Awaken your spiritual self
Whether you’re a devout Buddhist or a curious spiritual tourist seeking the meaning of life in the vast creativity of world’s religion, the 33rd Kalachakra Initiation in Leh is the event to attend in the summer of 2014. Deeply tied with Buddhist believes and teachings, this 12-day tantric ceremony is not a religious conversion programme, instead it aims to spread the message of world peace and welcomes everyone irrespective of their religious/cultural identity. The initiation may be received simply as a blessing but you can also make commitments and subsequently engage in the practices for attaining enlightenment or Buddha-hood.
The Kalachakra Tantra (system) is amongst the most complex Buddhist teachings. It describes the patterns of nature and how we can break free from the cyclical process of rebirth and attain Nirvana – the perfect state of being that’s free from ignorance, greed and hatred. The tradition of offering the teachings to the public (initiation) have been practised for more than a thousand years but it vanished from India in the wake of Muslim invasions and the destruction of important centres of Buddhist studies like the famed Nalanda university, surviving only in Tibet and Nepal. In its present form, Kalachakra tradition has been the specialty of the Namgyal Monastery, the personal monastery of the Dalai Lamas in Tibet.
The Initiation is generally given over 12 days. The Dalai Lama presides over the ceremony which involves the creation of mandala, several rituals and the initiation itself which happens during the final days. The iconic imagery of the sand mandala which depicts the ideal world of enlightenment, ruled by the deity personifying Kalachakra, is dedicated to both individual and world peace and as the current (14th) Dalai Lama explains: “It is a way of planting a seed, and the seed will have karmic effect. One doesn’t need to be present at the Kalachakra ceremony in order to receive its benefits.”
But you should!
C’est Leh Vie!
There is no fixed timeline for the initiation and it has been conferred by the Dalai Lama in numerous places around the world. The next Kalachakra initiation is scheduled to take place in Leh, India from the 3rd to 14th July.
The city of Leh in the old kingdom of Ladakh has an indelible beauty even though sparse rain and the bitter Himalayan cold means you can admire it only for a few months. As the French say “C’est la vie!” or life is harsh but one must accept it!
The average day temperature in Leh during July is a comfortable 25°C which dips to 10°C at night. Mountains dominate the landscape around Leh as it is at an altitude of 3,500m. The principal access roads include the 434 km Srinagar-Leh highway and the 473 km Leh Manali Highway. Both roads are open only on a seasonal basis. Although the local roads in the valley usually remain open due to the low level of precipitation and snowfall. The Kalachakra Initiation will be held at “Buddha Garden” which is a big meadow on the banks of River Indus in Choglamsar, approximately 10Km east of Leh.
Activities and itinerary
During the first three days of the Kalachakra, from July 3 to 5, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with the monks of Namgyal Monastery and senior lamas, will conduct rituals to prepare the venue for the ceremony. These include chanting of prayers and creation of the sand mandala. From July 6 to 8, His Holiness will give preliminary teachings on Nagarjuna’s Letter To A Friend (shetring). On July 9, the Kalachakra Ritual Dance will be performed by the monks. His Holiness will confer the Kalachakra Initiation from July 10 to 13. On July 14, a long life empowerment (tsewang) ceremony offering prayers for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be performed.
Day 1 – Jul 4 : Delhi – Leh arrival After an exciting flight from Delhi to Leh, we receive you at Kushok Bakula Rinpochey airport-Leh and transfer to Hotel. Take complete rest for the day for Acclimatization. Late evening take a walk around Leh Town. Overnight at guest house.
Day 2 – Jul 5 : Stok palace – Shey – Thiksey – Hemis
After breakfast leave by car to visit Stok royal Palace, the present home of royal family of Ladakh and you can visit the most beautiful royal museum for ancient ornaments, Jewelleries, Crown of the King and the queen. Shey – The ancient capital of Ladakh, 17th century copper gilted statue of historical Buddha Sakyamuni. Thiksey, the most beautiful Gelukpa monastery where the monastery boasts a 45ft Maiterya Buddha statue as one of its attractions. Hemis, The Drukpa monastery located on the other side of the river Indus is the biggest Drukpa Monastery and is well known for the world famous Hemis Festival and the auspicious Thanka Painting, opened to public once in 12 years attracting world over tourists. Overnight at guest house.
Day 3 – Jul 6 : Leh (3500 m): Kalachakra
In the morning, attend preliminary Kalachakra teachings delivered by the Dalai Lama. Meet the pilgrims or walk around in the evening. Overnight in a guest house.
