An Important North Indian Buddhism Centre.
Popular for its scenic beauty, trekking base and monasteries, Padum lies between the Greater Himalayas and Zanskar Range of mountains in Kargil District. Situated at an altitude of 3,505 m, Padum is considered the most populated region of Zanskar. A few centuries back, the region was under the influence of North Indian Buddhism. About 30% of Padum's residents like the Baltis and Lahulis are of Indo Aryans lineage, and are followers of the Sunni Muslim sect.
The set of rock carvings on a massive boulder alongside the river Zanskar draws thousands of tourists. They are ancient rock sculptures belonging to the 8th century. These rock carvings provide evidences of the influence of North Indian Buddhism in Ladakh.
Starrimo Monastery, on a hilltop, is an old structure depicting various Buddhist morals and values through its paintings. The monastery in an old hamlet called ‘Pibiting’ is inhabited by more than 30 monks. The nearby area, even the hills, are terraced for farming. This 10th century structure is completely designed on the lines of Stupa architecture.
Another 10th century monastery is the Karsha monastery, which boasts of being the largest in the Zanskar region. It offers marvellous views of the valley and the Himalayas. The main prayer hall and the monk quarters are believed to have been built in the early 15th century, when the Gelukpa order had a strong influence in Ladakh.
The Kargil-Padum road remains open from mid July to early November. One can easily commute by bus or hire a taxi/jeep to explore the nearby destinations like Stongdey (19 km), Zangla, Sani (6 km) and Karsha (5 km). The months of June and July are considered the best for trekking.
Padum offers a well facilitated tourist complex with fully furnished rooms and all modern and basic amenities. Besides, one can choose from camping sites, private hotels or the guest houses in monasteries.