2015 - Ladakh India Adventure Day 4

Ladakh the Land of High Passes in the Himalayas
The 4th International Festival of Buddhist Heritage of Ladakh from 21 Aug – 01 Sep 2015 (12D/11N)

Day 04 (24.08.2015) – Hemis Monasteries (41.2km) Ladakh

This morning from 6am to 7.30am, some of us went to an open space in front of Ladakh Shanti Stupa for a special “Yoga Shivir” with world renowned Yoga Guru Pujya Swami Ramdev and Pujya Acharya Balkrishnaji.

Breakfast at 7.30am and at 9.30am we started our journey. Getting there was by driving 41.2km south-east (Leh Manali Highway) along the Indus River passing by Choglamsar, Shey, Thicksay and Karu. After crossing the river at Karu it was all the way up the mountain side to Hemis Monastery or Gompa. The Indus River flows down from Tibet and ends in Pakistan. 

We were very fortunate to be able to witness the Monks Mask Dance. As reported by Datuk Wee: “We have good news for you because we will be witnessing a very special event! As you aware that our Ladakh tour will coincide with the International Festival of Buddhist Heritage of Ladakh. (In fact the dates of our visit was used to set the timing for the International Festival. We thank MIMC for this honour.) For this year's celebration, the Festival will be organised in collaboration with Hemis Monastery, which will be putting up special presentation of the Sacred Mask (Cham) Dance on 24th August, 2015. This sacred dance performance, which is usually performed once a year in June, is already over, but for the purpose of the Festival it will be performed again for our benefit.“

After the dance we walked around and explored the monastery up to the rooftop and later visited the museum which was sponsored by two Malaysian Datuk Sri Norbu Wong Yeon Chai and his wife, Datin Sri Norzin Loo Chooi Ting in 2007. We also had lunch in the kitchen and we left the place at about 2pm to visit an old mosque on the way back.

At 4.30pm we were taken to town at the Grand Dragon Hotel for a talk on “Sustainable and responsible tourism” in which our Datuk Seri Wee was the Chairperson for the forum. After the talk we had an hour shopping in town and came back to MIMC for dinner followed by puja and a very good talk by Dr Tan Ho Soon founding member of Nalanda Buddhist Society Malaysia. Sleeping at Global Family Home.

This morning I climbed up to the roof top to take this picture of the apple and apricot garden and the landscape below photo.

After breakfast, we all sat at the MIMC office for WiFi services.

I took a picture with the admin staffs of MIMC who are very courteous and helpful.

The scenic view for the Leh Manali Highway.

We stopped along the road to take pictures of the Indus River that ends in Pakistan. On top the hill is the Tiger's Nose Monastery.

A photo taken with my sister Ching Bee Geok at the scenic Indus River.

After crossing the Indus River at Karu it was all the way up the mountain side to Hemis Monastery or Gompa.

Only wheat and barley are planted in this Hemis valley.

Our car convoy driving slowly up the slope to Hemis Monastery.

Again Ladakhe women and children with traditional costumes shouting “jullay Julay" welcoming us to the Hemis festival.

My sister Ching Bee Geok was distributing sweets to the novice monks.

 On the left is Mr Sonam our Ladakh guide who is also attached to MIMC.

Hemis Monastery existed before the 11th century and also a very well preserved monastery where the Mask Dance is performed annually.

Hemis festival is one of the most famous monastic festivals in June to commemorate birth of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet.

Hemis festival has become a major attraction for the tourists coming to Leh Ladakh in order to spare themselves from the scorching heat of summer months in other parts of India.

Many travel companies organize special trip to Leh Ladakh coinciding with the dates of Hemis festival. This way, the tourists come to know about the rich traditions of the local people and the local residents would get a chance to interact and showcase their culture to the world.

The Hemis festival takes place in the rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery. The space is wide and open with two raised square platforms, three feet high with a sacred pole in the center.

The ceremony begins with the thumping sounds of traditional Ladakhi musical instruments like cymbals, large-pan drums, trumpets, large wind instruments, wind pipes etc.

Many treasures of Lamas are housed in this Hemis monastery such as Buddha Shakyamuni studded with precious gems and the Thangka - the lavish cloth having Buddhist Icon painted and embroidered with semi-precious stones.

Mural painting on the inner wall of Hemis monastery.

Mural painting on the outer wall of Hemis monastery.

The sacred dance drama of the life and mission is performed wearing facial masks and colorful brocades robes.

Lamas performed their signature mask dance call ‘Cham’- wearing some really frightful masks, red-robes, tall hats and lavish clothing made of brocade, silk and other royal fabrics.

The lama dancers divided themselves into demons and gods.

The dance also represents the victory of good over evil.

Along with the mask dance, many sacred plays are also performed during the celebrations of Hemis festival. Many stories are also told that establish the victory of good over evil.


We all had our lunch here in the kitchen.

