Zanskar, one of the remotest and beautiful tourist destinations in India, is a sub district (tehsil) of the Kargil district. It lies in the eastern half of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Padum is the administrative center of Zanskar. The entire region covers an area of 7,000 sq km at an elevation of between 11,500 - 23,000 feet from sea level. Zanskar River, which flows through it, joins the Indus a little below Leh.
War Memorial at Drass, Suru Valley, Drang Drung Glacier, Zanskar Valley
Monasteries in Zanskar, 7 high passes above 4000
Lingshit and Karsha Monastery, Padum and Kargil Town
Interaction with locals and insight into their lifestyle
Highest point 5400m
Having divided into three sub regions of (i) Sham, (ii) Stod and (iii) Lungnak, Zanskar preserves the archaic form of Buddhism in its rich monasteries. Once lost world or isolated region, Zanskar has become one of the most popular trekking regions since 20th century. The Chadar Trek in frozen Zanskar River is the famous and amazing trekking route. Till the 1980s, this was the only accessible route to and from the Zanskar region (winter season only). Buddhism being major religion of the region, monasteries have immense significance in the region. Every year, a large number of tourists visit Zanskar to explore its untouched beauty.
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Upon arrival at Leh Airport you will meet by Global Himalayan Adventures representative and transfer to our pre-arranged hotel, rest of the day at leisure to acclimatize. Overnight stay at hotel. Evening, we visit Shanti Stupa or Japanese Stupa - A magnificent white-domed structure. The Japanese for World Peace built the Shanti Stupa, at Changspa, on the hilltop, and was inaugurated by His Holiness Dalai Lama in 1985. Its state of the art work attracts a lot of tourists to Ladakh and is spectacular to watch. From there one can see the nice spectacular view of Leh town. The stupa looks best at night, when it is beautifully illuminated with glittering lights. A large number of tourists come to Ladakh every year to visit this amazing stupa.
This is an extra day added in the itinerary to help you get acclimatized better. Therefore utilize this day and try to stay outdoors. We visit Thiksey Gompa an impressive complex rising tier upon tier on a hill above the village. The monastery has a beautiful 30m high gold-plated statue of Maitreya Buddha; the Buddha of the future is one of the most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh. Later we visit to famous Hemis Gompa; this is the largest monastic foundation of Drukpa Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. It was built during early 17th century with the blessing of Lama Stagtsang Raspa (Shambunatha), by famous Namgyal dynasty king Singgey Namgyal. Overnight stay at the Hotel. Hike up to the Thiksey and Hemis Monastery, this is only to avoid stressing your body, as it may hinder the process of acclimatization.
Arrive in Kargil after a (long) drive. From Leh, it takes about 6 hours to reach. on the way you can visit one of the biggest and oldest Lamayuru Monastery, Moonland and many more enchanting. Overnight stay at Kargil Hotel.
An early start at the break of dawn. From Kargil you drive along a paved road to the green Suru-valley with lots of apple orchards and green fields. Passing through Muslim villages like Trespone and Sankhu, you make a small side trip to a giant rock-cut statue of Maitreya Buddha. Beyond Sankhu the road gets gradually worse, but after some time you will have the first views of Kun and Nun, the holy twin peaks which rise up 7000m above the valley. In Panikhar there is a large police check post where the drivers will have to register, so you will some time to stretch the legs and take a walk. After Panikhar, the river takes a U-turn and so does the road leading you all the way to Parkachik, the last Muslim settlement. The overhanging snout of the Parkachik Glacier can be easily seen from the road as it’s descends from the Nun -Kun mountains. This view is certainly one of the highlights of this first day on the road. Continuing along the Suru River you enter some narrow gorges and broad valleys with boulders everywhere. The colors of the hillsides change dramatically as the light grows weaker and finally you enter into a wide basin formed by meandering mountain streams. On a small hilltop you can already see Rangdum monastery, against a backdrop of barren mountains. It takes another hour to reach the monastery, but you will enjoy the sheer beauty of the landscape. Rangdum is the perfect spot to break up the journey to Padum; (total driving time about 7 hours) Overnight at the foot of the monastery in the Kun – Nun Tented Camp.
Rise early if you are in for a spectacular sunrise on the mountains. Take a cup of tea and walk up to the hilltop to see the first rays of sun on the hillsides. After breakfast your guide will introduce you to the monks of Rangdum. This is Zanskar at its best: a crumbling old gompa presiding over a scenic valley, with monks who live in splendid isolation. Padum lies about 110km away from Rangdum, so once again you will be spending most of the day on the road. Leaving the river valley the road winds up to the Penzi La Pass (4400m), the highest pass on the Kargil – Padum Highway. Just before the top you can have a short stop at a scenic lake with a watchtower.
The main attraction of the day however is still yet to come. Driving down the Penzi La along some sharp bends, suddenly the enormous Drang Drung Glacier comes into sight. This glacier is 23kms long and is the only glacier in the Himalaya that is so perfectly visible from a motorable road. After every bend the view is even better, so have your camera ready. After the glacier you enter in the Stod-valley where normally in summertime you will meet some local shepherds making cheese near the yak pastures. You are surely in Buddhist area now: endless rows of Chorten and mani walls, Buddhist prayer flags and small temples are scattered all over the valley. Finally you reach Padum, the ‘capital’ of Zanskar Valley, basically a very big village spread out in a green valley. Padum will be your base camp for the next days to explore the Zanskar district. Overnight in the Hotel.
