Kashmir, heaven on Earth is popular because of its diverse culture and landscapes. The charm of the enduring mountains creates a calming and soothing atmosphere. Festivals do add a special touch to the land of Kashmir. People in Kashmir come together to celebrate festivals together forgetting all the communal tensions among them. Festivals are celebrated with great zeal and zest and lots of merry-making.
Some of the main festivals which are popular in Kashmir are listed as under:
1. Hemis Festival
Hemis Gompa is one of the richest monasteries located in Ladakh and the Hemis festival is celebrated with enthusiasm and people from different parts of India come here to take part in this show. Hemis Festival marks the birthday of Padmasambhava who was the founder of Buddhism in Tibetan culture. The Tibetan Lunar month falls in May and this festival is celebrated during that time. It is held in the large courtyard of the monastery.
Men get dressed in traditional attires with heavy jewelry as custom. The Chaam dance is famous during this time at the beat of drums and horns. Chaam dance is an important part of Tantric Buddhism. This festival is held to remember the heroic victory of Padmasambhava.
Also Read : Ladakh Calender & Festival
2. Tulip Festival
Kashmir is famous for Tulips as there are hundreds of Tulip gardens present in Kashmir. Kashmir hosts Asia's highest tulip gardens and this is the fact that Tulips festival is celebrated in the region. During the springtime, the tulips are a feast to the eyes. The sight is quite breathtaking and mesmerizing. The festival is held at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden located in Srinagar. The festival showcases some authentic Kashmiri cuisines and handicrafts to show the explicit culture of Kashmir. The cultural programs along with the array of tulips make it a must-visit to this festival.
3. Shikara Festival
Considered as the lifeline of Kashmir, The Dal Lake needs to be celebrated once in a while. Shikara needs the utmost attention in Kashmir. To promote tourism in the state, the Government started on this festival from the year 2016. The Shikaras are designed and decorated in a really beautiful way during the festival. Several matches are organized during this time. The Shikaras participate in the Shikara race, Canoe Polo match and Dragon Race. The festival takes place in July or August. The culture of Kashmir is shown amazingly during the Shikara festival.
Suggested Tour : 5 Days - Kashmir Tour
4. Spituk Gustor Zanskar
This is an important festival of Kashmir and is celebrated in the special monasteries of Ladakh. The festival is hosted in October or November. The word Gustor stands for all the sacrifices made in the land. This is marked during the penultimate day of the month. The festival starts with special prayers recited in the mornings.
Gustor is the idea of good over evil and visitors get a chance to see the killing of Tibet Langdarma through shows by the Buddhist monks. The sacrificial cake Torma is taken after the end of the festival. There is a tradition that the cake should be served by the monk who is the leader of Black Hat dancers. Anyone interested in witnessing this festival can visit Ladakh during January.
Suggested Tour : 5 Days - Ladakh Monasteries Tour
5. Amarnath Yatra
The Amarnath Yatra is getting popular day by day and because of this reason, this festival is still the most awaited festival of Kashmir. The Amarnath caves are one of the holiest places for Hindus. It is located about 140km from Srinagar and it is a representation of the presence of Shiva in the caves. Amarnath Yatra is a 43km trek from Nunwan to Chandanwari village located at Pahalgam district. One has to spend a night at the Sheshnag Lake and Panchtarni camps before reaching Amarnath Yatra. It is a glacial cave and snow covers upmost part of the cave. Amarnath yatra starts in June.
Also Read : Best Time to Visit Amarnath
The celebration of Losar has another significance for the Ladakhi people. Jamyang Namgyal was said to postpone the war because of heavy winters. But, the king had other plans for himself and celebrated the New Year ahead of 2 months. Since that time, Ladakh has been celebrating New Year 2 months early to the rest of India. Losar is celebrated for about 15 days and is elegant in its way.
A decorated sheep’s head is made from colored butter and incense sticks are made from rhododendron and juniper and is a ritual in every Ladakhi home. Losar is celebrated in February.
Dosmoche is a simple and adorable festival in Jammu and Kashmir which is hosted from Moti Market to Leh Bazaar and it is a fun festival to watch. Cultural dances and programs are what you have to look for at this festival. All of the dances are performed by the monks of Diskit and Leh. The drum beats and taste of music are what people look for in Dosmoche. This is the last festival in the calendar of New Year and is a must-see.
8. Ladakh Festival