I’ve recently heard that they are expecting around 150,000 people for the Kalachakra initiation. Probably most people will cram into houses and tents around Choglamsar and Shey. Anyway, this is many, many times the normal population, so I can only assume it will be quite a mess. I rather doubt that it will be as well organized as the Kumbha Mela. The scale is entirely different, of course, but relatively speaking, it’s a somewhat similar situation. Unfortunately, Ladakh doesn’t really have the infrastructure for that many people, and I’m no sure anyone here knows how to compensate.
If you are coming for the Kalachakra, you should come a few days early so you can register. Everyone has to register to be able to attend the program. Be sure to bring your passport and two passport-size photos. Details are available here. And, of course, be sure you have arranged your accommodation before coming . . . or bring a tent.
Personally, I won’t be attending as I am completely content with the meditation I already do. But I’m really happy to be in the vicinity of such a big spiritual gathering focussed on creating higher consciousness and world peace.
On the other hand, I’m rather glad that I’m staying in a village some distance away. I’m sure we will get quite a crowd, too, but it shouldn’t be as intense. The town is still a complete mess, with the main market all torn up, and lots of building and renovation going on everywhere. And it’s really dusty.
Incidentally, Ladakh is a conservative culture, so please respect it and dress accordingly. For tips on what that means as far as women are concerned, see this post. Sometimes it does get hot here in the daytime, but dressing as if you are at the beach is not appropriate. A lot of tourists dress inappropriately, but that doesn’t make it OK. It’s especially not acceptable if you are going to temples or attending religious activities of any kind. If you are coming for the the Kalachakra initiation, dressing appropriately is essential. I feel that Ladakhi men are considerably more respectful of women than most, but that’s all the more reason to respect their culture.