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Leh to Nubra Valley: The journey

What comes to your mind when you hear the word Nubra Valley? Probably a majestic and beautiful valley? Nubra Valley is a valley of massive mountains and shiny rivers with a beautiful picturesque view. People come to Nubra Valley just to get cut out from the outer world, because it’s a peaceful paradise which has all the beauty in one place. When you look up to the sky, you’ll find the mountains are in the clouds.

The main journey of Leh-Ladakh is when you leave from Leh and goes to Nubra Valley. The road, the view and the people make the journey more enjoyable to travel. You get properly acclimatized to the altitude of Leh, then only think of going up towards Khardungla and other places.

Nubra

Ladakh has much to offers to its visitors. You can spend weeks here and will still not have your fill of it. There are high altitude passes, challenging roads, beautiful lakes, inviting treks, mesmerising valleys; enough to keep you, your gaze and your camera occupied for as long as you stay here.

One such prime highlight of a trip to Ladakh is the beautiful and enchanting Nubra Valley. A small mysterious placed tucked up in the lap of the Himalayas; nurturing a beauty still untouched and culture still enigmatic.

Nubra Valley

Located at a distance of about 100 kilometres from the city of Leh; on the other side of the mighty Khardungla. Its original name is believed to be ‘Ldumra’ meaning ‘Valley Of Flowers’. Now also known as the ‘Orchard of Ladakh’, this beautiful part of our country is on top of the list for every tourist travelling to Ladakh. Until 2010, it was open for civilians until only Panamik and Hunder but then the last points were moved ahead to Warshi and Turtuk.

Nubra Valley is located at a height of 3048 metres, an average altitude of about 10,000 ft (3048 metres) which actually puts it at a lower altitude than even the town of Leh. Diskit is the capital of Nubra Valley and is located about 120 kms from Leh. Shyok River confluences with Nubra River (also known as Siachen River) to form this enchanting valley that separates the mountain ranges of Ladakh and Karakoram. Due to its close location to the border, an Inner Line Permit for Indian citizens and protected area permit for foreigners is required in order to visit Nubra Valley.

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The early you leave, the more you’ll get to enjoy. This is the simple rule people follow. Whoever wants to go from Leh to Nubra Valley because the place has so much to offer for them even two days are not enough. A number of options are available from Leh to go to Nubra Valley. There’s a local bus service which runs between Diskit and Leh, there are buses for other parts of Nubra as well. Local taxi is a more comfortable option if you want to visit Nubra and stay there for some time. Even in the market, you’ll find a lot of sharing taxis for Nubra Valley in the morning or you can ask any travel agent to arrange it for you. The most common option what they usually take is to rent a bike and go for a tour of Ladakh on their own.

The early you leave, the more you’ll get to enjoy. This is the simple rule people follow. Whoever wants to go from Leh to Nubra Valley because the place has so much to offer for them even two days are not enough. A number of options are available from Leh to go to Nubra Valley. There’s a local bus service which runs between Diskit and Leh, there are buses for other parts of Nubra as well. Local taxi is a more comfortable option if you want to visit Nubra and stay there for some time. Even in the market, you’ll find a lot of sharing taxis for Nubra Valley in the morning or you can ask any travel agent to arrange it for you. The most common option what they usually take is to rent a bike and go for a tour of Ladakh on their own.

  • Khardungla
Khardung la in winter

The road is 80% fine to drive and 20% a bumpy ride where you get lots of ups and downs. It offers you the entire valley view before Khardungla. While going back you have to stop for permit submission at South Pullu. Don’t stop at Khardungla for more than 15 to 20 minutes because the altitude is really high around 5359 m and you might feel breathless if you do any activities like running or playing in the snow. So calm your horses and play a little and then sit inside your vehicle and leave to Nubra.

  • North Pullu
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Once you leave from Khardungla, you will come to North Pullu, a checkpoint for refreshment and permit submission. You will find a glacier water stream flowing nearby. Sometimes, it gets frozen and could be a good photo spot for you and your friends. There are paid toilets there. Please avoid littering in the valley or else people will shout at you. The Tibetan culture has an ideology that a person shouldn’t litter or throw garbage anywhere.

  • Khardong

When you go ahead, you’ll see the remote village called Khardong or some people call it Khardung at an elevation of 3538 m. It’s a good place to have food and get refreshed. The interesting food over here is the Dal Paratha or Omelette Paratha with Ginger Lemon Honey tea which definitely satisfies your soul. People are really sweet here, you’ll get to know when you have a word with them.

  • Khalsar

After having food in Khardong village, you will encounter a village called Khalsar which is a Y point to go to different places in Nubra Valley. If you take a left from the circle, you will head towards Diskit and Turtuk. If you go straight, you will reach Panamik and Sumur. Both routes offer an astonishing landscape to see.

  • Diskit
Finding peace in Diskit

Diskit is the capital village of Nubra Valley, therefore accommodation and food are available here. There is a place which is known as Milkha Point where some scenes of the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag were shot. There’s an ATV ride that happens over here. The ATV was an original one from Poland with instructors. It is an awesome experience when you are driving off-road over the sand dunes and rocky patches.

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The village of Diskit comes at the base of the mountain and on top there’s a monastery, a tourist attraction where a statue of Maitreya Buddha (Buddha from the future) at 32m was built in 2011 when Dalai Lama visited the monastery. It has a ticket system where per head charge is ₹30 and additional charges if you want to fly and take footage from your drone. The place is really good and has a peaceful vibe when you look around Nubra Valley. If you want to visit the monastery, you have to climb and walk upwards from the monastery stairs because vehicles go only till one point.

A lot of eateries are there in Diskit village and also decent accommodation if you are tired from the journey and want to relax.

  • Hunder sand dunes

When you go 7 kms ahead, you’ll find sand dunes of Hunder. Pure white sand dunes spread over 4 or 5 kms in the valley. It’s a major tourist attraction spot for the Bactrian camel ride. These are Mongolian camels who are double-humped, unique species only available in Asia.

Chilling in the evening, you will feel peaceful and calm just sitting by the dunes and watching the sunset behind the mountains. Later you can stay for the night in Hunder, where there are different campsites which offer decent and open spaces to stay. You can either camp or stargaze while sitting outside. Just be careful about the temperature as it tends to fall in seconds. You’ll be freezing, so it’s advisable to take a proper room where you can be comfortable on the bed with a blanket.

We usually stay at a place called Green willow cottage near the Hunder stream. It has a beautiful scenic view of the glacier water stream going by the side. The place also offers homely cooked organic food and a bonfire for the cold night.

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