Ladakh :- The Moon Land Of Earth

Introduction:- Ladakh is derived from the Bhoti words ‘La’ (Passes) and ‘Daks’ (many), meaning place of many passes. Local tradition also confirms that the name Ladakh is derived from ‘LHA’ (diety of God) and ‘daks’ (many), a land of deities.

Ladakh is the most north westerly district situated in the Indian Himalaya and is a part of Jammu and Kashmir state of India.To the East and South East of Ladakh is bounded by Chinese Tibet, to the North by Kuen Len range and the slopes of the Karakoram, in the north west by Baltistan(now in Pakistan), to the west lies Kashmir valley and to the south districts of Chamba , Kullu and Lahul of Himachal Pradesh.. Ladakh is a cold desert at an elevation varing between 8520 to 20000 ft above see level.

Buddhahism in Ladakh.

Leh is a remarkable site. Here the legends connect the paths of Buddha and Christ. Buddha went through Leh northwards. Issa communed here with the people on his way from Tibet .Secretly and cautiously the legends are guarded. It is difficult to sound them because lamas, above all people , know how to keep silent. Only by myeans of a common language and not merely that of tongue but also of inner understanding – can one approach their significant mysteries.

In Leh and its surrounding valleys there are almost too many monasteries to count. As well as the Buddhist temples,there are also several mosques, a sikh temple and Christian church and all religions coxist most of time in perfect harmony.

Although Buddhism is thought of a religion ,it is in many ways more a way of living, code of practice, a search for peace of mind and an end to suffering.

Prince Gautama Siddhartha, who became the Buddha, was born the son of a king near present day Lumbini in southern Nepal. His early life was one of luxury, he married the daughter of a neighboring Raja. In his 29th year he suddenly became aware that there was more to life than he knew , so he left his wife and newborn son to take up the life of an ascetic. He wandered far and wide listening to sages, wise men and Brahmin priests, but could find no solace. After many temptations and much thoughtful meditation he became enlightened, choosing a pathway of acceptance of all suffering. Thus began Buddhism, approx. 600 BC.

Tantra and the form of Buddhism known as Vajrayana later influenced some of the original Buddhist practices. Many adherents in India decried the general liberalization of pure Buddhism by Tantric ideas.Some believe the Tantric ideas predate both Buddhism and Hinduism, being both ritualistic and pagan in their ancient format. Tibetan Buddhist Tantra developed around the 11th century , with the Kalachakra is the protector who turns the wheel of life.

Tibetan Buddhism incorporated many ideas of the original Bonpo animistic ideas that had formed the earliest religious practices in Tibet.

Buddhism appears quite different from Hinduism at first sight ,but Buddha is considered by Hindu to be an Avatar – an incarnation of God.In one of the famous Hindu lyric poems, Vishnu is praised as the great God who, in the guise of Buddha, taught is kindness to all living beings and prohibited animal sacrifices. There are indeed some important doctrilnal differences between Hinduism and Buddhism, but Buddha himself lived and died a Hindu and the two religions are closely interwined.

Climate:-

The climate of Ladakh is characterized by great extreme of heat and cold and excessive dryness. The joint effect of elevation and Isolation amidst snowy mountains produces the extreme climate with the temperature ranging from 30 degree Celsius in the short summer and minus 35 degree Celsius in the winter at some places. The strong dry wind blows in the afternoon both in summer and winter. Precipitation is very low averaging around 9 cm to 10 cm annually.

 Flora Of Ladakh

Ladakh belongs to the phytographic region of central Asia, much common with that of Tibet, Afganistan, Kashmir valley, Turkistan and parts of central Asia.

 Fauna

Ladakh has a veriety of species. Notable among them are Skyin(Ibex), Blue sheep, Shapo (Urial), Nyan (Tibetian argali) and Shan(Snow Leopard)the most elusive big cat of the world. Most of these anomals are protected under J & K wildlife (protection) act.

Tourism

Ladakh is one of the important destination of foreign as well as domestic tourists. High snow clad mountains, pleasant climate, lack of chaos in markets, guest friendly people breathtaking sceneries, ancient and beautiful monasteries are the attractions for the tourists.

Ladakh was opened for tourists in 1947.In addition to the leisure tourists it is also visited by all types of tourists like adventure, rafting, trekking, winter sports, culture, medical etc. Leh is connected by surface to Srinagar via Kargil and from Manali via Keylong . Leh is also connected by air service from Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar.

 Festivals

Perhaps there is no better time to tour Leh Ladakh India than during the festive season. Ladakh comes alive during festivals, when people from different corners of Ladakh converge at one place to celebrate and enjoy the festive spirit. Festivals in Ladakh are in fact the best way to get a feel of the Ladakhi culture. There are a number of festivals that take place in Leh Ladakh India. Leh Ladakh India provides information on some of the important festivals in Leh Ladakh India.

