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Places to see in Zanskar

The adventure destination of Zanskar is one of the isolated and scantly inhabited Himalayan Valleys. Zanskar is wrapped in snow-covered peaks and boats of two small alpine lakes. But there is nothing comparable to the wonderful view of the "Drang-Drung" glacier.

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.

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.

Panikhar

Panikhar is an important place in the Zanskar Valley that is the border of the Suru Valley. At Panikhar the fort of Zorawar Singh is a major tourist attraction

Penzella Pass

Penzella Pass that divides the Zanskar valley with the Suru Valley. Besides being the excellent camping site the Penzella Pass is a vintage point offering excellent views of the majestic mountains and the captivating countryside.

Karsha

Karsha is a human settlement with basic facilities. The Gelugpa monastery at Karsha is a must visit to know the importance of the religion in the lives of the inhabitants of Zanskar. The mural art displayed at Labrang is other must check out in Zanskar