Nestled in the snowy peaks of the formidable Zanskar Range, Zanskar is a sub-district of Kargil located interior of the Leh Ladakh holiday
region with Padum as its administrative center. Zanskar is the most isolated part of the Trans Himalayan region and the least interfered microcosm of Ladakh. Once a part of the Guge Kingdom in Tibet, Zanskar is now an integral part of India famous for its high mountains and picturesque gompas, which are Buddhist monasteries found only in Ladakh, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.
Best Time to Visit
Temperatures in Zanskar can plummet to a bone-chilling -30°C during winters, while it remains pleasant and dry during the summer months. The best times to visit Zanskar are between June and September. Nevertheless, it is mandatory for travelers to carry several woolen clothes, windcheaters and snow-goggles as the weather can be pretty unpredictable.
Zanskar can prove to be a tough terrain for even seasoned mountaineers and trekkers planning to take up this sport on Zanskar tours in North India
. Touted as one of the best mountaineering destinations of India, Zanskar offers infinite joy for adventure lovers and mountain-climbers. The most famous trek is the Chador Ice Trek which is actually formed by the freezing of the Zanskar River. Trekking in Zanskar is no cakewalk and it can take nearly a week to complete the expedition. You have to camp out most of the nights, so be ready to face the wrath of the biting chillness.
Must See Attractions
Some of the must-see places within Zanskar district are the spectacular monasteries found in Zangla, Zongkhul and Stongdey. You can visit these places during the last 2 or 3 days of your trip. The monasteries are several centuries old and carry numerous tales of legendary scholars like Naropa. Panikhar is an important town in Zanskar bordering the Suru Valley and is home to the famous fort of Zorawar Singh. Padum and Karsha are typical human settlements with basic facilities. Weary tourists can get a feel of civilization after hours of camping amidst the barren wilderness. Karsha is a place of religious importance in Zanskar as it is home to the Gelugpa Monastery. Another tourist attraction in Zanskar is the mural art exhibition in Labrang.
While passing along the Valley, you can catch stellar views of the magnificent ‘Drang-Drung’ glacier, which is the largest glacier in Ladakh. The Zanskar Valley is separated from the Suru Valley by the Penzella Pass which serves as an excellent camping site, offering breath-taking views of the lofty mountains and breezy grasslands. Zanskar is encompassed by the Zanskar River and its other tributaries which serve as one of the best places in the world for river rafting. You can also include a trip to Jammu and Kashmir
Accessing Zanskar is the toughest task since it is connected to the rest of the mountains only by passes, the most famous being the Penzi-La. It remains closed for 8 months a year due to heavy snowfall. Zanskar can be accessed through Padum from Kargil across Suru Valley which is a 235km journey. One can also take the Manali route from Shimla to touchdown at Padum. Numerous Deluxe Buses operate between these areas during the months of July-November. The nearest railway station is located in Jammu. The nearest airport is in Leh, an hour’s flight from Delhi. To travel within the local area, you can hire jeeps and taxis.
Now that the travelling part is taken care of, the next step is to find the right niche to camp at during your stay in Zanskar. There are ample accommodation facilities in Zanskar and its neighboring places like Leh. Padum has a Tourist Complex and some private budget hotels to cater to the needs of tourists while Karsha offers dormitories for campers. For a thoroughly engaging adventure, you can even try camping in one of the hospitable Buddhist monasteries and rub shoulders with the esoteric Tibetan-Buddhist monks and nuns.
Once you’re done with all the adventuring in Zanskar, we recommend you to head straight to Leh for a fascinating shopping experience on the last day of your trip and board your flight back home. Leh’s bustling Main Market is loaded with exquisite items such as Kashmiri and Persian carpets, Tibetan handicrafts, Burmese and Afghan jewellery and many more. You can pick up several interesting souvenirs like T-shirts emblazoned with Tibetan slogans or colorful face masks.
Planning Your Trip
And finally, your travel plan to Zanskar can extend from 14 to 25 days if you are planning to go for full-fledged trekking and river rafting. Several tourist packages are available which are customized to suit the likes of different tourists. The total cost of the trip will be approximately 30,000 INR which includes accommodation, internal transport, trekking gear, camping equipment, professional guide services, food, first-aid medicine and also complementary souvenirs of Ladakh. For all you brave-hearts, Zanskar awaits; The Zenith of Adventure!