Nubra Valley Known as Ldumra (the valley of flowers) is situated about 150 km north of Leh where the rivers, Shyok and Siachan, meet form a large valley.. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 ft. above the sea level. This valley separates the Ladakh from the Karakoram Ranges and the famous Siachen Glacier lies to the north of the valley.
Surrounded by snowcapped Himalayan ranges, Nubra valley lies sandwiched between Tibet and Kashmir. The view of the valley is picturesque and breathtaking. During winter, the whole valley looks like landscape of the moon (reason for calling Moonland) and in summer full of greenery. To the northwest of Nubra valley, lies The Sasser Pass and the famous Karakoram Pass of the 'Silk Route' fame which connect Nubra with Xinjiang. Panamik village is the last settlement in the northern end of in Nubra valley is open to tourists. Nubra valley has a lot to offer and is as a must do for everyone who travels to Leh It has been identified as a tourist circuit by the local administration of Leh district.
The main attraction in this area is the Bactarian Camels (Shaggy double hump Camel) around sand dunes, Deskit, Hunder, Ensa and Samstanling monasteries. The cold desert between Diskit and Hundur are another attraction for tourists. Tourists throng the cold desert to watch the sand dunes and for joyrides on the Bactrian camels. Native to the steppes of central Asia, the Bactrian camel has two humps, in contrast to the single-humped camels found in Rajasthan and other parts of India. The Bactrian camels, found only in Hunder, were the main mode of transport when Ladakh was an important stopover on the ancient trade routes with Central Asia.
Bactrian camels are a pointer to the regions importance since ancient times. A major stopover on the ancient Silk Route, Nubra is still important as it is a major trade centre for woolen textiles made of Pashmina wool and horticultural crops. Locals produce fruits like apples, walnuts, apricots, almonds and staple crops like wheat, barley, etc.
What To See
Located at a distance of about 150 kms from Leh, Panamik hamlet is the final frontier village of India where foreigners are allowed also Renowned for its curative hot springs. The Panamik hot water spring source is situated at an elevation of 10442 ft above sea level. The spring water contains high amount of sulphur and it is believed best for curing rheumatism and other ailments. Panamik is also famous for its Bactrian camels and Pashmina goats Wool from the Pashmina goats are used to weave the famous Pashmina Shawl.
Panamik is also the base for trek to Ensa Gompa. The 250-year-old Ensa gompa is popular for Buddhist murals and scriptures. The gompa overlooks snowcapped mountains and the Nubra Valley.
Yarab Tso Lake
Yarab Tso Lake is considered to be a holy lak in Nubra Valleye. It is situated near Sumur village, around 15 km from Diskit in Nubra Valley. It offers a magnificent serene surrounding that will truly capture heart and mind of any visitor. A 15-20 minutes hike uphill on a hillock will get you to the banks of this holy lake. The presence of crystal clear fresh water in the lake underneath the rocky and barren terrain flashes the enchanting picture of its surroundings, making the view so picturesque.
Diskit is situated at an altitude of 3142 meters above sea level, and lies 15 km north-west off the Khalsar-Panamik route, at the edge of the desert in Shyok valley. Among the larger villages, Diskit is the administrative centre of Nubra valley. Diskit is famous for its 14th century monastery, the largest and oldest monastery in Nubra valley. The monastery belongs to Gelugpa order or the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhsim. It was founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo, the disciple of Tsong Khapa, in 14th century. It is still under the management of Thiksey monastery Leh and hence, considered a sub-gompa of Thiksey.
The gompa roof of Diskit offers panoramic views of Nubra Valley. Diskit monastery stands on a hill above the flood plains of Shyok River. The monastery, which houses about 100 monks, runs a school in its precincts. This school teaches Tibetan children.
Founded by Lama Tsultim Nima around 140 years back, the Samstanling Monastery is located in the Sumlur village of the Nubra Valley region and 124 km north of Leh en route to Panamik. Around 50 monks reside in this monastery.
Khardung la Pass
Khardungla Pass is the highest motorable road in the world. Khardungla Pass is at an altitude of 5,603 meters or 18379 feet and is 39.7 km from Leh. Khardungla Pass is an important gateway to the Nubra and Shyok Valley. The pass is another important gateway to Siachen Glacier. Construction work for the pass began in 1976 and was first opened in 1988. The pass offers amazing views of the valley and the roads winding up the mountain. The pristine air, scenic vistas and the feeling of being on top of the world have made Khardung La a popular tourist attraction. It figures high as a must visit for every tourist visiting Leh. So huge is the tourist rush that traffic jams are inevitable.
Traffic on the road to Khardung La is regulated to ensure smooth flow of vehicles. Vehicles from Leh towards Khardung La are allowed only from nine in the morning to one in the afternoon while traffic from Khardung La towards Leh is allowed to travel via the pass from one in the afternoon to five in the evening. It would always be better to check with local agencies or taxi drivers about the timings.
Hunder Sand Dunes
160 Kms North of Leh, Hunder in the Nubra Valley, is the highest desert in the world where many are lured to experience the Camel Safari. Seven km from Diskit which is known for its Buddhist monastery, Hunder has acquired fame for its sand dunes, the cold desert that surrounds it, Bactrian camels and its breath-taking natural beauty. Joyrides on the Bactrian camel through the sand dunes is a must do for the tourists who visit Hunder. The Camel safari takes around two hours to complete. Festival of Hundur is a chance to see the ancient culture of Hunder people. It is celebrated jointly with Diskit monastery every year. Display of Cham dance and traditional arts and sports are the highpoint of the festival.
Opened for tourists in 2009 Turtuk offers beautiful view of the Shyok Valley. Turtuk was under control of Pakistan however India took over control during Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. There are few memorials built in memory of soldiers on Main Road going towards the zero point of India Pakistan Line of Control. Turtuk is 80 km beyond Hunder and the way to Turtuk from Hunder is very scenic the 3 hour drive from Hunder to Turtuk is nothing less than exceptional. Throughout the journey, one has the company of Shyok, as well as the vistas, that define the barrenness which is characteristic to Ladakh.
How To Reach
Buses available from Leh to Diskit and Sumur but it is far more efficient catching shared taxis from Leh and even between various Nubra Valley destinations. Leh to Diskit or Sumur is about 4-5 hours, costs around INR 400 per Person. Once in Nubra Valley taxis can be arranged for tailored itineraries, Diskit’s taxi stand is a particularly good place to arrange this. Rates are generally fixed though out of season or with fewer visitors there’s scope to negotiate. Most transport reaches and departs Nubra via the Khardung La pass, another longer and less used route takes the (almost as high) Wari La pass.
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