Padum (3’700m) – at the foot of the mountains in the background – is the largest settlement in the whole of Zanskar. Population is around 30’000 and growing rapidly. The first and only motorable access to Padum until recently was opened in 1981 from Kargil. This is the road we followed and it is closed in wintertime due to heavy snowfalls in the Suru valley. Access to Padum in winter is still restricted to an ardous treck over the ice coverd river in the Zanskar gorge or by Helicopter. However mainly due to strategic reasons a new road from the Kullu aera following the Zanskar river to the Indus valley is being blasted through the rocks. This will make Padum accessible year round and all the blessings of tourism and commerce will soon alter this secluded area.
Accross the valley from our campground Karsha Gompa founded in the early 11th century towers above the village of the same name. It is the largest and most important monastery in Zanskar with about 100 – 120 monks residing there.
We enjoy our Khawha (local green tea with saffron, cinnamon and cardamon) at Stongdae Gompa, the second largest monastery, located on a ridge high above the valley and blessed with the perfect sunset view.
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