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 Ladakh Festival
Beyond the sylvan valley of Kashmir lies the enigmatic land of Ladakh. Leh, a fabled city, looms as a sentinel on the ancient silk route from Sinkiang to West Asia and to the plains of India. In 400 AD, the great Chinese traveller Fa-Hsien visited the city and was amazed by its natural grandeur. Ladakh presents a mesmerising blend of Buddhist and Muslim cultures.

In the month of September, the 'moonland' of Ladakh comes alive with a magic of its own. The people, fabulously bedecked with gold and silver ornaments and turquoise headgears throng the streets. Monks in their ritual regalia, wearing colourful masks dance to the entrancing rhythm of cymbals, flutes and trumpets. The Yak, Lion and Tashishpa dances depict the many legends and fables of Ladakh, the hermit kingdom. Ancient monasteries sporting flags in a riot of colours, display of 'tankhas', archery competitions, a mock marriage, horse-polo, and an array of sumptuous Ladakh cuisine are the highlights of this festival.
A range of exquisite handicrafts and quaint antiques populate the lanes and bazaars of the region. Guests are served 'chang', a delightful barley concoction which lends a touch of abandon to the aura of religiosity. For those with a more adventurous bent of mind, rafting on the Sindh, Sutlej and Zanskar rivers, paragliding, and trekking are some of the activities offered during the festival.

In India, religion is a way of life. It is an integral part of the entire Indian tradition. For the majority of Indians, religion permeates every aspect of life, from common-place daily chores to education and politics. Secular India is home to Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and other innumerable religious traditions. Hinduism is the dominant faith, practised by over 80% of the population. Besides Hindus, Muslims are the most prominent religious group and are an integral part of Indian society. In fact India has the second largest population of Muslims in the world after Indonesia.
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