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Rangdum – Suru Valley, Ladakh

Rangdum is a valley that is situated in the Himalayan ranges. On one side are picturesque hills and the other glaciers in this valley. It is the largest inhabited area of Suru valley. There are a monastery and Gompa at Rangdum, which is why people visit the place. The natives of Rangdum are the Bakkarwal people, who are nomadic in nature. The people primarily are of Buddhists and Muslims.

HISTORY

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Tsewang Namgyal used to rule Rangdum, and he donated the region of Rangdum for the creation of a monastery. It is often believed that it was done to reduce the Muslim influence in the valley by making the monastery a sealing that blocks the entry of Muslims and essentially proclaiming this to be a Buddhist region.
The place is also known as a lousy terror strike that happened back in 2000 when monks of Rangdum was gunned down.

LOCATION AND CLIMATE

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The valley is a part of a larger area of Suru valley. It is located at an elevation of 3500 meters above the sea level. It is in between the road connecting Kargil to Padum. The area is barren and dry, and there are only some 25 houses that occupy the place. Each house looks very similar. There are stone boulders raised around each home and they are all painted white with red borders around windows and doors, signifying the Buddhist culture. The temperature can drop to five degree Celsius at night during the summer season. Hence precautions shall be taken. However, during winter it can go down to -30 degree Celsius. The weather is also a bit unpredictable as snow storms and blizzards can occur out of nowhere.

HOW TO REACH

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The conditions of the road in here is terrible. The best way to reach the place is to get a taxi from Kargil, which would take around eight to nine hours to reach the area. There are also government buses that connect the place to Kargil. However, the rush would be unimaginable.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

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The place could be visited from late May to mid-September when the climate is less harsh and the view pleasant. To travel to the site during winters is next to impossible.

TOURIST ATTRACTION

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Drang Drung Glacier

Also called Durung Dung glacier, this is located near Pensi La region. It is the second largest glacier in the area after Siachen. It is from where the Stod river emerges. The best time to visit the glacier is August and could be accessed through trekking as well as drive. Wild mazuts could be spotted near the glacier. It is also known for the presence of other animals like ibex, Blue Sheeps, Tibetan Sand Fox among others. The peculiarity of this iceberg is perhaps the fact that it is easily accessible.

Rangdum Monastery

A monastery was belonging to the Gelugpa sect; this is one of the oldest one in the Leh Ladakh region. It is home to around 40 monks. As said in the inscription at the monastery it was built by Galak Yekshy Thalkpa at the reign of King Tsewang Mangyul, some 200 years back, in the 18th century. There are also many donkeys in here which makes the transportation possible. It is also land for marmots. Here is also a middle school build in this area for kids. The city is breathtakingly beautiful.

Unlike many monasteries Rangdum is an isolated one, adding to its spiritual feel. The monastery looks more like a fort than a place of worship. There is a central prayer hall, with an excellent collection of Tibetan art and artifacts. Another attraction of this monastery is the mani walls. It is build of mani stones with the inscription “Om Mani Padme Hum” which could roughly be translated as “hail to the jewel in the lotus.” A museum is also located next to the monastery. The land next to monastery is given for camping for tourists.

Parkachik Glacier

Another glacier in the Himalayas, it is located on the nun kun slopes. The ice from the glacier falls into the Suru river, and the view is terrific. Visitors can walk up to the glacier as a suspension bridge is built across. Many areas permit one to camp adding to the beauty of the place. The view of sunrise and sunset is also quite beautiful from here. It is also known for mountain hikes

Lingshed Monastery

It was found in the 1440s and belonged to Ngari Rimpoche. There are around 60 monks who live in this monastery. Lingshed means a hundred thousand images. It is believed that one of the monks, Sherabs Zangpo after the creation of Phugtal and Karsha monastery, walked towards Rangdum, witnessed a highly light in Lingshed and decided to build a monastery there as well. It has in it six critical shrines, a kitchen, and a central temple complex. The prayer hall, Dhoklang has a statue of Buddha, Mahakal, and Yamandhaka. The place also has an excellent library that has over 200 books that talks about tradition.

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

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Smaller festivals often happen in the monasteries of Rangdum and Lingshet. However, these are not quite popular like that of other monasteries in the area.

THINGS TO DO

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Trekking: Rangdum is one of the most popular trekking bases. The trek from Rangdum to Henaskot of Lamayuru is quite famous. The trek may take around two weeks or 15 days to complete. Another trekking site near Rangdum is the Parkachik glacier

WHERE TO STAY

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There is a bungalow of Jammu Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation. Many hotels, restaurants, and homestays are also available in this area. However, electricity and internet connection would be a luxury. There are also three tea-houses and some 3km away from a summer-only camp that offers accommodation to tourists. Thali, noodles and omelet bread are available in the food stalls around the place. The best way to visit Rangdum is to try and not halt at the area, but visit it during the daytime.

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