Location: Near Padum, Zanskar
Region Of Ladakh, J&k
Also Spelt As: Phugtal
Main Attraction: Phuthal Monastery
A Beautiful Buddhist Town
Phugthal is by far the most spectacularly located monastic
anywhere in Ladakh , the Phugthal complex spills out of the
mouth of a huge cave high up in the sheer mountain face of a
lateral gorge through which a major tributary of the southern
Lungnak (Lingti-Tsarap) River flows.
Perhaps, the most isolated monastic establishment of Zanskar,
its foundation dates back to the early 12th century. The sight
of the monastery on the limestone Cliffside never fails to
impress. The main assembly hall is carved out of a huge cave,
with the monks quarters scattered down the hillside. Inside the
monastery there is an inscription to "Coso de Koros", one of the
first Europeans to visit the Zanskar region and the first to
translate the Buddhist texts from Ladakhi into English.
The Trekking Route
Phugthal is accessible from the Padum-Manali trekking route
through a 7-km long trail that branches off from the Purney
Bridge on the main trail. A visit to Phugthal, including Bardan
and Muney monasteries enroute, makes a good 5-days round trek
from Padum. Alternatively, one can add one extra day to
Padum-Manali trekking itinerary to include a day-return visit to
this unique monastic establishment inhabited by a resident
community of about 40 monks.
HOW TO REACH THERE
Road: The 240-km long Kargil-Padum 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 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.
WHERE TO STAY
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 Stongdey, 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.