One of the least explored destinations in the country, Zanskar, located in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, 105 km from Leh, and is only accessible between April and August. The scenic views of the snow-capped Himalayan range and sparkling blue rivers make it a perfect holiday destination.
Situated in the Himalayan range, Zanskar is popular with adventure junkies. A hotspot for trekking, paragliding and river rafting, Lamayuru to Darcha and Lamayuru-Padum are some of the popular trekking trails that pass around Zanskar. Treks to Markha Valley and Khangri begin from Zanskar. A unique trek that offered here is one on frozen water.
Housing a large population of Tibetan Buddhists, the daily life of Zanskar revolves around monks and Buddhist monasteries. While the locals generally speak in Zanskari, they are also fluent in Hindi, Ladakhi and Urdu. Some of them also speak in Tibetan and English.
Zongkhul, on the Padum-Kistwar trekking trail is famous for its beautiful cave monasteries and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Zanskar. Home to the Gelukpa monks, the Stongdey monastery, the second largest Buddhist shrine in Zanskar is another tourist favorite.
The Drang-Drung Glacier is one of the biggest glaciers of the country and offers picturesque views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks. A winding river of ice, the glacier can be seen from Pensi La and the trek to it from Padum is one every trekker worth his salt must take. Trainers and paragliding equipment are available in Zanskar.
One of the most challenging gorges in the world, rafting in the Zanskar river is a dangerous but an exciting activity. Rafting trips on this route can take up to 12 days and camping on the banks of the river at night is almost as exciting as the rafting itself. However, since the water in the river is almost always cold, it is advisable to wear a wet suit while rafting.
Zanskar doesn’t have too many shopping options but the Pashmina and Kashmiri, the handicrafts and silk carpets are the most famous tourist buys.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ZANSKAR
Zanskar has no accommodation options and tourists set up their own tents when they visit Zanskar. Some also prefer to stay in nearby areas like Padum and Leh where there are tourist complexes and several other accommodation options like hotels, resorts and guest-houses catering to budget, mid-range and luxury.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN ZANSKAR
While local shops offering breakfast and snacks are scattered all around the hamlet, there are a lot of hotels serving Chinese and Tibetan cuisine and though these restaurants serve only limited options in terms of variety, the food is extremely delicious. Hotels and lodges have their own in-house restaurants that serve Indian, Chinese, Tibetan and Continental cuisine.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ZANSKAR
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Zanskar is as given below. The best time to visit Zanskar is also specified.