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Festivals in Ladakh

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Most of Ladakh’s Buddhist festivals, in which masked chaam dance dramas are performed by lamas in monastery courtyards, take place in January and February, when roads into the region are snowbound. This works out well for the locals, for whom the festivals relieve the tedium of the relentless winter, but it means that few outsiders get to experience some of the northern Himalayas’ most vibrant and fascinating spectacles. Recently, however, a few of the larger gompas around Leh have followed the example of Hemis, and switched their annual festivals to the summer to attract tourists. The tourist office in Leh produces a listings booklet called Ladakh, giving dates for forthcoming years.

Gompas that hold their chaams (dance festivals) in winter or spring include Matho (mid-Feb to mid-March), Spitok (mid-Jan), Tikse (late Oct to mid-Nov) and Diskit (mid-Feb to early March) in Nubra. Other important festivals in Ladakh include Losar (the Tibetan/Ladakhi New Year), which falls any time between mid-December and early January.

Summer festivals

Hemis Tsechu:

July 10–11, 2011; June 29–30, 2012; June 18–19, 2013.

Karsha Gustor, Zanskar:

July 27–28, 2011; July 15–16, 2012; July 6–7, 2013.

Thak Thok Tsechu

Aug 8–9, 2011; July 28–29, 2012; July 18–19, 2013.

Sani Nasjal, Zanskar:

Aug 12–13, 2011; Aug 1–2, 2012; July 21–21, 2013.

Phyang Tsedup

July 28–29, 2011; July 16–17, 2012; July 6–7, 2013.

Festival of Ladakh

Sept 1–15. This popular J&K Tourism–sponsored two-week event, held principally in Leh, is designed to extend the tourist season, featuring archery contests, polo matches, Bactrian camels from Nubra and traditional Ladakhi dance accompanied by some tedious speeches.

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