There are many ancient monasteries in the Zanskar region but visiting them all is not really feasible as it can get tedious and time-consuming. Stongde, one of the best places in the Zanskar Valley, lies on the way to Zangla which is about 35 Km Northeast of Padum.
Stongdey is famous for its second largest monastery which is approximately 18 Km north of Padum. Stongde village is approx. 10 km from Padum and a road to the monastery diverges from there. The distance in is only 3 km but the walk can be excruciating because of the almost vertical elevation. Located on the top of a rocky cliff, there are road with rocky pathway but it required some serious driving skills to reach the monastery complex of Stongdey. You can also experience the view of the valley from monastery.
Visit of Ladakh during festive season will be cherishing for lifetime due to its gigantic colourful masks and big robes which create a completely unique experience. One such mega festival celebrated in Ladakh is Stongdey Gustor festival which is celebrated during the 11th month of Tibetan calendar (June).
- Region : Stongdey, Zanskar Valley, Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir
- Ideal Duration For Stongdey: 5 Days from Kargil
- Difficulty : Moderate
- Trip Starting Point : Kargil
- Altitude: 3,500m
- Nearest Airport : Leh Airport and Srinagar Airport
- Category: Scenic, Offbeat
How to Reach
Stongdey is located in the western part of Ladakh which can be reached through Kargil. It is located in the Zanskar Valley and well connected with Leh by road via Kargil.
A Bi-weekly bus service link the area of Rangdum and Padum to each other. You can also try to get lift by trucks run between Kargil and Padum who offer a lift in the cabin at the price of a bus ticket. After Padum, you have to reach Stongdey in your vehicle. Jeeps and Gypsy taxis can be hired at Kargil. You can also take taxi from Padum for round trip to Zangla and back but these taxis have very high rates.
Best Time to Visit
Winter in Zanskar Vallet starts in November and ends in May. This region can’t be accessed in winter due to blockade of roads. The best time to visit Stongdey is from June to September.
Where to Stay
Padum has various accommodation options. You can stay in JKTDC hotel. Padum town also has several private hotels with basic facilities. At Karsha dorm lodging is accessible in lately constructed hotel where simple vegie food is available. In the distant villages like Stongdey, Zangla, Sani, etc., accommodation can be sought in the form of homestay by paying reasonable price.
Tourist Attractions of Stongdey
Stongdey Monastery – Built in 1052 by Naropa’s disciple, Lama Marpa Lotsawa, Stongdey Monastery is the second largest monastery in Zanskar with a community of about 60 Gelupa Monks. This white washed monastery complex is also inspired by the Tibetan style of architecture like the other monasteries of Ladakh. This monastery offers the panoramic views of Zanskar region with its strategic location at the top of a rocky cliff.
This monastery can be reached by rocky pathway with vertical elevation. The climb up to the monastery is arduous, but for the astonishing scenery of the valley from the top of the cliff, it is worth trying. Semi-circular ring formed by the snow capped mountains looks beautiful and picture perfect.
There are total seven temples in this monastery complex. The Tshogs-khang is embellished with finely detailed painting including some with deities on a black background defined in gold.
This monastery was taken over by the Gelupa about four centuries later the construction. The successors of Nari Tulku managed the monastery now a days.
Stongdey Gustor Festival: Annual Gustor Festival is a must attend festival in Ladakh which is mainly celebrated in June. This festival is celebrated with great vigour and enthusiasm in the Stongdey Monastery. This festival evokes numerous locals and many tourists to witness this auspicious event with its famous masked dance performed by monastery monks.
If you are interested in handicrafts then this is the best time to visit Stongdey to see the handicrafts and take part in local sports. July is the time when Stongdey Gustor festival is organised, hence plan your trip according to that if you happen to visit Zanskar region of Ladakh.
Reasons to Visit Stongdey
If you are interesting in backpacking, Suru valley is among the best places in the Himalayas for some backpacking. Villages are connected by publics transport and distance between places are not much in Ladakh.
Due to its steep elevation, Stongdey is also a favourite in the list of mountaineering enthusiasts. Since these villages are in remote areas, you have full freedom to explore these areas.
Tips For Travelling In Stongdey
- Acclimatise yourself and aware of Altitude Sickness.
- Do not expect lavish stay arrangements here as these villages are remote places.
- Stay hydrated and go easy on the alcohol.