16th Century Zangla Royal Palace #2 in Zanskar
The hired 4×4 driver for the day drove towards Royal Palace #2 with its ruins visible on a hill. Up a “road” as far as possible before we got out and did the rest of the distance on foot. Not a big deal but you wouldn’t believe the dust kicked up with every footstep. It didn’t take long before the three of us resembled Charles Shultz’s Pig-Pen character who walked through life in a cloud of dust.
The way led through the middle of a sacred stupa that had been completely repaired except for the top part. Stop in the middle to look up at the ancient, faded frescoes still visible. This palace was the original part of Zangla at one time and remains of this huge palace/fort complex also enclosed the village. The castle is in ruins, but the architectural beauty of the structure is still evident and there are great (dusty) views of the entire valley.
A group from Hungary was working on Palace restoration. One woman sat in the courtyard making mud bricks by hand that actually looked like fun; it would probably be “fun” for only the first 10 minutes and then I’d beg someone to shoot me. A person has to be half mountain goat to navigate the crumbling stone steps, narrow passages, and climb ladders between levels. We took Stanzin’s word that one wrecked level had been the kitchen and continued up another level via ladder to a small prayer hall.
Zangla was previous ruled by a titular king who lived in this Palace. After his death, the palace fell into disrepair and disintegrated into ruins. There were some wonderful 600-year old statues inside the prayer hall along with original color on many beams.
Alexander Csoma de Koros was a Hungargian scholar who spent an extended period living in this region in 1823. He edited the first English-Tibetan Dictionary and grammar while living at Zangla Monastery.
Members of this archaeological group were laying out walls of the once fortified village. Take a look at the video to see what we looked like after visiting Zangla Place #2. The two of us couldn’t have possibly been any dirtier than if we had been digging in the dirt along with them. What was even funnier, today we both put on clean pants and shirts!
One last sight on the way back to Padum, Stongdey Monastery.