Sani Gompa, Zanskar, Ladakh – A Fairyland

During our Photo-tour to Zanskar, one of our pit-stop to Padum (the regional centre) was Sani Gompa.

Sani Gompa (Sani Monastery) is located in the village with the same name 6 kms before Padum in the Stod Valley, Zanskar region.

After having a overcast morning at Rangdum, we were looking forward to some sunshine. After crossing the Penzi La – the highest pass before the valley, the weather started clearing miraculously. By the time we reached the village, it was sunny.

The location was absolutely breath-taking. There were yellow mustard field and the monastery in between.

The first person that caught my attention was this young girl.


Since these places are not frequented by tourists a lot, she gave me a strange look.


We walked down to the monastery. This old lady was walking past.



Most of the small settlements marked as villages had less than a dozen houses. This village had half a dozen. Most of them were traditional and quite old.

This building was an extension of the monastery and served as the monks quarters.


About the Monastery
Emperor Kanishka (Aka Kanika) constructed 108 chortens in the 1st century AD, one of them being the Sani Gompa. It is regarded to be the oldest religious site in the whole region of Ladakh and Zanskar.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to enter the monastery. As in all other parts of Ladakh, no outside vehicles can be used for sightseeing (to encourage hiring of local vehicles). The permission or permit is available only in Padum and since we were visiting this village before reaching Padum, we didn’t have any documents.



I requested the monk if I could take a picture from outside and thankfully, he agreed.


We went around in the mustard fields where some ladies were harvesting the yield.


As I turned to the monastery again, I realised that the old lady is circumambulating the monastery. She already did about 5 times till that time. Some one told me that she is going to do it for the whole day.




The monastery amid the yellow fields of mustard.


Smiling faces in the village.




Before we left the village, I was able to capture this picture and surely it reminded me of the days when my grandmother used to take me out for walks.


Thank you for reading this post. Hope you liked spending time here. I will be back again with another interesting place.

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This post is written by Saurabh Chatterjee. He is a travel photographer and a photography trainer.
He strives to ‘make every camera-owner a great photographer through his Photography workshops and Photo Tours and Photowalks.

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