Anyone who is disillusioned with the turgidity of Ladakh’s landscape should take a ride from Leh to one of the most isolated valleys of north Ladakh, Nubra Valley. During this 150 km ride, Ladakh will unveil the charm of its passes and high-altitude cold desert embellished by ancient gompas and small green oasis villages as the pages of a novel. The grandiose Y-shaped Nubra Valley gives ways to rocky boulders and snow-clad mountains of Ladakh and Karakoram ranges that welcome every visitor with their arms wide open. But before you hit the road for this amazing journey, it is better to know something about the destination, about the natural forces that reigns supreme here and about the unlimited fun and adventure that you are going to experience.
With an average elevation of 3048 meters above sea level, Nubra Valley is a tri-armed valley tucked in the northernmost part of Ladakh region of J&K state. Despite little rainfall and rare precipitation, the valley is reputed as one of the greenest regions of Ladakh. Come summer and the valley beckons with crisp air, breathtaking views of wheat, barley, mustard and pea fields along with fruit gardens and a gentler pace of life. The diorama of apricot and almond blooms spells a colorful magic not only on the white desert of Nubra but also on the visitors. Because of its sheer fertility, the valley is popular known as the “FOOD BOWL OF LADAKH”. It is really incredible to have mountains, rivers, crop fields, fruit gardens, rocks and desert within a span of few kilometers in Nubra Valley.
Living in remoteness for most of the year, the valley comes to life during summers. Thanks to this isolation, it is one of the unspoilt destinations in India far from the madding crowd. Diskit is the main town and administrative headquarter of Nubra Valley. Well connected with Leh by road, the town acts as the main base point for every kind of activity. To the north of the valley lies Siachen Glacier while the iconic Karakoram Pass and Sasser Pass are located on the north-western side. The valley is mainly inhabited by the Nubra Skat speakers and reflects a high influence of Tibetan Buddhist culture. Nubra River plays an important part in adding colors to this distinct world. Panamik, Turtuk, Sumur and Hunder are some other main villages of Nubra Valley.
The deserted look which stretches for miles across the valley is occasionally broken by the prayer stones and fluttering Tibetan prayer flags that signify the presence of humans in the somewhat white and somewhat brown Rocky Mountains. A trip to Nubra Valley is definitely a treasure of life. To access this remote yet striking place, one has to pass through Khardung La, one of the highest motorable passes in the world.
A descent path after crossing Khardung La and around 8-hour drive takes you to Diskit town, the main administrative centre of the valley. The town is located on the edge of Shyok-side deserted area. Once you enter the town, the serenity of the place will surely win your hearts. The influence of Diskit Monastery can be felt everywhere around the town. Diskit Monastery is one of the largest and ancient Buddhist peace-houses in Ladakh. Built in 1420 AD, the Gompa is placed on a hilltop and belongs to Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. One can capture the beautiful views of Karakoram Range from the monastery. But the main attraction of Diskit Gompa is the 32 meter high statue of Maitreya Buddha placed on a small hillock close to the Gompa. The statue overlooks the valley, facing down the Shyok River and is a striking example of skilled craftsmanship.
Another most recognized face of Nubra Valley other than historical Buddhist peace house of Diskit is the white sand dunes of Hunder Village and the equally famous double-humped Bactrian camel safari. Situated around 8 km from Diskit town, Hunder perfectly represents the majestic hues of Nubra Valley’s topography. While you experience some fantastic views of the vegetation in Diskit, Hunder is all about white desert. Travelers can enjoy exciting Bactrian camel rides from Diskit to Hunder Village. Until 2010, the valley was open for tourists only till Hunder Village but with the opening of the region beyond the village later on gives tourists lifetime experiences to explore previously unexplored Ladakhi villages like Turtuk.
Encircled by snow-capped mountains, Panamik village is a sight to behold. Located on the banks of Nubra River, Panamik is the last accessible village for foreigners. Just a few kilometers away from the village lays Siachen Glacier, a controversial point over which Indian and Pakistan armies are fighting for years. But in Panamik, everything seems under control and peaceful. The village is mainly renowned for its sulphur hot springs but there is much more to experience and enjoy in this off-beat rural settlement. It is easy to spot Pashmina goats here and the village also serves as the base camp for trekking expedition to the 250 year old ENSA GOMPA.
On the way to Panamik village, you will come across a white structure with a tint of traditional gold and red orchard that makes it easily visible from a distance. It is Samstanling Monastery, believed to be the main Gompa of the valley. The path to the Gompa is equally eye-catching with bushes full of berries and Tibetan prayer flags welcoming you. The monastery was originally founded in 1841 by Lama Tsultim Nyima and presently 50 monks reside in it.
If you are overwhelmed by the shimmering blue lakes of Ladakh then Yarab Tso is the place for you. This holy lake is situated close to Sumur village, which is about 15 km from Diskit. The picturesque setting of the lake is enough to win the hearts of the visitors.
Like the other areas of Ladakh, Nubra Valley too satisfies the hunger of adventure inside us. NUBRA VALLEY TREK is one of the foremost trekking expeditions in Ladakh that every hard-core trekker wants to experience once in a lifetime. Because of its mild climate, the valley is often nicknamed the “Valley of Flowers” and is also called the “Orchard of Ladakh”. But it doesn’t however mean that you will not encounter harsh mood of natural forces that still dominates the area. Freezing conditions, strong winds, rocky mountainsides and the passes that put all your mental strength and physical stamina on test are relatives of Nubra Valley. And that’s why Nubra Valley Trek is not everybody’s cup of tea.
During this trekking expedition, trekkers will come across various interesting places like Diskit Monastery, Khardung La, Khardung Village, Hunder Village and Khalser. While trekking, explorers can also enjoy Bactrian camel safaris. There are two routes for this trek, so trekkers can choose a route from them according to their preferences.
Trekking Route 1: Delhi – Leh – Phyang – Lasirmo La (5300 meters) – Hunder (Nubra Valley) – Khalsar – Digger La (5200 meters) – Saboo – Leh – Delhi
Trekking Route 2: Delhi – Leh – Sabu (Saboo) Village – Digger (Digar) La – Agyam Village – Khalsar Village – Diskit – Leh – Delhi
How to Reach
Nubra Valley can be easily accessed from Leh, the capital town of Ladakh, via Khardung La. But special permits are required for tourists to enter the valley and the permit is valid for a maximum period of seven days only. Tourists and trekkers need to hand over photocopies of the permit on both the sides of Khardung La and also at the checkpoint by the bridge to Sumur. Tourists can reach the capital town Leh easily by any mode of transportation. For better convenience, the town has its own domestic airport that is well connected with all major cities of India.
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