A spectacular cave monastery of Zanskar, Zongkhul falls on the Padum-Kishtwar trekking trail, just before the ascent of Omasi-la Pass begins.
The Cave Monastery
Situated like a Swallow's nest on the rock face of the 'Ating George', the monastery is associated by legend with the famous Indian Yogi, "Naropa'', who lectured in the Nalanda and Vikramsila Universities. The present cave monastery is said to be used by the famous Yogi for the solitary meditation.
A footprint on the stone near the ingress of the lower cave is reserved as that of the yogi. The frescos on the cave walls are very old and reflect a high degree of artistic achievement. These are believed to be the original murals executed by Zhadpa Dorje, the celebrated scholar-painter of the same monastery who was active about 300 years ago.
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 Strongdey,
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. Accommodation is also available at the Karsha dormitory. 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.