Journey to Ladakh including Hemis Festival with Andrew Harvey

The Way of the Bodhisattva: A Journey of Love, Devotion & Spiritual Exploration June 22 - July 7, 2023

Join author and spiritual teacher Andrew Harvey on this pilgrimage filled with sacred ceremonies, spiritual teachings, and transformational sites in Ladakh.

Ladakh is a place of unique grandeur and spiritual power and has preserved its ancient relationship with Tibetan Buddhism. This journey is an ideal opportunity to visit some of India's lesser-known sacred places, nestled in the breathtaking Himalayas, with spiritual teacher, Andrew Harvey. You will explore how Buddhism is embracing Love in Action, inspiring us all to be in service of others in the world. Highlights include a two-day Way of the Bodhisattva retreat given by Andrew Harvey; the colourful Hemis Festival in the courtyard of the most impressive and largest Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh; a visit to the 14th Dalai Lama's summer residence; time with a local family in Tia; Chod session with a Tibetan Yogi, and meditation by a sacred lake. THIS JOURNEY IS SOLD-OUT. PLEASE CONTACT US FOR DETAILS READ MORE

Tour Leader Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey is an author, spiritual teacher, and founder of the Institute of Sacred Activism, dedicated to creating a new world founded in universal compassion and sacred passion for all life.


This journey was a perfect matching between the outer - magnificent snow covered omnipresent Himalayan peaks, and the inner - a confrontation through Andrew's passionate teachings between current reality and timeless Truth. Catriona Rogers, Hong Kong


This was a purely magical experience - every detail of this trip was impressive! I couldn't imagine a more profound, transformative journey. What I most appreciated was the intention to offer us a pilgrimageLinda Abrams, Orchard Park, NY


Tour Description


Travel with renowned author and spiritual teacher Andrew Harvey to some of the most significant, yet lesser known, sacred sites in the scenic and culturally-rich region of Ladakh. At the heart of this journey is a two-day “Way of the Bodhisattva” retreat, where we will have the rare privilege of experiencing teachings given by Andrew at the sacred Hemis Monastery.

Ladakh-Lamayuru Gompa
The ancient Lamayuru Gompa monastery greets you at a height of 3,510 meters

The Way of the Bodhisattva (an enlightened being who offers up his/her life in the service of all beings) is one of the goals of tantric Buddhism. It is brought about by focusing one’s heart and mind on the benefit of others and utilising tantric meditation techniques (sacred science) to illuminate the practitioners’ heart-mind, thus becoming a vehicle in service of this intention.

Ladkah 2023
Meet yogis whose lives are dedicated to spiritual practice and meditation

Recently, a new generation of young lamas and Buddhist teachers are once again shifting their focus towards a lived path of Love in Action, serving their communities and the world with concrete projects grounding in compassion, love, and benefit to others.

His Eminence Thuksey Rinpoche is a prime example of this fresh Buddhist leadership. Born in 1986, he couples the joy of youth with the wisdom and confidence of a venerated elder, and works tirelessly to bring practical and spiritual education to his community, preserve the environment, and protect animals. Thuksey Rinpoche also teaches in the West, bringing the ancient works of Buddhism with its principles of eternal wisdom into a modern context and clarity. If Thuksey Rinpoche is in Ladakh during our visit, we hope to have an audience with him (TBA).

Buddism in Ladakh is ancient and widespread

Andrew Harvey, founder of the School of Sacred Activism, met the previous incarnation of Thuksey Rinpoche in Ladakh in 1981 and became his student. Andrew’s book, A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism, explores his first journey to Ladakh and his meeting with Thuksey Rinpoche. The book is now considered a classic among readers interested in Tibetan Buddhism and pilgrimages of the spirit of all kinds. The brief encounters Andrew had with this great sage in the last years of his life had a profound effect on Andrew’s life path. In 1990, Andrew collaborated with Sogyal Rinpoche and Patrick Gaffney in the writing of the international bestselling book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. In 2014 Andrew returned to Ladakh, some 30 years after his last visit where he had said farewell to his beloved and dying teacher. His former teacher’s reincarnation, the new Thuksey Rinpoche, greeted Andrew with “Hello, we meet again … I was your father in my last life, this time you are a father to me.” Those words birthed this journey and many more sacred projects that model Love in Action.