Day 4 – Jul 7 : Leh (3500 m): Kalachakra
This day is devoted to the preliminary teachings of the Kalachakra. Overnight in guest house.
Day 5 – Jul 8 : Indus Valley (3500 m): Hemis Festival
In the morning, go towards the east of the Indus Valley to attend the famous Hemis festival. The Hemis monastery, founded in 1602, is the largest monastery in Ladakh. Enter the main courtyard of the gompa where monks perform sacred masked dances called “Cham”. Participate in this unique festive and spiritual atmosphere. Return to Leh in the evening. Overnight in a guest house.
Day 6 – Jul 9 : Kalachakra
This is a special day in the place of the Kalachakra: you will have the opportunity to attend a rare Buddhist ritual in which the monks of the monastery of Namgyai perform ritual dances related to the Kalachakra. Overnight in guest house.
Day 7 – Jul 10: Nubra Valley- Khardong – Khalsar – Disket – Hunder (130 kms / 05 – 06 hrs)
Early morning drive to Nubra Valley, Of all the valleys in Ladakh, Nubra is the most luxuriant and fertile lays North of Leh with the mighty Karakoram Range forming its northern boundary and the Ladakh range on its south. The valley is lush green as far as the eye can see with glaciated peaks all round it. The route from Leh takes the travel far over the Khardongla pass (5,600 m) the highest motorable road in the world. The view from the top is amazing. One can see all the way south over the Indus valley to the seemingly endless peaks and ridges of the Zanskar range. Diskit is the main village of Nubra division with Diskit monastery on a sheer rock cliff, built in 16th century. 7 km from Diskit is Hunder village where the shaggy double humped Bactrian camel is found. Camel riding in the sand dune between Diskit and Hunder village could be really fun and more interesting in this region. Overnight at guest house in Hundar village.
Day 8 – Jul 11: 14th Jun: Hundar – Sumoor – Leh
After breakfast visit the famous Samstangling monastery, (132 year old, founded by Lama Tsultim Nima). Later trace back the road that you came from. Overnight at guest house, Leh.
Day 9 – Jul 12: Leh – Pangong lake – Leh ( 160km/ 05-06 hrs) one way.
Early morning drive to Pangong Lake. The Pangong Lake is 160 km from Leh, with spectacular views, colourful mountains and the Changla pass. The scenic view of colourful mountains throughout the journey makes your trip memorable. The drive begins with the spectacular view of Thiksey monastery, famous for its architectural similarities with the Potala palace of Lhasa. The monastery covers an entire hill. Beyond this village, you will drive towards the Changla pass (5,300 m), leaving the Leh Manali road on your right hand side. The long easy ascent takes you to Changla pass through its winding roads passing through Sakti Village. Stop at the Changla Pass for a quick photograph session and drive down to the village of Tangtse, where you can relax for a cup of tea. Leaving Tangtse for Pangong you pass through few small villages of Changthang and finally you can have a sudden view of the lake. The Pangong Lake view is dramatic, surrounded by colourful mountains and its reflection makes the lake beautiful. The colour of the lake changes into different colour throughout the day. The division of lake between India and China makes it different than the other Lake. Therefore you are not allowed to go beyond a certain point. Reach Leh by evening. Overnight at guest house, Leh.
Day 10 – Jul 13: Leh – Chilling – Nimo rafting – Leh
Early morning drive on Leh Srinagar highway to Chilling rafting point where the raft will be waiting for you. Rafting stretch is about 20 Kms on the Zanskar river, which will take about 2 and 1/2 hours. The level of rapid is between 3 – 4. The ending point is at the confluence of Zanskar and Indus river. You’ll have hot lunch at the bank of river Indus. After lunch, we head back to Leh. En route visit the .Magnetic hill. Spend the rest of the day relaxing or shopping. Overnight at guest house, Leh
Day 11 – Jul 14 : Leh Kalachakra
This is the day of the Kalachakra! To conclude the event, a “long life prayer” is held in honor of the 14th Dalai Lama. The Kalachakrais an important initiation for Buddhists who contribute peace to the world, which promotes compassion between living beings: a moment of dialogue and tolerance. Overnight in guest house.
Day 12 – Jul 15 : Flight Leh – Delhi [ 1:20 flight ]
Early morning the vehicle will transfer you to the airport, to catch your flight back to Delhi.