- The Hemis festival, held annually is one of the biggest and the most famous religious festivals of Ladakh.
- It is a colorful two-day affair that falls on the 10th day (called Tse-Chu in the local language) of the Tibetan lunar month.
- It marks the celebration of the birth anniversary of spiritual leader Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), the founder of Tibet Tantric Buddhism. People of Ladakh believe that he was a reincarnation of Lord Buddha. It is claimed that observance of the rituals on his birth anniversary improves the spiritual as well as the physical condition of the observers.
- As per the Buddhist culture their Guru fought against evil and saved the people of Ladakh and showed them the path of spirituality during the 8th century. Thus the festival also marks the victory of good over evil.
- Hemis festival is observed in the Hemis Gompa or Hemis Monastery- the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, which is situated 40 km away from Leh, in Hemis village of Ladakh region in Jammu & Kashmir. The history of the celebration of Hemis festival in Ladakh dates back to around three hundred years back from now when the Hemis Monastery was established at the site.
- The festival is a fathomless pool of exhilaration and vivacity. Every nook and corner of Ladakh seeps into the gush of jubilation during these two days.
- The celebrations take place in the rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery. The space is wide and open save two raised square platforms, three feet high. There is a pole in the centre and a dais upon which Lamas take a seat on cushions. A table is spread before them, and ritual items such as cups full of holy water, tormas made of dough, uncooked rice, and incense sticks are placed upon it.
- The festive ceremony begins in the morning with the putting up of Lord Padmasambhava's portrait on the top of the monastery for all to admire and seek his blessings and musicians playing music while the ceremony is going on.
- Every 12th year known as the Tibetan Year of the Monkey, Hemis Monastery Festival takes an auspicious turn. A 12-meter long embellished Thangka (a sacred Tibetan silk painting) of Lord Padmasambhava is unfurled from the second floor of the monastery. Various people gather to witness the thangka decorated with semi-precious gems, stones, and pearls. And therefore, celebrate the Hemis festival on a grand scale in this particular year. Last time, it was unfurled in 2016 and next is due in 2028.
- Traditional music is played throughout the festival with drums, cymbals, and wind instruments. The captivating music of the ceremony gives it an identity of its own, making an impact on the viewer, never to be forgotten.
- The main attraction during this festival is the masked dance performed by the Lamas of this monastery, known as the “Cham Dance”.
- A traditional drink called ‘Chang’ is served to everyone during this festival.
- In the end, a sculpture made up of dough and representing the evil powers is destroyed by the head of Black Hat dancers. This implies warding off the evil spirits. The broken pieces are then thrown away in four different directions. The ritual indicates the purification of the soul after death.
- There is no direct flight connectivity to Hemis.
- The nearest airport is in Leh,i.e The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, which is around 45 km away from Hemis.
- The airport is well-connected to major metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata.
- The Leh Airport is a military airport and security checks are a little more stringent than usual.
- You can get a bus or taxi from Leh Airport to reach Hemis.
- There is no direct rail connectivity to Hemis.
- Jammu Tawi Railway Station (JAT) is the nearest major railway station.
- The Jammu Tawi railway station is well-connected with major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Allahabad, Lucknow, Kolkata, Bhopal, and Bangalore.
- Some of the most popular trains that run daily on this route are Jammu Rajdhani, Malwa Express, Swaraj Express.
- You can get down at Jammu Tawi station and take a cab till Hemis, which is approx. 710 km away from Jammu Tawi station. You can also reach Leh by bus, then take a cab to Hemis.
- This is not a great option for long-distance travellers.
- However, buses from Delhi to Srinagar are easily available. On reaching Srinagar you can take a cab to Hemis.
- The Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation runs deluxe buses from Delhi to Srinagar.
As Hemis is a small village, you won’t find many restaurants there, but local food shops are there. In Leh, you will find many restaurants. So let us take you through the streets of Leh and around Hemis for some mouth-watering dishes in your budget, so you don’t have to think there before you eat!
- Cafe Riwo- Address- Leh Manali Highway, Pangong Lake Road, Karu,
- Cafenhibition- Address-Stakna Bridge 100 meter from, Leh Manali Highway, Stakna,
- Cafe cloud- Address-Leh Manali Highway, Near Government High School Ki Ki Naga, Thiksey
Feed your Hunger -
- Lazeez Restaurant -Bijal for biryani- Address-Keylong-Leh Road, Rambirpor,
- CHAMBA Hotel & Restaurant-Address-Riad, Jammu and, Leh Manali Highway, Thiksey
- Local cuisine Restaurant- Address-shop no. 16 LBA complex, Leh Market, Leh
- Vaishno Punjabi Dhaba- Address-main market, Leh Manali road, Karu, Ladakh
- Punjabi Tadka Restaurant- Address-Leh backside of SBI main branch Leh, near cosex tailor Leh Ladakh
Fine Dine -
- Signature Bowls-Address-Leh Manali Highway Opposite Kendriya Vidyalaya HIMANK (GREF) Head Quarters, Village, Choglamsar
- Tree House Cafe & Restaurant-Address-Fort Road, Malpak, Leh
- Corretto Leh- Address- Old Leh Road, Near HP Petrol Pump, Main Market, Leh
The Turnip - Pan-Indian Restaurant- Address- Basement, Metsig Complex, Leh Main Market, next to Chokhang Vihara, Leh
Rs. 400-500 Per Night
- Gakhil Guest House- Address- Near leh gate, leh Ladakh.
- Nathula Homestay- Address- Lower, Changspa Road, Leh
- Zostel Leh- Address- Shaheen Guest House Karzu Road, Karzu Leh
Rs. 500-600 Per Night
- Chosdup Guest House- Address- Fort Road sheman, Leh,
- Hidden Trailz Camp Leh- Address- Village Chuchot Shamma, Shakiya Thubpa Chowk, Near Choglamsar, Leh, Ladakh
- Odbar Guest House- Address- Tukcha Main Road, near Jorchung Hotel, Leh,
Rs. 600-700 Per Night
- Mandarava Homestay- Address-Shangara House, Tukcha Main Road, Leh
- Mikza Home- Address- old road, Leh mikza house, Leh
- Lhachik Guest House- Address- Changspa Road, Leh
- Hemis National Park (Snow Leopard)
- Hemis Monastery
- Leh Palace
- Khardung La Pass
- Pangong Lake
- Nubra Valley
- Magnetic Hill