Zanskar Valley, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh district, is undoubtedly India’s most secluded valley, and Phuktal is one of its most distant locations. You will arrive at the “end of the road” after a few hours of driving from Padum, Zanskar’s largest town. A mandatory hike of several hours via high hilly terrain in the Greater Himalayas leads to the Phuktal monastery.
The monastery rises from a mountain slope on the Tsarap the Chu, a large stream of the Zanskar River. From afar, it seems to be a giant honeycomb. In reality, Phuktal monastery is also known as the “Honeycomb Monastery” and the “Cave Monastery” by others. If you believe monasteries contain a feeling of mystery, then Phuktal Monastery will undoubtedly confirm this view. The building is ancient and rustic, with a rich history and tradition. The Phuktal Monastery is genuinely magnificent, elegant, and attractive. It’s no surprise that it’s known as the “Stairway to Heaven.”
Best Time to Visit Phuktal
The best way to experience the Phuktal monastery is from June to September. The route from Kargil to Padum resumes in the summer after the snow from Pensila Pass is removed around May-June. The Srinagar-Leh Highway will also be operational in May. As a result, you only can drive to Zanskar Valley during the summertime.
Meanwhile, the road from Manali to Darcha to Shinku La Pass will resume in late May or early June, following which you will be able to go to Phuktal Monastery by this new route. The road will stay accessible until the end of October, after which it would become hazardous to drive on these isolated roads in Ladakh or Zanskar.
Snow begins to fall on the Himalayan high passes in October. With each passing day of October, the odds of Pensila Pass closing for the winter increase.
Pensila Pass closes in late October or early November, cutting Zanskar Valley off from the rest of the globe. Likewise, the Shinku La pass closes in winter, as does the connection between Keylong and Darcha. As a result, you will be unable to go to Phuktal by this new route from Manali during the winter season.
Amchi, a traditional Tibetan healer practising natural Sowa-Rigpa treatment, is in the Phuktal monastery. These remedies are usually manufactured at the monastery’s standard Tibetan facility. When there is a health problem, the locals rush to visit the Amchi. The monastery’s monks offer ancient prayers in the region during key events such as birth, wedding, and death.
What to see at Phuktal Monastery?
The Phuktal monastery has a meditation, spiritual realization, religious education school, library, and prayer rooms. The vibrant architecture will take your breath away. There are three things to visit: the temple, the sacred spring, and the ancient cave. Several sites with attractive surroundings near the monastery will leave you breathless. The fascinating aspect of the Phuktal monastery is a hollow boulder in the cave, and the water in it never flows out despite how much water is extracted from it. Furthermore, the water in the cave above the monastery is thought to have medicinal properties.
The travel to the mystical beauty of Phuktal is difficult, but the pleasure is well worth the effort. Hardcore travellers must visit this out-of-this-world location to gain a unique understanding of lifestyles and societies on Earth that are far distant and concealed.