Lying deep in the northern arm of Zanskar at the end of the 35 km long road from Padum, Zangla was being ruled by a titular king till his death a few years back. The old castle now in ruins except for a small chappel, occupies a hill, overlooking the desertic valley below. Nearby is the old nunnery worth a visit for the austere life style of the small monastic community of nuns. An old monastery situated in the nearby village of Tsa-zar has exquisite frescos.
The other spectacular cave monastery of Zanskar are in Zongkhul, that falls on the Padum-Kishtwar trekking trail, just before the ascent of Omasi-la Pass begins. Situated like a swallow's nest on the rock face of the Ating George, the monastery is associated by legend with the famous Indian yogi Naropa, who lectured in the Nalanda and Vikram Sila universities. The two caves here are the present monasteries, are said to have been used by the famous yogi for the solitary meditation. A footprint on the stone near the ingress of the lower cave is reserved as that of the yogi. The frescos on the cave walls are very old and reflect a high degree of artistic achievement. These are believed to be the original murals executed by Zhadpa Dorje. The celebrated scholar-painter of the same monastery who was active about 300 years ago.
The monastery of Stongdey lies 18 km to the north of Padum, on the road leading to Zangla. An old foundation associated with the Tibetan yogi, Marpa, Stongdey is now the second largest monastic establishment of Zanskar, inhabited by the resident community of about 60 Gelukpa monks. The sprawling white-washed complex has a number of temples, each a repository of the region's rich monastic legacy. Stongdey can be reached by foot in about 4 hours by road. The climb up to the monastery is rather streneous, but it is worth the trouble for the breathtaking scenery of the valley seen from here.