Zanskar Travel Packages
 

Attractions in Zanskar

Padum - Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Zanskar, Padum (3505 mts) is the present-day administrative headquarters of the region. Its old part comprising inter-connected abode houses and several high-rise chortens surround a boulder-strewn hillock, site of the erstwhile palace and fort. Padum today is a major trekking base and a popular tourist destination. Several places of tourist interest in the vicinity of the township can be visited in the course of entertaining walks. The closest monument is a set of ancient rock carvings on a huge boulder near the riverbank, just below the old township. These date from the 8th century and provide epigraphic evidence that the region was under the influence of North Indian Buddhism since ancient times. The Stagrimo Monastery with about 30 resident monks clings to a tree-covered ridge above the old town, at an hour's uphill walk, along flower-strewn lush green hill slopes. Across the expanse of cultivation lies the old village of Pibiting, dominated by its picturesque hilltop monastery, a superb expression of stupa architecture.

Sani - The chief attraction here is the castle like monastery, which, unlike other monasteries of the region, is built on level ground. The main building comprises a huge multi-columned central prayer hall housing an array of statues of popular Buddhist divinities and Drugpa (Old School) high saints. The walls are covered with frescoes and adorned with Thangkas. Adjoining this monastic complex is an old cemetery surrounded by a ring of ancient rock-carvings which reflect Indian artistic influence. Sani is also associated with Naropa, the famous  Indian  Yogi  from  Vikramsila ,  who  is  said  to  have  sat   in
Sani in Zanskar
meditation for some time under the Kanika Stupa. The site is now occupied by a small room housing a veiled bronze figure of the Yogi which is unveiled once a year.

Karsha Gompa - The largest monastic establishment of Zanskar, Karsha Gompa is an imposing complex of neatly white-washed adobe blocks comprising several chapels, besides housing nearly 150 resident monks. Built picturesquely along the steep gradient of the mountainside above the Stod River, the monastery can be seen from far and wide. The central building is a large assembly hall housing a large collection of figures and the ornate throne of the Lama-incarnate. Of special interest in the complex is the Lhabrang, a large chamber accessible through a vent in the roof, whose partly damaged walls are still adorned with the original frescos which are believed to be nearly 300 years old. closeby is located the old temple of `Chukshik-Jal', housing an exquisite central figures of Avalokitesvara, - the patron deity of Tibet. The smoke covered wall frescos here are the finest example of Himalayan art work.

Stongdey - An old establishment associated with the Tibetan Yogi, Marpa, Stongdey is now the second largest monastic establishment of Zanskar, inhabited by a resident community of about 60 Gelukpa monks. The widespread whitewashed complex has a number of temples, each a repository of the region's rich monastic legacy. Of particular interest here is the Gon-Khang, a well guarded room containing several fierce-faced guardian deities which are generally veiled.

Zangla - Lying deep in the northern arm of Zanskar is Zangla, the old castle now in ruins except for a small chapel, occupying a hill, overlooking the deserted valley below. Nearby is an old Nunnery worth a visit for the austere life style of the small monastic community of nuns. An old monastery situated in the nearby village of Tsa-zar has exquisite frescos that should not be missed.

Bardan - Bardan is an isolated monastery with about 40 Drugpa (old school) monks in residence. Founded during the 17th century, Bardan controls several smaller Drugpa establishments in the region, including the famous Sani Monastery. The large assembly hall, around which all other structures are organized, contains beautiful statues of Buddhist divinities and small stupas in clay, bronze, wood and copper.

Phugthal - By far the most spectacularly located monastic establishment anywhere in Ladakh, the Phugthal complex spills out of the mouth of a huge cave high up in the sheer mountain face of a lateral gorge through which a major tributary of the Southern Lungnak (Lingti-Tsarap) River flows.

Zongkhul - The other spectacular cave monastery of Zanskar, Zongkhul falls on the Padum-Kishtwar trekking trail, just before the ascent to the Omasi-la Pass begins. A foot print on a stone near the entrance of the lower cave is revered as that of the yogi, Naropa. The frescos on the cave wall are very old and reflect a high degree of artistic achievement.

Activities in Zanskar

Zanskar valley with lofty ranges and high passes is truly a trekker's paradise. But trekking in Zanskar is not easy, owing to rough, steep paths together with extreme climate. Trekking equipments and frozen food as dried milk, biscuits and sugar need to be carried from Padam, Kishtwar or Leh. Also porters can be hired at Sami village or at Pancham. Some of the exciting and popular treks in Zanskar are listed below:

Pensi La to Padum - This is a 3 day trek and the suitable time to visit is before road opens (June to October) when it is free of vehicles.

Karsha to Lamayaru - A difficult trek, it includes 7 passes, mostly above 4500 feet. The highest pass Shingola (5060 ft.) is a part of this trek. Each day of the trek requires less than 6 hours of walking, so physical fitness is the primary priority. Also located at Karsha is a 16th century monastery of Tibetan Gelupga (Yellow hat), the largest and the richest sects of all.

Zanskar
Padum to Leh - Another strenuous trek, this takes about 10 days. A local guide is recommended to safely pass through this wilderness. Also, as the trek involves walking along the streambeds, the advisable time is either August or September.

Padum to Darcha - This week long trek comprises the walk along the Tsarap chu to Bardam, a place with stupas and interesting idols. Two stages later, you reach Purni where you can stop for the night and also make  a  side  trip to  the  impressive  11th  century  monastery .  The
mountain scenery is stunning, surrounded by serene mountains, ranging well above 6000 feet.

Getting There & Away to Zanskar


Car and Bus Service to Zanskar
It is noteworthy that the road that links Zanskar with Kargil is open from mid July to early November. Buses. Jeeps, gypsies and taxis are easily available for transport to Zanskar from Kargil. Kargil is approximately 235 km away from Zanskar. During the months of June and July you may trek into Zanskar from Panikhar or Parkachik onwards.
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