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Nubra Valley is a strange and fascinating collection of starkly opposite geographical elements. It is one of the rarest places on earth where you can see wide, blue rivers, a glittering desert and snow capped mountains in one site. Here there are farms that produce a good amount of food as well as two-humped Bactrian camels that remind you of the barren, desert lands. What’s more, this picturesque little world, settled in a wide but hardly accessible valley that you can go to only in summers, has several villages inhabited by a significant population of well civilized people.

 

Mesmerizing as Nubra Valley is, the road that takes you there from Leh is none less intriguing. You have to take an early morning start from Leh as the traffic can only march one way at a time. Till noon you can go towards Nubra and after that you can return. You start moving up the barren hills outside Leh. Soon, when you have moved enough, you enter the snowy region. Up until here, bird watchers and photographers should be lensed up as eye-level sightings of gliding eagles are not very rare. Hereon it starts getting chilly and driving becomes thrilling over the narrow roads edging deep valleys. Weather decides if you should have to drive over slippery, snow covered roads. If you do find yourself in that situation it is best to let the local drivers take the reins of your vehicle.

 

Before long, you arrive at Khardung La, one of the highest motorable roads of the world. For a long time it was referred to as the highest motorable road in the world, but wrongly so. There are some passes in Tibet that surpass Khardung La, one in particular. Without too much of an issue it can still be called as the second highest motorable pass. Highest or not, surpassing the lofty challenge of Khardung La puts wide smiles on the faces of people, especially those who have braved the journey on a bike. Atop, along the road, is a peak that you may climb up to. From here you get an enthralling view of this entirely snow blanketed region.

 

As you descend the heights of Khardung La and leave behind the snow covers, you come to pass through a region of Yaks. You may witness herds of Yaks grazing around near a small village named North Pullu. The road descends further, making you take off the warm clothes you had put on near Khardung La. After passing a few villages on the way, you finally arrive in the Nubra region.

 

Nubra Valley, an extra ordinary place, greets you with unusual views. The first of these is a bird’s eye view of Shyok River flowing from the feet of a lofty mountain. As you descend further, the valley at your side widens into a great plain stretched between the rows of mountains. Wherever the road widens and allows you to pull over for a while, you should step down and fill in the changing views. At first of the river and the mountains, then of the barren lands on which the roads look like thin, dark lines drawn for kilometers and then finally of the human settlements. It is a wonderful feeling to see several villages, separated by wide empty patches in between, in one gaze.

 

Just as your descent comes to an end, you arrive at Diskit, the first and major settlement of Nubra Valley. You may be surprised while taking a driving through this fully blossomed town in the middle of a remote valley. People of Nubra are well to do and quite updated. You can see the groups of youngsters, clad in jeans and T-shirts, hanging out and going to schools. There are several shops, offices and hotels in Diskit. Mostly Buddhist, the population of Diskit and other villages in Nubra is well to do. Prime attraction at Diskit is the 17th century Diskit Monastery. Settled on a high hill, this is an interesting place.  Nearby is a gigantic statue of Maitreya, which makes nice pictures in the afternoon sun.

 

As you move ahead through Diskit and come near Hunder, you are greeted by the desert sand dunes, and the two humped Bactrian camels moving across them. Nubra Valley is a funky location on the map, a part of the tiny portion of India that falls in Central Asia. The camels that you see here are unlike any that you will see in other parts of India. They belong to the race of the Central Asian camels that once came here with the nomadic merchants. They feed on the scanty vegetation mostly dominated by the Leh Berry bushes. Apart from the Bactrian camels, which are mostly tamed, here you can also spot Kiangs (also spelled Kyangs), Marmots and foxes.

 

Hunder is popular for desert safaris, mostly conducted at the sand dunes spread between Hunder and Diskit. Atmosphere at the Hunder desert is quite enjoyable during evenings when flocks of tourist gather around for merrymaking. Hunder also offers some interesting staying options, including hotels, lodges as well as camps. During summers, Nubra Valley is pleasantly warm and staying at a camp in Hunder can be a good experience.

 

The next day, you may start on your journey back. Sumur and Panamik are two other villages in Nubra Valley visited by the tourists. A few kilometers after crossing Diskit, a road goes left to Sumur, a wonderful settlement by Nubra River. This green village offers a lot of interesting options, including a monastery and a palace of the Kings of Nubra in an attached village called Tegar. Sumur, too, offers some very good staying options. Panamik, the last point up to which the foreign tourists are allowed has some hot water springs.

