WATCH: Kung fu nuns teach self-defence as rape rises in India

The tranquillity Ladakh's mountains in the Indian Himalayas is shattered by the fierce yells and cries of women.

Meet the Kung Fu nuns - a group of Buddhist nuns who are not only using their martial arts skills to challenge gender roles in this conservative culture, but also to teach women self defence as reports of rape rise in India.

Unlike other nuns, their chants and prayers are followed by jabs and thrust kicks.

"Most of the people say, you know, nuns just sit and pray, but you know, we do... how you say? We walk the talk. We show the actions. Just talking is not enough for us, you know, we have to react," 19-year-old nun Jigme Wangchuk Lhamo, one of the Kung Fu trainers, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Wangchuk is one of around 700 nuns globally who belong to the Drukpa lineage -- where nuns have equal status to monks.

"Which guru said that girls are made for kitchen?" Wangchuk said.

Traditionally, nuns are expected to cook and clean and are not permitted to exercise. But this changed almost a decade ago when the leader of the 1,000-year-old sect, His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa, encouraged the nuns to learn Kung Fu.

They pass on their skills to girls and women in a five-day workshop with a rigourous 6am to 9pm schedule.

Training includes how to handle being attacked from behind, and moves such as takedowns and strikes.

"I feel more confident... I feel like I am a weapon!" said Tsering Yangchen, a 23-year-old student The nuns trek and cycle thousands of kilometres through the Himalayas to raise awareness on issues from pollution to human trafficking.

They are now taking on one of the biggest threats facing women and girls in India today. Rape reports of sexual violence are common in India.

The National Crime Records Bureau says there were 34,651 rapes reported in 2015, a rise of 43 per cent since 2011 - that's four rapes every hour.

Activists say the number is likely to be far higher, with many women reluctant to report incidents for fear of blame and shame.