Ladakh is well known for its beautiful landscapes, lakes and snow-clad mountain peaks. Come February and the whole area of Leh and Ladakh vibrates with traditional drums and colourful festivities witnessing which can be an experience of a life time. These festivals follow the Tibetan and Buddhist calendars and are a mixture of deeply religious beliefs, ancient customs, vibrant costumes and celebration of life with music, dance , feasting, fun and frolic.
- Venue: Leh Palace
- Date: 6 – 7 February, 2016
The festival of Dosmoche is one of the most popular festivals of Leh Ladakh. Started by the rulers of Ladakh it is annual prayer festival celebrated to mark the victory over evil forces.
During this two day festival monks from nearby monasteries perform the sacred mask dance (Chham). Ritualistic offerings of ‘Storma’ is made which is later ritualistically burnt signifying driving away of evil spirits and welcoming peace and prosperity among the people. Amidst the music of drum and trumpets, the dancing lamas and the Black Hat dancers create a memorable spectacle for all. During the festival,the local market is filled with people enjoying shopping, Ladakhi cuisine and many games like tambola and lottery.
Yargon Tungshak Festival
- Venue: Nubra
- Date: 12- 13 February, 2016
Chham dance where the dancers wear elaborate and mainly hand made masks put up a splendid show in this festival. The monastery lamas are also part of this dance drama that is vibrant and performed real close to the audience. Another important aspect of Yargon Tungshak Festival is food. Delicious traditional food like skyu, gurgur cha and thukpa are served to all by the monastery every afternoon. This is one of the most important religious festivals of Nubra where the monks chant both Sanskrit and Tibetan mantras.
Stok Guru Tse-Chu
- Venue: Stok Monastery
- Date: 16 – 17 February, 2016
Stok Guru Tse-Chu is an oracle festival that is celebrated in Stok monastery. The lamas are led by the black-hat lama dancers and monastic dance is performed in the courtyard of the Stok gompa. The main highlight of this festival of two royal oracles who make predictions about the future of the region and the people during the Stok Guru Tse-Chu festival. Spectators throng the the monastery and the buildings nearby to witness this ancient monastic festival.
- Venue: Matho Monastery
- Date: 21 – 22 February, 2016
Matho Monastery celebrates a monastic festival known as Matho Nagrang every year for two days. People from far and wide come to this gompa to witness this festival that is celebrated with great grandeur. On the first day dance is performed by lamas with the two oracles , who are in reality monks of the monastery who have gone into a state of spiritual trance after meditating for a full month in isolation. These oracles not only predict the future but also perform amazing feats like jumping from one balcony of the monastery to other, all while blindfolded.
Staying in Ladakh
There are many hotels and guest houses that offer a comfortable stay, during the winter months it is best to stay in a hotel that offers central heating.
The best way to travel to Ladakh in February is by flight. There are daily flights to Leh from Delhi, by Indian Airlines and Jet and 2 flights in a week from Jammu and once in a week from Srinagar.
The cheapest way to travel within the region is public buses, which ply on fixed routes. The most comfortable and convenient mode of travel, however, is by taxi, which are available for hire.
Give your 2016 a mind blowing start by visiting Ladakh and being a part of these colorful festivities.