Rutok Monastery

Buddhist Monastery in Rutok Xian

The charming, white-painted traditional village of old Rutok huddles at the base of a splinter of rock, atop which is Rutok Monastery, flanked at both ends by the crumbling, but still impressive, ruins of Rutok Dzong. From here, you can see the reservoir below and Pangong-tso in the distance. The surrounding villages are largely deserted in summer, as herders move to higher pastures.

The modern main chapel is centred around a large statue of Jampa (Maitreya). Clearly, at one time the whole eastern face of the hill was covered in monastic buildings. The monastery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt in 1984, with more construction in 2011; it now has just eight monks out of a previous total of 160.

Old Rutok is 10km off the main road, from a junction just before Rutok Xian, and the road is currently being paved. Look for the kitschy Mongolian yurt camp at the junction. A road leads up behind the western side but the eastern approach on foot is much more atmospheric.