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Situated at an altitude of 3,500 – 7,000 m and one of the least explored regions in India, Zanskar is a semi – arid high altitude desert.  Located in the remote corner of Ladakh, Zanskar is a sub district of Kargil in Jammu And Kashmir State. Due to its remote location, Zanskar experiences comparatively lesser number of tourists. However in recent past, Zanskar Valley has started getting ample attention from adventure enthusiasts. Padum is the administrative centre of Zanskar, located 250 Km away from Kargil.  Zanskar Valley is segragated from rest of Ladakh by Zanskar Mountain range.

Snow capped mountains, barren lands, gleaming Blue River, monasteries, and breathtaking views eventually makes it a perfect destination for travel geeks. The major interests of the Zanskar are its trekking routes, especially Chadar Trek, Markha Valley Trek and Padum Trek.

Zanskar with rest of the Ladakh were part of Guge Kingdom in Western Tibet. Flourishing with Buddhist monasteries, Zanskar houses a large population of Tibetan Buddhists and mundane affairs of Zanskar revolves largely around monks and these monasteries.

Key Facts

  • Region : Zanskar Valley, Kargil, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
  • Ideal Duration For Zanskar Valley: 5-6 Days
  • Best Time To Visit: May – September
  • Difficulty : Moderate- Tough
  • Highest Altitude: 16,000 ft
  • Trip Starting Point : Kargil or Leh
  • Nearest Airport : Leh Airport and Srinagar Airport
  • Category: Scenic, Offbeat, Trekking Point, Spiritual

How to Reach

ZansKar Valley is located in the western part of Ladakh in remote and pristine location which can be reached through Kargil. Zanskar Valley is 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.

If you want to reach Zanskar by your vehicle, you have to rely on Kargil Taxi Stand as taxis from Srinagar or Leh can’t drive on the Kargil- Padum route. Similarly, Padum – Zangla route is served by Padum Taxi Union. You can take taxi from Padum to cover Zangla but these taxis charge at an exorbitantly high rate.

Best Time to Visit

Winter in Zanskar Valley starts in October and ends in May. This region can’t be accessed in winter due to heavy snowfall. The best time to visit Zanskar 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, dormitory accommodation 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 Zanskar Valley

Monasteries In Zanskar: Monasteries are flourish in whole Zanskar but mostly concentrated in farming and grazing area. Here are list of monasteries located in Zanskar Valley:

  • Padum: Pibiting Monastery is located 2 Km north of Padum and offers a breathtaking views of the valley.
  • Padum – Sani – Ating Road: Sani Monastery, 9 km north-west of Padum and Dzongkhul Monstery, 30 km from Padum are attractions on Padum – Sani route.
  • Karsha Monastery, built alike a fortress is located 13 Km north of Padum.
  • On Padum – Zangla Road, Stongde and Zangla Fort are beautiful attractions in Zanskar.
  • Phugtal Monastery can be reached by trekking from Padum as the road to this monastery is not motorable. A beautiful piece of architecture, this monastery is located on the hill top.

Pensi La is the gateway to Zanskar Valley and connects Suru valley and Zanskar Valley on Kargil-Padum Route. Drang Drung Glacier is the must visit place over Pensi La which offers a breathtaking views of snow capped mountains.

Zanskar Valley is famous among adventure enthusiasts for its trekking trails. Lamayaru-Darcha and Lamayuru- Padum trekking routes passes through Zanskar. Markha Valley Trek also begins from Zanskar. One of the toughest and famous Winter Chadar Trek also takes place in Zanskar.

Apart from monasteries and trekking trails, Zanskar is also famous for its semi – arid landscape. The Monastery festivals in Zanskar are important event which consists of masked dances by monks, and music events. Sani festival and Stongdey Gustor festival are some of the famous monasteries festival of Zanskar.

Tips For Travelling In Stongdey

  • Acclimatise yourself and aware of Altitude Sickness.
  • Do not expect lavish stay arrangements here as these villages are in remote places.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol.
  • Keep yourself with sufficient cash as you don’t find ATMs everywhere.

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The Himalayan Odyssey


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