Zanskar is the most isolated part of Trans Himalaya region.Pleasant climate, beautiful landscape, snow-capped Himalayan Mountains and sparking rivers makeZanskar a perfect holiday destination. Buddhism is the religion of the majority except a few Sunni Muslims residing in Padum. The Valley is also dotted with numerous historical and ancientgompas. The Valley is bestowed with abundant natural beauty but its remoteness has kept it underdeveloped, isolated and away from the tourist map.is a semi-arid region nestled in the northern flank of the Great Himalayas. What draws tourists to this area are the beautiful snow-capped mountains here, pleasant weather, Zanskar’s sparkling water bodies and a lush landscape. The valley lies 105 km away from Leh and is a hotspot for adventure sports like trekking, paragliding, water rafting, among others. Here, you can also opt for popular trekking options like Lamayuru to Darcha, Lamayuru, Padum trek. Centuries-old monasteries like Zongla, Zongkhul, Strongdey are crowded by tourists and one can even set camp at the scenic Penzila pass that separates Zanskar from the Suru valley. During winters, the temperature can dip to a ferocious -30 degree celsius. One can only travel to Zanskar between the months of June to September, otherwise all the roads to the valley are heavily covered in snow, thus, blocking access.
Meet at Manali and start drive to Jispa via Attal Tunnel The longest tunnel of Asia ,lunch break at Keylong and continue drive .Overnight in Jispa at Hotel.
A short drive from Sumdo in Zanskar, lies Shinkula Pass from where the real road trip begins! Like every road trip in the mountains, it is suggested that you begin your journey as early as possible.Once at Shinkula Pass in Zanskar, you head to Kurgyaik Village. The road from Shinkula Pass to Kargyaik Village is 83 km long and the road is a challenge like no other. Although most of the road goes through vast and open spaces, it often submerges into water, giving you the opportunity of driving through rivers. These are not tiny streams of water, but full-fledged rivers that require a proper four-wheel drive to cross.You’ll soon be rewarded for your hard work by stunning views of Gonbo Ranhjon, a massive conical mountain that stands tall and mighty in the middle of the cold desert. The mountain is one of the most sacred ones among the people of Zanskar. Once you complete the final leg of the day, camp at Kargyaik Village near the river.
The next day, you leave for a village called Purney, which is situated on an approximate distance of 29 km from Kargyaik. Remember, this journey is extremely difficult. However, you would surely want to make a pit-stop here not just for the fact that the village reverberates with solitude but also because it is home to the phenomenal Phugtal monastery. The monastery is a 40 minute hike from the village, so you would first want to reach a homestay or a campsite before heading for it. The structure of the monastery is awe-inspiring, and the fact that it is built in a cave which is more than 2,500 years old, will make your experience even more overwhelming.
Today, you go deeper into Zanskar Valley, to main town called Padum. After visiting and living in remote villages, entering the significantly big town of Padum is sure to be a welcoming change. The short route from Purney to Padum is a fascinating one, rife with gorgeous views, and vast open valleys with the occasional challenge of off-roading. On this route, you will also cross the elusive villages of Cha, Ichar and Muney. At Padum, you can opt for a homestay or even a hotel, have a Zanskar meal and visit His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s residence.
This is the last leg of your journey to Zanskar valley. Today, you head to Rangdum, which is the last main town in Zanskar, after which comes Kargil.On the way visit Zongkhul Monastery,the monastery is built on a rock face containing two caves. According to the legend the famous Indian scholar-saint Naropa meditated for two years in the lower cave where his footprint can be seen on a rock near the entrance. Beautiful frescoes on the cave walls were painted by Zhadpa Dorje who visited the monastery some 300 years ago. This journey is special not because it marks the successful completion of your trip, but also because it will bring you to the largest glacier in Ladakh, Drang Drung. If you manage to pull away from the majestic beauty of the glacier, you drive up for approximately 50 km to Pensila Pass, the last stretch of road to Rangdum. Once in Rangdum, reward yourself for having completed a journey that till now, very few travellers of the country have been able to undertake.
Continue to the Suru river, a tributary of the Indus river, flows through the picturesque and fertile Suru valley located south of Kargil. Near Panikhar village, the magnificent Parkachik glacier moves slowly down from the northern slopes of the towering mountains Nun (7135m) and Kun (7087m).
We will reverse our way to explore more in wilderness of Zanskar .On the way visit Sani monastery which is located on a flat area in the centre of the village. It is among the oldest monastic institutions of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh and Zanskar. A 6m-high stupa called Kanika Chorten is believed to have been constructed in the 2nd century.Continue to Karsha village.It has the largest monastery in Zanskar with a community of 120 monks. Belonging to the Gelugpa order, it was founded by the famous translator Phagspa Sherab in the 11th century. The whitewashed monastic quarters rise almost vertically on a mountainside above the village. Steep steps lead to the complex comprising eight temples, chortens, residential rooms and assembly halls.Overnight in Karsha homestay.
Zangla village was ruled until recently by a king who still lives here with his family. The village is protected by a small ruined citadel built on a hillock and it takes 15 minutes to hike up to the citadel. Inside, a small Buddhist shrine overlooking the entire valley is still intact. The nunnery centre is another place which is worth visiting in Zangla, here travellers can learn about the daily life of the nuns. Also Visit Stongde monastery, home to more than 60 monks, is the second largest in Zanskar. It is perched 300m above the valley, offering a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and villages. There are several temples with beautiful wall paintings inside the gompa. Gon Khang, the temple of guardian deities, is one of the prominent shrines. Overnight in Purne.
Today we will return back via Shinku la pass and take a night hault at Darcha.
Day 10: Darcha-Manali
Drive to Manali and End of the tour.