Leh at sunset
The beauty of the Himalayas extends beyond into the trans-Himalayan regions of India. Few people know that a part of India lies on the other site of the mighty Himalayas. This trans-Himalayan region is spread over Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Ladakh and is culturally closer to Tibet than the rest of India. This is a land of lamas and their ancient monasteries, of the rugged and barren beauty and of clear blue sky. The beauty of the region is to be seen to be believed. It looks like somebody has made these mountains using water colours. Barren, brown mountains which look stunningly beautiful…the most amazing scenery one could imagine. The land being so high above sea level, almost everything is the ‘highest in the world’ there. Indeed, Ladakh is one of the most stunning places on earth. The tour is timed to coincide with the annual Hemis Tsechu; a 2-day long cultural extravaganza. The Hemis festival is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) venerated as the Dance Performance at Hemis Monastery representative reincarnate of Buddha. He is believed to have been born on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Monkey year as predicted by the Buddha Shakyamuni. The most esoteric of the festivities are the mystic mask dances performed by the lamas, that illustrates good prevailing over evil. The performers wear elaborate and bizarre costumes and brightly painted masks. These masks are the most vital part of the dance. The dance movements are slow, and the expressions grotesque. The music is characteristically punctuated with sounds of cymbals, drums, and unwieldy trumpets. The Mask Dances of Ladakh are referred collectively as Chams performance. Chams performance is essentially a part of Tantric tradition, performed only in those gompas which follow the Tantric Vajrayana teachings and the monks perform tantric worship.