No chairs and tables, so we sat on the floor.

These were the security personnel eating lunch together with us.

There is newly opened museum, displaying old statues and painting, known to be kept secret for centuries.

The museum was sponsored by two Malaysian Datuk Sri Norbu Wong Yeon Chai and his wife, Datin Sri Norzin Loo Chooi Ting in 2007.

Angie Ho Siew Eng was lucky to have taken a photo with  HRH Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuk the royal princess of the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan.

After the dance we walked around and explored the monastery up to the rooftop for a view.

The breath taking view of the snow-cap mountain and the valley below.

We were standing beside Jerry Ong's school bus.

The scenic landscape view on the road journey back to MIMC.

We stopped at this bridge for a view of the Indus River.

Originating in the Tibetan Plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar, the river runs through the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, towards Gilgit-Baltistan and then flows in a southerly direction along the entire length of Pakistan to merge into the Arabian Sea with a total length of 3,180km.
Below the bridge we saw the dogs eating on the sheep carcass.

On the return journey we visited the Historical Shah-E-Hamdan Masjid in Shey.

Masjid-e-Shah-e-Hamdan is in Shey village, 15 km from Leh. It is a small mosque of great historical value built by one of the greatest preachers of Islam in Kashmir, Mir Syad Ali Hamdani, popularly known as Shah-e-Hamdan.

In the mosque compound there was a tea reception and some speeches.

Both Ching Bee Geok and Seow Key Me with head scarf were seen eating  biscuits and drinking tea.

Dr. Maria Reis Habito, Museum of World Religions, Taiwan (Dallas Office) gave a speech on interfaith themes.

H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, the president of Parmarth Niketan, Uttarakhand, India, giving a speech and look at his footwear below.

At 4.30pm we were taken to town at the Grand Dragon Hotel for a talk on “Sustainable and responsible tourism” in which our Datuk Seri Wee was the Chairperson for the forum.

After the talk we had an hour walking around the town of Leh.

The grand mosque on the left and the palace behind on the hill.

Evening was puja and a talk by Dr Tan Ho Soon the founding member of Nalanda Buddhist Society Malaysia at MIMC prayer hall.

  1. At Mahabodhi, Leh, Ladakh 2009 
  2. International Meditation Centre, Leh-Ladakh 2011 
  3. A soldier becomes a Monk, Mahabodhi Ladakh 2013
  4. Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre diary 2015 
  5. Mahabodhi Devachan Campus the Himalayan Oasis 2015 
click below to view:

Day 01 (21.08.2015) – Kuala Lumpur flight to Delhi, India
Day 02 (22.08.2015) – Delhi domestic flight to Leh, Ladakh (3,524m / 11,562ft)
Day 03 (23.08.2015) – Thicksay and Shey Monastery, Leh, Ladakh
Day 04 (24.08.2015) – Leh to Hemis Monastery (41.2km) Ladakh
Day 05 (25.08.2015) – Leh to Nubra Valley (136km) via KhardungLa Pass

Day 06 (26.08.2015) – Nubra Valley to visit Disket Monastery (14.5km)
Day 07 (27.08.2015) – Nubra Valley returned to Leh, Ladakh (136km)
Day 08 (28.08.2015) – Visit Devachan Campus, Leh, Ladakh
Day 09 (29.08.2015) – Leh to Tingmosgang (90km) Ladakh
Day 10 (30.08.2015) – Bodhkharbu on the way to Lamayuru Monastery

Day 11 (31.08.2015) – Basgo Monastery, Tekchen Chosling and Alchi Temple
Day 12 (01.09.2015) - Leh fly to Delhi to catch the night flight back to KL
Day 13 (02.09.2015) - Arrived KLIA at 6.55am



  1. Jagjit Singh11 October, 2015

    Dear Mr Ching, an excellent write up.. brings memories to me when we motored from Srinagar to Leh and Tsangpo Lake, Ladakh.

  2. Hi! Rotarian Ching,

    Thank you for your adventurous emails. I really enjoyed reading it. I would like to learn how you do your blog, so well linked from your own Rotary club to travels and also linking with Rotary International. It's really very good!

    This year I am President of the Rotary Club of Bukit Kiara Sunrise and this is one area which our Club would like to improve on. Is there any contact vendor which you can recommend to us?

    When you are in KL, do be my guest. Our club meets on Saturday mornings at 7.30am at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club.

    Thank you!
    Best Regards,
    Susan Lim
    President 2015-2016
    Rotary Club of Bukit Kiara Sunrise

  3. Julie Tan Chooi Kee14 October, 2015

    Hi Bro Ching, I enjoyed reading about your Ladakh trip. Keep on writing / blogging. So where will be your next trip? Regards, Julie Tan

  4. Hi Julie, nice to hear from you. Next month I be traveling a month along the Mekong River from north Thailand to south Cambodia.