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 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 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 a 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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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.
||B (What is this?)
|5 Star Hotels:
||Silk Rout Cottage
||Yarab Tso Hotel
||Leh 134 kms
||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:
||Valley of Flowers,Hill Station
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