Leh: After making an overnight halt at Jammu, Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrived in Leh on Friday where he was accorded a rousing reception, as scores of people queued up on either side of the road to welcome him from the airport to his Choglamsar residence.

“It took two hours to cover a distance of less than 10 km from the airport to Chlogalmsar,” senior political leader and two-time Parliamentarian Thupstan Chhewang told IANS.

Decorated with banners, the streets and market places of Leh wore a celebratory look.

The Dalai Lama is visiting Ladakh after a gap of four years. He will be will be staying in the UT till the mid of August.

“People of Ladakh are fortunate that he is visiting us. Earlier he used to visit Ladakh frequently. But he didn’t come lately due to the pandemic,” Chhewang said, adding, “He is aware of the love and devotion people of Ladakh hold for him, so whenever we request him, he comes to Ladakh.”

Chhewang said the Dalai Lama became emotional on seeing the immense devotion of the people of Ladakh and announced that he will give teachings to his followers during this trip.

“We expect that towards the end of his stay, he will deliver teachings to his followers for at least two days,” Chewwang said.

Chewwang also said that an invitation to visit Ladakh was sent to the Dalai Lama last year, but he could not consider it at that time.

He said it is the Dalai Lama’s first visit outside of Dharamshala since the outbreak of Covid.

“After the outbreak of Covid, he had stayed in isolation and didn’t go anywhere. It is only since last month or so he has started making public appearances,” Chewwang said.

In Ladakh, the Dalai Lama will stay in isolation for the first one week. His next set of engagements will be decided after that.