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On The Go Tours / India / Festival Tours / Hemis Festival 5 Days

Hemis Festival

5 days  |  Starts/Ends: Delhi  |  from USD $1,099  |   Guaranteed Departure 

Join us at the Hemis Festival in 2015! See the richly adorned masks that the monastery lamas perform in to a cocophony of drums, cymbals and long horns as the birthday celebrations of Guru Padamasambhava get under way!

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Day 1

Delhi - Leh. Take an early morning flight today from Delhi to Leh. Flight prices do vary and when booked in advance start from USD$350. Flights can be booked through On The Go or independently. Upon arrival to Leh an arrival transfer will take you to your guesthouse where the remains of the day can be spent at leisure.

Once the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, Leh now sits in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Today the town is still dominated by the former Leh Palace, built around the same time and in similar style to Potala Palace, and was once of the home of the royal family of Ladakh. The 28,000 residents of the the city are predominantly Buddhists and as such, Leh is the very much the heart and soul of Buddhist culture in the region.

Our Accommodation: This peaceful boutique guesthouse makes for a a delightful and comfortable stay. Each guestroom offers wooden floors, en-suite facilities and simple decoration traditional to the region. Some rooms also offer an outdoor balcony.
Overnight: Leh & Ladakh  |  Lunch, Dinner

Day 2

Today we witness the celebrations of the Hemis Festival, which commemorates the birth of Guru Padamasambhava, who is said to have brought Vajrayana Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet. Revered throughout the Himalayan ranges and considered the second Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava was invited from India in the 8th century to conquer the dark forces and transform them into guardians and protectors of the pure dharma. In the process the guru brought Vajrayana Buddhism - a revelation of the complete and perfect path to awakening. Followers believe that their path is the purest form of Buddhism – practised by Buddha himself, with the goal of liberation from suffering and the attainment of enlightenment.

This morning we make our way to the Hemis Monastery, the largest and richest monastery in all of Ladakh. At 9am the birthday celebrations of Guru Padamasambhava begin in the courtyard, filled with local Ladakhis and Buddhist pilgrims. A raised platform with a richly cushioned seat and 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 festival highlight is the gathering of the lamas around the central flagpole performing the mystic mask dances (Chams) and sacred plays. Chams are essentially a part of Tantric tradition, performed only in the gompas that follow the Tantric Vajrayana teachings and where the monks perform tantric worship. Dressed in colourful bright brocades with vibrantly decorated and richly adorned paper-mache masks (some extending over 1 metre in height) the masked dancers simulate combat between good spirits and evil demons to the cacophony of drums, cymbals and long horns. The crowd unites in uproarious song and dance when the dough idol of evil is destroyed by the leader of black hat dancers signifying that good has prevailed.

This afternoon enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the town, whose skyline is dominated by Royal Palace. Constructed in the 17th century, this imposing nine story stone palace is one of the most captivating architectural ruins of the region. Situated in the foothills of the barren landscape, the palace was built as a residence for the King and to mark the reunifying Upper and Lower Ladakh. Above the Royal Palace, on Namgyal Tsemo (Victory Peak), are the ruins of Leh’s earliest royal residence, a fortress type structure built by King Tashi Namgyal in the 16th century.

There will also be a stop at Sankar Gompa to view the image of Avalokitesvara, inset with turquoise and shown with a thousand heads, arms and feet and one hundred thousand eyes. Next up is Shanti Stupa, which was built to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism and inaugurated by his holiness the Dalai Lama in 1985 and Stok Palace - a museum where the Sengge Namgyal family heirlooms and relics can be seen on display.
Overnight: Leh & Ladakh  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3
Time to Explore

Today offers free time for you to independently explore the area. You may wish to return to the Hemis Grompa today as the festival continues on a smaller scale with a program of music, song, dance and drama. Transportation to the monastery can be arranged locally.

