Renowned as the second largest monastery in Zanskar, Stongdey monastery is 18 km (11.1847 miles) from Padum on the road to zangla in Zanskar region in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Ladakh cloister is also called Marpling as it was originated by Tibetan Lama Lhodak Marpa Choski Lodos.
It houses about 60 monks, the monastery belongs to Gelugpa command of Buddhism which was announced by the Lama Gyaltsampa Tundup Palzangpo. The monastery is managed by the successors of Nari Tulku.
Like other monasteries in Ladakh, the white-washed monastery multifaceted is constructed in Tibetan chic of architecture. Deliberately constructed at the top of a rocky precipice, the monastery offers panoramic sights of Zanskar region.
There are number of shrines in the monastery. Images of Buddha, ancient murals, thangkas, and sacred scriptures in the monastery are must see.
The monastery has solid effect over the adjacent villages and plays an important part in the life of the locals.
The annual Gustor festival is celebrated with great potency and enthusiasm. It is also the best period to view the handicrafts created by the locals and take part in local generous events. Mask dance by Lamas is the climax of the festival.
The monastery also figures high on the list of trekkers and mountaineers.
WHERE TO STAY
Choices to take rest are limited. Homestays run by the locals are those tourists can find near the monastery. Villagers charge insignificant price for permitting tourists to stay at their homes. The charge includes meals.
WHERE TO EAT
There are no Hotels or cafeterias close to the monastery. Villagers serve food if you ask for or if you are residing in their home. They charge very nominal rates for it.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The greatest interval to visit the monastery is between July to early November as rest of the year the region remains snowed in.
One needs to take a 4 hour trek uphill to reach to the monastery.
But once inside the complex of the monastery one is enthralled to see the exquisite paintings on the walls of the monastery made of gold. Also famous for its Gustor festival one sees a rush of travelers to this monastery during this time.
Suspended on a rocky front, it is the second largest monastery of Zanskar after Karsha, with a inhabitant population of 60 Gelukpa monks. This monastery is associated with the Tibetan Yogi Marpa. Marpa Lotsawa is attributed for the range of Buddhism to Tibet from India. Reaching there is quite tiring as one needs to walk uphill on foot for about four hours. The monastery is an perfect place to enjoy the remarkable set of the valley all over the place.
The monastery, founded in the year 1052 AD by Lama Lhodak Marpa Choski Lodos, comes under the Tsongkhapa Order. The monastery boasts of a number of beautiful shrines and some exquisite wall paintings. The most visited among them is the Gon-khang, a temple devoted to the godparent divinities of Buddhism.
Stongdey is widely known for its Gustor festival held on the 28th and 29th day of the 11th Tibetan month, in which the monks execute the sacred dance.
Around Stongdey, one can visit Karsha cloister (the largest Gelupa monastery in the area), Sani monastery, and Zongkhul monastery with their stunning frescoes.
How To Reach
It can be reached by air from Srinagar (204 km from Kargil) and Leh (230 km from Kargil). There are consistent bus facilities from Kargil to Padum (240 km). The journey from Kargil to Padum takes 48 hours with an overnight stop at Rangdum. From Padum, one can rent a jeep for the rest of the journey.