Rangdum is in a valley which is situated 3,657 m above the sea
level in an isolated region of the Suru valley in the Ladakh
region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in Northern India. On
one side of it there are colorful hills while on the other
side are rocky mountains and glaciers particularly Drang-drung.
Rangdum has a tourist bungalow, three tea-houses and about 2
km from the village there is a summer-only camp offering
accommodation for tourists in bedded tents.
Rangdum is located midway between Kargil and Padum. It is
about 100 kms from Kargil. The road conditions are very bad
near Rangdum. The small mani walls here and towards Padum are
more elaborate than in Ladakh, some of the stones are carved
not only with the usual “Om Mani Padme Hum “mantra but also
with pictures of chortens and mandalas . It is next to the
tiny village of Julidok, and about 25 km from the Pensi-La
which leads into Zanskar valley, it is physically in the Suru
Valley, but culturally part of Zanskar.
Rangdum Gompa of Ladakh gives the appearance of an age-old
fortification which is standing as the protector of a spiritual
mountain valley. It is next to the tiny village of Julidok and
is about 25 km from the 14,436 ft (4,400 m) Pensi La (pass)
which leads into Zanskar.
There are more than 50 Monks in Rangdum Gompa who depend upon
the offerings of grains and butter from the villages, the
villagers who tilled the fields are decedents of serf-tenants of
the monastery. The small villages of Yuldo and Julidok, at the
end of the valley are completely Buddhist. The people are
socially and culturally part of Zanskar and support the Rangdum
Monastery, The country surrounding is very bleak crops sometimes
cannot ripen in the brief summer. The locals depend on their
flocks and supplies from lower down the Suru Valley from Kargil
or over the pass from Zanskar. It is also the destination of the
wandering herds people called Bakaarwals, who trek up every year
from the Himalayan foothills from Jammu region , bringing their
flocks of sheep and goats to grow fat on the rich summer growth
"Rangdum, with its gompa and the attendant village of Juliodok
is the last inhabited region in the Suru valley; it is also the
destination of the wandering herds people called Bakarwals who
trek up every year from the Himalayan foothills near Jammu,
bringing their flocks of sheep and goats to grow fat on the rich
summer growth of grass. From Rangdum the valley rises to 4400
metres and the Pensi-la, the gateway into Zanskar."
The country adjoining Rangdum Monastery is very miserable and
crops sometimes cannot develop in the brief summer. The locals
depend on their flocks and supplies from lower down the Suru
Valley or over the pass from Zanskar.
The population of the Suru Valley as far as Parkachik are all
Muslim. The amazingly beautiful valley is however almost
uninhabited past Parkachik other than a couple of tiny
settlements. The small villages of Julidok and Yuldo, at the end
of the valley are completely Buddhist. The people are socially
and culturally part of neighbouring Zanskar and support the 18th
century Rangdum Monastery belonging to the Gelugpa sect of
Foundation of the Monastery
According to an inscription the monastery was founded by Gelek
Yashy Takpa during the control of King Tsewang Mangyul of Ladakh
about 200 years ago. Due to the brief summer the locals cannot
count on the crops being harvested; both the village and the
monastery depend on supplies other than locally produced dairy,
brought up the largely barren Suru Valley or over the Pensi La
from Zanskar. The monastery is home to about 30 monks and almost
as many donkeys.
Rangdum Gompa is home to more than 50 monks. The huge structure
houses lama quarters, a prayer hall, several stores, quarters
for guests, kitchens and working rooms. The monks of the Gompa
depend upon the offerings of grain and butter made by the
villagers throughout the year.
It is believed that during 1946, the Gompa was attacked and
ransacked by the Bakerwals from Kishtwar. Tourists can reach the
site through Shagma Kharpu village which is located at a
distance of around six kilometres.
Exhibits inside the Monastery
There is a small museum inside this monastery. Here you
can view the beautiful Tibetan and other artifacts.
Fascinating streams and valleys around the monastery
embellished the place to an extreme level. One can also
meet with the descent villagers staying around the Rangdum
Gompa. It is due to this reason that the Gompa witnesses
increasing number of tourist from the entire world.
Main Highlights of the Monastery
monastery looks like a fortified structure. The view that
unfolds as you go up the mountain towards the monastery is
exciting. Snowcapped mountains, glaciers and barren splendour of
the valley; leaves every traveller to the valley impressed.
Another highlight is the mani walls made up of mani stones. The
mani stones with the inscription “Om mani padme hum”, roughly
translated, means “Hail to the jewel in the lotus”, have to be
passed from their left side. You have to move clockwise around
the mani walls in the direction the earth and the universe
revolve, according to the Buddhist doctrine. The mani walls at
Rangdum are better and unique unlike other mani walls found in
Ladakh. Some stones also have pictures of mandalas and chortens
along with the usual inscriptions. The monastery has a museum
featuring a wide collection of Tibetan and other artifacts of
the region. The central prayer hall with amazing collection of
statues and art objects is the highlight of the monastery. Two
tiny hamlets – Yuldo and Tashi-Tongze, located close to the
monastery have rows of chortens.
Most of the people of Zanskar usually always support the rangdum
gompa .Other Attractons is the Zanskar Valley which is located
amidst attractive locales of Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir,
Zanskar is one of the most unknown places in the country.
Pleasant climate, vistas of barren landscapes, snow-capped
Himalayan Mountains and luminous rivers make Zanskar a perfect
holiday destination. Another attraction is the Mulbekh Monastery
which is famous for nine meter high rock statue of Maitreya, the
heir of Buddha.