There are a number of monasteries, stupas and other peaceful places in Jammu and Kashmir and had already visited a number of them. People living in this part of the world were mainly followers of Buddhism and so the presence of such a large number of structures weren’t very surprising.
We were heading towards the end of our journey and felt a bit sad. But we were very happy that we could go back home with some unforgettable memories. However, we decided to hold our heart together and head for our next destination which was another monastery namely the Rangdum Monastery in Ladakh.
Just like the others, the monastery in Rangdum belonged to the Buddhists of Tibet, the Gelugpa sect to be precise. It is built above the steep sugarloaf mountains on the Suru Valley in Ladakh at a beight of 4031m. It is close to a small village known as Julidok and around 25km away from Pensi La Pass having a length of 4,400m and leading to Zanskar.
The inscriptions inside the monastery highlight the fact that it was constructed during the rule of Tsewang Mangyul, King of Ladakh by Gelek Yashy Takpa, around 200 years back. It may be physically present in the Suru Valley but culturally part and parcel of Zanskar. We could see that the monastery is not only home to monks but some donkeys as well. On inspecting carefully, we found out that there were 30 monks in total and almost an equal number of donkeys as well.
The best thing about Rangdum Monastery is its exquisite location in a large valley over a tiny hill. You can also construct a nicely oriented camp on the hill’s foot and sleep there comfortably. One can also stop at the monastery for an overnight stay while travelling on the road leading to Padum. It also gives a crystal clear insight into the Suru Valley. One can enter the Monastery only after being checked by the Jawans of India. We could see that there were two rooms in the monastery with each one having a stone bed and a thin carpet.