Resting in the eastern part in the Kargil district of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the region of Zanskar needs no introduction. With an encompassing rugged terrain and the pristine valleys, Zanskar is known throughout the world for its ethereal beauty. Ideal for a challenging trek, reaching Zanskar is an arduous task. From torrid days to gelid nights, temperatures range wildly in this magical land. Perfect for the months from April to August, Zanskar attracts visitors from far and wide to its wondrous sites engulfed in the depths of the Himalayan mountains. The 5 best places one can and must visit while in Zanskar are enumerated here.
1. Zanskar Valley
An acute and mesmerizing sight, Zanskar Valley is popular for the amazing trek it offers. With the rugged landscape of the circumscribing mountains, the snow covered summits, serene flow of the misty clouds, breathlessness offered by the isolation and the unblemished glory of nature, the valley is an overwhelming sight. Altering our definition of the word “beautiful”, this valley sits in the Zanskar range of mountains of the Himalayas. The range, rising up to an average elevation of 6000 metres, is home to a dense range of flora and fauna. On the way to the valley, one can witness charming meadows, sparkling streams and the Drang-Drung Glacier among other sights.
2. Pensi La Pass
Separating the Zanskar valley from the Suru valley, Pensi La Pass is located at 4400 metres above the sea level in the Zanskar range of mountains. Rich with medicinal plants, blue-green water springs and an unparalleled view of the surrounding mountains, this region is an ideal campsite for trekkers who wish to take a breather before resuming their journey. A variety of wildlife is also present here including the commonly observed Marmots and brown bears. The Pass is also flanked by glaciers on both the sides, from which engendered streams flow into the Suru and Zanskar river, creating a lovely sight. Accessible only during the months from May to September, the region is submerged and precarious due to heavy snowfall observed during the rest of the months.
Named after an ancient Indian Buddhist master of the 8th century called Padmasambhava who was known as the second Buddha, the town of Padum rests at an altitude of 3669 metres in the Zanskar range. The most populated town of Zanskar, Padum also serves as the abode to exotic flora and fauna. Once the capital of the ancient Zanskar Kingdom, the region still holds antediluvian relics like intricate carvings on a large rock situated on the banks of the river Lung-nak, dating back to 8th century. The town also consists of two ancient Buddhist monasteries of Stagrimo and another in the shape of a stupa situated on the hilltop. Apart from these attractions, the scenic beauty of the surrounding areas from this region is too lovely to be put into words. Also acting as a trekking base, the landscape comprises of grasslands, sprawling agricultural fields, lush green forests, trickling streams and the raw ruggedness of the mountains.
4. Zanskar River
Acclaimed as the most challenging trek of the region, Zanskar River trek or Chadar Trek is a winter trail and is undertaken by some of the bravest souls of the land. One of the largest tributaries of river Indus, Zanskar River emerges from the north facing Himalayan slopes. Branched into two: Doda tributary, begins in close proximity to the Pensi La Pass and flows alongside the Zanskar Valley towards Padum, whereas the Kargyag river tributary forms the second branch emerging from near the Shingo La and Tsarap river. The confluence of these two tributaries forms the Lungnak river which is also known as Lingti or Tsarap river. The entire area of the Zanskar river forms a U-shaped valley owing to the enclosing glaciers. An enchanting sight by day as well as during the night, the river provides an enthralling trek during the winter months at a jaw-dropping elevation of 3800 metres making it a must-visit site.
Situated between Kargil and Padum, Rangdum is an elliptically shaped plateau in the Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir. Situated at an elevation of 3657 metres, the plateau lies in a valley in the Suru Valley region about 100 kilometres from the Kargil city. Flanked by colorful hills on one side and dazzling white glaciers on the other, the region is a charming site. The Drang-drung glacier can also be seen from this region.
An exquisite region in the north of India, Zanskar is home to many more wondrous places one can explore. The list comprises of 5 of the best and offbeat places of Zanskar that one must explore to relish a lovely vacation.
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