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Korzok Gustor, Ladakh, India

For two days a year, the rickety Gompa in the tiny village of Korzok, on the shores of the remote and high altitude Lake Tsomoriri in Ladakh comes alive with monks, pilgrims and Chang-pa nomads for the Gustor festival.

Masked monks perform stories from Buddhist teachings and the legendary Black Hat dance commemorating the assassination of an apostate king by a Buddhist monk centuries ago. A major part of the festival is the release for merit of the monastery animals, including a horse, Pashmina Goats and a particularly feisty yak, who charged the courtyard full of pilgrims.

The monastery attracts many pilgrims – mainly Chang-pa nomads who graze herds of yak and Pashmina on the surrounding grasslands. With faces etched by time and the harshness of the environment; interactions with the nomads are a highlight of the entire festival.

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