About Zanskar Valley Tour
The ancient faraway kingdom of Zanskar, also known as Zahar is a far off valley in the Kargil district, located in the eastern fragment of Ladakh. Soaring at an altitude of 7,756 meters, Zanskar is a cold, arid desert with cavernous gorges and glaciers. In the past, Zanskar and Ladakh collectively and Jammu and Kashmir were part of Western Tibet's Guge kingdom. Zanskar Valley, a division of the Trans Himalayan Ranges, has heaps of copper sediments and, thus, predominantly acknowledged as the 'Valley of Copper' for Zang connotes copper in the Tibetan dialect. Sprawling towards the South of the Indus valley and north of the Great Himalayan Range, Zanskar Valley encircled by the drainage basins of the Stod, Zanskar, Lungnak, Tsarap and Kurgyak. Zanskar Valley is immortally eminent for its majestic snow-covered mountains and enfolding panoramas, highlighting topographical elements distinctive to this province.
The Zanskar Valley's mystical terrain exhibits agape vistas, crisp turquoise water creeks flowing through the valley, and the captivating aura of absolute solitude and the colossal glaciers which give the impression of just being a touch away. The far-flung furrowed hamlets and spectacular countryside of the cloistered Zanskar valley gives an illusion of an era where time seems to have come at a standstill. The eminent prehistoric monasteries in Zanskar are frequently worked around ancient overhang meditation caverns, conserving an austere Buddhist culture. Feral and forsaken, the landscape of Zanskar prospers with brooks winding through profound gorges, slender traces passing through the multi-coloured mountains skirted by tall sand structures, created because of wind disintegration and transcending snow-capped peaks of Nun-Kun expressing the horizon.
The vibrant natural, historical and cultural glory is what attracts adventure seekers to this hypnotizing Zanskar Valley. For the passionate explorer, Zanskar Valley is possibly the most charming spot to visit in the Himalayas. With a host of activities like trekking, paragliding, water rafting, and motorbiking among others that can be tried out at the valley, it is recognized as the country's most popular adventure hubs. Here, you can also opt for popular trekking trails like Lamayuru to Darcha, Lamayuru and Padum trek. The antiquated monasteries of Zongla, Zongkhul, and Strongde are packed with tourists. One can even set out to camp at the picturesque Penzi La pass that divides Zanskar from the Suru valley. Most travellers plan a weeklong trip to Zanskar Valley. Unpredictably, it isn't hard to find shelter in this far off Himalayan region all-round the year.
How to reach Zanskar Valley
By Air: The closest air terminals to Zanskar are Sheik-Ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar which is around 448 kilometres away and Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh about 464 kilometres away. From the airport, one can recruit a private vehicle to get to Kargil and afterwards Zanskar Valley.
By Train: The closest station is Jammu Tawi Railway Station in Jammu which is at a 720 Kilometers from Zanskar. Once you reach Jammu Tawi station and take a taxi or rent a private vehicle to Leh and thereupon to Zanskar Valley.
By Road: In turn to reach Zanskar Valley via road, one must travel to Kargil first, which can be reached through Srinagar or Leh. The distance between Leh and Zanskar Valley is 462 km, which can be travelled under 11 hours if one travels via NH 1 and NH 301. Once you arrive at Leh, you can rent a private vehicle to Zanskar by Kargil. The ideal way to travel to Leh is through Srinagar, which offers well-linked roads and a safe route for tourists.
Best Routes to reach Zanskar Valley
From Kargil: Leh to Kargil and then Padum is the quickest route to reach the Zanskar Valley. One can either reach Leh through the Manali – Leh highway and then reach Kargil, or reach Leh straight via air or rail. And then from Kargil one has to take the road to Padum.
From Srinagar: Srinagar to Kargil and then Padum is the shortest route to reach Zanskar Valley. One can reach Srinagar by air or rail and then reach Kargil by road, leading to Padum.
