Things to do in Zanskar Valley
A semi-desert, the Zanskar valley of Ladakh attracts many tourists from around the world. It is situated between the two main tributaries of the Zanskar River and therefore, has stunning views. The jagged mountains that enfold this area add an eerie character to it. There are many trekking opportunities in the mountains with popular treks such as Chadar and Padum Treks.
Apart from those, here are 5 things to do in Zanskar.
1. Witness the merging of two rivers
At Nimu Sangam point, you can witness two mighty rivers meeting and joining to become one. The Zanskar river yields its water to the Indus river. The former’s brown water when mixes with the latter’s blue water, a clear distinction can be viewed from a distance.
2. Conquer the Drang Drung Glacier
You can reach this 22 km long glacier by road. However, make sure you visit it between July and September when the weather is not too harsh for the government to close the passes that lead to it. One way to conquer the beauty of this glacier is to take one of the several treks around it.
3. Pay homage to the ancient Phuktal Monastery
Phuktal Monastery is a lonely monument of Buddism situated in the far-flung mountains for Zanskar. The surrounding landscape is mostly barren, but the monastery is a sight to behold. Intricate doorways, carved structures, and monastery compounds tired with age welcome tourists from around the world.
4. Camp in Panikhar
Camping in Panikhar renders the blessed experience of seeing the Nun mountain in all its grandeur. Besides this, you can also visit the Parkachik Pass, which is quite near, or simply indulge with the locals and study their lifestyle.
5. Zongkhul Monastery
Like Phuktal Monastery, the Zongkhul Monastery also holds a special place in Zangskar valley. It has a legend associated with it, which says that the famous Yogi, Naropa used to meditate in the caves surrounding it. Inside, you’ll see Thangkas and several paintings that give an insight into the peaceful religion of Buddhism.
Zangskar Valley is located in the Kargil district at an altitude of around 12000 feet. Zanskar is around a 6-hour drive from Kargil (247km). From Leh, it’s around 11 hours drive (464km). The best time to visit Zanskar is from May to September. During winter the temperature goes down below 30 degrees. Due to heavy snowfall, the road to Zanskar valley remains closed for more than six months.
Zanskar is also a good place for trekking. Treks like Lamayuru to Darcha, Lamayuru to Padum, etc. are famous. Darcha trek is a trekking route to Zanskar which connects to Zanskar via Shino-la-pass. Lots of foreigners visit Ladakh for trekking and Zanskar is a preferred place in Ladakh for trekking.
For the chadar trek, you can visit Ladakh in January and February.
You may have also heard about the Chadar trek in Zangskar during winter. A walk on the frozen river of Zanskar valley.
The beginning of the chadar trek was; when the Locals of the Ladakh region started to travel through the frozen river of Zanskar Valley by walking on it; as the road gets blocked by the blanket of heavy snowfall.
The extreme weather condition makes this trekking very challenging and it’s one of the toughest trekking in India. Sometimes the temperature drops to lower than Minus 30 degrees. As it’s tricky for beginners to walk on ice, your trek-guide will guide you to walk on different types of surfaces.
You can reach Zanskar via 1. Srinagar to Leh road or 2. Manali to Leh Road. From Srinagar, you have to reach Kargil and book a taxi to Zanskar.
For the Chadar trek, you need to visit Leh via a flight.