king Singge Namgyal, whose domain extended across Spiti and western Tibet right up to the Mayum-la, beyond the sacred sites of Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar.

 Gradually, perhaps partly due to the fact that it was politically stable, Ladakh became recognized as the best trade route between the Punjab and Central Asia. For centuries it was traversed by caravans carrying textiles, spices, raw silk, carpets, dyestuffs, narcotics, etc. to the Central Asian towns of Yarkand and Khotan. On this long route, Leh was the midway stop, and developed into a bustling entrepot, its bazars thronged with merchants from distant countries.

The famous pashmina (better known as cashmere) also came down from the high-altitude plateaux of eastern Ladakh and western Tibet, through Leh, to Srinagar, where skilled artisans transformed it into shawls known the world over for their softness and warmth. Like the land itself, the people of Ladakh are generally quite different from those of the rest of India. The faces and physique of the Ladakhis, and the clothes they wear, are more akin to those of Tibet and Central Asia than of India. The original population may have been Dards, an Indo-Aryan race down from the Indus and the Gilgit area.

Ladakh’s earliest inhabitants were nomadic yak herders, but permanent settlements were established along the Indus by Buddhist pilgrims travelling from India to Mt Kailash in Tibet. Buddhism soon became the dominant religion, though the minority Brokpa tribe still follows Bonism: the religion that preceded Buddhism in Tibet.

By the 9th century, the Buddhist kings of Ladakh had established a kingdom extending all the way from Kashmir to Tibet, protected by forts and dotted with vast Buddhist gompas (monasteries). Different sects struggled for prominence, but the Gelukpa (Red Hat) order was introduced by the Tibetan pilgrim Tsongkhapa in the 14th century, and it soon became the major philosophy in the valley.

Simultaneously, Muslim armies began to invade Ladakh from the west. In the 16th century, the province fell briefly to Ali Mir of Balistan, but Buddhism bounced back under Singge Namgyal (1570–1642), who established a new capital at Leh. Ladakh was finally annexed into the kingdom of the Dogra Rajas of Jammu in 1846.

Since then, Ladakh has been ruled as a sub-district of Jammu and Kashmir. In response to anti-Buddhist discrimination, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) was formed in 1996, lobbying for the creation of a Union Territory of Ladakh. Since then, candidates from the Ladakh Union Territory Front have lead the field at elections, but with the state government profiting heavily from Ladakh’s tourism industry, autonomy is likely to remain a distant dream.


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