Across Ladakh and Zanskar (July-September 2013):

7. Zara Chu to Padum


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So, we backtracked from Zara Chu and crossed Gotunda La and Nialo Kontse La in reverse to reach the Niri Chu river.


Niri Chu river. The trail is visible on the left above the river.

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The confluence of the Niri Chu (blue) and the Tsarap Chu (brown).

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Along the Tsarap Chu.


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First sight of Phukdal monastery above the Tsarap Chu.

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Panoramic views of Phukdal monastery.

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Inside Phukdal monastery.

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The various parts of the monastery are connected by tunnels and narrow stairways.

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In the kitchen.

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Two monks who went for an afternoon stroll outside the monastery.

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This monk is more athletic and takes big risks to set up prayer flags on a vertical cliff.

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Small village of Yugar, opposite to the monastery across the Tsarap Chu.

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In the village of Yugar.

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The roofs of the houses in Yugar were already well equipped with dung patties and wood for the winter.

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In the village of Purna at the confluence of Tsarap Chu and Kargyag Chu.

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Village of Cha.

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Bardan gompa.

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In the main street of Padum.

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The large prayer wheel in the main street.

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The mosque of Padum. Although predominantly Buddhist, Padum (like Leh) has a relatively large Muslim community.

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View from the old part of Padum toward the north. The gompa of Pibiting is visible on top of the small conic hill in the middle of the photo.

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We stayed in Padum one full day, during which I hiked to the Karsha monastery (in the middle of the photo below)

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In Padum our horseman left us and went back to his village along the Zanskar river. The rest of us returned to Leh by car. It was a strenuous 17-hour, 250-km drive (over 2 days) through Kargil (a strategic town located a few kilometers away from the ′line of control′ separating Pakistan and India). But this drive offers some spectacular scenery.


The Darung Drung glacier and Z3 peak (6300m) seen from the road at Pentse La (4400m, pass #18).

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Village of Rangdum, with the Nun Kun massif (7135m) visible just above it (but partially in the clouds).

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Other trek sections:

1.    Phyang to Nurla

2.  Nurla to Wanla

3.  Wanla to Kanji

4.  Kanji to Dibling

5.  Dibling to Zangla

6.  Zangla to Zara Chu

7.  Zara Chu to Padum

8.  Murobok to Hundar



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