Stowed away within the folds of the Himalayan mountains, the Phugtal Gompa is among the most secluded monasteries around the world & it must be part of your Le Ladakh tour packages. The monastery is quite literally sprawling among mountain caves with its units spread through them. A complete monastery complex, including prayer halls and shrines, can be found here where a number of festivals are celebrated throughout the year.
The ancient cave gompa of Phugtal Monastery in Ladakh is nestled away in the remote and secluded village of Phuktal or Phugtal. Its name derives from two words in the local dialect- Phuk, which means cave, and tal, which means leisure- literally translating to, the cave of leisure or liberation.
The Phugtal monastery is perched on the cliff-side close to the River Lungnak and is one of the only Buddhist monasteries in Leh Ladakh that is only accessible by foot. Made up entirely of mud and wood, Phugtal is one of the most isolated monasteries in the world.
Along with the ancient cave and the sacred spring, this monastery has a major temple, library, prayer rooms including the residential quarters for 70 monks. The monastery ascribes to the Gelug faith of Tibetan Buddhism, and celebrates a great number of festivals throughout the year. During this time, the monks come out of exile and interact with the villagers. Some of the biggest festivals celebrated at the Phugtal Monastery are Chonga Chodpa, Chudsum Chodpa, Smonlam Chenmo, and Gyalwe Jabstan, among others.
Owing to its remote location, the monastery offers accommodation to tourists, although rooms are limited and tend to get booked quite early during the festival season.
Check this out: Leh in September
• Trek all the way to the Phugtal Monastery, the most isolated monastery in the world
• Enjoy the marvelous views of the Zanskar Valley as commanded from the caves of Phuktal
• Spend the night at the monastery, seizing the opportunity to learn about the lifestyle of the resident monks here
The only way to reach Phugtal Monastery is by trekking all the way from Cha Village in Zanskar. One can initially take a bike or hire a car to reach Ichar, but the rest of the trail needs to be covered on foot only. Zanskar itself is connected to Leh by road, and can be reached via hired cars or taking a bus ride.
Suggested Read: Leh Weather Guide
The best time to visit the Phugtal Monastery would be during the warmer months, between May and September. The only way to reach the monastery is on foot, and the harsh weather may not be suitable for everyone to make that journey during winters.
Recommended Read: Ladakh in December