From Himachal: You can likewise arrive at Zanskar through from Darcha in Himachal by a trekking course over Shingo La and afterwards to Padum. Another course runs from Leh to Nimoo and afterwards to Chilling, taking you to Padum. The majority of this course runs along the Zanskar River.
From Manali: While heading out from Manali to Zanskar, one needs to traverse the Rohtang Pass to Palamo in Lahul. The trek along the rivers of Barai Nala, Ramjak peak and Chuminakpo (Black spring) prompts the massive, blustery, extensive snowfields of the Shingo La that lie at 16,000ft. The whole trek route is packed with rocks, tricky slants, steep slopes and knee-deep snow.
Darcha: This 40 km course from Darcha to Shingo La takes you through the renowned Phugtal Monastery that can be visited while you access this course. The course from Darcha – Padum runs parallel to the Phugtal Monastery journey and Darcha – Padum trekking course. Thus, when open and accessible in summer months, you can likewise visit the Phuktal Monastery while coming from Darcha side to Padum.
Via Leh: This course is functional all around the year and gives easy access to the Zanskar Valley. The route will go through Leh to Chilling and afterwards lead to Padum. Most local people here stay far off the streets, yet they will have a better means method to commute when this course is finished.
Best time to visit Zanskar Valley
The ideal time to visit Zanskar Valley is between June to September, or else all the roads to the gorge are fully disguised in snow, therefore, obstructing the entry. During June to September, the climate is generally pleasant for travellers to visit the valley. Before June, the past months are portrayed by terrible streets, which are not decent for travel purposes. Past this time, you can plan a visit most significant up to October month, which may present slight challenges, however, is as yet navigable.
Zanskar River, which surges blustery through the cavernousHimalayan gorges in summer, stoops as minimal as -40Celsius in the winter, freezing up its surface levels. On the off chance that you intend to visit during December to January or February, the solitary path for you to arrive at the valley will be by trekking walking over the Chadar or the Frozen River which unites Zanskar to rest of the area since streets are not functional in winters. This season should be picked just if you are set up to embrace that degree of physical effort.
Chadar Trek / Frozen River trek
This 100-kilometre long trek is one of its kind that you won't discover elsewhere on the planet. The word 'Chadar' illustrates a blanket, which echoes with the ice that structures over the Zanskar stream during the extraordinary winters. The Chadar trek turns into the solitary way to escape the distant valley for those living in many streets fewer towns on the river's edges. This journey is a walking course over the Zanskar River, regularly frequented by natives for trade purposes. This excursion, conceivable just during the long periods of January and February, is loaded with dangers attributable to the freezing and defrosting river surface's eccentric nature. You should pass a clinical evaluation at the local hospital in Leh, without which, you can't attempt this journey.
Fascinating places to visit on your trip to Zanskar Valley
Astonishingly, Zanskar Valley has numerous locations of travellers' curiosity that lureindividuals to thisisolatedsite. Arriving at Zanskar Valley in itself tenders the explorers' abundant adventure and adrenaline, which is the reason they can come and unwind amid the serene climate during their visit and relish the peacefulness of these spots
Padum is an enchanting parish encircled by mountains, with a populace of 1500, is the capital of the Zanskar province. There are little eateries, lodgings, guesthouses and shops in the town. It is a suitable base for many treks, sightseeing the close by hamlets and monasteries. Marmots, Kiangs, Tibetan wolf, bear, high ibex, snow panther, Bharal, Red fox, and different wildlife types meander around here.
Nearby Padum, you can see the Starrimo Monastery, which lodges around 30 monks, and Pibiting community, with its overwhelming crest community. A top pick among photographers, the town of Padum is beautiful and known for its Spartan magnificence. The fields that procure various tones with the transformation in season and the nearby perspective on the Drang-Drung glacier's elongated and twisting river of ice and snow make a practically mystical picture to be caught in your cameras.
