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Through the Suru valley and over Pensi La is Zanskar valley 235 kms from Kargil. In remarkable contrast to the valley and Leh district Zanskar's treeless expanse is the least developed part of Ladakh. With no tourist amenities beyond basic accomodation and no shopping of any kind at district headquarters Padum. Zanskar is a rich experience for the trekker who arrives with full provisions. River rafting is possible from Serchu to Nyimu via Padam.
Surrounded by extremely high mountains on all sides, it could only be accessed through dangerous and high passes with an access window of a few months only, during summer. One of the most popular routes in, is over the Shingola pass. At 17,200 feet on the crest of the actual Great Himalaya range, the Shingo like the other high passes can only be crossed in late summer. The only motor road into Zanskar is across the Pensi la from the Suru valley.
Zanskar, geologically, is a function of two river valleys which join to meet a third. The Doda stream from the Pensi la meets up with the Lugnak near Padam to form the Zanskar river. The Doda valley due to it's glacial origins is a fairly wide valley while the Lugnok for most of it's course is a tremendous gorge
The mainstay of life in Zanskar is the intense religiosity of the people and their relationship to the monastery. There are 9 major Gompas or monasteries in Zanskar and dozens of smaller village ones. Every Buddhist family is affiliated to some monastery situated near the village.
Karsha is the largest Gelugpa monastery in Zanskar, it's foundation attributed to the great translator Rinchen Zangpo. The Gelugpa are the orthodox sect of Tibetan Buddhism owing allegiance to the Dalai Lama.
In winter , the Zanskar river is Zanskar's only access route, when the ice freezes thick on the river, it becomes a highway known as the Chador road, straight to Saspul in the Indus valley.
Planning a visit to J&K read through travelogues to plan your trip
This period covers three seasons in Kashmir i.e., spring (March-early May), summers (early May-late August) and autumn (September-November).
The blossoms of spring, the cool weather of summer and the gold and red hues of autumn all provide the peak season for Kashmir travel. From December to early March is the winter season for Kashmir, when the entire valley wears a white blanket of snow.