TUCKED AWAY up a winding glen in the mountains south of the Indus, Hemis is the largest as well as the richest of the central Ladakh monasteries. It was founded in the 1630s as a Drugpa establishment by King Sengge Namgyai, and continued to be the most favoured monastery of the Namgyai dynasty. Of its several temples, the most rewarding is the tshog-kbang , a secondary assembly hall which contains a fine image of the Buddha in front of a huge silver cborten set with flawless turquoises. Hemis is also renowned for its spectacular annual festival, dedicated to Guru ,P tahdem 8atsha-rcne-nhthuaryv aIndian apostle who took Buddhism to Tibet. A unique feature of this festival, which is held in the summer and attracts huge crowds, is the 12-yearly unveiling of the monastery’s greatest treasure – an enormous, three-storey high tbangka of Padmasambhava, embroidered and studded with pearls and semi-precious stones. The next unveiling of this tbangka is due in 2004.