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Nubra Valley Leh

Discussion in 'Jammu & Kashmir' started by DevArun, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. DevArun

    DevArun New Member

    I am putting together a plan for a trip to Leh, and getting information together for the places which should be visited there. I have read and also heard about the place Nubra Valley. Now what I would like to know is, is there anything special about Nubra Valley or is it just like the other valleys in Leh?

    Should I actually visit Nubra Valley in Leh?

    All I see Nubra Valley is a valley nothing more, so if there is more to see and do there, please mention the details.

    I would also like to know where it is in Leh, if it is too far out or within Leh?

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!

    The Beauty of Nubra Valley
    Brief overview of Nubra Valley

    About 160 kilometres away from Leh, to its most northern part, you can find the Nubra Valley. The confluence of both the rivers of Nubra and Shyok is located at the heart of Nubra Valley, its capital, which is Diskit. Amidst the borders of both Pakistan and China, this is one of the most remote regions in the country.

    While the village of Hunder has sparse vegetation along its deserts, the other villages are quite green and colourful, especially during summer season. Agriculture is actually the main occupation of the residents here, hence it is not unusual to see fields populated with crops like apricots and wheats. This intermingling of different landscapes, barren lands at one point and villages with greenery at one point, is a sight to behold.

    On the way to Nubra Valley, you would also reach the Khardung La, one of the highest motor-able passes in the world. This journey can prove to be one of the most exhilarating experiences you'd ever have, with the bumpy roads along with the ascents and descents. To the north of Nubra Valley, there are also other high passes, the Sasser La and the Karakoram Pass. Just below the latter is the disputed Siachen Glacier, also located within the boundaries of Nubra.

    How to reach Nubra Valley?

    You can easily hire a cab from Leh to take you to the Nubra Valley. Rates vary but I would post them below for your reference. You can also ride a bus directly plying to Diskit from Leh but their schedules are not fixed and their frequency is not that guaranteed. A better option for budget travellers would be to ride a shared sumo or jeep from Leh to one of the villages around Nubra Valley. Journey duration varies, depending on the type of vehicle and also the weather conditions, but it's at about six to seven hours.

    Different Fares from Leh to Villages in Nubra Valley

    VillageTaxi (Drop)Taxi (Return)Shared Sumo (Drop)Shared Sumo (Return)Bus (Drop)
    KhalsarRs. 4,500 to Rs. 4,700Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 7,200Rs. 350 to Rs. 400Rs. 700 to Rs. 800n/a
    DiskitRs. 5,500 to Rs. 5,800Rs. 7,200 to Rs. 7,600Rs. 400 to Rs. 450Rs. 800 to Rs. 900Rs. 200
    HunderRs. 5,700 to Rs. 6,000Rs. 7,600 Rs. 7,800Rs. 400 to Rs. 450Rs. 800 to Rs. 900n/a
    PanamikRs. 5,900 to Rs. 6,200Rs. 7,900 to Rs. 8,000Rs. 400 to Rs. 450Rs. 800 to Rs. 900Rs. 287
    SumoorRs. 5,900 to Rs. 6,200Rs. 7,800 to Rs. 8,000Rs. 400 to Rs. 450Rs. 800 to Rs. 900Rs. 256
    TurtukRs. 9,150 to Rs. 9,605Rs.11,700 to Rs. 12,300Rs. 500 to Rs. 550Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,000n/a

    Note - Foreigners first need to obtain a Protected Area Permit (PAP) before accessing the valley. You can get it from the District Commissioner’s Office in Leh. Alternatively, you can also hire a travel agent which could get the PAP for you. This is more convenient but also more expensive. On the other hand, Indian nationals don't require any permit at all. For a while back though, Indian nationals were required to obtain an Inner Line Permit which was then lifted.

    What to see or do around Nubra Valley?

    Although there are many villages around Nubra Valley, you don't have to visit them all. For a short stay, you can visit just a few villages like Diskit, Hunder, Sumoor and Panamik. Let us try highlighting what you can see and do around these villages:

    1. Diskit - The Capital of Nubra

    It's easy to call Diskit as the capital of Nubra Valley yet this distinction somehow doesn't match its appearance. Yes, for the most part, it has better tourist infrastructures than the other villages but at the same time, it's still very much a rural village. There are two main attractions in this village, the Diskit Monastery and the Maitreya Buddha Statue.
    • Diskit Monastery - This is the oldest and largest monastery in Nubra Valley. It is located upon a hillock, overlooking the village of Diskit and also the Shyok River below. In the main prayer hall of the monastery, you can find a statue of Buddha along with some ancient paintings. Initially though, the monastery was built within the premises of a royal palace. Now, the palace has been converted into the whole monastic complex, which is why the monastery occupies a huge space. And although it is mainly dedicated to Buddha, you can also find other shrines dedicated to deities of Hinduism here too. Make sure that you reach the monastery's upper floors to get good views of the surroundings.
    • Maitreya Buddha Statue - The 32-metre high statue of Maitreya Buddha is very apparent even from a distance away from it. It is located just below the Diskit Monastery. Its imposing size along with the bright colours used for the statue gives it a unique appearance. It stands guard over the village too, which is actually the main reason why it was built.
    You can also visit the Lachung Temple, just above the Diskit Monastery. It is less visited because of its smaller size but provides as much serenity as the latter.