If staying in town for the day, head to the Leh Bazaar where you'll find Jokhang – a Buddhist temple built in the 1980s by the Ladakh Buddhist association, and an imposing 17th century mosque – which reflects a mixture of Islamic and Tibetan architecture and accommodates more than 500 worshippers, that sit opposite each other.
Overnight: Leh & Ladakh  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Monasteries & Palaces

Enjoy guided touring today of the Shey and Thiksey monasteries, plus the Stok Palace. Situated on a hilltop outside of Leh, the Shey Monastery was once the summer palace of the royal family and it is believed that the Kings of Leh were born here. The monastery is also home to an impressive two-story high-seated image of Buddha cast from copper and covered with gold leaf.

Thiksey monastery is also located on a hilltop and the views of the green Indus valley from its rooftop are splendid. This monastery has a number of colourful murals in its courtyard and chambers full of statues and stupas. In many respects this imposing structure is a replica of Potala Palace in Lhasa. Stok Palace now operates as a museum where in the Sengge Namgyal family heirlooms and relics can be seen on display.
Overnight: Leh & Ladakh  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Leh - Delhi. Early this morning (dictated by flight times) we transfer to the airport for our flight (booked independently and in addition to our tour cost) to Delhi arriving at approximately 8:30am. Later today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward international flight.

Opt to extend your stay and explore the sites of Delhi. Additional tour accommodation is available in Delhi should you require it.

The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.

Accommodation on Tour

For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.

Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.

Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.

Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.

Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.

Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!

Noble House, Leh & Ladakh
Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

Though small the Noble House is compact and provides a wonderful view of the imposing Leh Palace and the Stok Kangri Range. It highlights traditional architecture and fine craftsmanship using local materials.

Trip Highlights

Hemis Monastery - Gold statues, stupas and thangkas wall paintings depicting Gautam’s renunciation of the worldly life
Leh Palace - A traditional 17th century, nine storey tibetian style palace
Shey Monastery - Houses a 24 metre high image of Buddha cast from copper and covered with gold leaf
Stok Palace - Museum housing the heirlooms and relics of the of Namgyal family
Hemis Festival - Celebrations of singing, dancing, music drama and masked performances
Shanti Stupa and Sankar Gompa with its image of Avalokitesvara shown with 1000 arms, feet and heads and 100,000 eyes
Thiksey Monastery - Boasting numerous chambers full of statues and stupas - a replica of Potala Palace in Lhasa.


4 nights boutique guesthouse accommodation including 4 breakfast, 4 lunch and 4 dinner
Guided sightseeing of Shey Monastery, Thiksey Monastery and Hemis Gompa
Escorted by an English speaking local guide during the Hemis Festival on day 2 and throughout scheduled sightseeing
Seated ticket and viewing at the Hemis Gompa festival performance
Guided sightseeing tour of Leh with visits to Leh Palace, Victory Peak, Sankar Gompa, Shanti Stupa and Stok Palace
Entrance fees for all included sightseeing
Guiding at the Hemis Festival on day 2

Not Included

International flights and visas. Return flight from Delhi to Leh. Fares when booked in advance start from USD$350
Tipping - an entirely personal gesture
Laundry, drinks, items of a personal nature

Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who would like their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged, thus avoiding the single person supplement.

Supplementary Prices

Single Supp.
Pre-Tour accommodation - Delhi
USD $99
USD $90
Post-Tour accommodation - Delhi
USD $99
USD $90
Car Transfers - Delhi
USD $69

The prices detailed above do not include return flights from Delhi to Leh. Flight prices start USD$350 based on the lowest fare when booked well in advance. Flights become more expensive as the event draws nearer. On The Go Tours can assist in giving you the current fare cost at time of booking and making the reservation upon your behalf.

Tour Details
25 Jun 2015
Hotel Rating
Boutique guesthouse
Local Payment
Tour Guide
Yes - for all included sightseeing
Breakfast: 4, Lunch: 4, Dinner: 4
Guaranteed Departures
This tour is 100% guaranteed to depart with 2 travellers.