Phuktal Monastery During Monsoon Season: Holiest places of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists.
One of the most isolated monastery in Zanskar region in Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir, the 12th century Phuktal Gompa stands at the mouth of lateral gorge of the Lungnak or Lingti-Tsarap River. From the distance, the monastery looks like a honeycomb. The name Phutkal means cave in the local language.
It had been founded by Gangsem Sherap Sampo, a Tibetan Buddhist guru. The monastery hosts about 70 monks and is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists.
The Phuktal Monastery seems to be sprawling out from an enormous cave high up in the steep cliff. It is primarily the location that makes it totally different from other monasteries of the Zanskar valley. Also, it’s the unique setting of the monastery that lends it the name Phuktal meaning through caves. The first step toward the monastery, made up of twigs and muds, was laid long ago in the 12th century. Today, the monastery hosts around 70 monks who’re extremely friendly and like to show the visitors around. They can take the trouble of organizing a stay for the visitors in the gompa willingly.
The highlights of the monastery include frescoes and ceiling decorations in a classic chapel which appears to belong to same era as those of Tabo Monastery and Alchi Monastery. There are also three large and one small prayer room and a library. An enormous attraction here is a hollow in the rock in the cave over the monastery. The degree of water in this hollow never drops despite anywhere of water being sucked from it. Moreover, this water is considered to have curative powers. A stone tablet left out by Alexander Cosmo de Koros, a Hugaraian who visited Tibet and later stayed in this monastery between the duration of 1826-27, is on the must see listing of the tourists visiting the monastery.
The monks of the monastery execute the sacred Cham dance during the Gustor festival that is celebrated during the 18th and 19th day’s the Tibetan 12th month.
The administrative headquarters of the Zanskar subdivision in Jammu Kashmir, Padum includes a meagre population close to 1500. A considerable area of this population is Muslim while the Buddhist of the town mostly are of Tibetan descent. For visiting tourists, it is important to know that unlike Leh as well as Kargil, Padum does not have a plethora of accommodation and dining establishments option. A choice needs to be made amongst the limited possibilities. Preferance can be given to J&K Tourists Bungalow and Hotel Ibex.
Phuktal Monastery:Other Attractions
Bardan Monastery : Established in the 17th century, the Bardan Monastery was the first one in the Zanskar region that belonged to the Dugpa-Kargyud monastic order. The highlight of the monastery include numerous clay, bronze, wood and copper statues of Buddhist divinities and stupa. The monastery is situated 12 km towards the south of Padum.
Muney Monastery : This monastery, despite its smaller size, is frequented by tourists due to the art treasures. The monastery can be found in close vicinity of the Bardan Monastery.
How to Reach
By Air – The Srinagar (463 km) and Leh (465 km) Airport lie at almost the same distance from Padum.
By Road – By road, Padum is obtainable from both Srinagar airport in addition to Leh airport via Kargil. Buses and taxis ar offered by Kargil to take you to Padum. From Padum, a trek route leading to Manali diverges off from the Purney Bridge goes to Phuktal monastery. This trail is 7 km long.
Places to stay
There is no guest house or hotels at Phuktal. Tourists will find arrangements for remain at the monastery.
Where to Eat
Choices to eat are limited at Phuktal. Monks provide food to visitors otherwise there aren’t any options to eat. It might be advisable to carry food hampers stay to the monastery.
Best Time for you to Visit
Mid July to September is the best time for you to visit Phuktal as remainder of the months Kargil-Padum road is closed because of snowfall.