A beautiful sunset view from Diskit Monastery in Nubra Valley

Throughout this journey Andrew will offer teachings and spiritual insights to the places we visit as well as guide us in meditations and reflection. Our journey begins in Delhi with a tour of the National Museum to see the Buddhist relics collection, followed by a visit to Gandhi Smriti, a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. From Delhi we fly to Leh where we are greeted with a traditional Shaman and Tibetan welcome and blessings. We then spend two half days in retreat, with morning teachings given by Andrew Harvey, followed by visits to Thuksey Rinpoche's Love in Action projects.

A highlight of our journey will be the breathtaking Hemis Festival, celebrated annually on the tenth day of the Tse-Chu in the Tibetan calendar. This two-day celebration marks the anniversary of the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, and features Cham Dances, masked dances that depict the triumph of good over evil, as well as local handicrafts and traditional costumes.

Tibetan lamas dressed in mystical masks dance during the Hemis Festival at Hemis Monastery

We then continue our journey to Tingmosgang where we will have an opportunity to spend time with a local family as well as experience a Chod ritual based on Tibetan Yogic traditions at Lamayuru Monastery. We spend the final stage of our journey in Nubra where we visit Diskit Monastery and meditate at Yarab Tso Sacred Lake. We then return to Delhi via Leh, once again breathing in the stunning Himalayan landscape.

For more beautiful photos and information, please visit the Ladakh Photo Gallery on the World Pilgrimage Guide website of Martin Gray.

Below is an excerpt from, A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism, by Andrew Harvey.

I had written this paragraph in Delhi:
‘[Ladakh] has been known as Mang Yul (the country of many people), Naris, and Kha-Chum-Pa (the land of snow); Fa-Hien, the great Chinese traveller, who visited the region in A.D. 400, called it Ma-La-Pho (red land). Its present name, Ladakh, comes from La-Tags, in Tibetan the land of the la, the land of the high mountain passes; and it is the best name of all.’

Why did I write, ‘and it is the best name of all’ so confidently, when I had never been there? A vague erudition had turned, somehow, for a phrase, into a kind of prophecy. Ladakh is the land of high mountain passes; my experience of Ladakh and its people was to be, for me, a pass into another awareness of reality.

Upon arrival at Delhi International Airport, you will be transferred to the LaLit Hotel. This very welcoming hotel will be our home while we are in Delhi. If possible, we suggest arriving a day early to rest and refresh after your flight.

At 5:30pm we will gather together as a group to meet our fellow travel companions and tour leader, Andrew Harvey. Then time to relax and settle in, and perhaps enjoy dinner together, ahead of tomorrow’s city tour.

(Overnight in Delhi at The LaLiT Hotel or similar)


Breakfast at our hotel this morning followed by a visit to the National Museum to receive a blessing from the Buddhist relics collection. This collection contains the Buddha’s bone fragments as well as many other relics of the Buddha (5th-4th century B.C.), unearthed at Piprahwa (Piprehwa). The energy field emanating from the Buddha relics is incredibly powerful and our visit here will be a profound way to start our pilgrimage together.

After lunch we will explore Gandhi Smriti (formerly known as Birla Bhavan), a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, India’s great sacred activist. The museum is the location where Mahatma Gandhi spent the final 144 days of his life, and where he was assassinated on January 30, 1948. The “Martyr’s Column” in the grounds commemorates the exact spot he was shot during his evening prayers.

We will return to our hotel late afternoon and pack our bags in preparation for our early flight to Ladakh the next morning. Dinner on your own this evening – the hotel has a choice of restaurants or you can order room service.

(Overnight in Delhi at The LaLiT Hotel or similar)

Gandhi Smriti

We rise early this morning for a light breakfast at the hotel before heading to the airport for one of the world’s most scenic flights over the Himalayas. We will fly over the Indus Valley, dotted with villages like oases in the mountainous desert, to Leh Ladakh, at the northern tip of the Himalayas. Ladakh is nestled between two of the highest mountain ranges on the “roof of the world,” the Karakoram and the grand Himalayan chain. Until recently (the last two or three generations), Ladakh’s remote location kept it protected from the outside world, and it has therefore been able to retain its knowledge of life, wellspring of happiness, and the seed of peace in the Land of Arya, Noble Beings.

