This picturesque village of Sani is 6-km west of
Padum, on the road to
Kargil. The chief attraction here is the castle like monastery,
which, unlike other monasteries of the region, is built on level ground.
Legend & Other Attractions
By legend its initial foundation is associated with Kanishka on account of the Kanika Stupa, which stands in the backyard of the walled complex. The main building comprises a huge multi-columned central prayer hall housing an array of statues of popular Buddhists divinities and 'Drugpa' (Old Schools) high saints.
The most interesting frescoes, however, can be seen in a small, almost discarded chapel at the back of the main building, whose walls are adorned with stucco murals depicting landscapes and floral designs based on the life of Padma-Sambhava. Adjoining this monastic complex is an old cemetery surrounded by a ring of ancient rock carving which reflect Indian artistic influence.
Sani is also associated with Naropa, the famous Indian yogi from Vikramsila, who is said to have sat in meditation for some time under the Kanika Stupa. The site is now occupied by a small room housing a veiled bronze figure of the Yogi, which is unveiled, once a year in late July. A 2-day long festival is held to celebrate this occasion, which is attended by people from far, and wide monks from Bardan Monastery perform masked dances as ritual offering.
Road: The 240-km long Kargil-Padum
road, of which the first 90-km stretch is paved, remains opened from
around mid July to early November. The J&K SRTC operates a
thrice-weekly bus services from Kargil. However groups can charter A-Class
or even Super-Deluxe buses to visit Zanskar,
including the interior places of interest like Stongdey (also spelt as
Stongde), Zangla and Karsha.
Jeeps and Gypsy taxis can also be hired at Kargil. During June and early July, prior to opening of the road, it is recommended to walk into Zanskar from Panikhar or Parkachik onwards. In June, the summer is at its height in the region and the climate is ideal for trekking along the route free from vehicular traffic of any kind and when the countryside is freshly rejuvenated into life after months of frigid dormancy.
The tourist Complex at Padum provides furnished rooms. There is catering arrangement in the complex, while camping place nearby is available for budget tourists travelling with personal tents. Padum town has several private hotels where rooms with basic facilities are available. At Karsha dormitory accommodation is available in the newly build inn where basic vegetarian food is also provided. In the distant villages like Strongdey, Zangla, Sani, etc., Accommodation can be sought from the villagers either on payment or in exchange of a suitable gift. Some monasteries may also take in guests, through more as a gesture of goodwill than on purely commercial consideration. Of course the guest is expected to compensate the monastery suitably.