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About Rangdum

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 Monastery

The 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 of grass.

"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 Tibetan Buddhism.

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

The 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.



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