Not every day do you get a chance to get lost in the paradise on earth. Not every day do you get to open your eyes to some heavenly sights. Not every day do you get to taste the best of cookies and cakes. Not every day do you get to visit so many monasteries at one place. So when you finally get the opportunity, you make full use of it. Yes, we are talking about Nubra Valley. The beautiful, enchanting and sparkling valley has swayed off everyone’s hearts and it’s time to pack your bags, throw off all tensions out of the window and land up just HERE.
Nubra Valley is considered as the most charming and beautiful place in the whole of Ladakh area. It boasts of housing some of the finest monasteries of Ladakh. Enclosed within the Western Himalayan and Karakorum mountain ranges, Nubra lies isolated during most of the winter season. Nubra constitutes a sub-division of the Leh administrative district. Diksit village which lies at the confluence of the Nubra and Shayok rivers acts as Nubra’s administrative headquarters. This valley is popularly called as ‘Ldumra’ or ‘the valley of flowers’ as during spring season the whole valley is covered with colourful flowers.
Siachen Glacier (source of river Nubra), the second longest glacier in the world’s non-polar regions, lies to the north of the valley. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 feet above the sea level. Blessed by the River Nubra, the valley is dotted with several villages having a distinct culture and rich bed of cultivable land resulting into the abundance of fruits, trees and flowers. The Khardong, Khalser and Diskit are the main villages of Nubra valley. Diskit is the main habitation and administrative center of the Valley. Sprawling over the flooding area on the southern banks of the Shyok river, Diskit is situated on the edge of a desert on the Shyok river side valley.
Sight-seeing and accommodation:
The main attraction here is the 17th century Diskit Gompa (monastery), which can be reached by the main winding road or another road starting near the stream in the middle of the village. The stone steps will lead you inside the main prayer hall which enshrines a huge Maitreya statue and a giant drum.
Next popular traveller destination is Sumur which is located on the far side of the valley. Sumur is the largest village here, a beautiful and green settlement with some interesting Buddhist relics. There is a huge monastery housing a school for monks called as ‘Samstemling Gompa’, located 1 km uphill from Sumur.
Another place to explore is Hunder that is famous for its sand dunes and double humped Bactrian camels. The high altitude desert, with rolling expanse of sand dunes and barren landscapes is the special feature of Hunder village. Joyrides on the Bactrian camel through the sand dunes is a must do for the tourists who visit Hunder. Camel Safari takes around two hours. This is the place where you can find forests of sea-buckthorn, a medicinal plant rich in bio-molecules, vitamins and nutritive properties and popularly known as ‘Leh Berry’.
Panamik Village is yet another worth visiting place that is situated about 28 kms north of Sumur. The waters of the hot sulphur springs of the village are believed to have certain medicinal qualities that cure a number of ailments.
You can also visit the Ensa Gompa monastery that is over 250 years old. The valley was open for visitors till Hunder until the year 2010. The area beyond Hunder was opened from 2010 and the new unexplored place gives way to a greener region of Ladakh because of its lower altitude. It offers a much different landscape and cultural experience. You can see apricot trees loaded around the entire village with views closer to Karakorum range.
Guest houses and lower budget hotels are available at Diskit village. It is recommended to book your hotel rooms in advance during peak season so as to avoid last moment panic and trouble.
How to Reach:
The road journey from Leh to Nubra Valley passes over Khardung La (the highest motorable road in the world) at 18,390 feet, around 39 km from Leh. As the valley doesn’t have its own airport, the visitors have to use the airways in order to reach here. The nearest airbase is Leh airport that is 135 km away from the valley and then one can hire private cars or take public transport from the airport. The nearest railway is Jammu Tawi station which is around 370 km away from the destination.
At first glance, the valley seems parched and dry, but this is the prime farming land by Ladakhi standard. Here the farmers grow apples, apricots and barley and harvest the orange berries. Dotted around the valley are ancient gompas and ruined palaces. Majority of the population is of Buddhists and mainly speak Nubra dialect or Nubra Skat. The people of Nubra Valley are friendly and hospitable. The Nubra Valley is indeed a precious treasures of Ladakh where people still live in complete isolation for most of the year from rest of the world in the heart of the great Himalayas.
Festivals and Events:
Festivals in Nubra Valley are celebrated with much grandeur. The major festival of the Valley is the Dosmoche Festival, also known as the “Festival of the Scapegoat” and is celebrated in the Diskit Monastery during the month of February. It is largely attended by people from villages of the Nubra Valley since the other regions in Leh are inaccessible during this period due to heavy snow fall. The mask dance is performed by the Lamas of the Monastery to dramatically show the superiority of good over evil forces.
Losar Mela (New Year) is celebrated as per the Lunar Calendar, for two weeks during the month of December and January. Other major festivals take place in the regions of Diskit and Sumur in Nubra Valley, that include flower displays, archery competitions, peacock dances, sword dancing, warfare demonstrations and camel races. The festival of flowers is held every spring. As most of the people are Buddhists, this festival provides an occasion for the celebration of their religious faith. They perform various dances and present flowers as offerings to the Buddha.
One can also enjoy various adventure activities in Nubra Valley. Trekking and camping are the main adventure activities here which are most popular among tourists. Trekking to gompas and villages will allow the visitors to enjoy the endless picturesque panorama from snow-capped mountains to the beautiful surroundings. The best option to start a trek is from Sabo to Khalsar and beyond. The best time to trek is from June to September. Camping can be done at a beautiful campsite area which is located near to the village of Sumur. And of course, the Camel safaris are available for an adventurous ride.
Now that we have given you reason enough, what are you waiting for? Go, get going. Experience the high in the Nubra Valley.