Route from Leh to Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley is located at north-east of Ladakh region. The name Nubra loosely came from Ldumra which means Valley of Flowers. The Nubra River and the Shyok River flow through this region before joining the the Indus. The average altitude of this valley is around 10000ft.
Funny thing is though you find rivers and water in plenty you will see Sand Dunes just like any desert and camels (called Bactrian Camels) as well.
This peculiar climate of lack of rainfall, cold, dry and high altitude makes inhabitable for very few animals.
Administratively this area comes under Nubra tehsil with Diskit town as it’s headquarters. Diskit is famous for its largest monastery in Nubra Valley. It is the oldest one as well built in the 14th century. The monastery is situated on a hill just above the flood plains of Shyok River.
Diskit Monastery can be reached through an approach road till the entrance. There are various steps made of stone connecting different chambers in the monastery. At the end the steps will lead to a prayer hall. A statue of Maitreya Buddha is enshrined in the hall and a huge drum is placed along with the statue. In the chamber in front of the prayer hall, there are many deities of Buddhism. You can see stunning landscapes around the hill once you reach the prayer hall. The plains of Shyok River and beautiful views of Maitreyi Buddha statue built on a hillock adjacent to the hill where monastery is built.
Statue of Maitreya Buddha
Maitreya Buddha with his namaskar position and a smiling face is a treat to watch. He is considered to be a future Buddha. It is believed that he will appear on Earth in the future to achieve enlightenment and preach pure dharma.
This 32m statue is facing down towards Shyok River. It stands as an epitome of Buddhism in Nubra valley. For beautiful views one has to see Maitreyi Buddha from Diskit Monastery like in the picture above.
Hundar is small town in Nubra Valley just 5 kms away from Diskit. While Diskit is a religious place Hundar is an adventure or chilling one due to various activities available there. The famous cold desert and sand dunes lie between Diskit and Hundar. You will see many resorts, tents and homestays available in Hundar. People planning to visit Turtuk also stay in Hundar for the night.
Turtuk is a small village close to LoC (Line of Control) bordering with Pak occupied Kashmir (PoK). Post independence in 1947, this village came under the control of Pakistan. But later in Indo-Pak war in 1971 India recaptured this strategic point. Turtuk is one of the gateways of Siachen Glacier which is the most important strategic point for Indian Army and it is heavily guarded despite the harsh climatic conditions.
Turtuk is 90 kms away from Hundar and it takes one day to visit Turtuk and return back. Generally people planning to visit Turtuk stay an extra day at Hundar.
Activities to do in Nubra
There are many activities (read mild adventure) on the way from Leh to Hundar. One being ATV bike ride. Personally this is my favorite one. ATV means All Terrain Vehicle and not so surprisingly ATV quad (4-wheeler) bikes are used on the sand dunes. They charge you INR 1000 for one ride which covers about 4-5 kms of 15-20 mins. The best part is the guide lets you drive if you are confident. He will sit with you to guide you wherever required.
When we think of deserts we immediately remember camels and vice-versa. Camels and Deserts go hand in hand. Likewise we have cold desert with sand dunes here so we see a different type of camels in this area. They are double humped and also called Bactrian Camels. These camels are available only in Nubra Valley in India. Camel Rides are one activity which one must try definitely because these camels are rarely available. You will be seated just between the 2 humps on the back of the camel. The rope tied to its face is connected to the back of another camel and goes on. The rope of the first camel is dragged by the caretaker on foot.
How to reach
Hundar or Diskit is 150 kms away from Leh on north eastern side. The most common route is to pass through the Khardung La. Khardung La is the highest motorable road in the world situated at approx 18000ft altitude. Foreign nationals are required to take a Protected area permit to visit Nubra valley and Indian citizens has to get Inner Line Permit to visit the valley.