Phugtal Monastery: Into the Cave of Liberation

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11 days
Availability : May-September
Min Age : 12
Max People : 20

A 2,500 years old cave serving to the liberation of bodhisattvas, an oasis of spirituality.

Experience Details

Trekking far away from modern civilization to a place blessed by the bodhisattvas for thousands of years, perfect epitome of serenity. The Phuktal monastery in Lungnak valley of Zanskar region is the remotest monastery in the whole Ladakh.  Established in the early 12th century by the great Buddhist scholar Changsem Sherab Zangpo, this cave monastery shelters some 70 monks living high up in the mountains, detached from the rest of the world. Despite being inhabited since the early 12th century, the village remained a mysterious treasure until 1800, when one Hungarian scholar Alexander Csoma de Koros visited the place and stayed for a year.

The name Phuktal literally translates to the cave of liberation. Many bodhisattvas including 16 arhats the legendary disciples of the Buddha are believed to have stayed here.

Departure & Return Location

Leh Airport (Google Map)

Price Includes

  • 9 Nights Family Homestay
  • All meals included
  • Tour Guide
  • Entrance Fees
  • All transportation in destination location

Price Excludes

  • Air Fare
  • Visa fee and Travel insurance
  • Any Private Expenses
  • Room Service Fees
  • Visit the 2500 years old cave monastery, with a unique history and structure.
  • Experience the calmness of this remote heaven away from modernity, amid sounds of flowing river water and chanting monks.
  • Wander the wild paths along the turquoise bathed Tsarap River whose colors change with every aspect of sun.
  • Enjoy stay with a local family -- eating local cuisine, hearing stories, and connecting with their culture.

Day 1Acclimatization at Leh

We will pick you up from Leh airport at 3500m, and escort you to the hotel in a car. Today just take rest and acclimatize yourself for the high altitude and low oxygen level. In the evening, take a stroll to the town of Leh. Sleep overnight at the hotel in Leh.

Day 2Sight seeing around Leh

After breakfast, head out to tour the monasteries here. Take a visit to the largest monastery in Ladakh, the Hemis Monastery. Visit the Thiksey Monastery, to admire the stunning statue of Buddha Maitreya and its traditional Tibetan architecture. In the evening, spend some peaceful moments at the Shanti Stupa watching the beautiful sun going behind the ghostly mountains.

Day 3Leh to Kargil

After a relaxed breakfast, drive to Kargil via Lamayuru. On the way, you can visit the 10th century built Alchi Monastery to see the ancient Gandhara arts statues and wall paintings. On the way, you can visit the dramatically located Lamayuru monastery and the adjoining “Moonland” hills. After a drive of 5-6 hours, we’ll reach Kargil city. Stay overnight at the Hotel.

Day 4Kargil to Padum

Today we embark our journey to the Zanskar valley. We ride through the roads which only leaves one speechless. Suru valley very well symbolises the beauty of the mountains. We pass by Penzi La, the gateway to Zanskar. In the middle the Drang Drung Glacier greets us to the eastern flank of Penzi La. Padum town holds a good amount population in so much seclusion too.

Day 5Sight seeing around Padum

Padum, named after the Great Odiyana Padmasambhava is the only town and administrative centre in Zanskar. Several notable Buddhist monasteries are located near Padum including Bardan Monastery and Karsha Monastery and the newly built Dalai Lama Photang. The best way out is to soak in the beauty of nature by reclining and soothing oneself in the laps of Great Himalayas.

Day 6Padum to Phugtal

From Padum towards the south, our drive leads us into the diverse valley, Lungnak. A 4-hour drive on a rough gravel road we’ll reach the end of the road at a beautiful village, Cha. From Cha, you must trek 2 to 3 hours along the Tsarap river to reach the Phugtal monastery. Hidden in the valley sitting in a cave, the sight of the Phugtal monastery is something out of the world.

Day 7Stay at Phugtal

After having your breakfast proceed to visit the monastery. The stupa at the centre of the cave is the main attraction apart from the library and praying hall. Have some quality time with the novice monks studying there. Take a visit to Yugar village, on the other bank of the river crossing a wooden woven bridge. Take a stroll into the simple life of the Zanskari people and learn their culture.

Day 8Phugtal to Padum

With footprints left and memories to cherish start walking back towards Cha village. The way back is much harder as most of the trek is ascend. While continuing on the right of Tsarap river walk for 3-4 hour until Cha village. The pickup taxi would be there as the trekking comes to an end. Another 3-hour ride through the dusty road and you will be at Padum. Stay overnight at Hotel.

Day 9Padum to Rangdum

After morning breakfast proceed to Rangdum monastery. A few hours of drive from Padum you will be climbing the Penzila pass(4200m). This area is very scenic and you will find many shepherd huts here. Rangdum monastery is an important temple of Zanskar. Built in the 18th century, the monastery belongs to the Gelugpa order of Buddhism and home to some 40 monks.

Day 10Rangdum to Kargil

Today we will drive towards Kargil. After few hours of drive from Rangdum, we enter into the Suru valley, where you will enjoy the view of massive Nun and Kun peaks and the Parkachik glacier. There are many other unnamed Glaciered peaks on the way. By noon you will be at Kargil the second largest town in Ladakh after Leh. In Kargil stay overnight at Hotel.

Day 11Kargil to Leh

Today is the last day of the journey. After breakfast, riding some half an hour en-route visit the monastery and the nine meters tall statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha at Mulbekh. Ride for 3 hours to reach Likir monastery the splendid three storeys Dharma wheel Gompa. Our 7-day journey finally comes to an end as we reach back to the hustle bustle of Leh town.