A rugged landscape with high rocky mountains on one side, and an extended plateau on the other, Rangdum is an enchanting village, perched at the end of the Suru Valley. Many travellers pass it by on their trek to Padum, but some wayfarers decide to spend their night here, and they are the better for it.
Rangdum is a tiny hamlet of around ten houses, a couple of food stalls and a few guesthouses. The locals are mostly the bakarwals, the shepherds who lead a semi-nomadic life, tending to their livestock. Isolated from the rest of the world, the village seems stuck in time. The landscape adds to the mystery, and you feel that it is really a village out of nowhere.
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The history of Rangdum dates back to the 18th century when Gelek Yashy Takpa under the aegis of king Twesang Mangyul of Ladakh built the Rangdummonastery. The Monastery is home to 40 monks. Belonging to the Gelugpa sect, this 200 years old Tibetan Buddhist monastery is the biggest attraction in Rangdum.
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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 artefacts. 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.’
The monastery overlooks the valley from the top of the small hill surrounded by the river, the surrounding scenery is beautiful, and the monks are very welcoming to visitors. The gompa and his paintings are very well preserved, and on request, you can visit a small and interesting museum.
Rangdum is also a good base to explore the Durung Dun glacier. It is the second largest glacier in the area after Siachen. It is from where the Stod river emerges. 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.
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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.
So, if you are looking for a real adventure, then pack your bags for Rangdum, to explore the extremes in Ladakh.
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