Hi Everybody 🙂
I’m back with the third part of my “Heaven on Earth: Ladakh” series!
For first-time visitors to my blog, here’s are the links to the previous two parts:
Today’s post is on the stunningly beautiful Nubra Valley. Enjoy 🙂
Nubra Valley is a large, flat and wide region located about 150 km north of Leh, the capital of Ladakh district.
The Shyok River meets the Nubra River to form this beautiful valley that separates the majestic Ladakh and Karakoram mountain ranges. The Shyok River is one of the largest draining the Karakoram, and a major tributary to the Indus River. The Nubra River is also called Siachen Naala by locals as the Siachen Glacier melts into this river. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 feet or 3048 metres above the sea level. The western region of the valley borders Baltistan in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
Like the rest of Ladakh, Nubra is a high altitude cold desert with scant vegetation except along river beds. The ancient Silk Route passes through this valley.
The main road access to the Nubra Valley is over the Khardung La pass from Leh. Inner Line Permit is required for visiting the valley.
Khardung La is situated 39 km by road from Leh. The pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier (the highest battlefield in the world) which lies partway up the Nubra Valley.
It’s a difficult mountain pass with curvy roads snaking through several mountains with deep valleys. The roads are fully tarred up to an altitude of approximately 16000 feet. Beyond that, the road becomes rough due to frequent landslides and being covered in snow almost 6 months of the year. With numerous hairpin bends and blind corners, driving through this pass is a nerve-racking experience, especially in bad weather conditions. However, the views are breathtakingly beautiful!
Khardung La (pass), said to be the “world’s highest motorable road” at an altitude of 18,380ft…
The highest point on the pass…the Khardung La Top!
Leaning down from Khardung La, the central valley divulges a little after the town of Khalsar near the confluence of the Nubra and Shyok rivers.
To the Northeast, along the Nubra River lie Sumur and Panamik. Diskit, Hundur (Hunder) and the Balti town of Turtuk are along the banks of the Shyok River on the other side.
Along the Shyok River…
Diskit is the headquarters of the Nubra Valley, 150 km from Leh. The town is dominated by the huge 14th century monastery which is the oldest and largest in the valley. It houses the remains of a respected 14th century lama from Nubra who returned from Tibet after serving as regent to the first Dalai Lama at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet. The monastery has been a very sacred place since centuries.
On the opposite hill lies the landmark of the valley – the impressive 32-metre statue of the Buddha Maitreya. It took four years to complete and was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama on 24th July 2010…barely a week before my arrival!
Inside the prayer hall…
The scenic Nubra Valley alongside Shyok River…this section of the valley is very different from the greenery of the Nubra side.
Hunder is a beautiful town, about 7 km away from Diskit. It was the capital of the erstwhile Nubra kingdom in the 17th century.
Between Diskit and Hunder lie several kilometres of massive white sand dunes that glisten in the sun, reminding you that you are in a high altitude desert.
At sunrise and sunset, the angular rays of the sun bring to life this stretch of desert with the dance of light and shade.
Magical sand dunes of Hunder…
Mesmerizing shifting sands…
The double humped Bactrian camels were once used to travel the Silk Route into China and Central Asia. Now they give tourists joy rides up and down the dunes…
Bactrian camels are temperamental and have a reputation for spitting. But see how cool this one is! Posing for the camera with me…
Beyond Hunder are the four Balti towns of Turtuk, Tyakshi, Thang and Chalunka, which were occupied by Pakistan till the 1971 India-Pakistan war. These were (and still are) restricted areas when I visited the Line of Control (LoC) or the India-Pakistan border in 2010, in the company of the Indian Army.
I still remember passing by a small village in this region. The villagers had lovely blue eyes, auburn hair and fair skin. The children, especially girls, looked so cute… like dolls with rosy cheeks! They neither looked like Kashmiris, nor Ladakhis nor Baltis. They were happy and excited to see me and waved at me as my vehicle passed by. I was so enamoured by the exceptionally cute kids, that in my excitement, I forgot to take their photographs! Silly me!!! Later I heard a story that they were a Greek tribe who came in search of Jesus Christ’s tomb and eventually settled in the village. Someone said they were most likely to be the descendants of Greek soldiers of King Alexander.
A year later, in 2011, Turtuk was opened to tourists.
Being under Pakistani occupation till 1971, Turtuk has 100% Muslim population.
Enjoy the view of the landscape on the way to Turtuk…
Here’s a Pashmina goat which provides wool to make the famous Pashmina shawls…
Bridge across the Shyok River…
Remnants of the past…hidden bunkers in the mountains!
Because of its lower altitude, Turtuk enjoys a green landscape…
A variety of fruits and nuts are grown here, especially apricot…
Along the Nubra River…
Sumur is a picturesque village that sits along the edge of the Nubra river amongst apricot trees and lush fields of barley.
Samstangling Monastery, the largest monastery in Nubra Valley…
Beyond Sumur, about 28 km away, lies the village of Panamik, an ancient town famous for being the last Indian settlement before Tibet. The hot springs here, that were said to be healing, are now dirty and decrepit.
The highly restricted road beyond Panamik continues to the Indian Army’s Siachen basecamp, and the Sasser and Karakoram passes which lead into Tibet and China’s Xinjiang Province.
For those of you all who have missed an earlier post on my Siachen basecamp experience, you can read it here: Discovering my strengths in Siachen and Ladakh
I hope you have enjoyed visiting Nubra Valley with me! The next part of my “Heaven on Earth: Ladakh” series is on Leh and its surrounding areas.
By the way, if you’re interested in knowing all about Mexico, do check my three e-books which are available for sale on this blog:
If you’re a fan of Mills & Boon novels or love reading romance novels, here’s one for you available for sale on this blog:
Thanks for dropping by, I hope to see you again 🙂
Coming up next: Heaven on Earth: Ladakh (Part IV – Leh)