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Delhi – Jammu – Patnitop – Srinagar – Gulmarg- Srinagar- Sonmarg – Zoji La – Gumri – Dras – Thasgam – Kharbu – Kaksar – Kargil – Mulbekh- Namika La – Fotu La- Lamayuru – Khaltse – Saspol – Nimu – Spituk – Leh
In the last post, I spoke about travelling to Khardung la summit at 18380 feet and my experience to explore the infinity when surrounded by snow clad mountains at such a height. I must recommend to everyone who came to Leh Ladakh for adventure and to gain experience of their lifetime, you ought to take a ride to the Khardung La. Just have a look at the video.
Our next destination was Nubra valley. As per our research before the trip, we knew khardung la is the only gateway for Nubra Valley and Siachien Glacier. It is about 150 km from Leh and would take about five hours to travel. It is a cold desert in such a high altitude. You can find many interesting plantation, two humped camels and other local animals, Sindu Valley, monastry, hot springs and many others.
When we left the leh, we were thinking, we should be able to reach there comfortably by 1:30-2:00 pm. However, again we experienced the Marphy’s law.
We got stuck for 6-7 hours at Khardung la due to heavy snow and long traffic queue from the both sides (cars going to Khardung la and coming from Nubra). We thought, how the hell are we ever going to leave from here as the queues were longer for several kilometres and roads were icy, very difficult to drive. But around 2:30 pm we got the clearance to head towards the Nubra valley with chained tyres. Therefore, we crossed the Khardung la summit, but our car’s backside got hit by the truck. Fortunately, nothing happened to anybody but the car got damaged.
The roads were quite good, except few patches where it was almost non-existent and in worse condition due to continuous melting snow. We must have travelled another 5 more kilometres and another mishap was waiting for us, for a second the break didn’t grip due to snowy surface (Even with chained tyres) and the car started to roll back towards the valley. This time I wasn’t the only one who got freaked out, for a moment there was a chaos, some closed their eyes, some started to pray to the almighty, some were busy shouting and I just seat. Now we all laugh about it, how we got scared to death? One thing I realised, in that situation there is nothing you can do so why panic? But at that time, you don’t get such wise thoughts. However, All’s well that ends well, our driver Yamling did manage to control the situation and he started to laugh and said humorously, “I told you guys, not to panic in such situation.”
Before we started this journey, he did warn us about such mishap but also reassured nothing will happen to us as it’s a common occurrence on those precarious edges. I think it was a deadly moment as anything could have happened but Yamling handled the situation very well and made us calm by telling some funny stories about his previous encounters. When I looked back, I feel, for us, it was just once but Yamling goes to such trips regularly and has faced worse situation but he still does it without any hesitation. You need to be braveheart to drive on such a dangerous terrains with quite unpredictable weather (heavy snow, landslide, torrential rain, low oxygen level, extreme cold). I did ask him why does he do such a risky job? and he said, “I don’t find this risky at all. I have born and brought up in this region, what you see around, gives us courage.” and joked, “However, I would get scared if I have to drive in your city traffic. Here, I am safe with the mountains.” I salute the spirit and valour of Yamling and many such drivers who do this work effortlessly day and night.
Soon we forgot the mishap, thinking this is a common occurrence in these roads. The journey to Nubra valley was marvellous, The Shyok river, a tributary of Indus river, meets the Nubra or Siachen river to form a large valley that separates the Ladakh and Karakorum Ranges. The drastic change from white snowy mountain near Khardung la summit to huge rocky mountain towards the nubra was quite visible. The ultra wide landscapes, humongous rocky mountain faces, lovely roads and the wide variety of colours will just take your breath away at the first sight of Nubra valley region. I thought, this humongous mountain looks like meditating sages who came in the search of ultimate truth, maybe this is the ultimate truth in the middle of mother nature. The road trip to Nubra valley was the truly liberating experience. Around 7:30 pm we reached Hunder, the camping site where we decided to spend our night, in the middle of nowhere. All we could sense, pitch dark sky, winds making sounds and extreme cold. We were consumed by nothingness. Sometimes it’s important to experience nothingness, it was very peaceful and meditative experience. In the end, even though our planned was ruined, we had the greatest fun.
Next day early morning, we had our breakfast and head to visit Maitraya buddha, a tall statue of Future buddha can be spotted from many miles away. We saw many followers lighting up the candles. The environment is so serene and holy that you cannot help but close your eyes and will pray for a while. After the sacred visit, we head straight to the desert. That site was a photographer’s abode. The mountains, the sand dunes and the small and still water bodies together made it look no less than paradise. we got so excited and our number of clicks per second went up like rocket. We all were trying to find the best angle and put efforts to make a striking composition. Also, How can I describe about Nubra valley but not speak about extraordinary camels. These camels are very rare species and added on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They have a characteristic two humps. With their adaptability to harsh climatic conditions and a comfortable seat for the humans, they were the preferred mode of transport since ages along the Silk Route. Now, enough of my words, let the pictures tell you the story.
