Buddhist Art Program

June 13 - 20 | 9AM
Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport
16500 - 33500
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A close up encounter with Buddhist art & contemporary impressions

The ancient monasteries of Ladakh have opened their doors to the casual visitor; but are ypou looking closely enough? The drawings in Buddhist monasteries tell a long narrative story, are you listening? Have you noticed the calmness of Buddha sitting over the lotus? Or have you encountered the Buddha in multiple avatars? Have you noticed the protectors of the religion painted in the external walls of any monastery? Do you know about the Kalachakra, behold by the Hindu God Yamraja?

The monasteries hold within them treasures of narratives and stories from myths and truths. The Summer program “Strange Tales, Stranger Truths” is an attempt to look closely, to look what is generally passed by. To look at the stories which existed since ever, never to be read.

Travel to some of the most important and exciting monasteries in Ladakh, some famous, some hardly visited, to look at the narratives of Buddhist paintings, take a pause and derive meaning from them. The next step is to translate them; to use them for the 21sh century; by creating fabricated images. We bring together ways of visual communications like drawing, narrative photography & mixed media art to create pieces of art that communicate with the larger masses by addressing issues relevant to today's world, may be local issues in Ladakh or the wider world. Create a visual campaign and use the streets of Leh to display them !

Ladakh - The landscape of the mind

Ladakh is the crossroads of High Asia and is home to some of the highest mountains in the world. At a height of 12,000 feet above sea level, Ladakh is the land of Tibetan Buddhism, where it has flourished for thousands of years.

Site 1: Saspol

Climb up carefully and venture into the natural caves of Saspol. Contemplate and study the stunning wall paintings. Climb even further and enter the ruins of the rammed-earth ancient fort.

Site 2: Shyang

Catch your breath and mind your head as you explore Shyang monastery. Very few people know about this place, even though the lakhang houses spectacular paintings with well preserved bright colours.

Site 3: Alchi

Behold the monastic settlements in Alchi (tentative world heritage site), one of the biggest wonders of Buddhist art in the entire world. Take time to absorb!

Site 4: Thiksey

One of the largest Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh - multi-storied; set on an imposing hill like the potola palace of Tibet. It's a treasure house of ancient Buddhist paintings.

Observe & Learn: Contemplate the paintings, learn their stories, know the myths behind the characters, their expressions, poses, details and colours.

Create Images: Try your hands at different techniques of visual art such as photography, illustration, collage, etc. Fabricate images which respond to your interpretation of the Buddhist paintings and their echo in today’s world.

The street is your gallery: Invade Leh's Old Town! Take the myths from the clouds, the peacocks and the caves down the streets and bazaars. The fabricated images will be composed into posters, which will be printed and put up in Old Town.

Project Leads

Debasish Borah is a practising architect and Co-Founder of Roots Collective, Ladakh. He has been working in the Indian Himalayas since the last 4 years documenting cultures & building construction. He has worked and published with CEPT, INTACH & Dronah Foundation.

Helene Thebault is a designer from France, living in India for the past four years. She is the co-founder of Roots Collective, an NGO based in Ladakh working for cultural activation through alternative architectural strategies.

Jagrut Raval is an artist, designer and educator. His interdisciplinary art practice spans diverse mediums in various scales manifesting in installation, photography and video art. His works have been exhibited in the United States & China.


Day 1, 13th June
9:00am - 7:00pm
Arrival in Leh in the morning, whole day rest in hotel for acclimatization. Meeting the instructors, welcome note and presentation detailing out the project and works. Division of groups.

Day 2, 14th June
9:00am - 7:00pm
Visit the Thikse monastery and Shyang monastery. Discover the monasteries, meet the monks, venture into the small rooms, discover the paintings. Observation, study, recording, drawings of the paintings. Common discussion and presentation by the participants on the day’s work in the evening.

Day 3, 15th June
9:00am - 7:00pm
Discussion with Lama Phandey in the morning, sharing the understanding of the previous day, learning from the expert. In the afternoon, second and last visit to Shyang monastery. Keeping in mind the inputs of the group discussions, participants collect all data and information needed to start fabricating images. Common discussion and presentation by the participants on the day’s work in the evening.

Day 4, 16th June
9:00am - 7:00pm
Visit to Spituk, Alchi and Saspol. Climbing up to discover the painted cave, participants take time to examine the paintings, their composition, as well as understanding the spatial context they belong to. Common discussion and presentation by the participants on the day’s work in the evening.

Day 5, 17th June
9:00am - 7:00pm
First half of the day is dedicated to work on the fabricated images. In the second half, a last visit to Saspol is planned, to ensure all necessary data and information is collected tocontinue working on the fabricated images. Common discussion and presentation by the participants on the day’s work in the evening.

Day 6, 18th June
9:00am - 7:00pm
Work all day to compose, assemble, compile and print posters of the fabricated images, to be put up in Leh Old Town. Participants also produce handouts and a small zine to share the experience and outcome of the program.

Day 7, 19th June
9:00am - 7:00pm
Participants put up the visuals in Leh Old Town and inaugurate the public street exhibition at 11 am. Handouts are distributed to passerbys and shared with local shopkeepers, etc. Zines are available for sale.

Day 8, 20th June
Particpants travel back.


Hotel stay
Breakfast & dinner
Airport pick up & drop
All local travel mentioned in the itinerary
Lectures, stationary for drawing, orientation in monuments, heritage walks, monument tickets, common space for working/presentations and printing cost of the deliverables.


Lunch, snacks, alcohol
Air tickets


Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport

NH 1D, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir 194101

Terms & Conditions

Sorry, this show is already over but head here for other fun events!