Activities in Leh
Leh is indeed a trekker's paradise in North
India. In case adventure excites you then you
must take up any of the many treks offered from
Leh. The trekking agencies in Leh offer treks
inclusive of guide, packhorses, food and supplies.
Polo is another popular activity you may indulge
in at the Polo ground of Leh. Polo matches
and competitions are regularly held in
Leh. For the archers the National Archery
Stadium is the place to be at in Leh.
Then there is the ravishing adventure
sport of river rafting you may try in
the Zanskar River. The period from the
month of July to September is ideal for
river rafting in Leh.
Leh also offers mountain biking to the
daring on the second highest motor able
road in the world . The adventure
in mountain biking from
Leh lies in the most hostile
terrains. The entire stretch of 485 km between
Leh and Manali offers a challenge to mountain
bikers who have the opportunity to cut across
the majestic Himalayan ranges through four mountains
passes. To the daring adventurers Leh-Manali
highway rewards spectacular and picturesque
For regular shopping Leh has
several markets. For gift items and souvenirs
you may check out the Ladakh Art Place in the
old town, the Ecology Center and some shops
behind the Main Bazaar road. If you happen to
be in Leh during the Ladakh festival then you
must pick up the local handicrafts and clothes
from the captivating stalls.
Events in Leh
In Leh, and many of the villages, archery
festivals are held during the summer
months, with a lot of fun and fanfare. They
are competitive events, the surrounding villages
all sending teams, and the shooting takes place
according to strict etiquette, to the accompaniment
of the music of surna and daman (oboe and drum).
As important as the archery are the interludes
of dancing and other entertainment. Chang, the
local barley beer, flows freely, but there is
rarely any rowdiness. The crowd attends in their
Sunday best, the men invariable in traditional
dress, and the women wearing their brightest
brocade mantles and their heaviest jewellery.
Archery may be the pretext for the gathering,
but the party's thing.
There is an annual Ladakh
Festival held in the first two weeks
of September where people from all over Ladakh
join in, including monks and Tibetan refugees.
The march here ends in a cultural display at
the Leh Polo grounds. There are also mask dances,
polo competitions, concerts and archery competitions.
The Hemis Festival is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche)
venerated as the 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 "Sakyamuni Buddha".
It is also believed that his mission was, and
remains, to improve the spiritual condition
of all living beings. And so on this day, which
comes once in a cycle of 12 years, the Hemis
Monastery observes a major extravaganza in his
memory. The observance of these sacred rituals
is believed to give spiritual strength and good
The Hemis festival is celebrated
in the rectangular courtyard in front of the
main door of the monastery. The space is wide
and open save two raised square platforms, three
feet high with a sacred pole in the center.
A raised dais with a richly cushioned seat with
a finely painted small Tibetan table is placed
with the ceremonial items - cups full of holy
water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and
butter and incense sticks. A number of musicians
play the traditional music with four pairs of
cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and
large size wind instruments. Next to them, a
small space is assigned for the lamas to sit.
The ceremonies begin with an
early morning ritual atop the Gompa where, to
the beat of drums and the resounding clash of
cymbals and the spiritual wail of pipes, the
portrait of "Dadmokarpo" or "Rygyalsras
Rimpoche" is then ceremoniously put on
display for all to admire and worship.
The most esoteric of festivities
are the mystic mask dances. 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.
There & Away to Leh
terms of air transport Leh is well connected
with the other important places in India.
Regular flights link Leh with Delhi, Jammu
road transport to Leh there are land routes
connecting Leh with Srinagar and Manali.
The Leh-Srinagar road is generally open
from June to October, while the Leh-Manali
route is open from July to September.
Around in Leh
From the airport
to Leh, one can take a public bus, though schedules,
even when available, may be incomplete. Taxis
are more convenient and operate on a fixed tariff.
Taxis don’t cruise about soliciting customers
- you have to hire them at one of three taxi
stands named predictably enough as Taxi Stand
no. 1, 2 and 3 located at Fort Road, the old
bus stand and the new bus stand, respectively.
The simplest and perhaps the best means of getting
around are mountain bikes and scooters that
can easily be hired. Just make sure that you
are properly insured.