Phugtal monastery- an offbeat destination in North India
Phugtal monastery is a heritage destination for the peace lovers and those who want to take a break from their daily life. It is a massive monastery cave which is held high on the steep mountains of Zanskar Valley. It was primarily built with woods and mud till it was rebuilt about 12 hundred years ago. Now it is home to almost 70 monks. Phugtal is also known as Phuktal which means the cave of leisure or liberation. People in search of spiritual peace and realization would find this place their heaven. The designs and decorations of the monastery match with the oldest monasteries in India, Tabo monastery and Alchi Monastery.
How to reach Phugtal monastery and where to stay
Situated in the Himalayan ranges of Ladakh, it is the only Buddhist Monastery in the area that can be reached by foot or else by donkeys and horses. The first step to go there is to take a drive from Padum, which is the biggest city in Zanskar and reach the end of the road. Then from there, a trek is a must to reach the place which will take nearly 7 hours. The trekking route passes through high mountain valley of the greater Himalayas. The route is not only offbeat but also offers an exciting adventure.
The contrast of lush green vegetation and brown barren landscape is amazing. While going through the route you may spot the villages of Anmu and Cha on the left side. There is another option to reach Phugtal which is safer than Cha. There is a village named Prune at the opposite of river Lungnak. To reach the monastery you have to cross three bridges which are not so high. A few houses in the village offer home stays to the trekkers which serve them as a passive income. These places are ideal destinations to have a relaxed moment after a long journey.
Phutgal monastery- a religious experience
The road is clear and a single route connects to the monastery. Because of this, there is less chance of getting lost, but yes you may get lost in yourself. The spaces within the high rocks of mountains at the roadside hold ancient scriptures in Tibetan language. Whether it is thousands of years old or created by any monk living there is unknown. After a long walk when you will reach the monastery, the sight would relieve you from all tiredness. The hills are home to local people and the hills too come alive with them.
There is a small home stay for the guests before the three stupas that is a mark of the boundary. The guests are given warm welcome by the monks. You have to follow their lifestyle if you wish to stay there. However, it would be a different experience to spend one day with them. The lunch provided by them is mostly boiled and healthy. They seemed to live a life detached from the world in a boundary of peace where the soul is rejuvenated.
Festivals of Phugtal
A wide range of festivals are celebrated here such as:
- Beginning of the New Year
- Fasting ceremony for good karma
- Varshavas ceremony
- Initiation ceremony
- Harvest ceremony
- Worshipping thirteen deities
- World peace celebration
What to see Phugtal monastery
The phugtal monetary has got a school for meditation, spiritual realization and religious learning, library, prayer halls etc. The colourful architecture is something that would leave you spellbound. The temple, sacred spring and the original cave are the things to see there. Various points of attraction surround the monastery that will make you speechless. The most interesting thing about the phugtal monastery is that there is a hollow rock in the cave and the water within it never spills out regardless of water drawn from it. And moreover, it is believed that this water in the cave over the monastery possess healing power.
The journey to the mysterious beauty of Phugtal is hard but the experience is worth the tough journey. The hardcore tourists must visit this out-of-the-world place in order to have a unique realization of lives and society on earth that is far away and hidden.
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