Bardan Monastery in Padum, Zanskar Valley

by Vargis.Khan

bardan monstery

Bardan Monastery or Bardan Gompa is a 17th-century Buddhist monastery, approximately 12 kilometers from Padum, in Zanskar Valley. It is located on the Padum – Shinku La road, right next to the Zanskar River.

The monastery is noted for its large Dukhang or assembly hall which has some grand statues of Buddhist figures and several small stupas.

But more than that, it is possibly best known for its location and the way it is built. It sits on top of a single rock and makes up for quite a charming sight, offering great views of the valley and the river.

We visited the monastery during my recent trip to Zanskar Valley. This was the 10th day of our trip that we spent in Padum, visiting the local attractions. You can follow the links below to read the previous parts of the travelogue.

Journey So Far:

To be honest, we actually tried visiting the Bardan monastery but failed to do so. We reached all the way to its gate but had to return from there. Why? Read on to find out more.

About Bardan Monastery

Bardan monastery is neither that large in size nor that well-known. Other monasteries in the region like Karsha Monastery received many more visitors and are much larger.

What makes Bardan Monastery worth a visit though is its architecture. The entire structure is placed on top of a single rock and looks stunning. I wish I could tell how it is from the inside but unfortunately, we were not able to see that.

You can see a video of our visit at the link below.

How to reach Bardan Monastery

Bardan Monastery is located on the road to Reru village and Shinku La Pass. It is the same road that now connects Padum to Jispa in Lahaul Valley.

The condition of the road is super smooth and the drive from Padum to the monastery hardly takes 15-20 minutes. It is marked on Google Maps and you can just follow the directions to arrive at the monastery.

In case you were not able to find it on the Maps, just ask any of the locals and they can point you in the right direction.

There is no local cab or bus service to the village. You will either have to travel in your own vehicle or rent a taxi or bike in Padum.

Phone Network

Jio works well in Zanskar Valley. It remains connected with good reception and data speed in and around Padum, including Bardan monastery.

BSNL works as well but its network is not that strong. The voice clarity and call quality were very bad.

No other network works in Padum or Bardan monastery for now.

Best Time to Visit Bardan Monastery

A road trip to Zanskar Valley is only possible in the summer months, as the valley remains cut off from the rest of the country during the winter season. So you can visit the monastery only from May to October.

An ideal time would be to visit either early in the evening or late in the evening. During the rest of the day, the sun gets quite harsh and even the views aren’t that good.

Padum to Bardan Monastery

Now coming back to the travelogue, we had one day in Padum for local sightseeing in Zanskar Valley. We woke up a little late in the day and by the time we started our sightseeing, it was already 11 am.

The first place that we visited on this day was Sheela Waterfall. It is a beautiful waterfall located in a charming little village called Sheela, at a distance of about 4 kilometers from Padum.

We spent about 30 minutes at the waterfall and I really enjoyed our time there. If you are in Padum, this is one place that I will highly recommend visiting.

After Sheela Waterfall, we then drove back to Padum and moved on to our next destination for the day, Bardan Monastery.

We crossed this colorful bridge on the way.

padum in zanskar valley padum in zanskar valley

The 12 kilometers long drive to the monastery took us about 15-20 minutes to complete. The road was in excellent condition except for a few bad patches in between.

bardan monstery

We arrived at the monastery, parked the car, and started walking up the narrow path leading to the monastery.

The Dogs at the Gate

It was quiet all around. We were the only tourists there. As a matter of fact, we were the only people there. There was absolutely no one else in sight.

bardan monstery bardan monstery

Clicking pictures and shooting videos, we got closer to the gate of the monastery compound. The gate was bolted shut but it wasn’t locked. We could just open it and enter.

I assumed that the monks must be all inside the monastery. It is anyway a small monastery and I didn’t expect to find a lot of Lamas or people here, especially in the middle of the day with a harsh sun over our heads.

We were about to open the gate when a couple of dogs came barking out of nowhere on the other side of the gate. They were both tied but the leash was quite long. There was absolutely no way that we would make it past the gate without the dogs being able to reach us.

For a while, we did not know what to do. The way the dogs were barking aggressively meant business. I knew that if we opened the gate and tried to get past them, they will attack.

Surprisingly, even after the dogs started barking, no one came out of the monastery. We called out a few times hoping to see a Lama stepping out to let us in but no one did.

Failed Attempt

We waited for about 15 minutes calling out but there was no one around. It could mean only one thing. The monastery was closed and we will have to wait for the Lama to return. Or we could just give up the idea of seeing the monastery from the inside and go back to Padum.

We decided on the latter. It was way too hot outside the sun was really harsh. We were also both hungry and wanted to go back to Padum as soon as possible for lunch.

bardan monstery

Disappointed, we shot a few more videos from the outside, clicked some pictures, and started on our way back to the Padum market.

We had Tibetan for lunch in a small restaurant called Shambla. After that, we asked around and went to a Chemist’s shop to get some medicines for Lavish’s tooth that was aching since yesterday.

It was still way too hot so we returned to our hotel to rest. The last destination for the day was Karsha Monastery where we intended to go late in the evening to see the sunset from there. Please click on the link above to continue the next part of the travelogue.

Bardan Monastery – Conclusion

I hope the travelogue, pictures, and details on Bardan Monastery were of help.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below. You can also follow me on Instagram to chat with me live or subscribe to my YouTube channel and ask a question there.

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