Zangla palace & Monastery
Zangla village was governed not long ago by a ruler who lives here with his family. A little derelict fortress secures the town based on a hillock, and it requires 15 minutes to climb up to the stronghold. Inside, a little Buddhist sanctuary overseeing the whole valley is as yet unbroken. The abbey community is another place worth visiting in Zangla, where explorers can find out about the nuns' day-by-day life. A beautiful town in Zanskar, Zangla is an unconventional site that makes for a refuelling break.
Set against the excellent background of Zanskar Range, it is a beautiful spot to visit even though it doesn't have any fascination other than the Zangla Palace, and it is a must-see place for its natural appeal and parish life. The Zangla Palace is roosted on a hillock in the village. It is frequently alluded to as a Zangla Monastery, significantly because it houses a sanctuary and a few monks live here. The view from the royal residence is dynamite and accordingly visiting it, ought not to be missed. Zangla is at a distance of around 32 km from Padum in Zanskar.
Contrary to Zanskar, you will discover this valley in full sprout with verdant greenery that can catch one's consideration in a perfect world. From Kargil to Rangdum, a segment of your excursion to Zanskar Valley occurs through the Suru Valley. The Suru Valley is the base for rafting, rock climbing, slack-lining and mountain expeditions. Suru River, a branch of the Indus river, courses through the beautiful and prolific Suru valley found South of Kargil. Suru valley isolates Kargil from the Zanskar valley.
The Suru River gushing through this gorge keeps it astonishingly green for its elevation of more than 3000 meters. Nun's twin pinnacles (7135 m) and Kun (7087 m) are the greatest and the most elevated fascination in the Suru valley. Each town takes pride wholeheartedly in the view it manages of the Nun and the Kun peaks. Nun is perpetually canvassed in snow, and the Kun is desolate dark. The differentiation of their never trading personalities adds to the spirit of the spot.
Located halfway between Padum in the picturesque Zanskar Valley and Kargil, Rangdum is quite possibly the most excellent spots to visit during your outing to Zanskar. Rangdum is a transverse widened highland embodied by stunning slopes on one side and encrusted rough mountains on the other. This stunning valley in the symbolic valley of Zanskar is embellished by captivating and vivid tops on one side and staggering glaciers alongside formidable mountains on the opposite side. This spot's primary fascination is a monstrous eighteenth-century monastery 'Rangdum' that houses 40 monks. It is hanging on of a midway rising hill and tucked away by an isolated course of a mountain stream that makes an impression of an ancient for safeguarding an enchanted mountain.
Isolated from city life's routine, Rangdum is the most fantastic spot to twist up, unwind, and get revived while having a tryst with the charming magnificence of nature. Addition to this, visiting Rangdum will also get you the opportunity to witness and enjoy the contrasting sides of the Ladakh region. One can appreciate the animating perspectives on the rough mountains where you can delight in the extraordinary views and appeal of a few lively mountains around the valley.
Doda also goes by the name of Stod. This 79 km lengthy river is the quintessence of the Stod valley, which is very conspicuous in Zanskar. Travellers cheerfully rush to the streamside to appreciate different water exercises like rafting and swimming.
Parkachik La Pass
This mountain pass gives excellent perspectives on Nun – Kun massif and different tops in the foremost Himalayan ridge isolating Kashmir from Ladakh. The best way to arrive at this pass is a simple trek from Panikhar. If you are spending the night at Panikhar, you stroll up to the pass and return before dinnertime. Another option is to begin from Panikhar, cross the pass and descend to Parkachik on the opposite side.
Penzi La Pass
This mountain pass is considered as the Gateway to Zanskar. Penzi La is a generally more short pass to cross when contrasted with different passes in Ladakh. Truly, you will be on top of the pass before you even understand that you are ascending. The drop from Penzi La towards Zanskar valley is more extreme than the move up from Rangdum however not very troublesome. Penzi La is 4,400 m (14,436 ft) above ocean level and interfaces the Suru Valley district to the Zanskar Valley area. From the top of Penzi La pass, one can witness the gleaming white Drang Drung glacier.