    Note - You can actually stay in Diskit, if you'd like, as there are plenty of guest houses and some higher end hotels here. Restaurants are not that many, except in the hotels but there are a few roadside dhabas or eateries that can give you a taste of the local cuisine.

    2. Hunder - White Desert & Two Humped Camels

    This village is just about 10 kilometres away from Diskit. On your way to Hunder from Diskit, you would pass by the famous white desert of Leh. These sand dunes reflect the colours of the skies in them and during night time, they are also a stunning spectacle to see. You can indulge in a camel safari here, courtesy of none other than the two humped camels, also known as Bactrian camels. Did you know that these majestic creatures were once used as the transportation means from China to India, during the trading era of Leh?

    While there is not much to see nor do in Hunder, aside from the desert and the camel safari, there are some guest houses and camping sites around the village. Here, you can interact with the locals and also indulge in the delicious and fresh produce like apples, apricots and even walnuts.

    White Desert and Bactrian Camel of Hunder

    3. Sumoor - Sleepy Little Village

    Located about 41 kilometres away from Hunder, reaching back to Diskit and taking the other side of the fork road, can lead you to Sumoor. It is located at the edge of the Nubra River, before it joins with the Shyok River. Just like the other villages, there's not much that you can do here but revel in the beauty of its serenity. There is one monastery here worth visiting though, the second largest of its kind in Nubra Valley.
    • Sam Stan Ling Monastery - Although this monastery is very simple, don't dismiss visiting it when in Nubra Valley. Its facade is a mixture of white and maroon along with some accents of gold. The prayer hall has a main statue for Shakyamuni along with the other forms of the Buddha. The monks here are very enthusiastic about visitors and might even invite you for tea. The tranquility of the monastery along with the views of the mountains provide one with a spiritual retreat.
    There are no hotels around here and even guest houses only provide basic accommodations for guests. If that does not fancy you, you can always go back to Diskit for more accommodation options.

    4. Panamik - Hot Springs & Lake

    At just about 25 kilometres away from Sumoor, to the north, you can reach Panamik. This is the last village before the Indo China border as well. As compared to the other villages, you have more attractions to explore here.
    • Panamik Hot Springs - To combat the cold climate in Nubra Valley, you can reach Panamik and swim in its hot springs. Not only do the hot springs provide some comfort, they are also believed to have healing properties due to their high sulphuric content. The water from the hot springs are definitely hot and you might not be able to tolerate it for a long duration. For the convenience of travellers, there are separate bathing pools for both men and women, as well as showers and changing rooms.
    • Yarab Tso - Reaching this small lake requires a bit of a trek, either from Panamik Village itself or taking a left turn to the dirt paths just before you reach the village gates. It is a fairly small lake, located amidst barren landscapes. The water here is crystal clear, reflecting the skies above. This lake is also revered sacred by many locals so swimming is not permitted.
    • Ensa Monastery - A few kilometres away from Panamik is the Ensa Monastery. It is approachable by road and you only need to trek for about 50 metres more after the path for vehicles disappears. Or if you're that adventurous, you can also reach the monastery by foot from Panamik. It can take you around three hours though but the views along the way are mesmerising, with the boulder-stricken rivers and willow trees around the trails. The Ensa Monastery itself is worth visiting because of its wall paintings. These paintings give you a glimpse of the rich culture and tradition of the Buddhist religion.
    5. (Bonus) Turtuk - Is this India?

    About 100 kilometres away from Hunder, to the north, is Turtuk. It is actually the northernmost region of Ladakh, close to the Indo Pakistan Border. This village has only been opened for tourists during 2010 due to the conflict between the two countries bordering it. As such, the region remains relatively unexplored and pristine. As soon as you reach the village, the culture, the landscape and the people changes.

    Because Turtuk is lower in elevation than Leh, the abundance of greenery here is very evident. Agriculture is the main source of income of the locals and you can find the sweetest apricots in the village. Wheat is also a major crop produced here and unlike other regions, the farmers can plant two varieties of wheat each season.

    Homes are very quaint and small, made of stones and wood. It is here where you can witness the simplicity of life, without any interference of technology at all. The locals also look quite different, with their white complexions, rosy cheeks and almond eyes. They all seem happy and quite contented with life too.

    It's a little piece of Baltistan right at India and nowhere else can you experience this unique culture and tradition of the locals in Turtuk.

    Is Nubra Valley worth a visit?

    Well, I have highlighted the main attractions around Nubra Valley. It's up to you if it's worth a visit really. But if you love being exposed to different landscapes and experiencing different cultures, a visit to Nubra Valley is very much worth it. It is an offbeat destination and an experience that you cannot have in any other destination.

    I hope this helps!