The other spectacular cave monastery of Zanskar, Zongkhul falls
on the Padum-Kishtwar trekking trail, just before the ascent
of Omasi-la Pass begins. Situated like a Swallows 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 two caves present
monastery has developed are said to have been 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.
The 240-km long Kargil-Padun 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 B-class
bus service 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. 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.
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