Hemis or Hamis is a village in the Indian union territory of Ladakh. The Ladakhi village is famous for Hemis Monastery, Hemis National Park, and the Hemis Festival. The village is located 40 kilometers southeast of Leh town in Leh district of Ladakh. Hamis is a sparsely populated region having around 24 households for 313 ethnic Ladakhi. For anyone visiting Ladakh, the journey will be incomplete unless you visit the 17th century Hemis Monastery. Ladakh is known for an amalgamation of colors and this is evident from the colorful festival held annually in July at Hamis. Amidst spiritualism and colors, there is something even for the wildlife enthusiasts in the Hemis National Park having snow leopard, the endangered species. Today, I will make you go through the tourist attractions of Hemis and it is you to decide whether Hemis is the hidden treasure of Ladakh.
Hemis Monastery is the prime attraction of Hamis in Ladakh. The gompa or monastery was built by Sengge Namgyal, the king of Ladakh in 1672. The gompa is affiliated to Tibetan Buddhism belonging to the Drukpa sect led by the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa. Hemis Monastery has the statue of Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava. Hamis Gompa is the most popular gompa in Ladakh as well as the richest one across the region. The monastery is only 45 kilometers away from the administrative capital of Ladakh, Leh. So people visiting Leh can easily have Hemis Monastery on their itinerary.
Hemis Festival is held annually at the premises of Hemis Monastery. The festival lasts for two days and brings devotees and tourists from faraway corners to Hamis village. During the festival, the panache and splendor of Hemis Gompa increase manifold. Adjacent to the monastery is a museum having a wide collection of Tibetan books, religious texts, gold statutes, Stupas, and Thangkas. You can also see a collection of precious gems and stones, carriers, and other stuff related to Tibetan Buddhism.
Whether you are a follower of Buddhism or not, you will be in love with this place if you visit the Hemis Gompa. Its architecture shows the elegance of Tibetan style such as a giant gate leading to the big patio of Hemis Monastery complex. You will find two assembly halls that lead to the presiding deity, Lord Padmasambhava. The gompa has the Wheel of Life and a library comprising of Buddhist text in its premises.
Hamis or Hemis village is synonymous with the annual extravaganza of Hemis Festival. It is held every year to celebrate the birthday of Guru Rinpoche or Lord Padmasambhava, the presiding deity of Hemis Gompa. The festival is quite auspicious as the Rinpoches are considered as the reincarnated form of Lord Buddha. Hemis Festival is the soul of the region as the village gets lively right from dawn. It is the time to display Thangka of Rimpoche Dadmokarpo amidst drum beats, cymbal clashing, and blowing the long-horns.
The premise of Hemis Monastery hosting Hemis Festival becomes rejuvenating with the mask dance by the Chhaams or dragon dancers. It depicts the victory of good over evil powers. The dance drama is followed by Tibetan Buddhist rituals and musical recitals. This year Hemis Festival will be organized on 8th and 9th July on the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar. The two-day festivity is characterized by Chham Dance, Devil Dance, display of local handicrafts, and serving the local drink – Chang.
Hemis National Park
Hemis National Park is situated at an altitude of 3,000 – 4,000 meters and spread across 4,000 square kilometers. The park is home to the endangered species – snow leopards and a variety of rare flora and fauna. Hemis National Park is an exciting trip for nature enthusiasts and trekkers, especially from June to October every year. Since no automobiles are allowed here, the park is pollution-free and is the 2nd biggest protected zone following Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve.
The Bottom Line
Hemis is the pride of Ladakh and an integral part of the Ladakhi culture. If you visit Ladakh, you have to visit Hamis to get a taste of its culture and heritage. The best time to visit Hemis is during June and July when the Hemis Festival is organized. Hamis is well-connected with Leh through taxis and buses. For the adventurers, hiring a bullet to reach Hamis is the best option.