It is said that if you ever want to a ride a bullet then the best place to do that is go to Ladakh. I believe there is something different about that place because whosoever has gone there has always spoken about the beauty it possesses. If you are a person who is attracted by adventure then I have a place to tell you about. Imagine you need to travel to the barren land and no signs of human habitation and the only thing you can hope to see is a monastery looking like the shape of a honeycomb. The place I am talking about is the Phugtal monastery or Phugtal monastery. When you reach this place you would surely wonder how on earth did the people who built this place managed to put up such a structure like that there in the first place. In this article, I would be telling you a few facts about Phugtal Monastery.
Phugtal Monastery – The Mystery Behind This Place Situated In Ladakh
It is said that before this monastery was created it was a natural cave. This cave was used by the Buddhists for spiritual learning and meditation. It is said that the followers of Buddha were the first people who lived in this cave. The cave has a history of more than 2,500 years after which the present-day monastery was built. When the word “Phugtal” is broken we get two words Phuk and Tal which means Cabe and Leisure.
You may rent a bullet but after a certain point in time, you will need to park it at some place and then choose a horse or a donkey to move forward. The phugtal monastery is not made for everyone. Only those people who have the zeal of travelling and exploring new places manage to reach a place like this. Some people prefer to walk; it takes roughly 6-8 hours to reach here from the city of Padnum. You will need to pass through several mountains to reach this monastery.
When you set out on your journey to this place you would notice 2 villages and these are the only human civilization that you would come across. The name of the villages is Ammu and Cha and due to the green belt surrounding the village, you can see it from quite a distance. The walk to this place is also not a cake walk, the mountains are very steep and one wrong step means a fatal injury. I would suggest go along with a local, they know the safest routes to the place.
Since the journey is 6-8 hours there is a high probability that you would need to crash during the night. There is a village called Cha and the locals are very helpful there. Since trekking to the monastery is increasing day by day the locals there offer their houses as homestays for a very reasonable amount. Before you set out on a journey to Phugtal Monastery make sure that you call your parents because network connectivity is not available on the route to the monastery. At Cha, you would get a satellite phone through which you can make calls.
What can you expect?
The one thing you would notice on your journey to the monastery is the mountains. I never imagined a barren mountain looking so beautiful. There are various rocks which have been inscribed with ancient Tibetan scriptures which really look amazing. The monastery is located at a high altitude of 4,400 metres. A monastery hidden inside a cave is a sight which you don’t get to witness every day. When you come across 3 big rocks (called stupas) understand that is the beginning of the village of Zanskar. A guest house is also located nearby the village and if you want you can halt here. It actually depends upon you where you want to halt for the night; you could either stay in Cha or go for this guest house. Whatever suits your travel plans go for that.
You would notice all the monks in maroon robes. For a second you would like you are not in India but came to a whole another place. Spend some time here, you would notice many young kids here who attend the monk school (they are monks too). We were lucky enough to try the food here and trust me I had never thought that eating bread along with a few boiled vegetables would give me so much of joy.
Best Time To Visit
If you visit Phugtal during the right time then you would get to witness the rich cultural heritage which this place has to offer. This monastery celebrates many festivals like Chonga Chodpa, Chudsum Chodpa, Smonlam Chemo, Gyalwe Jabatan, Jigched Llhachusum ceremony, Vajrabhairavam and Gadam Nagchod. I would advise you to study about these festivals and the time during which these festivals are celebrated so that you can visit the monastery during that time.
They charge a minor entry fee of Rs. 30 at this monastery. The timings for visiting this place is from 6 am – 1 pm and 1.30 pm – 6 pm. The best time to visit this place is between the month of March – October. The reason behind this place faces heavy snowfall and you don’t want to be stuck at this place during snowfall because roads are blocked during this time and coming back home would become a challenge.
As I said in the beginning that this place is not made for everyone. If you are an adventure enthusiast and have the courage to walk through 6-8 hours of the elevated landscape then plan your journey to this amazing place. All those who are looking for adventure, this is the perfect place for you guys. It just cannot get better than this!