Every summer (July/August), the city of Nakchu comes alive to the sounds of horses hoofs galloping and the yells and hoots of the horsemen and the crowds. The annual Nakchu Horse Racing Festival is underway!
Nakchu, an important trading city, is situated on the Lhasa-Ziling highway. Lying in the midst of the rugged mountains, this city is home to the hardy Tibetan nomads or drokpas, and has been for centuries. It is a vast pastoral area bordered by rugged mountain terrain. Nakchu is popular throughout Tibet for its annual Horse Racing Festival. The Tibetan highlanders are adept horsemen, and in the month of July most of them weave their way to Nakchu to take part in the race. The city bears a festive look with the scores of appliquéd tents that are pitched up, bordering the Nakchu race course. This race course, at 4500 m(14763 ft), is undoubtedly the highest race course in the world. The Tibetans throng the racecourse looking grand in their traditional finery. The town has few hotels as most of the participants, mostly Tibetan nomads prefer to camp in their own tents, which are quite large and roomy and colorful too.
During the festival, shows of horsemanship skills, including archery on horseback and racing, are the main attractions. There will also be much revelry and merry making among the participants and the crowds. Tibetans rarely let an occasion pass without singing and dancing.
Over here the weather conditions are harsh and the facilities for visitors are quite basic. However the Horse racing Festival presents a great opportunity for both Tibetans as well as the visitors to participate in an age old festival.
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