Ladakh has a vibrant Tibetan refuge community that has nourished the existing Buddhist cultural and spiritual life. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama visits Ladakh every year for a private retreat or extended stay at Gephleling Prodang, his only official residency outside Dharamsala.

On arrival we will take some time to acclimatize to the altitude, rest, enjoy the sun and the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayan landscapes. Late afternoon, we will meet with a Tibetan Amchi, doctor of Tibetan medicine, for individual holistic consultations.

(Overnight in Leh at Le Mentok Wellness Resort or similar)


Today, we begin our Bodhisattva retreat with Andrew Harvey at the famous Hemis Monastery. Over the next two days, we will have the rare privilege of a private retreat and teachings at one of the world's most sacred and revered monasteries.

In the afternoon we will visit one of Thuksey Rinpoche's wonderful service projects, an example of how he is putting love into action with his "Live to Love" project. We will visit the Druk Padma Karpo School, set up by Thuksey Rinpoche and his students to provide modern and traditional education for Ladakhis. The school provides boarding facilities for some of the countries poorest students.

“The true journey is toward the enlightened self, and you are that already. You came, across your life, across Ladakh, to this room, to this morning, to me, and now another journey is beginning, the journey which you have travelled here to begin.” (from a conversation with Thuksey Rinpoche recorded in A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism by Andrew Harvey)

(Overnight in Leh at Le Mentok Wellness Resort or similar)


Today we will experience our second day of the Way of the Bodhisattva retreat with Andrew Harvey, for more sacred teaching and time for contemplation. There will be tour of Thuksey Rinpoche’s dog sanctuary project. Ladakhi’s towns are overrun by stray dogs that have a very poor quality of life and can spread disease. Rinpoche has created a sanctuary were these animals can come to live out their days in peace and no longer need to scavenge for food. The project also neuters many other dogs and rehabilitates formerly aggressive animals.

“You will understand, slowly, and in slow stages, that Reality is a creation of the mind. You will understand it not with your intellect or even with your intuition, but practically, because you will be growing within you the power to alter Reality. […] What you are beginning is a journey into a different world, into an awareness of different reality; you cannot expect to make that journey quickly. Nor, in a sense, should you want to.” (from a conversation with Thuksey Rinpoche recorded in A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism by Andrew Harvey)

(Overnight in Leh at Le Mentok Wellness Resort or similar)


Our first excursion in Ladakh will be to pay our respects and receive blessings at His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s summer residence. Ladakh, like no other Himalayan region, reflects Tibet before the Chinese invasion and with the simple lifestyle and depth of wisdom of the Ladakhi people it has become the Dalai Lama’s favourite place to visit for rest, contemplation, and retreat. A modest summer residence has been created for the Dalai Lama on the edge of Leh close to the Tibetan refugee community of Choglamsar. We will tour the private residence, feeling the energy of universal compassion throughout and especially in the presence of the statue of Buddha in His Holiness’s private temple. We will then gather in the Dalai Lama’s meeting hall where Andrew will deliver a special teaching, followed by a visit to the Tibetan Children’s Village School, where the next generation of Tibetan children are educated.

For lunch we will enjoy a traditional Tibetan banquet in the Tibetan Refugee Community on the edge of Leh. Here, we will have the privilege of a private group session with Lhamo, a female Shaman-Oracle. The deity that enters the Shaman is associated with the energy of Sri Devi, Palden Lhamo, a female deity and the protector deity of the Dalai Lama. It is this powerful spiritual being that enters the female Shaman’s body and through whom predictions and physical healings are performed. In traditional Tibetan culture Shamans often run in family lineages, and are selected by the spiritual entity that enters them spontaneously. They are then tutored by their predecessor rather than being formally trained. We will be welcomed into the Tibetan community at Choglamsar for what will be an incredible experience of living Tibetan culture. There will be a group blessing for longevity and the removal of obstacles in our life and spiritual practice.

(Overnight in Leh at Le Mentok Wellness Resort or similar)

Shamanic Session

This morning, we have the honour of witnessing a profound and auspicious spiritual celebration: the Hemis Festival. We will be enchanted by monks wearing long, colourful costumes and elaborate masks performing Cham Dances to the music of drums, cymbals and wind instruments; a visual portrayal of the triumph of good over evil. Each monk embodies the personality of the protective deity he is symbolizing, and each mask has its own spiritual significance – the blue Padmasambhava mask, for example, signifies the subjugation of evil. The Rinpoche presides over this special festival that celebrates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, and also features displays of local handicrafts and intricate traditional attire.

