Many of the Ladakh festivals take place in winter which is a relatively idle time for the majority of the locals, but the Thak Thok (pronounced Tak Tak) festival takes place in the on the 20-29 of the ninth Tibetan month (around the 11th / 12th August).
Thak Thok means ‘top of the rocks’ and is 4-km up the valley from Chemdey on a lumpy outcrop of eroded rocks, and the small Gompa is the sole representative in Ladakh of the ancient Nyingmapa order. The wonderful monasteries are fanstastic centres of Buddhist art, literature and culture and Thak Thok has many new temples adorned with gleaming new Buddha’s and garish modern murals and has a sacred meditation cave at the centre. Many of the festivals take the form of dance dramas (including the secret masked dance) and take place in the gompa courtyards that are meant to revitalize the spirit of the people.
The dances bring alive epic Buddhist stories and are performed by monks (Lamas) in brocade robes and vivid (often frightening) masks to the accompaniment of long horns and traditional cymbals. They depict various moral stories such as the triumph of good over evil and whilst the message is undeniably religious and spiritual there is a party atmosphere and local people attend in their finest traditional dress.
Outside of festival time the village is a tranquil place, blessed with serene views south over the snowy mountains.