(Last Updated on : 25/04/2014)
Zanskar, "The Land of White Copper" is exactly what it is referred. It has over decades put forth attraction of Shangri-La to grasp the attention of the tourists. This region's astonishing remoteness, extreme climate and distance from the Himalayan trade routes has proved that the winds that have blown from the Indus valley to the North had an influence over here. The annual arrival of tourists and a motorable road have certainly fastened the pace of development but away from the inhabited area of Padum, the local people's life here has been changed a bit after the sage Padmasambhava passed through in the eighth century.
The heart of the region is a Y-shaped glacial valley system exhausted by three main rivers, the Stod (or Doda) and the Tsarap (or Lingit) join and flow north as the Zanskar. This region lies in the windward side of the Himalayan watershed; this valley sees a lot more snow than the central Ladakh. This region is one of the coldest regions of the planet and even the low passes are blocked for seven to eight months annually. The mid winter temperatures can fall to minus 40°C which can prove to be insensitive. Nearly ten thousand inhabitants tend to survive in this miserable and treeless territory. Until the end of the 1970's, the Zanskaris could not generate anything resourceful for themselves, everything had to be transported in this frozen land over 4000 to 5000 metre passes or, in midwinter, it had to be carried along the frozen surface of the Zanskar from its confluence with the Indus at Nimmu, a ten- to twelve-day round trip that's still the quickest route to the Srinagar-Leh road from Padum.
Finally, in 1980, a motorable dirt track was blasted down the Suru and over Pensi La into the Stod Valley. Landslides and snowstorm can even take place in August. The bumpy journey from Kargil to Padum can now be completed in as little as thirteen hours. Visitors come here for trekking. Numerous tracks wind there way, north from Padum to Central Ladakh, West to Kishtwar, South to neighbouring Lahaul, all of which are long and hard hikes. If you are traveling here hoping to get district headquarters as a place of rest, you will be tremendously disappointed.
Enhanced communication over the years has brought about mixed reactions. The new improved road has brought richness in the way that it brings in tourists traffic, whose long term impact has yet to be fully recognized on the fragile and delicate territory. It has brought in wealth that has helped to fill the pockets of the local agencies in Leh, Manali and Srinagar. Zanskaris have got tired of seeing there region come second to Kargil, although lying in the same administrative district, they have been campaigning for several years for a sub-hill council status so that they can have more control over development.