 Hemis Festival June-July

Ladakh is a storehouse of culture and adventure. The Buddhist culture in Ladakh has been inviting travellers for ages from all parts of the world. Fairs and festivals of Ladakh are a perfect mirror to the cultural practices and traditions that carry on in Ladakh. The Hemis Festival of Ladakh is a major crowd puller and holds a lot of significance in terms of culture. The festival, which runs for two days, is celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of the Buddhist guru Padmasambhava. The festivities of Hemis take place at the world-famous Hemis Gompa, located at a distance of 45 km from the capital town of Leh. The two-day-long festival falls on the 10th day of the Tibetan Lunar month.According to Georgian calendar,it is the time during June and July. Sacred dances, contradictory explanations and special musical performances are the major highlights of the Hemis Festival in Ladakh. During the festival, lamas and monks gather at the Hemis Gompa to perform the sacred Mask Dance. The specific dance form is meant to celebrate good over evil. Apart from these dances, the lamas also come up to explain the significance and the actual meaning of the sacred

Dance performances.

The Hemis Festival brings an opportunity for all the villagers and families to come together and socialise. Men can be seen wearing cummerbands while women are dressed in bright headgear and lots of jewellery. Brass trumpets, which are 3 meter in length, are played and the whole festive scene becomes a sight to behold. Travellers also stand good chances of interacting with rural people which is otherwise not possible.

The Hemis Gompa becomes a hub of celebratory activities during the festival. The gompa, which is known to be the wealthiest and the biggest in Ladakh, also features the largest thangka in Ladakh. The Buddhist gompa remains divided into two main parts – the assembly hall on the right and the temple on the left. During the Hemis celebrations, the hall Dukhang becomes the greenroom of the dancers. The temple is locally known as Tshogkhana.A colorful fair is also organized during the Hemis Festival and serves as a major attraction for tourists as well as locals. A range of handicrafts are put on sale during the exhibition and you can always find some wonderful souvenirs to take back home. There are a number of other Buddhist festivals in Ladakh for you to join in. Each one of these has a special significance and has its own festive highlights.

Ladakh Festival

Early  September

Celebrated during September, Ladakh festivals another major festival in Ladakh. The festival is organized by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism and showcase Ladakhi culture. It is the best time to enjoy the cultural extravaganza. Folk dance and music are some of the highlights of the festival. You can also enjoy polo and archery competitions during the festival.

Losar Festival
Losar is celebrated during the winter months. The festival takes place in the eleventh month of the Buddhist year, which is can occur in November, December or January in different years. The festival has its origin in the 15th century. Buddhists make offering to Gods during this festival.

 Sindhu Darshan Festival,

as the name suggests, is a celebration of river Sindhu, also known as the Indus. People travel for a Darshan and Puja of the River Sindhu (Indus) which originates from the Mansarovar in Tibet. The Festival aims at projecting the Sindhu river as a symbol of multi-dimensional cultural identity, communal harmony and peaceful co-existence in India. Whilst promoting tourism in this area, this festival is also a symbolic salute to the brave soldiers of India who have valiantly fought the odds at Siachen, Kargil and other places. It is also an opportunity for people from around the country and overseas to visit the beautiful regions of Leh and Ladakh. Celebrated first time in the year 1997, the festival is organized annually at Leh in the month of May-June by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir with the support of the Ministry of tourism and culture, Government of India. The festival is kaleidoscope of Indian culture and showcases an exciting array of performing arts being brought together at an exciting place. As part of the celebrations, various groups from different states in India bring water from the other mighty rivers in the country in earthen pots and immerse these pots in the Sindhu river, thereby mingling the river water with other waters of the land.

 Other Festivals

There are a number of other festivals that take place in Ladakh. Some of the festivals that are held in Ladakh include Lamayuru, which takes place in July. Phiyang takes place in July-August, after 10 days of Phiyang, another festival Tak-thok is held. The special feature of Phiyang festival is the exhibition of thangka, which is done every year unlike the Hemis, where thangka is exhibited once in 12 years.

Leh Ladakh India offers tours to Leh and Ladakh. For more information or to book a tour, please enter your query in the form.

Dosmoche Festival in Ladakh

Dosmoche, the festival of the scapegoat, is celebrated with fervor at Leh. Falling in the second half of February, Dosmoche is one of two New Year festivals, the other being Losar. At Dosmoche, a great wooden mast decorated with streamers and religious emblems is et up outside Leh. At the appointed time, offerings of storma, ritual figures moulded out of dough, are brought out and ceremonially cast away into the desert, or burnt. These scapegoats carry away with them the evil spirits of the old year, and thus the town is cleansed and made ready to welcome the new year. Spituk, stok, thikse, chemrey and Matho all have their festivals in winter, between November and March. Likir and Deskit (Nubra )time their festivals to coincide with Dosmoche