Here's Why You Should Head To The Ladakh Festival 2023

Indulge in games such as archery, explore local colours and cuisines, and familiarise yourself with local lifestyle and music, all in the Ladakh Festival 2023
Traditional festival in Ladakh
Traditional festival in LadakhDepositphotos

The Ladakh Festival 2023 is here! It is the most famous cultural event in the Leh City and is scheduled to take place this September. It spans over four days, starting September 21 and ending September 24. September is also the best time to visit Ladakh since it is the beginning of autumn and the peak of the tourist season. The breathtaking views on the way to and in the city will leave you mesmerised, making it an unforgettable experience.

Festival announcement
Festival announcementTwitter

The Ladakh Festival hosts a variety of cultural programs such as folk dances, traditional music, and Ladakhi food. Visitors can also enjoy handicraft products, archery competitions, and polo matches. The festival's highlight is the mask dances. The event provides an excellent opportunity to promote and revive Ladakh's rich culture, traditions, and folk heritage and for tourists to learn about Ladakhi culture and lifestyle. Owing to such promotion, similar cultural events are held throughout the year in Ladakh.

Road to Ladakh
Road to LadakhDepositphotos

The Festival?

Women in a festival at Leh
Women in a festival at LehDepositphotos

The Ladakh Festival 2023 aims to showcase the unique Ladakhi culture, history, and lifestyle to tourists. The region has a rich heritage, having been a significant part of the Silk Road trade route. This has influenced its culture with elements from Tibetan, Central Asian, and Indian traditions. Most of Ladakh's population follows Tibetan Buddhism, and their spiritual and cultural life is centred around monasteries like Hemis and Thiksey. Throughout history, Ladakh has been ruled by various dynasties, including Tibetan, Central Asian, and Indian rulers. It became part of independent India in 1947. Today, Ladakh's culture thrives with colourful festivals, traditional music, dance, and art, making it a vibrant mix of heritage and spirituality set against a stunning backdrop of breathtaking landscapes.

Highlights Of The Festival

The Ladakh Festival 2023 is a prism to project the several aspects of the Ladakhi culture. Explore the various insights that the festival provides.

Buddhism and Spiritualism

Kids in a monastery in Ladakh
Kids in a monastery in LadakhDepositphotos

In the Ladakh Festival, the monasteries of the place are highlighted. Ladakh boasts many ancient monasteries, making it an ideal place to acquaint oneself with Buddhism and its principles while also experiencing the Buddhist way of life. Some must-visit monasteries include Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Alchi Monastery, Diskit Monastery, and Phyang Monastery. These monasteries host yearly ceremonies and are popular tourist destinations for Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

Indigenous Attires

Woman in a traditional attire
Woman in a traditional attireShutterstock

The traditional attire of Ladakh is a sight to behold during the events of the Ladakh Festival. Ladakhi men wear a woollen robe called Goucha, which they tie from around their neck up to the waist. The robe protects them from the cold and is often maroon or brown, providing insulation against the extreme cold. They also wear long-sleeved coats called Jabba or Chuba, which feature intricate embroidery and fur-lined collars. Women commonly wear an ornamental headdress called Perak, adorned with turquoise and coral, along with a brocade robe called Kuntop. Both men and women accessorise with leather boots called Kyar or Zhung, and carry a portable firepot called Kangri tucked inside their robes to keep warm in Ladakh's freezing winters. These traditional garments offer protection from the climate and serve as a symbol of Ladakhi culture and identity.

Local Cuisines

Local thukpa from Ladakh
Local thukpa from LadakhWikimedia Commons

Ladakh's cuisine reflects its high-altitude desert terrain and diverse cultural influences. The staple foods in Ladakh include tsampa, roasted barley flour, and thukpa, a hearty noodle soup. Yak meat and dairy products like chhurpi (dried cheese) are commonly used in dishes like momos (dumplings) and thentuk. Ladakhi cuisine also features flavorful dishes like gyuma (stir-fried liver and vegetables) and skieu (a noodle stew). Due to the scarcity of fresh vegetables, locals rely on dried and preserved greens. In addition, butter tea or gur gur chai is a popular beverage, providing warmth and energy in the cold climate. The cuisine of Ladakh is a testament to its resourceful and resilient people, offering a unique blend of flavours that cater to both sustenance and culture.

Historical Charm

Leh Palace
Leh PalaceDepositphotos

Exploring all of Ladakh during the duration of the Ladakh Festival may not be possible, but you can still visit some of the significant historical sites in Leh. Some must-visit places are the 17th-century Leh Palace, the 18th-century Stok Palace, the Thiksey Monastery, Shanti Stupa, and Sankar Gompa.

Where To Stay

Travellers can check out the Zambala Inn (starting at INR 2018 per night) and The Silk Route Ladakh Hotel (starting at INR 2408) for a luxurious lodging experience in Leh. You can also explore more sustainable places that will also bring you closer to the authentic local experience Stok Eco Village Homestay (INR 3500 per night) or the Rabsal House (INR 3400 per night).

How To Reach

Air: The nearest airport to Leh is the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport.

Rail: Jammu Tawi is the nearest railway station.

Road: Ladakh is well connected through roads to major cities. The National and State Highways are well accessible.

  • Delhi: 1000 km via Leh-Manali Highway

  • Manali: 475 km via Leh-Manali Highway and Keylong Leh Road

  • Chandigarh: 760 km via Leh-Manali Highway

  • Amritsar: 870 km via via Leh-Manali Highway

  • Shimla: 720 km via Leh-Manali Highway

Travel Responsibly

Pangong Tso
Pangong TsoDepositphotos

Ladakh is a breathtaking region that boasts clear-water lakes, high plains, and deep valleys. The area heavily depends on tourism for its revenue. As a responsible traveller, it is advised to support the local people's initiatives to preserve the place's pristine and eco-friendly nature. You can choose eco-friendly accommodations, respect the local culture, and support the community by purchasing locally-made handicrafts, textiles, and food products. Minimising your plastic usage and leaving no trace of your travel is essential. Additionally, reducing carbon emissions and being mindful of water and energy usage can help protect the environment of this beautiful place.

Outlook Traveller