The Royal Zanskari village: Zangla, Zanskar Valley
While in the Zaskar Valley in the state of Jammu and Kashmir a must visit place is the village of Zangla. The village of Zangla is located at a towering altitude of around 12,879 feet above sea-level and at a distance of 35 km from the main town of Padum in the Zanskar Valley.
There are two options of getting to Zangla the first is the hike through the Trans-Himalayan Mountains and reach the village. The hike takes around four to five hours and can be pretty strenuous with the unpredictable weather which changes very often. The other option is to hire a taxi from Padum and drive to the village of Zangla.
The village of Zangla was under the rule of a king till a few years ago. The royal family still lives in the village and travellers are always welcome to their house for a cup of tea and a chat with the king. The castle now stands in ruins and is located around a kilometre from the village on a hill top. The only intact part of the castle that once housed the royal family is a small Buddhist chapel that overlooks the entire valley.
The only way of getting to the caste is to hike up. The hike takes around 10 minutes. The castle is being redone by an NGO that is run by a group of Hungarians and they have done a marvellous job in redoing the whole place up using the same ancient and old methods of construction. There is a small entry fee that is collected and the proceeds are used for the development and renovation of the castle.
Another place worth visiting in Zangla is a small Buddhist nunnery, where traveller can get a first-hand view of the daily life of the nuns. There is also an old monastery which is situated near the village of Tsa-Zar, mid-way between Stongdey and Zangla. The monastery contains some of the most exquisite wall paintings.
Zangla has a village school which has just one teacher to teach all the children of various age groups. The Hungarians who are working on rebuilding the castle also teach in the school and are working on building a solar school, which can help them keep the school functioning during the winter.
The accommodation options in Zangla are limited to backpacker guest houses and home stays. The homestays are a better option in Zangla since it is a very good way to experience the culture of the village living a couple of days if not more with a family. The homestay accommodation is pretty basic with just a room and a mattress to sleep on and common washrooms.
Zangala does not have any eateries but the guest houses and homestays do provide food, which is very basic. The guest houses might have a few more options but if you opt for a homestay one will have to eat what the family eats. Food served is very basic and consists of dal, rice and some pulses.
While travelling to Zangla it is important to come with thick woollens even during the summer months since the temperature during the night drops considerably. The days are warm during the summers – sunscreen and sun glares are a must. The best time to visit Zangla is during the summer months from June to September.
Zangla is a nice village that is nestled in the mountains and is a place which is very rich in Zanskari culture and heritage and the village castle is testimony to that. This is a village that surely bring the best out of photography enthusiasts.
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