Zanskar Valley – Facts and Complete Travel Guide

Zanskar valley is located in the Kargil district of the Union Territory of Ladakh at a distance of 463 km from Leh. The administrative headquarter of Zanskar, Padum, is situated at an elevation of 3669 m. The offbeat valley features a scenic landscape surrounded by Zanskar ranges giving it a gorgeous view.

The Zanskar valley is undoubtedly one of the remotest places in the whole country, but at the same time, it has been one of the most beautiful ones as well. The famous attractions in Zanskar are worth a visit not only for the natural beauty but also because it offers various adventure activities popular among tourists. One can find some pretty fantastic places to visit in and around Zanskar. If you want to explore the pristine beauty of nature in the beautiful Zanskar valley of India, plan your trip now. Enjoy your tour to Indian Himalayas! And make sure you explore this incredible Indian paradise.

We have compiled a comprehensive travel guide in this blog post for exploring the Zanskar valley in the best possible way. It will cover all the vital information, including accommodation, transport, and all the major attractions to see in Zanskar valley.

If you are planning a trip to Zanskar valley, our travel guide will help you plan a memorable and perfect trip to Zanskar. Our team of dedicated specialists from Ladakh offers customized tour packages at discounted rates to all our customers who wish to spend an incredible vacation in Ladakh. If you have any queries related to Zanskar valley, feel free to contact us.

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Zanskar valley

Things to do and places to visit in Zanskar

Trekking

Trekking is one of the most unique and intriguing things to do in Zanskar Valley. The beautiful valley of Zanskar is located in the high-altitude peaks of the Himalayas and is surrounded by high mountains, icy glaciers, and frozen rivers. As such, visitors can enjoy hiking throughout the year. There are many trekking destinations in and near Zanskar valley like Lamayuru, Darcha-Padum, and Rangdum in Suru Valley. 

If you are a first-time trekker, you may find it slightly tricky and challenging, but you can explore the Zanskar Valley in the best way with a recommended and professional guide. Being the trekking capital of India, the famous Chadar Trek on the frozen Zanskar River in winters is absolute bliss for adventure enthusiasts. The scenic landscapes with lush green meadows make the trekking experience all the more unique, and you can’t wait to discover the mystery of the majestic Zanskar Ranges.

River Rafting

River rafting in Zanskar is a true adventure that offers rafting option in the most isolated and remote regions of Ladakh. Situated at 12000 ft, it is the highest rafting point in the world and one of the toughest in India. It is one of the most thrilling adventure activities in Ladakh. The snowcapped mountains and the pleasant fragrance that hangs in the air will leave you mesmerized while rafting, and it will definitely make your Ladakh trip a memorable experience. 

Depending on the level of professionalism, rafting in the Zanskar River consists of three distances. The first level consisting of 6 km, is usually tried by first-time rafters and those who just want to have light fun in the river. The second level consisting of 14 km, is the one that offers a fair amount of challenge and most people prefer this level because the water has a good level of currents and rapids as well. The third level, consisting of 28 km, is for those trained professionally as this level requires an ample amount of stamina. The level of difficulty is very high since the river has an extreme intensity of rapids and curves that can flip the boat at any time.

Sani Monastery

The Sani monastery is located near the Sani village in Stod valley of Zanskar. It is about 6 km to the northwest of Padum, and you can reach there by walking for about 2 hours. The monastery belongs to the Drukpa Kargyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and is famous for being the oldest gompa in Ladakh. The monastery has a small temple dedicated to Yogi Naropa and is adorned with peculiar sculpture-like paintings in bright colors. Outside the monastery exists one of the most significant crematory grounds of the Tibetan Buddhists, where a massive boulder is placed with a gleaming picture of Buddha painted on it. Moreover, the splendid Sani Lake adds to the charm and beauty of surroundings as you take a walk around the monastery.

