Phone no+91-94192-43495
Zanskar Tourism
Zanskar

ZANSKAR


The Zanskar terrain differs radically than that of Ladakh. Here the valleys are more vast and open with grasslands. From Ladakh the main gateway to upper Zanskar remains the Pensi La pass at 14,435 ft / 4400m. With a relatively small population Zanskar however does have abundant water and land. While the upper villages in the region depend on livestock namely Dzos, Yak, sheep, and goats, the lower villages sustain themselves through agriculture growing crops like barely, wheat and peas.

Zanskar also boasts of ancient monasteries perched high up on the hills, Phuktal monastery being the most spectacularly located with a yawning cave high up on the mountain side. Himalaya Kingdom offers the visitor numerous trekking options in Zanskar. Many trails from here lead into Kishtwar in Kashmir and Darcha in Himachal Pradesh with others lead into Leh. The scenery here is awesome with deep river gorges, vast open grasslands, barren towering mountains looming over tiny villages fringed by poplar and willow trees and rich fields. Zanskar is an unforgettable experience for the first time trekker.

Flora and fauna

Much of Zanskar's vegetation is found in the lower reaches of the valleys, and consists of alpine and tundra species. Most impressive are the meadows covered with thousands of edelweiss. At the foot of the Gumburanjon mountain blue poppies can be found. Crops including barley, lentils, and potatoes are grown by farmers at the lower elevations, as well as apricot trees. Domesticated animals such as the yak, dzo, sheep, horse, and dog are found in the region.

Among the wildlife that can be found in Zanskar are the marmot, bear, wolf, snow leopard, kiang, bharal, alpine Ibex, wild sheep and goats, and the lammergeier.

Climate

Zanskar is a high altitude semi-desert lying on the Northern flank of the Great Himalayan Range. This mountain range acts as a climatic barrier protecting Ladakh and Zanskar from most of the monsoon, resulting in a pleasantly warm and dry climate in the summer. Rain and snowfall during this period are scarce, although recent decades have shown a trend towards increasing precipitation. Several water-driven mills were built during ancient periods of drought at a great distance from the villages, but have been abandoned because running water is now available nearer to the settlements. Zanskari houses, though otherwise well built, are not adapted to the recently increasing rainfall, as their roofs leak, catching their surprised inhabitants unprepared. Most of the precipitation occurs as snowfall during the harsh and extremely long winter period. These winter snowfalls are of vital importance, since they feed the glaciers which melt in the summer and provide most of the irrigation water. Parts of Zanskar valley are considered some of the coldest continually inhabited places in the world.

Population

Zanskar's population is small, the April 2006 medical census records a population of 13,849 people. The medical census is the most accurate indicator of population as it collects birth, death, and census information from Zangskar's 22 medical aid centers. Roughly 95% of the inhabitants practice Tibetan Buddhism, while the remainder are Sunni Muslims, whose ancestors settled in Padum and its environs in the 19th century. The majority of Zanskaris are of mixed Tibetan and Indo-European origins; notably Dard and Mon. The latter are in fact ethnically Dard, but "Mon" is used in order to distinguish them from later Dard settlers.

The population lives mainly in scattered small villages, the largest being the capital Padum, with nearly 700 inhabitants. Most of the villages are located in the valleys of the Zanskar river and its two main tributaries. Given the isolation of this region, the inhabitants tend towards self-sufficiency, and until recently lived in almost complete autarky. External trade has, however, always been necessary for the acquisition of goods such as tools, jewellery, or religious artefacts.

The Zanskaris' main occupations are cattle-rearing and farming of land that they almost always own. Cultivable land is scarce, and restricted to alluvial fans and terraces, cultivated fields being rarely found above an altitude of 4,000 metres. The Zanskaris have developed a system of intensive arable agriculture and complex irrigation to produce enough food in these conditions. The scarcity of cultivable land has also resulted in a tendency towards a stable, zero-growth population. An efficient birth-control system in Zanskar has historically been achieved by the common practice of polyandrous marriage, in which several brothers are married to the same wife, and the widespread adoption of a celibate religious life. A high infant mortality rate also contributes to population stability.

In the summer, the women and children stay far away from the villages to tend to the livestock. This system, known as transhumance, is similar to the one found in the Alps where the animals are sent during the summer higher up in the mountains (the alpages) and were kept by the children and women.