 

Nubra Valley is mostly controlled by Indian army and needs a permit to travel to for everyone, which can be acquired from your travel agent in Leh. Foreigners are restricted up to the ultimate border of Hunder and Panamik. Photocopies of the permit need to be handed over at South Pullu and North Pullu before and after Khardung La respectively. Another copy needs to be handed over before Sumur. A smart travel agent will not let you be bothered by these formalities and your driver will guide you or take care of the formalities at the check posts. You will, however, have to hand over a copy of your photo identity to your travel agent. Also, the foreigners have to travel in a group of more than four, which means that some tourists may have to team up with other travelers. Given the roads around Khardung La, it is highly recommended that you hire an SUV with a local driver from Leh for this journey.

 

A must visit place in Ladakh; Nubra Valley will be one of the high points of the journey to this land of snow, mountains and monasteries. Though it is practically possible to make a day trip to Nubra Valley from Leh, it is highly recommended that you spare at least one or preferably two days for the trip. Experiencing a night stay in a camp at Hunder or Sumur, a walk over the streets of Diskit and a desert safari on the two-humped Bactrian camel will be a very good idea. It is one of the most unusual places on the planet. Even if you are an exhaustive traveler, you will rarely come across a land such as this later, so it is better that you get the most of it while you are here.

 

 


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Quick Reference

The Nubra Valley is one of the most fascinating areas of Ladakh. When travelling from Leh to Nubra Valley, you need to pass through the Khardung La pass, one of the highest motorable roads of the world. Diskit, Hunder, Sumur and Panamik are the main settlements in Nubra Valley. A permit is needed to enter the Nubra Valley and it can be acquired from a travel agent in Leh. Sumur and Hunder offer nice staying options. Hunder also hosts desert safaris on Bactrian camels (two humped camels). Kiangs, Marmots and foxes can be spotted here. A visit to Nubra Valley can be a tour highlight.

 

Destination Grade: B (What is this?)
Rating: 8/10
5 Star Hotels: Silk Rout Cottage
Luxury Hotels: Yarab Tso Hotel
Airport: Leh 134 kms
Railway station: Jammu is the nearest Railway station
Nearest Major City(s): Leh 150 km
How to reach: Well connected to Jammu and Kashmir by bus
Major Tourist Attraction: Diskit,Hundar,Panamik
Speciality[Famous for]: Valley of Flowers,Hill Station
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Rating:
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Total Reviews : 8
 
 
Reviews by users : (8)
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Nubra Valley Rocks - by Danish Dated : 2012-01-19
While me and a group of friends were visiting Leh and most of Ladakh, we planned a trip to the Nubra Valley instantly. People gave us rave reviews of its beauty and its different atmosphere it holds. We hired 2 cars and left for Nubra from Leh. On our way to Nubra, we came across one of highest passes in the world, the Khardung La pass, we clicked a lot of photos in front of the signboard. It was fun. As we moved closer to Nubra we were understanding why people called it a different tourist destination. The geography is really unique. We reached by late afternoon, freshened up and went for camel ride at Hunder. It was really cool you know, the sand dunes and the chilly breeze. No one will regret a visit to Nubra, specially when you have some cool friends along. :-)
Unique tourist destination Nubra - by Mahesh Sharma Dated : 2012-01-14
I have very fond memories of the Nubra valley as me and my wife visited this beautiful region 2 years ago. It is a very different tourist destination as you do not see a frenzied lot of people or a buzzy atmosphere. Everything is calm and peaceful. There are no queues or no tickets, just nature and its enthralling beauty! We took a ride on the Bactrian camels, it was a bumpy ride, not because there were potholes, but because we were sitting on a camel, that too one with two humps for the first time. There are sand dunes near Hunder, the place where we were staying, it was there that we had a camel ride. There is a famous Buddhist monastery, the Diskit monastery which we visited. The food was kind of nice, but different. I and my wife had a great time as we explored Nubra.
Captivating Nubra Valley - by Abhay Mujumdar  Dated : 2011-03-17
Leh had already gripped us, I and my wife, and now moving towards Nubra valley we were too excited to know what more beautiful was in store for us. It is better to start early in the morning and reach Nubra by the noon so that getting back in the evening is convenient. The weather can turn your cards, you may never know when. Better take precautions than spoiling the tour.

