Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hemis Tse-chu, Ladakh, India

Welcome to Hemis, 45 km from Leh where we were staying. You can see photos of Leh in my previous posting.

We were fortunate to be in Ladakh at the time of the annual Hemis Tse-chu (festival) held at the Hemis Tibetan Buddhist gompa (monastery) at 3,657 metres (12,000 feet). It is one of the highest monasteries in the world. It is also where I got my first taste of altitude sickness!

At the festival the monks take part in masked dances as you can see in this first photo of one of the beautiful masks. More of the dances later.

This occasion was so full of photo opportunities that I have made this issue a bumper issue with 40 photos. I hope you enjoy them and it gives you a feel for the visual feast that we witnessed.

These first photos were taken on the way to
Hemis The 8 stupas you can see represent the
8 major events in the Buddha's life including
his birth, enlightenment and death

Incredible rock formation

Very cold, clear and energetic!

The view as we climb up to Hemis

Another stupa at the
beginning of Hemis village

Having fun taking a precarious shortcut

Contemplation; seated and standing

A boy monk making his way to the Hemis

Classic Ladakhi architecture

The people are so colourful in every way


At the entrance to the Monastery. The Festival
is a big attraction

Inside the monastery courtyard where the
masked dance was being held

The event is spectacular in this beautiful

...with an amazing backdrop

The Festival of Hemis Tse-chu
is a 200 year old tradition

Great expressions on the masks

The masks and costumes worn by the dancer
primarily represent various guardians of the
Drug-pa order, of which Hemis is the leading
establishment in Ladakh

The highest viewing spot

Essentially the Hemis dance-drama depicts
the magical feats of Padmasambhava in his
eight different manifestations. He is said to
have transmitted Tantric Buddhism to
Bhutan and Tibet and neighbouring
countries in the 8th century

Ladies with heavy artillery

Like a box at the opera! Slightly different
theatrical setting

This lady is on the roof!
I really love her fasion sense

Part of the monastic ritual

These guys were the jokers and brought
some welcome light relief

A moment in the crowd. What a great jumper
on the little boy

This Lama's costume is pretty cool too

This monk grabbed somebody's bottle of
water and gave a few people a shower

When the wind blows it kicks up the dust

A scary row of masked and armed dancers.
Fantastic colours

A rather less scary row of local women

Traditional hats

My camera took this photo, not me!
It was attracted by this girl's beauty
and her gorgeous hair......

A still moment

This woman is wearing the lovely but heavy
local necklaces

Another shot of the beautiful surroundings
as we reach the car to come away from
Hemis. By this time I am feeling pretty
horrible due to the altitude

Stark and stunning

The green and blue make such a delicious contrast

A final shot of the snow capped mountains

For those of you who would
like more info on the monastery

Next time I'll show you photos
of our trip to the Pangong lake.
A real ordeal for me but still
worth it!

Thanks for coming