After lunch, we drive to Thiksey Monastery, which closely resembles the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s residence in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, before he was forced into exile. After exploring the monastery we will sit with the beautiful statue of Maitreya Buddha, symbolising the Buddha’s hope for the future of the world. We will meditate at the foot of this great sacred statue in one of the most stunning temples in the world.

(Overnight in Leh at Le Mentok Wellness Resort or similar)

Hemis Festival

After breakfast this morning we drive into the picturesque valley of Ule Tokpo, our home for the next three nights. Situated on the banks of the mighty Indus river and its tributaries, it is home to many native species of trees, flowers, and birds.

While here, we will also visit the nearby valley of Alchi, considered one of the most significant cultural sites in the Himalayas. The Tsatsapuri (Sumstek - meaning 3 storey) temple complex comprises three shrine buildings and features magnificent frescoes and sculptures connected to Tibetan Buddhism (and Gandhar Arts).

(Overnight in the village of Ule Tokpo at Ule Ethnic Resort or similar)


Today we visit Lamayuru, a magnificent holy landscape and home to one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh. Founded in the tenth century, Lamayuru monastery overlooks an ancient dry lake and the main hall is built over the sacred cave where the saint Naropa, forefather of the Kagyu tradition, meditated. We will meet with a Yogi, whose life is dedicated to spiritual practice and meditation, and welcomed to the site. The Yogi will then perform a Chod ritual according to Tibetan Yogic traditions, and sing the sacred songs of the Yogi Milarepa, at the edge of the village overlooking the monastery. (the yogi visit may be in Choglamsar instead - tba)

(Overnight in the village of Ule Tokpo at Ule Ethnic Resort or similar)


This morning we will pay a visit to Chulichan nunnery (close to Ridzong monastery), and learn about educational and other community projects grounded in compassion and love in action. We will sit with the nuns as they recite the 21 Tara Practice to offer protection from mental fears.

Later we will visit the village of Tia with its old houses, narrow streets, and vaulted passages. Little known to tourists, it majestically overlooks the valley. Here you can enjoy the opportunity for exchanges with villagers and discover their traditional way of life. Then you will visit a local family who will introduce you to Tsampa, roasted barley flour (a staple in Tibetan cuisine), accompanied by butter tea and chang, a local beer made of barley.

(Overnight in the village of Ule Tokpo at Ule Ethnic Resort or similar)


After breakfast this morning, we travel to the pristine countryside of the Nubra Valley, and the village of Sumur, where we will be staying. The journey to Nubra is a peaceful five-hour drive, with idyllic rural views. We will make a stop along the way at Buddha Park, just below Khardong La pass, to raise prayer flags (weather and appropriate astrological reading permitting).

Nubra provides us with an ideal opportunity for relaxation and reflection. Under Andrew’s expert guidance, we will deepen our practice and understanding of the teachings received during the Way of the Bodhisattva Retreat and on the journey so far. The natural beauty of our surroundings reflects the heart within, and will help us further connect with the spiritual wisdom we are receiving.

(Overnight in Nubra at the Lchang Nang or similar)


Nubra Valley

Today we will visit Diskit Monastery, the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra valley. We will learn about the spiritual and cultural history of the monastery and its connection to Thikse Monastery.

We will also spend time at the nearby statue of Jampa Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the future), which stands over 100-feet tall on a hilltop just below the monastery. In 2010 His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama consecrated the statue, which promotes world peace and protects Diskit village. This colourful statue is impressive to behold, and we will explore the significance of the “future Buddha” and the role of the statue. 

(Overnight in Nubra at the Lchang Nang or similar)


Diskit Maitreya Statue

This morning we will visit the ancient Ensa Monastery, which is used by yogis to meditate. In this sacred place, whose stone walls are impregnated with deep mystical realisation, we will sit in practice led by Andrew.

In the afternoon, Andrew will deliver a teaching on the Heart sutra – the essence of all the Buddha’s teaching – followed by a meditation beside the sacred Yarab Tso lake. The lake’s fine ripples are believed to inspire visions for the pilgrims who visit here.