Monasteries of Zanskar
The Zanskar realm was sanctified by the attendance of Naropa, the Buddhist Mahasiddha who meditated and consecrated the province. Zanskar is well-known for its numerous monasteries, constructed in the 11th Century by Rinchen Dzangpo, the noble decipherer. Zanskar is acknowledged as Chosyul or the 'Country of Religions' due to many monasteries here. Zanskar has its affinity to Buddhism, and a large section of Zanskar is Buddhist. Pretty much every hamlet of Zanskar has its Monastery, comprising of archaic artworks and depictions.
Sani Monastery is perhaps the most erstwhile monastic establishments of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh and Zanskar. It is on the road to Kargil at a sheer distance of 6 kilometres from Padum, situated at the junction of Stod Valley and Zanskar. The Monastery is positioned on a plan expanse in the centre of the hamlet. Legend has it that Sani Gompa's foundation is connected with Kanishka, Kushan ruler of 2nd century AD, on an interpretation of the Kanishka Stupa, which stances in the courtyard of the fenced compound. The Monastery is embellished with a vivacious compilation of figurines of Buddhist gods and Kargud-pa's Lamas. The parapets of the prayer hall have murals and thangkas (Tibetan silk paintings). Sani monastery also has a crematorium outside its compound, which is regarded as one of the eighth-most significant cremation grounds for Tibetan Buddhists.
Phugtal is one of the brilliant cave monasteries of Zanskar and is scenically nestled in the farthest curvature of Lungnak valley in the south-eastern region of Zanskar Valley. Phagspa Sherab Zangpo established it in the 2nd half of the 11th century. Also known as Phuktal Monastery, it is perhaps the most beautiful monasteries in the whole district. The fact that it is constructed into or around a natural cave on the overhang makes it appear like a massive honeycomb from a distance. Hence, the Monastery also goes by the name of "cave monastery." The Monastery dates back to more than 2500 years. It is abode to a sanctuary, a library with holy scriptures, a camboose, teaching amenities, prayer rooms, living accommodations, sacred well and houses about 40 monks. The Monastery is a one-day hike from the hamlet of Cha or Khangsaar in Zanskar. From the Phugtal Monastery, one can delight the all-encompassing panoramas of the winding Lungnak River and the gorge.
The Strongdey Monastery which resides more than 60 Gelugpa monks, is the second-largest monastic establishment in Zanskar. This 11th-century construction is 20 kilometres from Padum and roosted 300m over the valley, tendering a terrific perspective on the encompassing mountains and hamlets. Stongdey Monastery has seven temples, each a repository of the province's glorious Spartan inheritance. Among the seven is the Tshogs-Khang is decked with exquisite portraits of the goddesses. The artwork in the temple is finished on a black backdrop which is bordered with gold. Gon Khang, which is the shrine of custodian deities, is one of the famous sanctuaries. This cloister is related to the celebrated Tibetan Yogi Marpa, also called Marpa Ling, who has established it.
The Zongkhul Monastery is constructed on a stone face comprising two caverns, nestled in Stod Valley, it appears like a swallow's nest on the rock face of Ating valley from a distance. Legend has it that the well-known Indian scholar-saint Naropa meditated for two years in the lower cave where his footmarks can be seen on a rock nearby the entry. Imprints of his traditional dagger and staff are also said to be in the rocks in his meditation cave. The Monastery encompasses imageries and thangkas of renowned Drukpa lamas and gorgeous murals on the cave walls painted by Zhadpa Dorje who stayed at the Monastery some 300 years ago. The gompa also has a precious compendium of artefacts like an ivory image of Samvara, a crystal stupa, and spiritual songs and biographies.
It is the biggest Monastery in Zanskar hosts a group of 120 monks. Karsha is situated in the Padum Valley above gurgling Stod River. A part of the Gelugpa series was established by the acclaimed interpreter Phagspa Sherab in the eleventh century. The whitewashed devout quarters rise vertically on a mountainside over the town. Steep advances lead to the complex containing eight sanctuaries, chortens, private rooms and gathering lobbies. This complex includes eight covers, two gathering corridors, important symbols, relics, scrolls and thangkas. The 14th Dalai Lama's younger brother takes care of the Monastery.
