For ten days in September, 2001, His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje visited Ladakh at the invitation of the Ladahki Buddhist Association. During his visit, the Karmapa stayed at the residence of Stakna Rinpoche in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, just as the Sixteenth Karmapa did in the early 1970's.
September 2: His Holiness arrived at the airport in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, where he was met by a host of religious, secular, and government dignitaries, including Royal Prince Bakula Rinpoche, Theksey Khen Rinpoche, Stakna Rinpoche, Thutop Rinpoche, Tibetan Welfare Officer Mr. Karma Senge, the two heads of the Ladakh Buddhist Association and the Ladakh Gonpa Association, and many other Rinpoches, senior lamas, and official staff. The welcome party also included the Additional Secretary of the Ecclesiastical Department of the state government of Sikkim Mr. Nangzey Dorje, numerous other civil leaders, and thousands of devotees. A tea reception arranged jointly by all was held at the airport for His Holiness.
Bearing flowers and holding aloft traditional, symbolic welcome vases, throngs of devotees of all ages and from all walks of life lined the roads from the airport as a monastic lama procession began the ceremonial welcome reception. His Holiness was led from the airport to the JoKhang Temple where a Mandala Offering Ceremony was offered to him, followed by tea and saffron rice as a symbol of devotion and auspiciousness.
At the end of the temple visit, His Holiness was escorted to the residence of Stakna Rinpoche in Leh, where he was to stay during his visit to Ladakh, just as the Sixteenth Karmapa did in the early 1970's.
September 3: At the request of the local Tibetan settlers at Choglamsar Tibetan Camp, His Holiness visited the settlement and bestowed lung for the six-syllable mantra of Chenrezig. He offered advice on the importance of dharma practice to the assembled crowd of several thousand devotees.
That evening, His Holiness was feted at a dinner banquet at the Jokhang Temple jointly hosted by the All Ladakh Buddhist Association and the Ladakh Gonpa Association. Royal Prince Bakula Rinpoche, Stakna Rinpoche, Thutop Rinpoche, Her Highness the Royal Queen of Ladakh, and the local Islamic head were among the many dignitaries who attended. His Holiness spoke on developing the bodhicitta inherent in each individual, and on the importance of kind understanding, cooperation, and harmonious co-existence among all faiths.
September 4: His Holiness bestowed the Chenrezig empowerment to a public gathering estimated at over 60,000 people, including eminent Rinpoches, sangha, and laity, at Peace Park.
September 5: During the course of his stay in Ladakh His Holiness made a point of visiting local monasteries to pay his personal homage and show his devotion. At 9:00 a.m. His Holiness began a day spent visiting the Sheytupa, Chenday, and Drakthok (built during the time of Guru Padmasambhava) Monasteries and then went on to Thikse Monastery, the seat of H.E. Thikse Rinpoche, and was offered a special lunch. That afternoon he visited Diskit Tsal. At each monastery, His Holiness bestowed the Mani lung to the assembled monks, at times numbering in the hundreds, and spoke on the importance of practicing dharma.
In the evening he was the guest at a special dinner hosted by the Chalgthang Kalachakra Committee.
September 6: His Holiness began the day with a visit to the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies in Leh. The students offered a warm welcome, and the principal an account of the school's activities and accomplishments. His Holiness expressed his appreciation for their good work, and stressed the importance of the students and teachers diligently keeping their commitment to education.
This was followed by a visit to the Dewachen Mahabodhi International Meditation Center, where His Holiness spoke on developing bodhicitta, which he said was the core theme of Buddhism. From here he visited Stakna Monastery, Chuchot Monastery, and the only Sakya monastery in Ladakh, Matho, where he was offered a special lunch. At each monastery His Holiness gave speeches to the huge crowds who were there to meet him. At day's end, His Holiness visited Hemis Monastery, to pay his devotion to this ancient temple.
September 7: His Holiness joined H.E. Gangste Choje Rinpoche in the inauguration and consecration of the new temple of the Sixteen Arhats built by Kyabje Royal Prince Bakula Rinpoche at Pethub Monastery. His Holiness spoke to several thousand devotees on developing positive actions and clearing away all negative deeds.