Every year, the monastery also hosts two festivals, namely Sani Naro-Nasjal, The Great Prayer Festival, and Nungnes. Sani Naro Nasjal is celebrated when the “Guru Naropa Flower” blooms in the first week of August. On the eve of the festival, the statue of Naropa is unveiled, and lamas from the Bardan Monastery perform ritual offerings in the form of masked dances. The festival of Nungnes does not have any fixed date and usually takes place in the month of July. Lastly, “The Great Prayer Festival” is held in winters, during which an annual ritual reading of the Tibetan canon is performed with the firewood provided by the locals in the village. You will get a chance to witness a blend of several Central Asian cultures that bring life to the valley of Zanskar.

Dzongkhul Gompa

The Dzongkhul monastery is situated at the foothills of the Stod Valley in Zanskar, which also leads to the Umasi La Pass. The gompa belongs to the Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, and the foundation of the monastery is attributed to Naropa, who was a famous Buddhist monk and yogi. There are two caves in the monastery, and he is said to have meditated in one of the caves around which the entire monastery is built. You can also find his footprints in the rock close to the entrance of the lower cave. It also contains thankas of renowned Drukpa Lamas and paintings on the cave walls, some of which are almost 300 years old. The Dzongkhul gompa hosts the “Zongkhul Huchot” festival on the 16th and 17th of the fourth Tibetan month, and unlike the festivals of the Sani monastery, there are no masked dance performances.

Zangla Palace

The Zangla palace is located in the Zangla village of Zanskar Valley. It is about 32 km from the central region of Padum. The palace is located on a hill, and you can get there by hiking for about 10 minutes. At the palace, a small entry fee is collected at the entrance, and the proceeds are utilized for the renovation of the palace. The palace is sometimes called a monastery due to the omission made by historians in the past, probably because of the presence of a shrine and monks living in the palace. There is also a small Buddhist nunnery in the Zangla village where you can have a cup of tea along with delicious momos.

Karsha Monastery

The Karsha monastery is located about 11 km away from the main town of Padum in Zanskar. Built along the mountainside, the gompa comprises 30 buildings. It was founded by Phagspa Shesrab (translator) under the Gelugpa Order and is also known as “Karsha Chamspaling.” The monastery is attributed to Guru Padmasambhava and consists of exquisite paintings, ancient rock carvings and houses bone relics of Dorje Rinchen. There are a number of shrines inside the monastery which are under the control of the younger brother of the 14th Dalai Lama. The Lamas of the monastery unfold a cloth painting which is embroidered intricately in colorful threads depicting Buddha surrounded by his tutelary gods. The most important feature of the gompa is a chorten that contains the mummified body of the incarnate lama known as Rinchen Zangpo inside a box with a silver lining.

Every year in January, the “Gustor festival” is held in the precincts of the monastery in which the resident monks perform sacred masked cham dances.

Phuktal Monastery

The Phuktal monastery, popularly known as the “Cave monastery,” is located in the Lungnak valley of Zanskar. The monastery is built around a cave and resembles a honeycomb which adds to its beauty. It belonged to the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and was established in the 15th century by Jangsem Sherap Zangpo. The monastery is situated in a remote location that serves the purpose of meditation in a peaceful atmosphere. It is one of the only monasteries in Zanskar that can be reached only by foot. During the summer season, the supplies are brought on donkeys and horses and in winters through the frozen river of Zanskar. The monastery has also set up a monastic school and a Traditional Tibetan Clinic for the local community, which prepares and provides natural medicine to the people.

A number of festivals are celebrated at the Phuktal monastery starting from the month of February. The festivals are celebrated according to the Tibetan calendar, which is a lunisolar calendar; hence the dates of the festivals differ every year.

Listed below are some of the festivals held in the Phuktal monastery of the Zanskar valley:

  • Smonlam Chenmo
  • Phukta Gutor
  • Chudsum Chodpa
  • Gadam Nagchod
  • Chonga Chodpa
  • Gyalwe Jabstan
  • Syungnas
  • Yarnas.

Stongdey Monastery

The Stongdey monastery is located 18 km from Padum, on the Zangla road. It was built in the 11th century by Naropa’s disciple and belonged to the Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is home to 60 Gelugpa monks and the second-largest monastic institution in the Zanskar valley. It consists of seven temples decorated with intricate paintings which are outlined in gold.

