We took a pass on the Zangla Nunnery near the Zangla Palaces and proceeded directly to Stongdey Monastery. Stongdey Monastery, Ladakh is the second largest monastic institution in the Zanskar region, located right off the road about halfway back to Padum. A very small monastery with approximately 60 monks. This monastery is part of the Tsongkhapa Order and was founded in 1052 by Lama Lhodak Marpa Choski Lodos, The lamas serving at Stongdey are the successive reincarnations of Nari Tulku. Okay…
There are a number of beautiful temples situated inside the monastery complex along with beautiful frescoes. A Gustor Festival is held here in the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar (whenever that is) when monks perform a sacred dance.
Stongdey Monastery was not the most interesting of all the monasteries we visited on this trip. Perhaps, we were just monasteried out and tired. Up steps and down steps to see a few interesting objects in the prayer hall.
Besides great views of green patchwork fields from the top of Stongdey, surrounded by jagged, snowcapped mountains, the trekking trail leading Padum to Lamayuru was visible. This is another of the great treks to/from Zanskar with brief details below. Psst…it is at least an 11-day trek depending on what you include. All the trekkers we met along the way were on their own, hiking the Darcha-Padum Trek, followed by the Padum-Lamayuru Trek. Strong, fit people!
- Day 1, begin in Padum, spend first night at Karsha Monastery.
- Day 2, continue to Pishu. This section looked deadly boring to me. The trail just continues through the valley with nothing to see.
- Day 3, Pishu to Hanumil is another flat stretch.
- Day 4, Hanumil to Snertse. Now the trek gets serious climbing to a pass with two more ascending/descending climbs to Snertse. (Don’t you love the name, “Snertse”?)
- Day 5 .. a rest day…
- Day 6 – Snertse-Hanuma La (4,950 meters/16,240 feet) to Lingshet (4,000 meters)
- Day 7 – Lingshet and more passes.
- Day 8 – Camp before Singue La (5050 meters/16,538 feet), and down to Photoskar
- Day 9 – …another rest day…
- Day 10 – Photoskar-Sirsir La
- Day 11 – Hanupatta-Wanla
- Day 12 – Wanla- Lamayuru
You can get all the details from any Ladakhi tour agency including SkyWalker Travel but I’d thoroughly recommend missing the boring section. If you’re fit, head for the high passes.
There was a whole lot of shaking goin’ on back in Padum. Trophies had just been presented to the Archery Competition winners right outside the Ibex Hotel (our hotel). Music, noise, honking cars, let’s celebrate!
Tomorrow is Day 2 of the Karsha Festival which we will attend before making the grueling journey back to Leh…