Sunday, November 05, 2006

Phugtal Monastery

Phugtal Monastery/Gompa was the main highlight of our trip. I can't say enough about this fantastic monastery, one has to visit this monastery in person in order to truly feel the essence of this fabulous place. After 22 hours of flight from Toronto to Delhi, 6 days of Bus/SUV ride from Delhi to Raru and finally the three days of walk, we finally made it to Phugtal; I would say that it was worth all the pain and troubles we went through in order to be at this place.

Phugtal Gompa: This Buddhist monastery (called Gompa in Ladakhi) is built on the rock face and lies in the interiors of Zanskar in India. Closest motorable road is three days of trek from here. This place had the most interesting Planning and Architecture that I saw in the entire Ladakh.The temperatures in winters tend to drop as much as -35C in the night and remember that these people do not have electricity and yet they live over there in the winters.

Finally at Phugtal Monastery: Yes we were quite tired when we finally made it to the monastery.

Phugtal Monastery: Perched in the cave, this is my favourite monsatery in India

Phugtal Monastery and Tsarap River

Monastery and the Monk: View of Phugtal from across the river

The Cave @ Phugtal: The close up view of the cave at Phugtal

Vertigo: The view from our room in the Monastery

View from The Monastery

TV Show: Monks of Phugtal Monastery watching some religious documentary on a VCR.

A Czech tourist; Michala we met at Phugtal.


Blogger mgoat123 said...

Excellent Pictures. It was Notalgic to see your post as I did this trek back in Oct 1983. I was wondering if you knew what is the total distance between Darcha and Padam?

I have some black and white pictures when we did the trek.

How did you travel from Padam to Srinagar?

4:06 am  
Blogger Sarju said...


Thanks for your interest. Please accept my apologies for being so slow in replying back to your query. I really have no excuse but my laziness and some work and socializing that I had to do.

Distance between Padam and Darcha: I think it is in the range of 100 to 135 km ... I will check up on it and confirm it with you laters.

We had reahced Padam from the Manali-Leh-Kargil-Padam (475 km of motorable road from Manali to Leh and another 450 km from Leh to Padam). We hired a SUV and completed this stretch in something like a week with sufficient rest at interesting places on the way.

I would love to look at your B/W photos sometime and see what this place used to look like about 35 years ago.

Have a good day ... Sarju

10:23 pm  
Blogger prasanth294 said...

Amazing pictures Sarju... Just wanted to check, if walking is the only way to reach Phugtal Monastery. Is it also motorable???

10:57 am  
Blogger Sarju said...

Hiking is the only way to reach Phugtal, even the nearest helipad is half a day's walk from the monastery.
cheers ...

2:21 pm  
Blogger Sujith said...

Man.. we have 4 days in Leh. Is it possible to visit Phugtal Gompa in that time frame?

It is soo darn tantalizing.. I simply have to do it.

7:05 am  
Blogger Sarju said...

only way to do it in four days would be to hire some helicopter. if you guys are really that commited, you can probably drive down to the start of the trek in 20-24 hours and than run to Phugtal. But I have never heard anyone doing it ... and there is no way I would recommend it either
cheers ... sarju

6:21 am  
Blogger jotoulemonde said...

Hi there, could you tell us at what time of the year you trekked to Phugtal? Was it the date of this post, early november? Thanks for the post. Stephane.

6:03 pm  
Blogger Sarju said...

around mid september.

4:26 am  
Blogger Saurabh Sabikhi said...

What an excellent expedition :)

Surely the best monastery to visit in India.
Hats off to you :)

Need some info.
How long was the trek to Phugtal Gompa? After Padum, what is the next driveable village, making the trek shortest? Can you please elaborate a bit in detail about the treak - distance, how to break it if its a multi-day trek etc.

Thanks in advance :)

I dont know whether i'll get a follow up to this reply on my email - so here's my email address as well -

You can share the details there....or just update here and just ping me :)

Thanks a ton


7:20 pm  
Blogger Saurabh Sabikhi said...

am subscribed to follow ups now :)

7:21 pm  
Blogger varun krishna said...

Firstly Great pictures!! Much appreciated for bringing it to the world.

I am planning to visit this place this coming July - MID.

1.I have not any high altitude treks before but I have my fitness routine.Do you think rigorous training is required to do this trek.If so how do you think I should prepare for the next month and a half.I am doing this trip all by myself.Do or die is the only way for me.

2.What is the altitude ?

3.Weather condiiton from July - Sept is the best to trek this place is what it says but is it gonna be cold in July.If so should I carry winter wears ?

4.Is it possible to do this place in 10 days ?My only agenda is the monastery.

5.From Delhi can you tell me how can I reach to the place of start for the trek ?

6:04 am  
Blogger Sarju said...

From Delhi, I would recommend atleast 2 weeks for a trip to Padum and back.

IMO, for hiking in this region, mental fitness is more important than physical fitness. It is a pretty easy trek. But you have to be somewhat aware of the altitude sickness and prepared for it. For avoiding any serious sickness, I would recommend taking some medication (e.g. diamox). This medication does have some side effects, but will avoid any serious sickness.

For reaching this place, the nearest road head will be Padum/Raru.

From Delhi, you have three options for reaching Padum.
1. Fly to Leh and than drive/bus to Padum (via Kargil), which will be two days by road from Leh.

By road/train
2. Aproach it from Srinagar side (min of 3-4 days from Delhi). Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Padum.
3. or you can reach here from Manali side (4-5 days). Overnight bus to Manali and from Manali it takes two days to Leh and another two days to Padum.

You can get/hire private or shared taxi that will drive from Manali to Leh in one day, but it will be quite a tiring journey.

From Padum/Raru you will have to walk .. and I would recommend keeping atleast 4 days for this return journey from Padum so that you can walk and enjoy at a leisurely pace.

In July, the days in Zanskar are pretty warm/comfortable, but the nights can be cold. So, I wouldn't carry any heavy winter gear.

hope the information helps
thanks for your appreciation of the photos

all the best
Cheers .... Sarju

6:29 am  
Blogger Sarju said...

@ Saurabh
Sorry I missed your comment. Just noticing it today. Let me know if you still need some info.

with regards to roads in this area, the BRO (Border Road Organization), is always expanding road network. When I went, one could go to Raru by road, I am not sure how far the road is going now.

6:35 am  

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