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Sightseeing in Zanskar

Padum - Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Zanskar, Padum (3505 m) is the present-day administrative centre of Zanskar Sub-Division of Kargil district.

  Overview of a village in Central Zanskar
Overview of a village in Central Zanskar

Its older section, comprising of inter-connected adobe houses and several high-rise chortens, surround a boulder-strewn hillock, site of  the erstwhile palace and fort.

The new, upcoming township is fast encroaching upon the cultivated expanse, and a small market is coming up along the newly built road. With a population of nearly 2000, Padum can be described as the most populous settlement of Zanskar, which is otherwise a very scarcely inhabited valley.

View of Padum  
View of Padum

Incidentally, it is only in Padum where there is a community of Muslims constituting nearly half the township's population, its origin in the area dating from mid 17th century. Lately, Padum has become famous as a major trekking base and a popular tourist destination. Several places of tourist interest in the vicinity of the townships can be visited in the course of entertaining walks.

The nearest site is a set of ancient rock carvings on a huge boulder near the bank of the Lung-nak river, just below the old township. These date from the 8th century and provide epigraphic evidence that the region was under the influence of Indian Buddhism since ancient times. The Stagrimo Monastery, with about 30 resident lamas, clings to a tree-covered ridge above the old town, at an hour's uphill walk along flower-strewn green hill slopes. Across the expanse of cultivation lies the old village of Pibiting, dominated by its hilltop monastery, which is built in the shape of a chorten or Stupa.

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