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 Places of Interest Ladakh
Drass Kargil Suru Valley Sankoo Rangdum Zanskar  Padum Phugthal 
Sani  Stongdey Zangla  Zongkhul }
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Shang La-Matho La-Stok Kangri Padum to Martselang  Padum-Lamayuru 
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<< Indian Himalayas << Travel in Ladakh >> << Tourist Places Ladakh >> << Zanskar in Ladakh >>

Zanskar in Ladakh -

Traveler Experiences about travel in Zanskar Ladakh:

When I first went to Zanskar in 2004, most Indians had never heard of the place-in fact, nor had we! When we hiked over the Shinkun La at over 16,000ft and first glimpsed the land that lay before us, I was stunned.  I had never seen a land so harsh and barren and yet so beautiful.  In the days to come we were to discover so many treasures in this rain-shadow area of the Great Himalaya.  From smiling and welcoming lamas to cliff-top monasteries, from vast landscapes that turned colour with every passing minute of the setting sun to grazing grounds that stretched for miles, blanketed with wheep, goats and yak.  High meadows where we camped were covered with wild anemones, buttercups, ekeweiss and host of other flowers. I fell in love, and have returned almost every year for over 20 years.

We had started our trip by driving from Manali to Darcha in the Lahaul valley.  The  peaks of the Lahaul valley.  The peaks of the Lahaul valley stretched out in front of us. The contrast between the lush, green Kullu valley and dry, harsh Lahaul was stark.  The monsoon was in full spate and had washed out the bridge over ‘pagal nala’, named for its vulnerability in flash floods.  After a long delay and ferrying our loads across by foot, we moved on and reached Darcha late in the evening.  Our muleteer and a taste of the dhabas of Darcha.  Three days of hard hiking along the Barai nala brought oust to the base  of the Shinkun La, which we crossed early morning on the fourth day.  It was easy going at first and then the slum turned the snow to mush and we were up to our knees were on top.   The coming week was one I would never forget, as we hiked through spectacular landscapes to get to Padum, the administrative capital of Zanskar.

About Zanskar

Zanskar is a part of the district  of Lakakh and akin to it in topography, climate, social structure and religion.  Yet what distinguishes it from Ladakh is its relative inaccessibility-and this is also its chief attraction.  Only the adventure traveler with loads of time will venture in to its recesses. The Khampa, the nomadic shepherds who originally roamed the grazing pastures of the Tibetan plateau, would have been familiar with the high passes into Zanskar many centuries before the villages of the Zanskar or Indus valley were established. From June to September the high passes are free of snow, the weather is dry and warm during the dayn and dry and crisp at night. The Great Himalayan Chain acts as a very effective barrier against the monsoon, and Zanskar seldom gets rain. Two rivers, flowing towards each other along the northern flank of the Great Himalaya, meet in the broad plain of Padum. About 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. A few years later, the Dogra general Zorawar Singh led his army over the Umasi La during the conquest of Ladakh and the Zanskar. In 1834 he reduced the powers of the royal families in both Padum and Zangla to a nominal status and established the fort at the village of Pipiting just north of Padum. He is also said to have paid a small fortune to hire a local guide to lead his army directly across the passes of the Zanskar Range to the Indus Valley in Order to mount a surprise attack on the king of Ladakh.

Tsarap Lingti Rivers

Two days of bone-jarring driving, first along the Suru and then the Doda rivers, and across the Pensi La, brings one to Padum.  Cascading down to the road is the dramatic Gangri glacier which brings down the snows of Nun and Kun peaks, which at over 22,000 ft each are the highest in Zanskar.  On the way you can camp at the windswept plains, in the centre of which is the tiny rangsum Gompa.  Padum is located at the southern end of a large open plain formed by confluence of the Doda and the Tsarap Lingti rivers that form the Zanskar river, which then flows northward into the inkus.  Today it’s more truck stop and probably the only place in Zanskar that has guest houses, albeit basic.  It is also the best place to base yourself if you want to explore the surrounding plains.
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Places of Interest Ladakh
Drass Kargil Suru Valley Sankoo Rangdum Zanskar  Padum Phugthal 
Sani  Stongdey Zangla  Zongkhul }

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