Every year, the Stongdey monastery hosts the “Gustor Festival” on the 28th and 29th of the eleventh Tibetan month. 

Suru Valley

Suru in Zanskar valley

The Suru valley is located in the Kargil district of Ladakh. It is around 139 km from Padum and can be visited on the way to Zanskar. The unexplored Suru valley is very popular among mountain climbers as this tiny piece of heaven has so much to offer to the trekkers and visitors. It starts from Kargil and extends up to the Penzi La glacier (origin of Suru river). As it is situated along the banks of the Suru river, the lower part of the valley is quite fertile and used for agricultural purposes. The picturesque valley is dotted with small villages and offers spectacular views and sightseeing opportunities. There are many picnic spots in Suru valley like Sangra Parkachik, Umba, and Damsna.

Sangam Point – Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers

On the way from Leh to Zanskar lies the Indus Zanskar Sangam Point, which is one of the famous tourist spots in Ladakh. At the confluence point, you can see the bright blue color of the Indus river merging with the green color of the Zanskar river. Also, it is said to be changing colors in different seasons, offering an altogether unmatched sight. In addition, you can witness the vivid landscape and the snow-covered mountains in the backdrop of the two rivers. The Sangam Point is a must-visit on your Zanskar trip as the heavenly sight of the confluence cannot be missed at any cost.

Bardan Monastery

The Bardan monastery is around 12 km from Padum. The monastery was built in 17th-century and belonged to the Drukpa Kargyud monastic order. It consists of several small stupas, a large assembly hall with glorious statues of Buddha. The prayer hall houses some ancient murals and statues of many other Buddhist figures.

How to reach Zanskar valley?

Zanskar Valley Map

The most common way to reach Zanskar Valley is to fly to Leh and then travel from Leh to Kargil in a shared taxi. From Kargil taxi stand, hire a cab to Padum. 

  • However, it is essential to stay in Leh for a night to acclimatize appropriately and then travel to Kargil on the following day early in the morning. 
  • It would take five to six hours to reach Kargil from Leh. 
  • Don’t travel to Zanskar on the same day of arrival in Kargil, instead arrange a taxi to Padum in Zanskar for the next day. 
  • It’s best to spend a night in Kargil, as the route to Zanskar from Kargil is very tiresome.
  • Travel to Zanskar valley the next day after having breakfast in Kargil.

Read in detail how to reach Zanskar Valley.

Best time to visit Zanskar

June to September is the best tourist preferred time to visit Zanskar valley. The road to Zanskar Valley gets blocked by heavy snowfall during the winter and opens only in May. 

From May to September, the scenic natural beauty of Zanskar would be at its best with picturesque landscapes and majestic snow-capped mountains.

  • Peak Season – June to September
  • Shoulder Season – April, October, and November
  • Chadar trek Season – January and February

Transportation and communication

  • Zanskar is surrounded by mountains and rivers, which makes access to this area complicated.
  • Zanskar valley remains isolated from the rest of Ladakh in the months of December to April.
  • From December to April, the Chadar trek trail on the frozen river of Zanskar is the only route to connect Zanskar from the rest of Ladakh.
  • From May to November, Kargil to Zanskar road remains open and is the only access to Zanskar Valley by road. 
  • Visitors traveling through this route are urged to drive slowly and be aware of rocks and debris on the road.
  • The UT Ladakh government also provides helicopter services to reach Zanskar valley, but these are limited to emergency and rescue services.

Itinerary Guide – How to plan your Itinerary for Zanskar valley?

Planning an Itinerary for Zanskar trip without a guide is not an easy task. We planned an Itinerary with our experts and arranged a trip to Zanskar valley to share our experience with you. It would be best if you read it to get all the details about Zanskar valley to plan your itinerary easily.

The journey from Leh to Kargil

We packed our bags with all the necessary stuff a day before our trip and woke up early in the morning to prepare for our journey towards the Zanskar valley. It was around 6 am in the morning, and there was complete darkness. We stacked our bags in a pile while we were still in our sleepy state and started our journey.