As we left Leh behind, we kept on looking out of the window, grasping every shade of God’s colorful world. It was a mesmerizing experience. Nubra is also known as the valley of flowers, it is located in the north of Leh, around 120 kilometers off Khardung La. Khardung la is known to be the world’s highest motorable road. Nubra was an important trade centre on the famous silk route leading from Leh to Kashgar.

Diskit, Hundar, Panamik and Tiger are the main settlements in Nubra. Hundar was where we had booked a camp stay. We also saw the Diskit gompa, a busy structure, thronged by people all the time. After reaching Hundar, we were mesmerized by the beauty of the desert. We rode the Bactrian camels on the white camel dunes. Another beautiful settlement, Panamik is famous for hot water springs; the water is known to have therapeutic properties. We had the time of our lives exploring Nubra and we were amazed at how this region of India was untouched by pollution and population problems. We were happy to go to such a place!
Nubra Valley - A Place with Abundant Natural Beauty - by Dheeraj Shah Dated : 2011-03-15
I and my friend Neeraj were to go to Nubra from Leh. We had stayed good three days in Leh and had seen everything worth seeing in and around Leh. The monasteries- Thikse, Stok and Shey were beautiful, but both of us are not religious so we did not feel much about them. However, we were happy to visit them and take some good photos of them to show back home.

We made an early morning start for Nubra, you may never know how the weather in the northern India may greet you. We had hired a car and some people from our hotel were also accompanying us. It was fun to have so many people as company. We talked and laughed as we went by. The road that took us to Nubra was not a total smoothie and driving over was not a cake walk. Cheers to the native drivers, they have strong hold over the steering. We were advised to get back by the evening, so we had made an early start. The snow covered roads made the surroundings around look so different.

We reached Khardung La, the famous pass, the driver submitted the photocopies of our respective permits there. It is a rule not to travel without a permit to Nubra. You can get a permit through your travel agent in Leh, it is not a big deal. From there the roads descend towards Nubra and the weather is not chilly but pleasant.
Later we arrived at Diskit, one of the main settlements in Nubra. We had our lunch there, it was good. We saw the Diskit monastery there. There is a huge statue of Maitreya near the monastery where we could take good photographs. The next main settlement in Nubra is Hunder. There you can take a good camel safari on none other than the Bactrian camels, they are two humped and found only in these parts of India.

After taking a decent camel ride we headed back to Leh. The scenic beauty of Nubra is incomparable; the place has abundant natural beauty that you cannot forget all your life.
Place : nubra_valley
Page Link : nubra_valley.php
Date : 2011-03-15
My Nubra Experience - by Darsheel Sahu  Dated : 2011-03-14
The Nubra valley has beautiful views, such that I would daresay I have never seen places and views like these ever before. I had a great time being in Nubra with a friend who is mad about visiting places where people think twice before going.
We were driving our car from Delhi to Leh and we had planned to hire a driver who would take us all the way to Nubra. We did not waste our time at Leh, but had to take a halt there, to catch up with the thin air in and around Leh. Our almost two days went in this process, in between we say a bit of Leh also.

Early in the morning we left for Nubra, the road was not as smooth as we had expected to be. There was ice all around and the feeling was great to cut across the ice and move forward steadily. The driver was well versed with these slippery roads and we directly stopped at Khardung La, where we had to give out photocopies of our travel permit. We felt like we had won a war then.

We moved steadily towards Nubra and we couldn’t wait to see what our hardships were to yield. My friend was already happy that he no longer needed to drive the car and I was also happy that I would finally see Nubra.

As we finally entered Nubra the scenery around felt like some film shoot. It was so perfect. The glittering ice, the beautiful scenes of the mountains and the tiny looking towns from the top of the cliffs, this was never seen before.

We had made bookings to stay at Hunder, one of the best settlements in Nubra. There we had great options; we took a camel desert safari. The camels were two humped, called the Bactrian camels, found only in this part of India. It was so much fun. Large sand dunes are spread between Diskit, another settlement and Hunder. Diskit is where the famous Diskit monastery is situated. We did not visit it though. The very next day we started our journey back. I can never forget Nubra, not alone for its beauty but also for its aura.
Nubra Valley - An Enchanting Place - by Nilesh Sharma  Dated : 2011-03-07
I and my wife started for Nubra Valley from our hotel in Leh early in the morning in a hired car. Since my friend had advised me to let the driver drive the car I chose not to take risks. It was due to my friend that I came to Jammu and Kashmir. He had sung praises of the beauty of this state and assured me that I would love the place too. And every moment in Leh was proving he was correct. We had entire Leh, we were too happy and now we were to see Nubra, not knowing what was in store for us yet hoping for the best.

