The Ladakh festival

Sep 2o to 25th Sep 2019



Major & core items of ladakh festival are the folk songs and dances of ladakh, which reveal the cultural heritage of the land wherein its history is hidden. These songs & dances have been passed on as oral and practical tradition from one generation to another. These items are presented to tourists in the form of music concerts. Folk artistes of ladakh, male as well as female, attired in full traditional costumes comprising of multiple jewellery items, especially turquoise head gears (worn by ladies), perform most exhilarating dances. The movement of dance provides expression of entire personality of the dancer. Each dance is started with homage and gradually develops into the second stage. When the music and movement become faster, the dance reaches the third stage and then it ends. There are twelve main items which begin with lharma. The ladakh musicians claim to have 360 music tunes which are dedicated to Gods, Deities, Lamas, Kings & Ministries. The other eleven music items with song & dance are chapskyen Tses, marriage song, jabro dance, koshen dance, and Alay Yayto Wa Nishu Tsana Wa.

Mask dances are religious ceremonies which take place in the Buddhist monasteries of ladakh. These dances, which are the manifestation of good over evil and also reveal religious facets of the cultural heritage of ladakh, are performed by the monks of monasteries. During ladakh Festival tourists also have an opportunity to see the monastic festivals.

Archery has been a favourite pastime activity for the people of ladakh and has been mentioned in various national epics also. Even today people idolize the legendary hero Darpon chemo, the great archer of the kesar saga. Divided into two groups, each having a captain, participants, in pairs of twos, enter into an arrow shooting competition, shooting at the Tsa Ga or the bull’s eyes. When one hits the bull’s eyes, his partner offers a ‘khstsk’ or white scarf to him. He has to lead a dance at the end of that round of shooting. Archery is an essential component in the performance of cultural, social and traditional activities of ladakh.

Although its origin is unclear, polo has for centuries, been a popular sport in the rugged mountain valleys of karakoram range, particularly in remote and inaccessible Himalayan regions of Gilgit, Hunza, skardo & khapuloo in Baltistan and ladakh in the North ad Manipur in the East.
According to legend, the game of polo came to central ladakh from neighbouring Baltistan, where for centuries, it used to be the main source of amusement. Historians date the introduction of polo in ladakh to king Jamyang Namgyal’s reign in the 15th century, who married Gyal khatun, a princess from Baltistan. In fact, all the major village of ladakh have their own polo ground called “shangaran’’. The most striking feature is that after a goal is scored, the ends are changed automatically. The scorer gets the privilege to patch up the ball, goes into gallop with the ball and stick until the midway point, throws up the ball and shoots towards the goal, trying for the perfectly controlled shot. No polo match in ladakh is complete without its musical accompaniment of surna and daman. The music varies according to fortune of the team, accelerating in tempo and increasing in volume on the scoring of a goal.

Bacterian Camels in India are found only in Nubra Valley of ladakh. The Bacterian Camels are double humped and are the descendents of their ancestors from Gopi desert in Mongolia (central Asia). The Caraven from Central Asia used to pass through Nubra Valley during the central Asian Trade Days-pre Independence period of India. Most exciting Bacterian Camel Safari takes place in the Silvered coloured sand dunes of nubra valley and its silk route as well. Tourists enjoy free rides on camel safari in nubra valley and in leh as well, during the ladakh festival.

River rafting is the most exciting part of adventure tourism in ladakh. during ladakh festival,white water rafting takes place on the Indus river from phey to nimmo near leh. Tourists can go in numbers of eight in a single raft.

During ladakh festival, ladakh mountaineering & adventure club organizes rock climbing event at shey smansla. Tourist can also freely participate in this event most of the high peaks in the trans Himalaya of ladakh are above 20,000 feet. In leh, there is one popular peaks overlooking the leh town – stok peak-6135mtr (kang-la-chen). IMF has now simplified the procedure for obtaining permission for climbing this peak. Tourist can get permission at leh form IMF member (sonam wangyal Evrester) for climbing this peak by paying a free.

Handicraft and thangka exhibition also forms a part of the ladakh festival. During the 15-day festival, tourists are able to see the traditional handicrafts and handmade items of the ladakh. They can also see the rare artifacts (thangkas) of monasteries, which are also put on display.

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