Spread over an area of 7,000 sq. km. at an altitude varying from 11,500-23,000 feet, Zanskar, also known as Zangskar, is a semi-desert lying on the northern wing of Himalayan Range. It is famous for its snow-coveres mountain peaks, Tibetan-style Buddisht Monasteries, and spree of adventurous activities. The history of Zanskar dates back Bronze Age according to the local legendary sagas; however, the oldest monuments in this place can be dated back to Kushan Period. It was during 8th century, that Buddhist retrieved their influence over this place. For a very long period of time, Zanskar remained a restricted area due to border conflicts with Pakistan and China. In 1974, it was opened for refuges and later after few years for visitors. Today, Zanskar is one of the most popular tourist attractions because of its enchanting beauty and the adventurous activities one can do there. Zanskar remains shut from the month of November to May due to heavy snowfall.
Tourists can directly reach Leh all year round, albeit with just more difficulties. Indian Army controls the airport and stringent checks may take you back at times. From the airport taxis are available throughout day and night! Note: Carry a printout of your e-ticket before entering, else you may be denied entry.
Pathankot and Chandigarh are the closest railway stations to Leh, still a three-day bus ride away. This is one route that most travellers to Leh avoid.
The only road to Zanskar is via Kargil over Pensela, which remains closed for more than 5 months
The best time to visit Zanskar by road is between May to September. Even though the Srinagar – Leh highway opens by the middle of May, the Manali – Leh highway opens in June only.
It is not recommended to rush through as the snow just begins to melt. Later periods experience Monsoons and travelling becomes too much risky. So choose your time period wisely.
For daredevils, once the roads open up, any time is tourist time.
Zanskar is the remotest and least visited locations. It literally is “A land far far away” or “in the middle of nowhere”. Roads mostly are non-existent, cell phone will be nothing but dead paperweight, and chances of getting stranded will be high.
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