Popular for the temple built by Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo, the village of Sumda Chun is located at an elevation of over 12,000 ft. The temple is a part of the Sumda Chun Monastery which is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in the Ladakh region of North Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Located about 65 km south-west of Leh, the village is in a remote part of the Himalayas. The nearest motorable road to the village ends at Sumdo. The village of Sumda Chun can be reached only by hiking for nearly five hours by a steep river valley trail. The remoteness of the village has helped in the preservation of the region. The trek from Sumdo to Sumda Chun goes through steep hilly terrain and gorges. Another way to reach Sumda Chun is trekking from Alchi village going through Stakspila but the gradient of the slope going down is very steep making it a very time consuming trip.
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The temple at Sumda Chun is said to be one of three temples that Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo founded in one night. The other temples are at Alchi and Mangyu. Sumda Chun is the starting point of the important Sumda-Mangyu-Alchi Buddhist pilgrimage which pilgrims try to finish in one day. The Sumda Chung Monastery is listed as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the World Monument Funds 2006 Watch List. The abbot of the Hemis Monastery appoints monks who take care of the daily rituals and all major events in the temple. The village has a total population of 16 people who actively contribute to the activities and rituals of the temple. The Sumda Chun Monastery once covered the entire hill but today, only the assembly hall, main shrine, two Bodhisattva chapels, a prayer wall and a few stupas remain.
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Conservation programmes have been started to preserve the architecture, sculptures, paintings and artwork of Sumda Chun Monastery and the temple in Sumda Chun. There are ornate sculptures and paintings in the main hall of the monastery. Established in the 12th century, the complex of the monastery and the temple were originally built for arid climate but the unexpected amount of rainfall over the years has caused severe damage to the structures and the art forms. The best time to visit Sumda Chun Monastery is from May and ends in September. The weather during these months is warm unlike the hostile cold weather of the winter months. Trekking and hiking can be done in the nearby regions during these months but all trekking trails are closed or blocked due to heavy snowfall in November. The monastery provides basic accommodation. Leh offers more options that can suit almost every need from budget and mid-range accommodation. Carrying food and water when travelling to Sumda Chun village is a good option.
Photograph courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
BEST TIME TO VISIT LADAKH
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Ladakh is as given below. The best time to visit Ladakh is also specified.
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