One of the most isolated monastery in Zanskar region in Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir, the 12th century Phuktal Gompa stands at the mouth of lateral gorge of the Lungnak or Lingti-Tsarap River. From a distance, the monastery looks like a honeycomb. The name Phutkal means cave in the local language.
It was founded by Gangsem Sherap Sampo, a Tibetan Buddhist guru. The monastery is home to about 70 monks and is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists.
Though it was constructed in 12th century, it was hidden treasure for many until Hungaraian Alexander Cosmo de Koros visited the place and stayed between the periods of 1826-27.
The monastery made up of mud and wood, has four prayer rooms and a library. Frescoes and ceiling decorate the old chapel and are popular with tourists.
Trekking is the only means to reach the monastery which has ensured it remained isolated and cut off from the rest of the region.
French director Marianne Chaud has made a documentary on the life of monks in Phuktal Monastery. The name of the documentary is ‘Himalaya, a Path to the Sky’ and it premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival in September, 2010.
WHERE TO STAY
There is no guest house or hotels at Phuktal. Tourists can find arrangements for stay at the monastery.
WHERE TO EAT
Options to eat are limited at Phuktal. Monks provide food to visitors otherwise there are no options to eat. It would be advisable to carry food hampers during their visit to the monastery.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Mid July to September is the best time to visit Phuktal as rest of the months Kargil-Padum road is closed due to snowfall.
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.