His Holiness then visited Kyabje Tokdhen Rinpoche's Drukpa Kagyu monastery of Phiyang, where he gave the Mani and Benza Guru transmission to a large gathering of devotees. He visited Neymo, Bheygo, Peypal, and Sasgol villages en route to the ancient Ladakhi monastery of Alchi Choskor. He then travelled to Likir Monastery for a special lunch.
At each monastery and village stop on the day's itinerary, His Holiness bestowed the Mani lung to thousands of devotees, and spoke on developing positive actions and refraining from all negative actions. His Holiness also took time to peruse the collections of statues and scriptures in the monasteries, with special attention given the famous and historic sacred art work at Alchi Monastery.
September 8: The day began with His Holiness consecrating a new stupa dedicated to the Three Protectors and built at the main gate of the Ladakh Regiment of Scouts. Next he visited H.E. Gangste Choje's monastery of Ri Dzong. Rinpoche led a traditional monastic reception, where His Holiness was received in the main congregation hall. After a mandala offering was made to the Karmapa, along with tea and saffron rice, His Holiness bestowed the Mani lung and spoke about the importance of receiving teachings and empowerments from Kyabje Gangste Choje, among other important instructions.
His Holiness made stops in the villages of Nurla and Khaltse where he was greeted by over 2,000 villagers, gave the Mani lung, and spoke on the need to accumulate virtue and forsake evil deeds, before continuing on to the Drukpa Kagyu monastery of Lamayuru, where His Holiness was very warmly received by another large gathering. His Holiness also bestowed the Mani Lung at Lamayuru.
The day concluded with a visit to Rimi Samkhar Monastery where His Holiness addressed the assembled gathering and paid homage to a self-arisen image of Tara in pure white marble.
September 9: The Karmapa was the guest of honor at a lunch given by the Ladakh Muslim Association (LMA), where His Holiness enjoyed traditional Muslim sweets and tea.
His Holiness made a speech on the importance of beneficial relations between Muslims and Buddhists in Ladakh. He defined the meaning of the word "religion," or "dharma," as "non-violence to all and a path of peace." He urged people to embrace religion or dharma in its true sense and put it into daily practice. He thanked the LMA for the respect they accorded him, and for the wonderful arrangements made in his honor. He noted this was the first time he had been so honored by the Muslims.
The General Secretary of the LMA expressed his gratitude to His Holiness for accepting the invitation and gracing them with his presence. He voiced the LMA's full support for all His Holiness's endeavors, especially taking up residence at his seat-in-exile at Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre.
September 10: His Holiness visited the Landol Immortal Senior Secondary School where he gave a speech on the importance of education, and gave prizes to the students who excelled in academics, discipline, and moral conduct, and to the teachers who demonstrated outstanding performance. He also blessed each student and staff member.
That afternoon he was the invited guest of the Ladakh Royal Queen at a luncheon at the Stok Palace in Leh, after which he toured the exhibitions on display within the palace's museum.
September 11: On his last day in Ladakh, His Holiness was the special guest at the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Tibetan Children's SOS Village School in Leh, where the day began with the singing of the Tibetan National Anthem, followed by a sports competition which included races, throws, and jumps. The school director read the annual report, and His Holiness spoke about the importance of education, especially in light of the grave situation facing Tibet, its people, and its culture, and shared his thoughts on his relationship with the Ladakhi people. His Holiness urged the students and teachers alike to keep education a top priority while cultivating good moral conduct and maintaining friendly and harmonious relationships with the local community.
The day concluded with a special dinner in the Karmapa's honor hosted by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Council. Mr. Thupten Tsewang, chairman of the council, welcomed His Holiness with a speech and thanked him for accepting their invitation and gracing them with his presence. His Holiness expressed his own happiness for their reception, and for the cooperation and assistance extended to him during his visit. He concluded with prayers that he will be able to visit Ladakh again.