A vibrant, colourful fete of the oracles – the Karsha Gustor Festival – is just round the corner, and reason enough for you to make a trip to Ladakh this July. Held at the Karsha Monastery, the largest monastery in the Zanskar region of Jammu and Kashmir, this year the festival is happening on July 30-31.

The highlight of Karsha Gustor is that a layman is chosen to predict the future instead of the reputed soothsayers, who are commonly recognised for this job. The laymen are spiritually cleansed and prepared for the customs by the lamas after a formal selection.

Essentially, Karsha Gustor Festival, also known as Spitok Gutor Zanskar Festival, is an amalgamation of colours, music, dance and the celebration of the victory of good over evil. The two-day long festival also sees lamas offering friendly greetings to curious travellers, which is followed by a Black Hat Dance performance. According to the locals, the dance is performed to ward off evil forces and to establish the victory of good over evil. It culminates into something known as the Argham where the evil force is killed by the leader of the dancers.

 
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“There is no place for malice, when the heart is filled with love, the love for everything.” Day 4: 21.07.17 Winning over our own selves, Our heart felt love like never before, It was a different form of Love, A Love for everything around. Spending the day at Karsha Gompa, We witnessed the Karsha Gustor Festival. The victory of goodness over evil, Was portrayed in its own unique style. The dancers in their masked costumes, Danced to the beats of the drum, Transforming the world into a stage of their own. Sometimes the beats and steps seemed monotonous, And hence, we left the show incomplete that day. We came back the next day to complete it, Thinking it would be different, but it was all the same. But today I wonder, Isn’t life too the same, Where we dance to monotonous tunes on a live stage. Where a small change of beat is a respite from monotony. But if the frequency of change is increased, Then it is no more a respite, its makes life tiresome, Coz then there is no time to cope with the change. And no matter how long and monotonous it may seem, Its always about sitting through the show, And enjoying the beats of monotony, Which prepares you to embrace the change. The trip was a break in monotony for the unmappers, Which made them embrace life, With hearts filled with love for everything. Post (5) of unmap with #theunmappers their #ladakhdreams2017 #whentheroadbeckons #travellover #writinglove #whenthemountainscalled #sometimesyoudontchooseyourjourneythejourneychoosesyou #ladakhdiaries #that25daystrip #roadtripwithmygals #journeyofalifetime #unexplored #transhimalayanvalley #outofthisearth #zanskarvalley #padum #karsha #gompa #festival #karshagustor #embracechange #embracelife #tripoto #trippyowl #incredibleindia #lonelyplanetindia #wanderwagon #indiatravelgram #natgeotravelindia

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Then there is a mask dance performance by the monks of the Geluk-pa order that looks much like Chaam. The highlight of this dance is the re-enactment of the assassination of the Tibetan renegade – King Lang-dar-ma – who was said to be a traitor that caused a lot of harm to the state in the mid 9th-century. At the end of the dance, statues and effigies of the evil forces are burned to mark the end of the festival.

Leh is the nearest airport from Zanskar, while Srinagar is also an airport that could be used since it is well-connected to most major cities in India.