Leh (Jammu and Kashmir), Sept 3: The 15-day-long Ladakh cultural extravaganza has started in Jammu and Kashmir.
The event began with a procession of resplendently attired artists from various regions of Ladakh, including Changpa, Nubrapa, Balti and Barokpa, through the streets of Leh.
Tourists are expected to enjoy a plethora of experiences, and will have a closer look at the rich and ancient traditions of Ladakhis.
First started in 1993, the festival used to be held in June and July, but was shifted in order to attract the tourists to the lean season.
Ladakhi people, decked up in gold and silver ornaments and turquoise headgears, thronged the streets alongwith their horses, yaks and double-humped camels.
Buddhist artists performed mask dances.
Officials said that this year"s festival has attracted a record number of foreign and domestic tourists.
"This year, around 42,000 tourists have visited Ladakh so far. At least 27,000 visited last year. Thus, there is an increase of 15,000 tourists," said Farooq Ahmed Shah, the Director of Kashmir Tourism.
The State tourism department expects around 70,000 tourists to visit Leh by end of the year.
The department plans to construct more hotels and lodgings to boost tourism in the region further.
Leh is the ancient royal capital and currently serves as the headquarters of the Ladakh region. Situated at a height of 11,500 feet, it offers a unique ambience for the hosting of festivals against the backdrop of stark mountains.