(Overnight in Nubra at the Lchang Nang or similar)



Breakfast at our hotel this morning, followed by time to pack and prepare for our drive back to Leh. We will take the breathtaking Wari La pass, at an elevation of 17427ft above sea level, through the snow-capped mountains. This remote pass offers stunning views, and our drive will offer us time for quiet reflection ahead of the final days together on this life-changing pilgrimage.

“As the bus [made] its way slowly up that vast winding pass […], I found my mind falling silent, becoming as large and as empty as the spaces between the mountain faces, as wide as the skies above the peaks of the mountains; for long moments I felt as if everything that happened, the passage of a lonely bird across a ravine, the glint of sudden sunlight on spray-shined boulders far below, a wash of wind through a field of small flowers on a ledge below, happened within me also, within my mind that had become as large as the landscape, as airy, as silent.” (from A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism by Andrew Harvey)

(Overnight in Leh at Lha Ri Sa Resort or similar)

The road back to leh

We are up early for the mid-morning flight over the Himalayas back to the subcontinent. Take the afternoon to relax at the hotel, chat with your fellow travellers, and integrate all that you have experienced on this sacred journey.

We will then gather at 5pm for a final sharing circle and opportunity to express our gratitude. This is followed by a shared farewell meal and celebration (paid on own). As we once more enjoy traditional Indian hospitality, we can share ways we intend to take the teachings back home with us and model our own understanding of Love in Action within our communities and day-to-day lives.  

(Overnight near Delhi Airport (Aerocity) at Pride Plaza Hotel or similar)

Delhi to Leh

One final breakfast at our beautiful hotel this morning, ahead of checking out and transferring by taxi (at own expense) to the airport for onward flights home. As you say your goodbyes to Ladakh, you can feel certain that you will carry the teachings, spiritual wisdom, and love you have experienced during this journey with you as you return home. 

(B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner)

Note: This itinerary is subject to change due to conditions beyond our control.

Back home

Journey to Ladakh including Hemis Festival with Andrew Harvey

June 22 - July 7, 2023

Tour Includes:

  • 15 nights accommodation in unique & comfortable Ladakhi hotels
  • Breakfast daily
  • 12 lunches; 12 dinners (full board in Ladakh)
  • Arrival transfers in Delhi
  • Deluxe air-conditioned coach transportation in Delhi
  • Return flights Delhi-Leh-Delhi
  • Transportation by Tempo Traveler vehicles in Ladakh
  • Entry fees to museums and monasteries noted on itinerary
  • Honorarium to Yogi, Shaman and Amchi
  • Restricted Area Permit for Ladakh
  • Ladakh ecology protection tax
  • English speaking tour guide throughout

Added Features:

  • Travel, discussions and teachings with author and spiritual teacher Andrew Harvey
  • Visits to Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche's 'Love in Action' projects and school
  • Two-day “Way of the Bodhisattva retreat” with Andrew at Hemis Monastery
  • Attend the profound and auspicious Hemis Festival
  • Visit with local family in Tia
  • Prayer meeting with Ladakhi nuns
  • Chod session with Yogi
  • Consultation with Tibetan Amchi in Leh
  • Visit to the Dalai Lama’s summer residence in Ladakh
  • Group session with Shaman-Oracle
  • Lunch with Tibetan Refugee Community in Choglamsar
  • Time for meditation, quiet reflection, and integration of teachings
  • Travel with like-minded companions

Tour Does Not Include:

  • Airfare to and return from Delhi, India
  • Indian Tourist eVisa (required)
  • Cancellation & Medical Insurance (ask us for a quote)
  • Meals and drinks not specified
  • Any items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks and telephone calls
  • Any item that is not specifically detailed on our website
  • Voluntary donations to monasteries and projects in Ladakh
  • Tips for local guides, drivers, porters, hotel staff, bell boys at hotels, shoe keepers at temples, and many other people who will be assisting you on the journey (our guide will collect approx. USD $120 per person at the start of the tour to cover all group tips)
  • Tip for our tour guide (approx. $70 per person)
  • Taxi to Delhi International Airport at end of tour (please book with hotel the night before, approx. USD $25 per vehicle)

Tour Price:

    • Double Room: USD $4,980 per person
    • Single Supplement: USD $850
Book this Journey
or call us on
1-877-874-7922 to help you make your reservation

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