The 200-year-old Rangdum Monastery is situated in the most isolated part of the Suru Valley in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. A prominent centre of Tibetan Budhism, the monastery is part of the Gelugpa or yellow-hat order.
The monastery falls in Suru Valley but culturally it is part of Zanskar. Situated at an elevation of 11,998 ft, it is amongst the most important landmarks of the Ladakh region. The monastery is 130-km south-east of Kargil and falls midway between Kargil and Padum.
According to legend, the monastery was built by Gelek Yashy Takpa during the reign of King Tsewang Mangyul of Ladakh. The monastery looks like a fortified structure.
The view that unfolds as you go up the mountain towards the monastery is mesmerizing. Snowcapped mountains, glaciers and barren splendour of the valley; leaves every traveller to the valley impressed.
Another highlight is the mani walls made up of mani stones. The mani stones with the inscription “Om mani padme hum”, roughly translated, means “Hail to the jewel in the lotus”, have to be passed from their left side. You have to move clockwise around the mani walls in the direction the earth and the universe revolve, according to the Buddhist doctrine.
The mani walls at Rangdum are better and unique unlike other mani walls found in Ladakh. Some stones also have pictures of chortens and mandalas along with the usual inscriptions.
The monastery has a museum featuring a wide collection of Tibetan and other artifacts of the region. The central prayer hall with wonderful collection of statues and art objects is the highlight of the monastery. Two tiny hamlets – Yuldo and Tashi-Tongze, located close to the monastery have rows of chortens.
The monastery is home to around 40 monks. The land around belonged to Rangdum Monastery and the monks survived on the offerings made by the tenants.
The condition of the road is very bad near Rangdum and there is no access to electricity, phone or internet in the village or the Rangdum Monastery. Its remote location and absence of good roads has preserved Rangdum’s pristine beauty.
Rangdum also serves as an important trekking base. The trek to Henaskut near Lamayuru is the most popular. The 5-day trek passes through the spectacular Kanji valley. Another trek from Rangdum leads to Kishtwar. Though less adventurous than the Kishtwar trek, the trek up Penzila Ridge is also popular. The shorter trek is popular with campers too who want to camp out close to the majestic Drang-Drung glacier.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation options are limited near the Rangdum monastery. Camps and tented accommodation are the only options available. The ground opposite to the monastery is used by campers to pitch their tents.
WHERE TO EAT
You will need to carry food items as there are no hotels or restaurants near the monastery.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
April to September is the best time to visit Rangdum Monastery. The winter months are best avoided as the temperature drops below zero degree Celsius at the peak of winter. Summer months are the best time to visit Rangdum monastery.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SURU VALLEY
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Suru Valley is as given below. The best time to visit Suru Valley is also specified.