(Last Updated on : 29/04/2014)
Matho, 27 km situated in the south of Leh. This valley runs into the heart of the Stok- Kangri massif. It is a pleasing place which is interesting and scenically situated although alike its neighbours. The Gompa built in Matho, the only representative in Ladakh of the Sakyapa sect which rose to power in the thirteenth century Tibet, sees comparatively few visitors, as it is relatively inaccessible from the main highway, buses are not that frequent. Despite its collection of 400-year-old Thangkas, the monastery is renowned for its oracle festival, Matho Nagran, held on the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth day of the second Tibetan month around February/March. Two oracles, known as rongzan, are selected by people every three years from among the sixty or so resident lamas. During the days of the fest, when the crowd is fully engrossed in watching the fest, the local people perform all manner of terrifying stunts that include jumping blindfold around the gompa's steep parapets, and slashing themselves with razor-sharp swords without drawing blood. The events are rounded off with colourful chaam dances in the monastery courtyard, and a question-and-answer session in which the rongzan, still under the influence of the deity, make predictions about the coming year. You can admire the costumes and masks worn by the monks during the festivals in Matho's small museum. Men are also permitted to visit the eeie Gon-khang on the roof (strictly photography is not allowed), where the oracles' weapons and ritual garb is stored. The floor of the tiny temple lies under a deep layer of barley brought as harvest offerings by local villagers.