Trekking in Zanskar is an outstanding way to unveil the barren landscape of this region.A Zanskar trekking vacation will surely enable the trekkers to explore all the nook and corners like Kargil, Padum, Kishtwar, Stongdey.
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Himalaya » Himalaya Trekking » Trekking in Zanskar

Trekking in Zanskar



Tourist in Zanskar Cable CarAbout 20 kms. South of Rangdum stands the Pazila watershed across which lies Zanskar, the most isolated of all the Trans Himalayan Valleys. The Panzila Top (4401 m) is the picturesque tableland adorned with two small alpine lakes and surrounded by snow covered peaks.

As the Zanskar road winds down the steep slopes of the watershed to the head of the Stod Valley, one of Zanskar's main tributary valleys, the majestic "Drang-Drung" glacier looms into full view. A long and winding river of ice and snow, the Drang-Drung" is perhaps the largest glacier in Ladakh, outside the Siachen formation. It is from the cliff-like snout of this extensive glacier that the Stod or Doda River, the main tributary of river Zanskar, rises.




Zanskar comprises a tri-armed valley system lying between the Great Himalayan Range and the Zanskar mountain; The three arms radiate star-like towards the west, north and south from a wide central expanse where the region's two principal drainage's meet to form the main Zanskar River.

Major trekking routes in zanskar region

Padum
Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Zanskar, Padum (3505 m) is the present day administrative headquarters of the region. With a population of nearly 1500, Padum can be described as the most populous settlement of Zanskar, otherwise a very scarcely inhabited valley. Incidentally, it is only in Padum that there is a community of Muslims constituting nearly half the township's population, its origin in the area dating from mid 17th century. Lately, Padum has become a famous as 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.

Padum is famous as a major trekking base and a popular tourist destination.

Kargil to Padum
When all bridges are open the route is accessible from early June to late October. On the last day's walk from Phe to Padum you cross the river and pass by the Sani gompa, one of the most important in Zanskar.

Padum to Lamayuru
The alternative route from Padum starts out on the opposite side of the Zanskar river and takes you to the Linghsot gompa before joining up with the first route at day 5.

Padum to Kishtwar
You cannot use horses on this route but must take porters. On day 4 your Zanskari porters will not continue further and you must hire local porters or a pony. The last few days are hard work with many ascents and descents but the road from Kishtwar, already extending to Galar, is gradually being lengthened.

Stongdey
The monastery of Stongdey lies 18 km to the north of Padum, on the road leading to Zangla. An old foundation associated with the Tibetan yogi, Marpa, Stongdey is now the second largest monastic establishment of Zanskar, inhabited by the resident community of about 60 Gelukpa monks. The sprawling white-washed complex has a number of temples, each a repository of the region's rich monastic legacy. Stongdey can be reached by foot in about 4 hours by road. The climb up to the monastery is rather streneous, but it is worth the trouble for the breathtaking scenery of the valley seen from here.

Zangla
Lying deep in the northern arm of Zanskar at the end of the 35 km long road from Padum, Zangla was being ruled by a titular king till his death a few years back. The old castle now in ruins except for a small chappel, occupies a hill, overlooking the desertic valley below. Nearby is the 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.

The village lies mid-way between Stongdey and Zangla. Zangla is the nodal point on the popular Padum-Strongdey-Zangla-Karsha-Padum round trip, which covers most of the cultural sites of Zanskar. The river is now crossed by a temporary foot-bridge for approaching the left bank along which the trail to Karsha follows. Zangla is also the take-off point for the Padum-Markha valley treks.

Zongkhul
The other spectacular cave monastery of Zanskar are in Zongkhul, that falls on the Padum-Kishtwar trekking trail, just before the ascent of Omasi-la Pass begins. Situated like a swallow's nest on the rock face of the Ating george, the monastery is associated by legend with the famous Indian yogi Naropa, who lectured in the Nalanda and Vikramsila universities.

The two caves here are the present monasteries, are said to have been used by the famous yogi for the solitary meditation. A footprint on the stone near the ingress of the lower cave is reserved as that of the yogi. The frescos on the cave walls are very old and reflect a high degree of artistic achievement. These are believed to be the original murals executed by Zhadpa Dorje. The celebrated scholar-painter of the same monastery who was active about 300 years ago.


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