Weather :

Timings : 6:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hours

Entry Fee : No entry fee

Tips : No photography is allowed inside the monastery

Best Time to Visit : July to September

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Also Refered As:

Phugtal Gompa

Phuktal Monastery, Leh Ladakh Overview

The Phugtal (Phuktal) Monastery is a Buddhist monastery situated in the south-east part of Zanskar region in Ladakh. Situated at the mouth of natural cave on a cliff, it is one of the most isolated monasteries in the region, built around 2500 years ago. The Phugtal Monastery looks like a honeycomb from a distance.

Phuk means "cave", and tal means "at leisure" in Zanskari dialect. The monastery can only be reached by foot and requires arduous trekking. Trekking lovers would find this as a great getaway full of enchanting sights and sounds.

The Phuktal Monastic School is located nearby, delivering free education to the children. What is unique about Phugtal Monastery is that the degree of water flowing through the cave remains the same in spite of the pace of water outside. It has 4 prayer rooms, library, kitchen, guest rooms, and living space for around 700 monks.

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Trekking to Phugtal Monastery

An adventurous trek in Zanskar Ranges ends with complete peace and solitude at Phugtal Monastery.
  • Reach Anmo village from Padum via taxi. It serves as the lowest trekking point and has three stupas marking the beginning of a tiresome yet positive journey. The way to Phugtal is full of steep and narrow passages, and hence you need to be very careful.
  • As you trek forward in an hour or two, you manage to reach Cha village which is the midpoint of the passage atop.
  • From here, it is a 6km trek to the monastery which can take 3-5 hours depending on your speed and strength. 

Usually, people prefer Cha as it falls on the shorter route. The trek consumes almost a whole day, but as you reach the monastery, which is an amalgamation of Tibetan and Buddhist carvings, art, and scriptures, every ache comes to an end.

If you wish to add some more adventure, you can make your way through Purne, a village situated across the river Lungnak which comparatively is a longer route (Padum - Rera - Pepula - Purne - Phuktal). It takes two days from this route to reach the monastery.

Structure Of Phugtal Monastery

The unique entrance of the Phuktal Monastery is constructed with mud and timber. It is made in a way that it depicts the image of a cave. The remote location of this monastery, above the cliff face of Lungnak, a major tributary in Ladakh, is ideal for their meditational activities. One can find the image of 16 earliest legendary followers of Buddha on the walls of the cave. Frescoes and ceiling are decorated with an old chapel which is one of the tourist attraction.

How to Reach Phugtal Monastery

There is no direct transportation available to the Phuktal Monastery. It requires you to trek for several hours to reach here. At first, you need to reach Padum from where it is advisable to take a taxi to reach the Anmo village. Further is a trek that leads you to the monastery. It depends on you if you can finish it in a day or two. In between Cha is the stopping point.

Another route is from Paduma to Rera and further a trek from Purne to the monastery. Pepula is the midpoint between Rera and Purne. 

It is advisable to go with a tourist guide or a local if you wish to reach safely within the desired time.

Festivals at Phugtal Monastery

Smonlam Chenmo: Also known as Monlam Chenmo, this Great Prayer festival is one of the most significant Tibetan Buddhist celebrations of the year. It marks the beginning of the New Year. Falling towards the end of February and the beginning of March, ceremonies are taken forward for the wellbeing of people and continued world peace. A vast number of people visit the monastery to cherish the atmosphere of festivities.

Chonga Chodpa: Celebrated in the first week of March, this festival is a harvest ceremony. Torma is a unique statue of the deity created by the monks. Carefully prepared with barley flour and butter, the villagers later worship it. People dedicate themselves to a devotional mode, and prayers take place.

Yarnas: Held between July and mid-September, the festival is also called as the Varshavas Ceremony. The monks live in confinement within the monastery and some limited areas to organise and perform special daily rituals and pujas. These pujas take place for the achievement of good karma over plants, insects and other microorganisms. The devotees also fast in the name of the sacred power. The entry of visitors is also restricted. If they wish to enter, they are supposed to take permission from the head Lama.

Gadam Nagchod: The Lightning Ceremony, which is the other name of this festival, is held during the beginning of December. It marks the death anniversary of Je Tsongkhapa who was the founder of a Tibetian branch, Gelug.

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