Religion

Aside from some 300 Sunni Muslims living in Padum (out of a population of about 700), almost the whole population of Zanskar is Buddhist[3] However, most of the senior government posts are filled by Muslims from the district capital of Kargil.[citation needed] Almost every village has a local temple, often containing ancient wall-paintings and images. There are two main branches of Tibetan Buddhism here — the Drugpa, who control the Sani Monastery, Dzongkhul, Stagrimo and Bardan Monastery - all loosely affiliated with Stakna in the Indus valley. The Gelugpa control the Rangdum Monastery, Kursha, Strongde and Phugtal Monastery, which all pay allegiance to the Ngari Rinpoche, who has his main seat at Likir Monastery in Ladakh. The present emanation of the Ngari Rinpoche is the younger brother of the Dalai Lama.

History

The first traces of human activity in Zanskar seem to go back as far as the Bronze Age. Petroglyphs attributed to that period suggest that their creators were hunters on the steppes of central Asia, living between Kazakhstan and China. It is suspected that an Indo-European population known as the Mon might then have lived in this region, before mixing with or being replaced by the next settlers, the Dards. Early Buddhism coming from Kashmir spread its influence in Zanskar, possibly as early as 200 BC. The earliest monuments date from the Kushan period. After this eastward propagation of Buddhism, Zanskar and large parts of the Western Himalaya were overrun in the 7th century by the Tibetans, who imposed their then animistic Bön religion.

Buddhism regained its influence over Zanskar in the 8th century when Tibet was also converted to this religion. Between the 10th and 11th centuries, two Royal Houses were founded in Zanskar, and the monasteries of Karsha and Phugtal (see picture) were built. Until the 15th century Zanskar existed as a more or less independent Buddhist Kingdom ruled by between two and four related royal families. Since the 15th century, Zanskar has been subordinate to Ladakh, sharing its fortunes and misfortunes. In 1822 a coalition of Kulu, Lehoul, and Kinnaur invaded Zanskar, plundering the country and destroying the Royal palace at Padum.

In the mid-20th century, border conflicts between India, Pakistan, and China caused Ladakh and Zanskar to be closed to foreigners. During these wars Ladakh lost two thirds of its original territory, losing Baltistan to Pakistan and the Aksai Chin to China. Ladakh and Zanskar, despite a tumultuous history of internal wars and external aggressions, have never lost their cultural and religious heritage since the 8th century. Thanks to its adherence to the Indian Union, this is also one of the rare regions in the Himalaya where traditional Tibetan culture, society, and buildings survived the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In the last twenty years, the opening of a road and the massive influx of tourists and researchers have brought many changes to the traditional social organisation of Zanskar. In 2007 the valley suffered its third year of a desert locust infestation with many villages losing their crops. The response of the monasteries was to carry out Puja ( prayer ) to get rid of them whilst the government was advocating the use of insecticides which the Buddhists were reluctant to use, but in some cases were forced to try with as yet undocumented success. In 2008 it was reported that the Locusts had left the central Zanskar plains.

Tourism

Tourism is probably the major disruption that Zanskar has experienced during recent times. The opening of this region to foreigners has brought benefits such as the financing of schools and the restoration of monasteries and roads, but has also taken its toll on this fragile mountain environment and its population. Not only do the campsites along the trekking routes look more and more like junkyards at the end of the tourist season, but the local population has sometimes developed a questionable attitude towards visitors, involving begging, and very occasionally theft.

Languages

Most of the people living in Zanskar are well versed in several languages including the local Dardic languages, Hindi, and often Tibetan, and many know enough of other languages like English, etc., to be able to communicate with tourists.
Kailash expedition
Kailash expedition
Kailash expedition
Kailash Expedition
Sankar Labrang Complex Main Bazar,
Leh-Ladakh - 194101
Tel: +91-1982-258841
Cell phone No : +91-94192-43495
E-Mail : info@Ladakhzanskar.com

Branch Office:

Ctra. Matadepera, 305
08225 Terrassa – Barcelona - Spain
Tel & Fax: + 34 93 735 08 76
Mob: + 34 699 97 57 43
Email: kexpedition@gmail.com

More About Ladakh

Ladakh is a land abounding in awesome physical features, set in an enormous and spectacular environment. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Karakoram in the north and the Great Himalaya in the south, it is traversed by two other parallel chains, the Ladakh Range and the Zanskar Range .............
More about Zanskar

Zanskar also boasts of ancient monasteries perched high up on the hills, Phuktal monastery being the most spectacularly located with a yawning cave high up on the mountain side. Himalaya Kingdom offers the visitor numerous trekking options in Zanskar. Many trails from here lead into Kishtwar in Kashmir and Darcha .......
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