Zongkhul Monastery, also spelled Dzongkhul, is one of the spectacular cave monasteries in Zanskar region of Ladakh. Situated in Stod Valley, it looks like a swallow’s nest on the rock face of Ating gorge from a distance.
The monastery belongs to the Drugpa order of Tibetan Buddhsim. With no road access, trekking is the only way to reach the monastery. It lies on the Padum-Kishtwar trek route.
It was founded by Naropa, the celebrated Buddhist yogi and lecturer of Nalanda and Vikramshila University in Bihar, a millennium ago. Naropa is believed to have meditated for two years at one of the caves which forms the monastery. A footprint on a rock at the entrance of the lower cave is believed to be that of Naropa.
Murals and frescos in the monastery reflect a high degree of artistic achievement of ancient age. There are collections of precious artifacts like ivory image of Samvara, a crystal stupa, texts containing the spiritual songs and thangkas. One of the murals of Zhadpa Dorje, about 300-years-old, is quite impressive.
The monastery has number of shrines. There are images of Buddha, Padmasmbhava, Mitukpa and Mahakala. The monastery houses 15 monks and 23 novitiates.
Every year the monastery attracts locals and tourists for its festival called Zongkhul Huchot.
WHERE TO STAY
There are no hotels to stay near the monastery. Monastery sometimes offers accommodation; however, the beds are limited. If you are willing to rough it out, camping gears are available for rent.
WHERE TO EAT
While trekking to Zongkhul monastery, you need to carry food items. There are no hotel or restaurants near the monastery.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Zongkhul monastery is between July to early November as rest of the year, the region remains covered with snow.
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.