World’s Highest Horse Race at Upper Dolpa is a living religious tradition continued for centuries. The horse race at the highest altitude observed every 12 years at the occasion of Shey Dragon Festival. In the pre-modern era, the clansmen and monks of the mystical land of Upper Dolpa used to gather to pray, feast, fight over property. By contrast, the race is organized even today for honor rather than for religious aim or land.
The race is one of the most important events for Buddhist pilgrims. Around 50 cavaliers who have come from tiny villages scattered all over the Himalayas prepare to run over the terrifying course, a narrow strip of rocky river bed 4,300m above sea level in the rarified air of the world’s tallest mountain range. Men in silk head dresses, line up with yak fur, golden chains and icons of the gods of animistic folk religions swinging from their necks gallop away on their ornately adorned ponies. The 1.6 kilometer course is essentially a gorge studded with rocks, ditches and treacherously cold water.
Thousands of monks and other devotees who have walked for days to the Shey Dragon Festival roar on their favorites at the race. Beside horse-racing and prayer, devotees take part in archery competitions and perform traditional dances as well.
The World’s Highest Horse Race at Upper Dolpa is a lucrative time for Tibetan delicacies. Further the race enhance to develop knowledge of the Tibetan culture and of how people there live and spend their time.