We preferred travelling alone so we rejected our driver’s suggestion to get clubbed to a group of tourists headed for Nubra. Our permits were arranged by our travel agent from Leh itself. They were necessary for us to reach Nubra. Our first main stop was Khardung La. We saw many tourists there, taking photographs, laughing and enjoying. We could feel the strong presence of the Indian army there. However we were not allowed and advised to wait there more than a couple of minutes, we started for Nubra.

We saw yaks in herds on our way to Nubra, the contrast geography was really appalling. The weather was so pleasant. After some villages went by our driver told us that we had entered Nubra and we peeped out of the window to see. Like Ladakh, Nubra is also a high altitude desert.

The first huge settlement where we stopped was Diskit. We visited the famous Diskit monastery there. Just couple of minutes away from the monastery is a huge statue of Maitreya. We took a lot of photographs there.

We were to stay in a camp in Hunder overnight. We soon reached Hunder. The next day we took a desert safari in Hunder and had a great time there. Riding on the Bactrian camels was fun. We started our journey back after enjoying a lot.
My Nubra Valley Trip - Unforgettable - by Ashmit Rao  Dated : 2011-03-07
Nubra Valley of Jammu and Kashmir is an enchanting destination as if made for a demanding tourist. I was fortunate enough to be in Kashmir for my friends insisted me to come. The time we spent in Nubra shall always be that kind of a memory which would ease me forever. Thinking about how this place can be so beautiful I came to know it had more than beauty, it had a charm that held me so tight that I can still imagine myself taking a Bactrian camel ride.

To reach to Nubra we started early in the morning from Leh. The road from Leh to Nubra cannot be described in words. It has too much beauty, adventure and thrill tagged to it. We did not risk with the driving, we gave the wheels to the driver who was very well versed with the snowy, slippery roads. Nature, namely the weather decides whether you must see Nubra’s beauty or not.

Like a speed breaker on those slippery roads was the Khardung La pass. OMG it was hell of a place I really couldn’t breathe comfortably there. As the board suggested it must be the highest motorable road in the world, it was not going well for me though. To get to this highest motorable road or whatever, we had to stop at several check posts where we needed to give our permits. The driver gave them and that is how we finally reached Khardung La. The check posts never left our sides, even after Khardung La we had to give the permits at different posts. Finally we reached Nubra and I was smitten by its landscape.

Summers in this part of India are so pleasant. Our first stop in terms of villages was Diskit. It was a good settlement. Then we went to Hunder where we took the Bactrian camel ride. We also saw Kiangs there. We took a night halt in Hunder in a camp and the next day we started our journey back. It was an awesome experience!
Views at Nubra Valley, Seen Nowhere But Here - by Sahil Jain Dated : 2011-03-06
When I went to Nubra Valley, I realized that I had never been to a place that offered such unbelievable views. There is a desert here which looks very attractive on the backdrop of snowy mountains. There are many towns in Nubra Valley and they look amazing from the mountain top when you are coming down the road going into the Nubra Valley.

Nubra Valey is mostly under the control of military and you can see a lot of military activity here. However, the military does not make you uncomfortable in this region as it does in Srinagar. I have even seen military trucks being used as school buses for the children of the poor. There are man small villages here and most of the schools are located in Diskit to where students come from their villages. There is also an interesting monastery in Diskit and a gigantic statue of Buddha.

To go to Nubra Valley you have to obtain a permit from J&K Government. You can obtain this in Leh. We were three friends. We had come to Leh on motorcycles but had decided to go to Nubra Valley in a car. Our agent had clubbed us in a large group of tourists from Delhi and it was very nice to travel with so many people after our lonely journey of a week. We had given our ID proofs to the same travel agent and he had obtained the permits for us with those.

If you go to Leh, you should go to Nubra Valley. You visit Khardung La on the way. We wanted to go to Khardung on our bikes but there is no facility of parking the bikes there and heading to Nubra in cars with the group. We were told that our group of three friends will not be allowed to go to Nubra alone. I was very happy that we traveled with the group and had more fun in a sit and relax manner.

If you go to Nubra, do plan to stay over night. I think this is the most enjoyable destination in Ladakh after Leh. The option of desert safari on camels is not so enjoyable as sitting on the camel is just like anywhere, but it does add to the fun element if you go to the point where safaris take place just to enjoy the atmosphere.

Visit to Nubra was one of the most interesting parts of our visit to Ladakh.