Padum is the biggest settlement in Zanskar and has about 3000 inhabitants. For 3 days you will be exploring the area visiting the major sights by car and by walk. There are lots of options and your private guide will discuss with you what to do, but some places really need to be visited. The major attraction near Padum is the whitewashed Karsha Gompa, where every summer an important Buddhist festival takes place. Further in the valley lies the hilltop gompa of Stongde which can be easily combined with a visit to the old royal palace of Zangla. Other monasteries include the cave monastery of Zhongkul, where you can climb up to some meditation caves high up in the cliffs, and the valley monastery of Sani. For those who like a hike, there is a beautiful hike up and down along the river to the cliff top gompa of Bardan, or you can make a nice, light walk through the fields surrounding Padum. Above all, Zanskar is a place to experience and you can easily spend an afternoon chatting over tea in one of the village houses.
By jeep you return back to Kargil via Rangdum. Normally the drivers don’t stop that much on the return journey, so they will make it in a long 10-hour ride back to Kargil. You can have a good rest in Kargil and the next morning you continue your journey onwards to Leh.
Free day for rest after the long journey from Kargil. In the afternoon visit the markets for shopping. Arrive hotel in Leh for dinner and overnight.
The tour follows a stunning high valley with superb views across the mountain region and is one of the best ways to still experience the unique culture of the High Himalaya region.
Unlike many destinations in India, Ladakh is not an all-year-around destination. Ladakh is a beautiful place that is located in the Himalayan range. It is located on the Indus River bank. This place has amazing scenery and many adventure routes for motorcycle enthusiasts. In short, the best time to visit Leh Ladakh is summer between the end of March to middle of August. The prime tourist time is between June and September.
The summer in Ladakh starts from April. The temperature can go as high as 30 degree C. During nights, the temperature would reach the minimum of 16 - 20 degree C. The summer here is neither cold nor hot. The climate would be pleasant all throughout the day. the summer ends in September. Summer ends in September. According to many, the best time to visit this place is between June and August. The summer would be at its prime and thus, the snow would all be melted giving the place a good greenery look. You can find a lot of tourists in this place during this period.
There is another reason for tourists to flock during this period. The Hermis Dance Festival is conducted during this time and it is a very vibrant and colourful event to watch. Starting from camping to trekking, you can enjoy a lot of adventure activities during this time. All passes, mountain routes, trekking routes and others would be open during this period. The lakes would be clear and it would be easy to camp near the river.
The top activities to enjoy during summer are Stok festival and Matho festival in March and May, Hemis festival and Phyang festival in June to August. Nubra Valley is a must visit for the summer tourists. Road trips to Manali and Sri Nagar would be at its prime beauty. In short, the best time to visit Leh Ladakh is summer between the end of March to middle of August. The prime tourist time is between June and August.
Rainfall starts in June and end by September. As you would have guessed this place would receive a lot of rainfall. The temperature would not be very cold, but the place would not be at its prime beauty. Most of the motorcycle and trekking routes would be blocked due to the rain. Many attractions would become inaccessible during this season. The temperature would be very pleasant and unless you want to drench in rain every day, it is better to avoid monsoon season. If you are planning to visit Ladakh during monsoon, make sure to watch Diskit and Thiksey festivals. You would be able to find considerable number of tourists during this season as the motorcycle tour passes would be at its prime beauty during this season. The trekking routes would be closed for safety purpose.
The winter starts from the second week of October and ends by February. The temperature can go as low as -20 degree C and as high as 2 degree C. The lakes would be frozen, motorcycle passes would be closed and trekking routes would be blocked. Almost all adventure activities becomes either dangerous or blocked. Still you can find a lot of tourists here during winter. Those who come to Ladakh for wildlife attraction would choose winter. This is when you can spot a lot of snow leopards here. Moreover, Spituk and Losar festivals happen in winter season. Last but not least, the place would be very beautiful like a fairy tale snow land. A lot of people consider winter as the best time to visit Ladakh due to the scenic beauty of the place.
Ladakh is called the adventure capital of the country for a genuine reason. The geographical location of the place makes it an ultimate destination for anyone looking for an adrenaline filled vacation. Ladakh is one of the very few destinations in the world where the entertainment starts the moment you begin your travel towards it. Thanks to the scenic routes, the travel to Ladakh is as exciting as your vacation. The land is bestowed with mountains, valleys, snows, cold desert, frozen lakes, trekking routes, rivers, mountain passes and so on. If you have picked Ladakh as you next destination, you are in for an exciting vacation.
Reach Ladakh from Kashmir Valley through Kargil, which is around 434 kms. This route remains open from early June to November. Zoji-La pass of the Himalayan ranges that is a gateway to Ladakh is approximately 11,500 feet (3,505 m high) above the sea level. J&K State Road Transport Corporation, J&K SRTC, runs regular deluxe and ordinary bus services between Srinagar and Leh. There's a night stay in Kargil. You can also hire cars, jeeps or taxis in Srinagar. If traveling in groups, you can rent deluxe buses for Leh, Kargil or Padum (Zanskar) from J&K SRTC at Srinagar.
Manali-Leh road of 473 kms, since 1989 has been another route to Ladakh. This route is open from mid-June to early October. The road passes through the desert plateau of Rupsho and is around 3,660m to 4,570m high. There are a number of high passes falling on the route,Taglang-La being second highest motorable road in the world, 17,469 feet (5,235m) above the sea level. Himachal Pradesh Tourism (HRTC) and J&K SRTC run daily deluxe and ordinary buses between Manali and Leh; that takes around hours (or two days) with night halt in camps at Sarchu or Pang. You can also hire a Gypsy or jeep taxis.
Leh - Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport is the main airport of the area. The flights are directly connected from Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu; by the flights run by Air India, Go Air and Jet Airways. The schedules are set already though, but these are subject to change according to the weather. It is advised that you keep your plans flexible.
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