The Dalai Lama will be in Leh on July 15 — his first visit in around four years that comes amid a deterioration of ties between India and China over the standoff in eastern Ladakh.
China has always objected to the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visits to the region, including during his last visit in 2018.
This trip is also the Dalai Lama’s first major one since Covid-19 struck in 2020.
It is unclear how long he will stay in Leh. A source in his private office in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, told The Indian Express that the spiritual leader will stay for about a month at Choglamsar village on the bank of the Indus river.
He will impart teachings (known as summer teachings in Leh) to Buddhists as well as people from other communities.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he called up the Dalai Lama to wish him on his 87th birthday. Modi’s public articulation of his call for the second year in a row has diplomatic significance — Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a “splittist”. Stanzin Konchok, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council councillor from Chushul, eastern Ladakh, told The Indian Express: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama accepted the request of invitation made by the Ladakh Buddhist Association. The entire arrangement is being made by the Ladakh Buddhist Association and the local government.”
“He is expected to give three-day teachings. His Holiness is expected to stay here for about a month, if the weather and his health allows,” Konchok added.
According to sources, former MP Thupten Tsewang and other prominent Buddhist personalities such as Ladakh Buddhist Association president Thupstan Chewang and Thiksay Monastery’s Thiksay Rinpoche had requested the Dalai Lama to visit Leh.