As we traveled from Leh to Zanskar valley, the landscape transformed mysteriously before our eyes. We suddenly found ourselves surrounded by barren mountain peaks and deep valleys with rocky terrain and sparse vegetation. The exquisite co-existence of the dry landscape and charismatic river added to the mystique of the surrounding valley.

After a couple of hours, we stopped at a tea stall to have some tea and snacks. The roads were pretty smooth, but it was extremely windy at some places. After driving continuously for eight hours, we reached Kargil. The town of Kargil is a common stopover on the way to Zanskar, Srinagar, and many other places. It is best to stay in Kargil for a night before traveling to Zanskar.

The journey from Kargil to Zanskar:

We stayed overnight at a hotel, and the following day we had a light breakfast and were on our way to Zanskar valley.

We drove for two hours and reached the first checkpoint of the journey. After this point, the roads were ridiculously dusty and bumpy. After a while, our SIMs also stopped working, and we could not find any mobile network for the next few hours. While we drove on the rocky roads, we came across the most beautiful sceneries, and we were fascinated by the sheer beauty of the striking landscape and the towering mountains. We crossed many waterfalls, small streams, and deep valleys where we saw a herd of goats and sheep grazing in the lush green meadows.

On the way, we also came across the magical valley of Suru. We wanted to relish every bit of the greenery, but we did not have enough time, so we continued our journey towards Zanskar. In the afternoon, we had our lunch at Rangdum, which was located halfway, and it was the only kind of town in our entire journey till now. We rested for a while and headed towards the Dzongkhul monastery in Zanskar valley. 

A visit to Zongkhul Monastery

The Dzongkhul or Zongkhul monastery was situated 20 kilometers south of Rangdum. The roads to the monastery were quite bumpy, and it took around 2 hours to reach there. After crossing the Tungri village bridge, we reached a point where the road was divided into two. We took the right turn towards the Dzongkhul gompa and finally got there.

The extraordinary cave monastery was built on a rock wall overlooking the Zongkhul falls. We saw wonderful murals on the walls of the cave monastery and also spotted several collections of artifacts such as a crystal stupa, thankas, and ivory image of Samvara. There were two caves behind the monastery and ten stone houses in the front which perfectly blended with the surroundings from a distance. From the monastery, we reached a high viewing spot that offered marvelous views from the terrace.

A visit to the Monastery of Sani

On the way to Padum, we also visited the Sani monastery. Unlike other monasteries of Ladakh, it was not built on a hill but flat terrain. It is known for being the oldest monastery in the entire region of Zanskar valley. The monastery was built in the 17th century and accommodated an antique chorten known as the Kanika Chorten (20 ft high). As we entered the rectangular compound, we saw a beautiful gate chorten with prayer wheels. Behind the altar, a small room called Gongkhang housed an ancient figure of Cho Rinpoche and several volumes of the Kangyur (sacred text).

The Assembly Hall of the monastery had 16 columns and consisted of pictures of Chenren, Padmasambhava, and Chamba. In addition, there were depictions of protective deities and prayer cards with some mantras written on them. In the backyard of the monastery, we saw the Kanika Chorten, and next to it were ten stones with deities engraved on them in a pre-Tibetan style. There was also a vast plantation of old poplar trees near the gompa, which was a treat for our eyes as we took a stroll around it. Stepping out of the monastery, we saw a cremation ground of the Tibetan Buddhists encircled with ancient carvings of rock.

Arrival in Padum

As we set foot in the town, we caught sight of the beautiful green valley below us and the magnificent Zanskar river splitting into numerous small streams along the bottom. We were wonderstruck by the spectacular scenery and the snow-bound mountains stretching high into the sky above. The glaciers and the colorful flowers all around made us feel like we had retreated into an enchanting world of fantasy. 

The village was nestled in the middle of this massive stretch of land with traditional old houses, lush green fields, and farms spreading all around the place. It was located at the intersection of three valleys, and there were only a handful of shops, restaurants, and guesthouses in the one-street town of Padum. A cold gust of wind blew across the land as we took a stroll in the grass fields that seemed to wave and dance to its rhythm. The majestic Himalayan peaks surrounded us, and the clear blue skies with the bright sun above us never seemed to disappear from our sight. We stayed overnight in Padum and woke up feeling refreshed and quite energized for the next day. 

