Padum is the last town in the Zanskar Valley that can be reached by road. The name of the town was given after Padmasambhava, a Buddhist master from the 8thcentury. IN the history, it has served as one of the two capitals of the Zanskar Kingdom, along with Zangla. It is connected to the other parts of the country through a 240 kilometers link road starting from Kargil. There are a lot of places for sightseeing in Padum. Here’s a list you should cover when traveling towards Zanskar valley. Some are in the town and some at a short distance, but worth traveling.
Situated near the Ating village in Stod Valley, Dzongkhul monastery is known for the murals rumored to be painted over 300 years ago. The monastery offers breathtaking views of the valley that leads to the Umasi La Pass. The root (formation) of the monastery is an attribution to Naropa, the Indian Buddhist monk, yogi and mystic. You can still find his footprints on the rock placed at the entrance of the inner cave. It is also believed that the impressions of Naropa’s staff and dagger are found on the rocks in his meditation cave.
Padum is only 37 kilometers away from Dzongkhul monastery but it will still take you 2 to 3 hours to reach there because of the poor road conditions. You will have to drive 17 kilometers back to Tungri. On crossing the bridge, you will come across a road on your left. Drive on the road for the next 20 kilometers to reach the village. Make sure to look at the Zanskar Valley Map to get the directions clearly.
Reputed to be the oldest religious attraction in the region of Ladakh and Zanskar, Sani Monastery is located at a short distance of 6 kilometers from Padum in Sani village. The religious site is said to be founded by the popular Kushan emperor named Kanishka. The monastery now belongs to Drukpu Kargyu School dedicated towards Tibetan Buddhism. It is the only school of its kind in entire Zanskar that has nuns.
Sani village is not just famous for the monastery but is also home to a beautiful lake, Sani Lake. You can spend a relaxing time sitting by the serene lake. With the Himalayas at its backdrop, it is also a beautiful location for nature photography.
Zangla village is a drive of 35 kilometers from Padum and was once the capital of the Zanskar Kingdom during the ancient days. The road conditions are quite good and the landscape throughout the journey is mesmerizing. Zangla Palace is a 3-storey monument, now mostly in ruins; the palace is settled on a crag that offers the views of the Zangla village and the valley. It is one of the best spots to view the sunrise and sunset. You can plan to stay overnight in the village to not miss these spectacular views. As it is an offbeat location without any regular tourist visits, the palace remains locked. Make sure to get the keys before climbing the stairs leading to the fort.
Situated at a distance of 12 kilometers from the small town of Padum in the route of Reru, Bardan monastery is a 17th century site attracting visitors in the area. The setting of the monastery is in an extremely scenic region on a large rock beside the river. There is a large assembly hall or Dukhang in the monastery where you will find grand Buddhist statues and various small stupas in bronze, clay, copper and wood.
Karsha Village & Monastery
Karsha is the largest and the most popular monastery in the Zanskar Valley. It comes under control of Dalai Lama’s younger brother. You will see ancient rock-carvings and wall paintings dating back to 958-1055 AD. There are also relics of Dorje Rinchen and over 100 monks live in the monastery. Here at Karsha Monastery, a popular Tibetan festival called Gustor Festival is celebrated in the sixth month of the Tibetan Calendar. The date varies between 26th and 29th of day of the month according to the calendar. It is during this festival that the sacred masked cham dance takes place.
Last but not the least an important monastery near Padum, Pibting Monastery is an ancient religious site situated close to the Pibiting village on the route of Hanumil. When visiting the monastery, you will come across the confluence point of Lungnak and Zanskar village which is a beautiful sight. Have your cheap flights to India booked with Indian Eagle for huge savings on airfares.
Meta Description: Travelers planning a trip to the Zanskar Valley should also spend a day or two for sightseeing in Padum. Though a small town, it is home to some of the most popular monasteries of the ancient times. Check out some here.