About 20 kms south-east of Rangdum stands the Panzila axis, across which lies Zanskar, the most isolated of all the trans-Himalayan valleys, Zanskar is a remote, ancient kingdom in the northwest Indian Himalaya. About 10,000 Zanskari people live in isolated villages spread across Zanskar, which has a valley elevation of over 3500m. Winter temperatures of -30 Celsius are common, making it one of the highest and coldest inhabited places in the world. Zanskar a subdistrict or tahsil of Kargil district, which lies in the eastern half of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The administrative centre is Padum .
Zanskar is a tri-armed valley system situated between the Great Himalayan Range and the Zanskar mountains, the three arms radiating star-like towards the west, north and south from a wide central expanse. Here the Zanskar River comes into being by the confluence of its two Himalayan tributaries, the Stod/Doda and the Lingti-Tsarap rivers. It is mainly along the course of this valley system that the region’s approximately 14,000 strong, mainly Buddhist population, live.
Spread over an estimated geographical area of 5000 sq kms of mountainous territory, Zanskar is surrounded by high-rise mountains and deep gorges.
The Zanskar River is a north-flowing tributary of the Indus. In its upper reaches, the Zanskar has two main branches. First of these, the Doda, has its source near the Pensi-la (4,400 m) (14,450 ft) mountain-pass and flows south-eastwards along the main Zanskar valley leading towards Padum, the capital of Zanskar. The second branch is formed by two main tributaries known as Kargyag river, with its source near the Shingo La (5,091 m) (16,703 ft), and Tsarap river, with its source near the Baralacha-La. These two rivers unite below the village of Purne to form the Lungnak river (also known as the Lingti or Tsarap). The Lungnak river then flows north-westwards along a narrow gorge towards Zanskar’s central valley (known locally as gzhung khor), where it unites with the Doda river to form the main Zanskar river. This river then takes a north-eastern course through the dramatic Zanskar Gorge until it joins the Indus near Nimmu in Ladakh
How to Reach Zanskar
By Bus: Jammu Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC) gives customary bus service from Srinagar to Zanskar. Luxury coaches and government bus services are also available from Leh to Zanskar. There is avaibility of luxury coaches from Kargil which is at a distance of about 235 kms from Zanskar. The route of Manali-Leh is highly preferred by many tourists because it shows the beauty of the upland desert of Rupsho. There are many high passes as well that include Taklang-La Pass which is 17,469 ft high and is credited to be world’s second highest motorable pass. On the way, you have a night stay at Pang or Serchu.