Travel Itinerary for Nubra valley, Leh Ladakh
(* Considering you don’t experience Murphy’s law otherwise just go with the flow).
Day 1 | Leh – Khardung La – Diskit – Hunder
- Leave early from Leh for Khardung la.
- Head straight for Nubra Valley and stay overnight at Hunder / Diskit
- Hunder has sand dunes and bacterian camel safari and Diskit has monasteries with tallest lord Buddha statue.
Day 2 | Hunder / Diskit – Sumur – Panamik – Sumur – Khardung La – Leh
- Sumur has a Samstanling monastery to check out nearby
- Panamik has hot water springs and a sacred Yarab Tso lake
- Overnight at Leh.
Places to visit in Nubra Valley, Leh Ladakh
- Diskit: Diskit has a monastery which is largest and oldest Buddhist monastery in Nubra Valley and houses a 106 feet tall Future (Maitreya) Buddha statue. There is Lachung Temple as well which is quite close to the monastery. This popular tourist attraction is 350 years old, and visitors can see the life of the Buddhist monks and the peace and beauty that surrounded them.
- Hunder: Hunder is famous for its sand dunes and double humped bacterian camel safari. In the evening, you can also pay a visit to folk dance show (100 INR/person).
- Sumur: Somewhere between Sumur and Kyagar, you can visit Samstanling monastery.
- Panamik: It has hot water springs and a sacred Yarab Tso lake nearby the entrance of the village.
- Turtuk: Recently opened for tourists in 2010, Turtuk offers a much different landscape and cultural orientation than rest of the Nubra Valley. You can see apricot trees loaded around the entire village with views closer to Karakorum range. If you have time, a MUST VISIT place in Nubra Valley.
Best Time to Visit Nubra Valley
The best time to visit is in the warmer summer months between June and August, which is when you can enjoy the best views of the snowy Himalaya mountains that surround Nubra Valley.
Where to eat in Nubra Valley?
We can find places to eat at local hotels and guest houses, with a range of Indian, Chinese and European cuisine options. However, I noticed, they have organic farms attached to their places and they prepare their dishes from the very freshest ingredients. We had an Indian buffet dinner at the camp site where we spend our night.
If you are an adventurer, nature lover and photographer, you would love this place. This valley is known originally as the Orchard of Ladrakh, it is an oasis in a beautifully desolate landscape. Also, this is an ideal place to get used to the acclimatisation schedule of your Ladakh trip once you reach Leh. Driving trough the high altitude of Khardung La (18380 feet) from Leh and then sleeping at the low altitude of Nubra Valley (10,000 feet) does help tremendously in acclimatisation. Hence, Nubra Valley has a hidden advantage in terms of acclimatisation as well as the amazing views on offer. If you are not visiting this part of Ladakh on your trip, then you are almost missing out on the heart of the Ladakh trip. this is a place of accumulating the memory, truly god’s own paradise.
This is the 4th post documenting our adventure road trip from Srinagar to Leh Ladakh. You can also read:
- Post-1: Delhi to Kashmir roadtrip and Srinagar sighseeing
- Post-2: Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway roadtrip and Leh-Local sight seeing
- Post-3: Leh -Khardung la (claimed as World’s highest motorable road).
- Post-5: Nubra valley to Pangong Tso Lake, Ladakh via Shyok (the river of death)
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Please keep in mind:
- Don’t try to be a hero when you are travelling at such a high altitude. Please cover your entire body with layers (Thermals) and keep the winter clothes ready for sudden dips in temperature. Also, remember to carry waterproof clothing.
- Mobile phone networks – Only postpaid connections work in Jammu & Kashmir and BSNL and Airtel are your best bets. These have decent network coverage in Sonamarg, Kargil, Lamayuru and all the other major towns en route.
- If you are travelling at the high altitude especially via flight directly, take complete rest on the first day so that your body gets acclimatised to the surroundings. Avoid too oily or too heavy food and alcohol. Avoid sleeping during daytime.
- If you get any health issue, please visit the doctor asap. Keep the Diamox pills for Acute Mountain Sickness. we took one pill everyday regularly and we didn’t face any problem at all.
Disclaimer: Please feel free to post any queries or doubts you might have in planning your trip to Khardung la, Nubra valley in the comments section below. If you have been to Khardung la, kindly share your thoughts and other information you might feel will be worth sharing with other fellow travellers that can be helpful to them.
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