Situated around 45 km south of Leh, the Hemis Monastery is the most important monastery belonging to the Drupka order. The history of the monastery states that it was founded by Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630.
The courtyard is entered from the northeast side. The stone steps in the right of the main courtyard leads upto two huge temples - the Tshogs-khang and the Dukhang The walls are adorned with paintings of Sakyamuni or the Historical Buddha. Paintings of other Buddha figures and Tantric deities like Hevajra and Samvara are also seen on the walls of the Du-khang.
An annual festival to celebrate the victory of Guru Padmasmbhava over the evil forces marks the highlight of the monastery. The festival, known as the Hemis festival, is celebrated on the tenth and eleventh day of fifth Tibetan month as the birthday of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. During the festival, masked dances are performed with themes that invariably show a fight against evil and infidel and consequent win of good and Buddhism.
Once every twelve year, a special attractions draws Buddhist pilgrims to the monastery - the unfurling of the giant thanka which is decorated with pearls and other precious stones.