Hemis is around 35 km, while the Gompa is nearly 45 km to the south of Leh. The place is well known for Hemis Gompa, the Monastery and the two-day colourful festival by the same name.
Hemis Gompa also known as Chang Chub Sam Ling in the local language or the lone place of the compassionate person is one of the biggest and wealthiest monasteries in the region of Leh and Ladakh. At an altitude of 12,000 feet, it is one of the highest settlements of the world.
It is situated inside the Hemis National Park. Over 350 years old, architecturally it is unique because of its intrinsic design qualities..
The Monastery is extremely beautiful and grand, decorated in Tibetan style. The Monastery boasts of a rich collection of ancient relics – thankas and copper gild statue of the Lord Buddha, stupas made of gold and silver and other such objects.
The Hemis Gompa Festival:
Hemis Gompa is also a two-day festival organized from the 9th to 11th day of the 5th Tibetan month, which falls in the month of June-July. It is one of the most important festivals in the Buddhist calendar, organised on the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava also known also as Guru Rimpoche. He was the founder of Tantric Buddhism and is credited with preaching the message of spiritual harmony and prosperity among human beings.
The prime attractions of the festival are Cham dances and traditional music that is played using the beating of drums, clashing of cymbals and long horns. Sacred masked dances are performed by resident lamas of the Monastery; they are a re-enactment of the magical feats of Guru Rimpoche in his services to the cause of Buddhism in his eight different manifestations.
The monks dress up as demons and Gods portraying battles between good and evil spirits. Lamas with red-robes and tall tufted hats bang on drums and crash symbols as others leap to fight off demons.
Women adorn themselves with the perak, an elaborate headdress with woven strips of beads and turquoise, silver dangles, and upright ears of braided yak hair. The portrait of sacred Guru Rimpoche is put for devotees to show their respect. Each family carries yak-butter tea, a canister of tsampa and roasted barley flour.
There are various tales about the festival, its origin and celebrations, the essence of all being – the battle of good with evil and the arrival of Buddhism in Ladakh. The message of the festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and virtue over vice.
Hemis Gompa is one of the many things about Ladakh which make it unique and special. The grand Monastery and colourful festival are a treat to the eyes. Celebrated with great vigour, it is of the largest and best Buddhist festivals, attracting people from around the world.
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