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), Thikse (late Oct to mid-Nov) and Diskit (mid-Feb to early March) in Nubra.
Summer festivals include those at:
- Hemis Tsechu
- Karsha Gustor, Zanskar
- Korzok Gustor, Zanskar
- Thak Thok Tsechu
- Sani Naro Nasjal, Zanskar
- Phyang Tsedup