Bardan monastery is located 12 kilometres from Padum in the Lungnak valley is crested atop a rocky cliff. The Monastery holds a prominent position among the Drogpa order monasteries of Zanskar. Deba Gyatso founded it during the early 17th century. Bardan Gompa comprises of a vast Dukhang, assembly hall. All the other constructions inside the Monastery are designed around the Dukhang. The hall brags of some of the most glorious sculptures of Buddhist deities, along with some small stupas in clay, bronze, wood and copper.
Reigning Glaciers of Zanskar
Drang Drung glacier: Drang Drung glacier is one of the biggest glaciers in Ladakh with a span of 23 kilometres and an average altitude of 4750 meters. Drang Drung Glacier is rested close to Penzi La on Kargil-Zanskar Road. Drang Drung is also evident from Penzi La. It appears like a twisting waterway of ice-encased by the beautiful Himalayan mountains; the landscape is charming to observe. Drang Drung Glacier is just a day trek from Penzi La. Drang Drung Glacier's hiking path abounds with geographical wonders like ravishing icy masses, spectacular mountain ranges, and even squares of organic groves. It is pretty much a rivulet of ice and snow and is regarded to be the largest glacier in Ladakh outside Karakoram range, second only by Siachen Glacier. It also prompts the way to Doda peak which lies on the backside of the glacier and is also the origin of Doda (also known as Stod) River.
Situated close to Parkachik, it is a great mass of ice dropping gradually down Nun and Kun tops' inclines. You can approach the glacier through a suspension footbridge over the Suru River. Enormous ice pieces sporadically strip off the 300 feet high front mass of Nun Kun and fall into the Suru River, giving a sublime perspective on the colossal ice-fall.
It is a 14 kms long glacier in Suru valley, which bequeaths gradient to Nun and Kun's peaks and serves as the base to ascend these two mountains. Water from this glacial mass creates a stream known as "Shafat Nala" which adds to the Suru waterway progression. It is a wrecked, ice falling icy mass softening at an alarming rate because of Global warming.
Zanskar Valley Modern-day facilities
Aware of the fact that it is quite challenging to reach Zanskar valley as it is quite remote, travellers are recommended to make preparations ahead of time and read up about the geography as well as weather conditions of Zanskar to guarantee that they don't experience any difficulty during their trip to Zanskar Valley. It is not difficult to find a shelter in Zanskar during any time of the year. However, one might not have joint facilities easily accessible.
Zanskar Valley Petrol Pump
One can easily find petrol pumps on the Srinagar – Kargil road, however, once you exit Kargil and arrive at Suru Valley past that not a single petrol pump can be found till Padum, where fuel is frequently in scarcity. Therefore, ensure that you fill up your vehicle in Kargil and later at Padum and top off at whatever point you find the opportunity. In some cases, you will be provided with a restricted limit of fuel just barely enough to reach back to Kargil. Black fuel is likewise accessible now and again at Rangdum town.
Zanskar Valley ATM
One can locate only a single ATM in Padum market during a trip to the Zanskar Valley. You should carry enough money to meet the excursion costs since the machine can run out of money or break down unexpectedly due to power cuts. There is one Jammu and Kashmir bank ATM in Padum market. Nonetheless, ATMs are accessible at Ganderbal, Drass, Kargil apart from Leh and Srinagar ATMs. You should convey enough money with you in Zanskar Valley since ATMs at these limited spots.
Zanskar Mobile Connectivity
Kargil has the mobile network, but as soon as you cross Sankoo, you enter a dead zone where there will be no phone or mobile connectivity. Only BSNL post-paid connections work in Padum, Zanskar valley, and it is reasonably limited to about 15-20 odd kilometres around Padum only.