The ancient Buddhist kingdom of Zanskar is hidden deep in the western reaches of the great Himalayas. For most of the year the high passes are inaccessible because of snow, making the frozen Zanskar River the only way of transport by walking. Villages nestling high up on cliffs, the greenest fields where peas and buckwheat are grown and ancient monasteries are just some of the attractions on this spectacular trek. Zanskar is well known for its many and high passes and ever changing landscape, the highest of them being Singe La, the Lion pass at 5090m.On the fifth day one will reach Lingshed, One can end the trek in Padum after ten days or continue all the way to Darcha for a 20 days adventure.
If you have time and the inclination to be part of a classic and beautiful Ladakh trek experience, the trek from Lamayuru to Darcha is an option worth considering. The trek is an absolute delight for those who revel in adventure and challenges of nature. The trek starts from Lamayuru, home to one of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh, and continues through various magnificent passes, some remote villages, some beautiful valleys and a lot more in between until it commences at Darcha. Located on the bank of Bhaga river, Darcha in Lahaul at an elevation of 3,360 meters is a small village that is mostly inhabited by the Himalayan tribes. It is well mentioned in the book ‘Rough Guide to India’ as “a lonely cluster of dry-stone huts and dingy tent camps”.
The popular Darcha Lamayuru trek is a journey that connects the remote terrains of Himachal Pradesh with the ancient hues of Indo – Tibetans in Lamayuru at Ladakh. The trail passes through a wide barren landscape and cascade of snow fed ranges, high altitude mountain passes and quaint villages. Further, it embarks upon the beautiful vicinity of alpine lakes where one can get acquainted with the wild whispers of several Himalayan wildlife, which includes migrating birds endangered animals. Interestingly, this rugged trekking tour to Lamayuru from Darcha will also travel across different high passes including Shingo la 5,090 at meters, Parfi la at 3,950 meters, Hanamun la at 4,800 meters, Sengge la at 5,060 meters, Sirsir la and Prinkti la.
The trekking routes also require crossing magnanimous rivers like Chandra, Bhaga, Tsarap, Doda, Zanskar and Indus. The Darcha Lamayuru trek goes deep into the far-flung monasteries and gompas and the major attractions are the Sani Gompa, Mani Gompa, Bardan Gompa, Karsha Gompa, Lingshed Gompa and Lamayuru Gompa.
On arrival at Leh airport, you will be met by a travel representative who will assist you in driving to Alchi. En route you pass through two villages of Nimo and Uleytokpo which still retain their old charm and ethnicity. As you reach Alchi village,you will find a lush green village with houses made of bricks. The most famous aspect of this village is the Alchi monastery. Other than this the place is adorned with Buddhist stupas, chortens, mural paintings, wooden statues and religious history. As you proceed to Lamayuru,you will drive past the villages of Saspol and Khalsi. On the way,you may visit Lamayuru Gompa and the adjacent villages. Lamayuru monastery is the oldest and one of the largest monasteries in Ladakh. Continue your drive to Fatu La which is the highest point on the Leh/Srinagar Highway. Proceed to Heniskut, a small village followed by a visit to Kangral, yet another charming village. Drive past Namika La. Arrive at Mulbekh village. Proceed to Kargil where a giant statue of Lord Buddha has been installed. Stay overnight at a camp in Kargil.
After a hearty meal, drive past the valleys of Sanku, Panikhar and Parkachik of lower Baltisthan. In Panikhar, get dumbfounded by the beautiful vistas of Nun and Kun massif, the highest peaks in the Zanskar range. Continue your drive to Rangdum. Visit Rangdum monastery which is an ancient monastery dating back to 18th century. Stay overnight in a camp in Rangdum.
After a sumptuous breakfast, drive to Pensi La. On arrival at Pensi La; get awestruck by the spectacular views of Drung Drang glacier, the largest glacier accessible to tourists in Leh. Drive further through the Doda valley and reach Padum. Stay overnight in a camp.
After a leisurely breakfast, visit Karsha monastery which is the largest monastery in Zanskar in Ladakh region. There are temples, chortens, chapels, assembly halls and residential rooms for monks. Then visit Bardan monastery which comprises an assembly hall with Buddhist statues and several small stupas in clay, wood, bronze and copper. Stay overnight in the camp.
After a delicious breakfast, drive to Zangla; a town in Zanskar tehsil of Kargil district and houses a monastery. Stay overnight in a camp.
After a luscious breakfast, embark on a trekking trail and reach a small village called Hanumil. Stay overnight in a camp.
After breakfast, continue to trek and reach Parfi La. Continue your journey and reach Snertse. Stay overnight in a camp.
After breakfast, continue to trek towards Hanuma La and savor the spectacular views from this location. One can see Lingshed monastery; one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh; from this point. Stay overnight in a camp near the monastery.
After breakfast, visit Lingshed monastery. Walk around Lingshed village which is a prosperous village. Stay overnight in a camp.
After breakfast, reach Murgum La. Thereafter, visit the village of gongma and Siumpta followed by a steep climb at Kiupa La. Then climb along the mountainside and reach Singi La.
Post breakfast in the morning; embark on a steep climb to the Singi La. Next, reach Bumiktse La which provides panoramic views of the surrounding areas. Continue your journey to Photoksar, a small village. Visit the monastery located above the village. Stay overnight in a camp.
After a hearty meal, begin your journey for the day. Reach chorten followed by a visit to Sirsir La. Continue to trek and camp at a short distance before Hanupatta village.
After breakfast in the morning, begin your trekking tour from Hanupatta. Reach Yapola followed by a visit to Phenjilla. Reach Wanla. Visit the monastery here which was built in 1000 A.D. Stay overnight in the camp.
After a sumptuous breakfast, go up to the Shillkong valley and arrive at Shilla. Pass the village and continue your journey in order to reach Prinkti La. Next, go to Lamayuru monastery; the oldest and one of the largest monasteries in Ladakh region. From the Monastery embark on a car in order to drive back to Leh. On reaching Leh, you will be transferred in time to the Leh airport