Buddhists pilgrims arrive in Leh after month-long foot march

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Sumdha (Leh), June 24 (ANI): Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns accompanied by other devotees have arrived in Sumdha village of Kashmir's Leh region as part of their month-long pilgrimage on foot. Initiated and headed by the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, the pilgrimage walk commenced from Manali in Himachal Pradesh on May 23 and will culminate at Hemis Monastery in Ladakh on July 3, coinciding with the popular Hemis Festival.

Incidentally, the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa is the spiritual head of the Drukpa lineage. He is revered as the reincarnation of Drogon Tsangpa Gyare (founder of the Drukpa lineage).

Buddhist monks have undertaken the Padyatra (journey on foot) spanning 400km across the rugged Himalayan Mountains from Manali to Ladakh.

Covering a distance of nearly 400 kilometres, the group will cross five high Himalayan passes, the highest of which, Shikunla and Singgela, both are at an altitude of about 5,200 metres above sea level.

On its way, the group will visit holy sites of Chakrasamvara, Avalokiteshvara, Guru Padmasambhava and one of the sites of the great Drukpa master, Naropa.

Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche, a spiritual leader who also participated in the journey, said that the funds raised by the pilgrimage would help fund education in the Himalayan region.

Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche being interviewed by ANI

"This Padyatra begin as a part of 'live to love'. Each mile we are getting sponsors and these sponsors, I think the half we are giving to the Pema Khabu School, which is free for all children, half we are giving to children of Himalayas having kerosene burn problem. This way we feel very happy to do this pilgrimage," noted Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche, a spiritual leader.

Meanwhile, there are hundreds of foreign nationals who are also participating in the procession. And these foreigners reckon themselves as lucky to be a part of this holy procession.

"For us, people from Europe, who come from totally different culture, it's like really melting into a totally different culture," said Philip Cronjaeger, a tourist from Germany.

Last year, the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa had organised a similar procession .

The journey is also aimed at helping the local population of Ladakh through humanitarian projects and initiatives in the area of education, medical help, preservation of heritage and environment.

The group will reach its destination at Hemis Monastery in Ladakh on July 3.