There was no mobile network, but the only connection available was at the two Internet Cafes, which charged 5 rupees per minute for their Wi-Fi connection. We wanted to upload some pictures, but it took almost five minutes to load the Instagram page only, so we decided to post the pictures later.

A visit to Zangla

We reached the scenic village of Zangla in Zanskar, set against the panoramic backdrop of the Zanskar Ranges. The offbeat town did not have much to visit other than the Zangla Palace, so we decided to visit the palace. After hiking for 10 minutes, we reached the palace. It was located atop a hill in the village and housed a temple with some monks inhabiting it. The palace offered a charismatic view of the mountains, and we clicked several pictures of the palace while enjoying the breathtaking scenes. The royal family still lived in the village, and they welcomed us for a cup of tea. 

We also visited a Buddhist nunnery, where we got to know about the daily life of the nuns. Afterward, we headed towards Stongde, where we came across an old monastery located in Tsazar village, midway between Zangla and Stongde. 

A visit to Stongde Monastery

While returning from Zangla, we stopped at Stongde monastery, one of the largest and oldest monasteries in Zanskar. As it was situated on the top of a hill, we had to walk up the entrance stairs to enter the monastery. The snowcapped mountains of the valley and the splendid landscape with patches of green fields made an impressive contrast.

We entered the courtyard of the monastery and found many monks waiting to have their lunch. We wanted to retreat, but they insisted on sitting with them and offered us some butter tea and a bowl of noodles. The traditional butter tea tasted utterly delicious, so we drank as much as we could. After having lunch, we walked around the monastery for some time and left thinking that it was perhaps the most incredible experience we’d ever had at a monastery.

Overnight stay at Cha Village

On the way to Phuktal Monastery, there was a small village known as Cha. It is best to spend the night here before hiking towards Phutkal Monastery. So, we drove to the Cha village, and from there, we began walking towards our homestay to stay overnight. It was around 7 pm, and the sky started to darken. The host offered us home-cooked food that was organically grown in their garden. It was the most delicious meal we’d ever had the pleasure of experiencing. In the evening, we relished the fantastic view of the mountain peaks while enjoying a hot bowl of soup.

A visit to Phuktal Monastery

Phuktal monastery in Zanskar valley

The following day, we headed towards the Phuktal monastery, one of the famous attractions in Zanskar valley. We left for Phuktal at around 8 am. We drove till the end of the motorable road, and from there, we had to reach the monastery through a beautiful valley of Zanskar. While walking on the rugged trails, we came across stunning rock formations blending into their surroundings.

After 2 hours, we finally reached there and walked up the stairs to explore the monastery. We had a brief conversation with one of the monks, and he took us around to show us the prayer rooms. We clicked several pictures of the monastery and spent some time playing with the young kids. At around 4 pm, we left the monastery and got back to Cha village. We had already arranged our taxi a day before. So, as soon as we reached the village, we saw our driver waiting for us, and it took us almost 3 hours to return to Padum.

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A visit to Karsha Monastery

Karsha monastery in Zanskar valley

We were completely exhausted when we reached Padum after the hike. We stayed overnight at a guesthouse, and the next day we were ready to explore the Karsha monastery. Set on the top of a hill, the monastery houses more than 100 monks. As we entered the gompa, we were delighted to watch the lamas praying, and the sound of their prayers reverberated in the whole valley.

The monastery was undergoing renovation, and some expert artists were busy painting the walls. The massive chortens and walls of the gompa were being whitewashed, which is the tradition of Ladakh. While walking around the monastery, we talked to one of the lamas, and he opened the prayer room where a colossal statue of Buddha was kept. The walls were decorated with paintings of different incarnations and lessons taught by Buddha. We also saw many small clay and metal idols of Buddha known as Bodhisattvas.

