Far, far, away, in the tucked up folds of the majestic Himalayas, lies the remotest valley of India, the Zanskar Valley in Ladakh district. The remotest of the remote is the site of the isolated town of Phugtal or Phuktal, home to legendary cave-monastery, located on the cliff-side next to the River Lungnak. Said to be founded by GangsemSherapSampo in 12th century, this monastery is located at the mouth of a cave, and is home to 70 monks. It has a library and many prayer rooms, where ancient scriptures are studied.
Having heard of this fantasy like Gompa (monastery), we too decided to take the so-called daring and adventurous journey to visit the beauty. What we did not expect was spiritual stirring of our souls, along with the nature’s beauty and simplicity of the local folks that we had somewhat been gearing up for!
The villages of Cha and Anmu are bigger settlements on one side and the smaller village called Purne lies to the opposite side with a wooden bridge over the flowing river. Anmu comes first and we had tea there! Charming little place with an idyllic pace to life! Or so it seemed to us. A little chat with the locals took our fantasies away. Living in remote places is real hard work and the locals spend every spare time possible in summers to stock up fuel and other essentials for the harsh winters! Yet they seemed so hospitable, bursting with energy and so warm!
Splashed with Tibetan and Buddhist carvings, scriptures and art, this was the perfect amalgamation of man’s knowledge in the highest abode of learning, in the laps of nature! Truly amazing!
Flanked by three stupas which are the trademark of any village boundary in Zanskar, the monastery lay above us, to be accessed by a high flight of steps!
The monastery is adorned with frescos and beautiful ceilings. The hollow in the rock above the monastery is very attractive with water flowing that is believed to have mystical healing powers. This water never spills over!