Darcha to Padum


About Darcha to Padum Trek

Zanskar valley lies to the south west of Leh, surrounded by the Himalayan and Zangskar ranges and it is one of the most forbidden and unexplored region in the entire Ladakh with a very rich history of Bhuddhism and its own Royal Lineage. Zanskar is one the main region of the existing Ladakh other two being Leh and Kargil. Zanskar has been abode to great Buddhist master such as Naropa , Guru Padmasambhava, Atisha and proof of their stay in Zanskar is still visible today. That is why Zanskar is known as The Land of Dharma.

Zanskar is very famous among tourist for its cultural and geographical beauty. Zanskar is divided into 4 region namely – Sham, Stod , Jungkor and Lungna and all these regions have their own beauty and nestled some of the very famous and old Buddhist Monasteries.

The famous Dracha to Padum Trekking is the one of the most mesmerizing and holistic odyssey one can have with nature. The trek starts from Darcha; a small station on Leh- Manali Highway ,take you through wilderness  upto  5050 metres; a steady descend ;you enter the Lungnak valley and trek until you reach Padum through the beautiful landscape dotted with small hamlets and monasteries on either side of the Tsarap River. Padum is headquarter of Zanskar and here you can have some basic amenities of modern life like internet, telephone and few small restaurant and hopefully you can relish few dishes which you have missed during the trek. Around Padum, there are many beautiful places to visit like Stonday Monastery, Karsha Monastery, Zongkhul Monastery, Zangla Fort and Sani Monastery.

Best season:  June – September

Duration: 8 days

Rating: moderate

Maximum elevation:  Shingo la Pass (5.000m)

Average daily walking: 5-6 hours

Day to Day Program

Darcha to Padum Trek

  • Day 1- Darcha (3400 m) to first  Zanskar Sumdoo (3800 m) 5 hoursToday is the first day of the trek and you must keep in mind that there is no need to push yourself really hard. So, it is small day with a walk of 5 hours.  You have to leave Darcha early and follow the track of some of kilometres on road. Today you will come across few small villages of Lahoul region which is part of Himachal Pradesh state though live a lifestyle very similar to Zanskar. You can come across ladies wearing their traditional dress, working in field which is very common. Finally, you reach campsite easy start of the trek.Day 2- Zanskar Sumdoo  (3800 m) to Ramjak( 4100 m) 7 hours

    You have to keep walking on the left bank until you reach Zanskar Sumdo. This place marks the boundary between Lahoul and Zanskar. Here you will come across a small tea shop. You have to cross the bridge and ascend in this opposite valley. Now you are in the Zanskar region literally. While walking you will come across, shepherd and herd of sheep and goats. Finally, you reach your campsite Ramjak. In Ramjak, there is a small hut by the side of mountain cliff and it is used by local people while travelling as they don’t carry tent.

    Day3-  Ramjak (4100m) to Lakang Sumdo( 4500m) via Shingula Pass (5000m) 9 hours

    Today is the challenging day of the whole trek as it is a long day of 9 hrs walk. You have to ascend slowly following the trial and as you are close to the summit, ascending will become hard due to the steep slope. As you conquer this last slope, you will be welcomed by beautiful turquoise glacial lake on the belly of Shingula Pass. On the summit, you can click some photos with the fluttering prayers flag. From the top, you can have a mesmerizing few of the either side of the valley comprising of Gonbo Rangjon Mountain and famously known as Mahakala as it resembles  a monk in a meditation pose.. From here, you have to descend until you reach the bottom of Shingula Pass and from here it is easy of walk on flat land. While walking, you come across stupas and Yak. You have to descend a little and you are at campsite Lakhang Sumdo.

    Day-4- Lakang Sumdo (4500 m) to Thable (4140m) 6 hours

    Today you climb down a mass of fallen rocks and cross several streams. After one hour walk, you pass beneath the face of Mahakala Mountain (5900m) . The view of the Mahakala Mountain is more inspiring and mesmerizing from the front and the direction we are heading as compare, to the view we had from Shingula Top. The walk is gentle and easy; if you are lucky you will come across temporary nomadic settlement buzzing with the hustle and bustle of Yak, Dzo and local guardian mostly girls. As you are close to the first village of Zanskar -Kargyak, you will come across lots of Stupa and Mani wall. After Kargyak, it is a walk of 1 hour to your campsite Thable.

    5th Day: Thabla (4.140 m) to Purne (3.950 m), 6 hours
    From Table continue on the right bank along an easy path until you reach Tanze. Tanze is a small village with a monastery . A short distance beyond Tanze there is a bridge, you have to cross. The trail leaves the river and takes you through the two beautiful village Kuru and Testa. Here you can enjoy a great walk amidst the field surrounded by lush green.The path continues downward near the river. Stay on the left bank and then climb gentle up the slope to Yal. Next, there is  a steep descent towards a large bridge which you cross to reach Purne. Purne 3.950 m (12.960 ft) is a collection of houses owned by only two families. 

    6th Day: Sidetrip from Purne (3.950 m) to Phuktal monestary (4.000 m) and back to Purne, 4 hours
    This sidetrip is very admirable because you visit the most spectacularly situated monastery of Ladakh. Leave the horses in Purne. Go up the left bank of the Tsarap River into a gorge. After 2 hours you come across a bridge in good condition. Cross the bridge and Fifteen minutes later, you are standing in front of one of the best places on earth. Phuktal belongs to the tradition of the Gelupas. The spring that gurgles deep in the cave is still out of bounds to women. The Hungarian historian Cosma de Koros stayed here over the winter of 1825-26. It is possible to find food and lodging at the monastery.The atmosphere in and around the monastery is very serene. You will have a quality time enjoy the spectacular beauty of monastery and holistic nature of monk. Little monks are very naughty and you can have a good time talking to them. There is school in Monastery that teaches English, Maths and science to young monks.  From Phugtal, there iis  a trekking route to Stongdey via Shade and you can also go to Shun and Sarchu .

    7th Day: Purne (3.950 m) to Ichar (3.800 m), 6 hours

From Purne you go back down. After crossing the bridge you go up the left bank. The trail overhangs the Tsarap River. It’s sometimes tricky and hard going. There are frequent small canyons of pudding stones. Pass a bit above a hanging, which leads to the village of Cha. Two hours later you arrive at the small village of Kyelbo. Carry on until Ammu and pass below the village of Surle. The trail is still not good. Several stretches are a little bit difficult. The large bridge on your way leads to the impressive village Ichar 3.800 m (12.467 ft). The houses in Ichar are perched on the top of a crag. There are wonderful views west to snow-capped mountains. 

8th Day: Ichar (3.800 m) to Padum (3.800 m), 5 hours

Cross back over to the left bank and then gradually climb before coming to a major tributary. Gradually descent down towards to Raru. We are at the road-head and can drive
Padum. In between Raru and Padum , we can visit Muney and Barden Monastery. Both the monasteries and very famous.