In one of the rooms, the Tantric masks were kept, but the door was locked. We waited for a while but did not find anyone who would open the door, so we decided to let go and headed towards the monastery courtyard. More than the monastery itself, we were spellbound by the surreal sights of Zanskar and enjoyed the fabulous valley views marked with ragged peaks and Buddhist monasteries.

Back to Leh

The next day, we left at 7 am for Kargil and stayed at the same hotel prearranged on our tour. We also visited Alchi monastery and many other places we would not have otherwise seen on our way back to Leh. Finally, after all the adventure, we heaved a sigh of relief in the evening as we reached Leh, and it was like returning home.

Conclusion

To be honest, visiting Zanskar was one of the most thrilling experiences of our life. The close-up views of the Zanskar Ranges with massive glaciers and the hospitality of the Zanskari people made the place worth a visit. Although the valley was very remote and one of the last frontiers of India but the love from the locals of Zanskar made us feel at home. It was not just a travel destination but our happiest place to be around.

Travel Zanskar. You will love it!

Insider travel tips

There are a few essential tips you can follow to make your travel more pleasant.

  • Reaching Zanskar from Leh or Srinagar takes time. So, you need to plan a trip of at least three days and two nights to the Zanskar valley.
  • Carry RT-CPR report of earlier than 96 hours with you.
  • The road from Kargil to Zanskar valley has very poor road conditions and is not with a well-developed infrastructure. So, check your car’s ground clearance and make sure your vehicle is in good condition.
  • If you want to travel in a taxi, hire/share a taxi up to Kargil Town. Rest for a night in Kargil. From Kargil, hire another taxi up to Padum.
  • Eat breakfast before beginning your journey from Kargil, as you won’t get time for breakfast on the way to Zanskar.
  • Hire a taxi only up to Kargil town, as taxis from Leh or Srinagar would not be allowed to travel up to Zanskar valley. So, you have to change the taxi in Kargil and hire another taxi under the Kargil Taxi union, up to Zanskar.
  • When you stay a night in Kargil, ask locals for current road conditions, as sometimes the road gets blocked and you won’t be able to travel. You can also contact us to know the current situation and road conditions to Zanskar valley.
  • On the way to Zanskar, make a stop at Panikhar to explore the village.
  • The road to Zanskar passes through many remote regions where cell phone signals are weak. BSNL SIMs receive better signals than other SIMs, so subscribe for a postpaid BSNL SIM before visiting Zanskar.
  • Carry some spare fuel from Kargil.
  • Use Google offline map if you are traveling in your own car or bike.

Zanskar Etymology

  • Zanskar is pronounced as Zangskar by the Ladakhi Natives.
  • As per the etymological study by David Snellgrove and Tadeusz Skorupski in 1980, the word Zang came from Tibet, which means copper as the region was known for its natural presence of copper.
  • The Word Zangskar might also be originated from the word Zan-M-Khar which means palace of food (‘Zan’ means food and ‘Khar’ means palace), quoted by John Crook (British ethologist) and Henry Osmaston (geographer and forester) in their book Himalayan Buddhist Villages.
  • David Snellgrove and Tadeusz Skorupski also suggested that some religious scholars of Ladakh believe that the Zanskar word might be derived from the words “Bzang-dkar.” ‘Bzang’ means good, and Kar is derived from the word ‘Karpu,’ which means white, as the triangular shape of Padum was known for its goodness and simplicity.

