by Dr. Venugopal Menon


Ladakh is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. It was established on 31 October 2019, following the passage of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act. Ladakh is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region to the east, the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh to the south, both the Indian-administered union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north. Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes, but as the Chinese authorities closed the borders between Tibet Autonomous Region and Ladakh in the 1960s, international trade dwindled. Since 1974, the Government of India has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh. As Ladakh is a part of the strategically important Kashmir region, the Indian military maintains a strong presence in the region. The largest town in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil, each of which headquarters a district. The main religious groups in the region are Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Hindus, and others. Ladakh is one of the most sparsely populated regions in India. As its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet, it is known as the "Little Tibet". There are several festivals celebrated in Ladakh like the Hemis Festival, Losar Festival, Sindhu Darshan, Phyang Tsedup Festival, Dosmoche Festival, Saka Dawa Festival, Tak Tok Festival, Matho Nagrang Festival, Ladakh Festival and many more.


Hemis Festival:


Marking the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, Hemis Festival is not only one of the most important Buddhist celebrations in Ladakh but is also the most popular festival amongst tourists. Held in one of the most-visited monasteries in Ladakh, Hemis Gompa, the festival is a two-day event that is celebrated on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Tibetan Calendar, which is the month of June/July in the Gregorian Calendar.

On this popular festival in Ladakh, Cham Dance and other traditional dances are performed in Hemis Monastery on the beats of drums and cymbal on the tunes of long-pipe Tibetan music instruments. On both days, giant thangkas (Buddhist paintings) are unfurled for the public. IEvery12th year, the largest thangka in Ladakh is unfurled in Hemis on the first day of the festival for the public to see.


Sindhu Darshan:


Sindhu Darshan is a three-day festival organized on the full moon night in June on the banks of the river and commemorates the river Indus as a symbol of communal harmony and unity in India. Promoting tourism in Ladakh is also referred to as a proud salute to the brave soldiers who have been fighting bravely for the safety of the country. Local artists from all over the country perform unique dance performances and people from different religions, castes and religions become a part of this festival. The most distinct part is that people bring water from their own and immerse it in the Sindhu River. On the first day of the festival, a reception for all the participants takes place, organized on the banks of river Sindhu at Shey. Prayers are also offered on the banks of the rivers by the 50 senior lamas who reside here. A bonfire also takes place at night. On the second day, a cultural program and sightseeing trip is organized, which is further followed by a Puja. The third day is usually packed with many tourists as some grand celebration takes place on this day.