Historical facts of Zanskar Valley

  • The first remains of the valley go back to the Bronze Age, known as Mon. They were the first known population of the valley, followed by Dard, another old ethnicity that later mixed with the Mons.
  • Before Buddhism, the people of Zanskar predominantly the Bon religion.
  • Buddhism is said to have spread in Zanskar during the period of the famous Kushanas.
  • Zanskar used to be a Kingdom of its own, the rulers of which were Buddhists.
  • The rulers built Karsha and Phugtal monasteries during the 10th and 11th centuries C.E.
  • However, after the 15th century C.E., the kings of Ladakh took control over Zanskar.
  • Together with the neighboring region of Ladakh, Zanskar was briefly a part of the kingdom of Guge in Western Tibet.
  • In the 19th century C.E., the joint forces of Kullu, Lahaul, and Kinnaur (a part of Himachal Pradesh today) invaded Zanskar. They took over the Palace and city of Padum, located in the heart of Zanskar Valley.
  • Due to continuous border disturbances between the neighboring countries of China and Pakistan, Zanskar was not allowed to be visited by any foreigners in the mid-20th century C.E.
  • Despite going through all the highs and lows of history and tests of time, Zanskar still maintains a very unique and closed cultural identity. 
  • The language of Zanskar is a dialect of the wider spoken Ladakhi language in the neighboring areas of Leh and Kargil. 
  • Since the last three decades, after Zanksar got popularized by travelers, the area has been visited a lot. Though the road to Zanskar is still very rough due to the topography, people go to see its beautiful culture and nature.
  • There have also been many researchers and archeologists interested in the history and geography of the valley.
  • Due to its slightly different language and culture and its remote location, the people of Zanskar have been demanding a separate district due to its somewhat different language and culture. Zanskar will probably be the third district of Ladakh after Kargil and Leh.
  • All in all, Zanskar has a lot to offer to those who love to travel, explore and make adventures. The potential of its tourism is not yet realized to the core.

Geography

  • Zanskar is a desert landscape area located in the northern part of the Himalayan range.
  • It is situated at an elevation ranging from 11,500 feet to 25,000 feet high.
  • The total area covered by Zanskar is around 7,000 sq km (2,700 square miles)
  • The river in Zanskar, which takes a northeastern course, is formed by the Doda river and Lungnak river.
  • The Zanskar Range is a mountain range in the union territory of Ladakh that separates Zanskar from Ladakh. These mountains range to around 400 miles (640 km).
  • Zanskar is one of the seven Tehsils of Kargil District.
  • The administrative center is Padum (former Capital of Zanskar). 
  • Zanskar lies 250 km south of Kargil town on NH301.
  • 25 villages comes under Zanskar tehsil.

Climate

  • The mountains of the Zanskar range affect the climate of Zanskar valley.
  • The monsoon clouds find it harder to pass the Zanskar range resulting in the scarcity of rainfall during the monsoon season.
  • The snowfall in winter contributes a lot to forming the glaciers. The melted water through these glaciers is used for irrigation in summer by the villagers.
  • In summer, the weather remains pleasant and warm.
  • During winter, the weather remains harsh and freezing. The temperature can go below -30°C

Flora

Type of plants found in Zanskar:

  • Alpine
  • Tundra
  • Edelweiss
  • Blue poppies

Crops in Zanskar

  • Barley
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes

There is more precipitation on the upper parts of Zanskar, making irrigation easier for the villagers. The upper slopes are famous for their meadows of edelweiss. Plants such as alpine and tundra are also found on these parts.

Crops including potatoes, barley, and lentils are grown by the villagers at lower altitude areas.

Fauna

Wildlife

  • Snow leopard
  • Bear
  • Wolf
  • Alpine ibex
  • Wild sheep
  • Wild goats
  • Marmot
  • Bharal
  • Lammergeier

Domesticated animals

  • Horse
  • Yak
  • Dzo (a hybrid of cow and yak)
  • Dogs, including Bakarwal dogs and Tibetan Mastiff

Economy

  • Tourism and livestock are the major contributing factors to the economy of Zanskar.
  • The most important livestock species are yaks used for agriculture and carrying heavy loads. Also, the milk of Yaks is used for dairy products. Yak’s fur is also very useful; the villagers use it to produce clothes, bed covers, carpets, and more. Thus, yaks have great importance in the livestock economy of Zanskar.

Demographics

Number of Households2327
Population13793
Total Number of Males7008
Male Population Percentage50.81 %
Total Number of Females6785
Female Population Percentage49.19 %
Total Number of Children1908
Children Population Percentage13.8%
Sex-ratio968
Literacy rate51.47%
Male Literacy rate63.43%
Female Literacy rate39.12%

Reference

About the author

Sam K. Pandepa is a certified travel agent of Ladakh. He completed his MBA in 2012 and has worked as a tourist guide up to 2015. After that, he is working as a travel agent.

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