‘A Utopian Paradise in the truest of senses’, these were the exact words that crossed my mind as soon as the sight of the snow-clad mountains, the ultra-white landscape, the vast dunes, and the gurgling Shoyok river caught my eye. That is how I define the cold desert of Nubra Valley, where I, like all others, was amazed to see double-humped camels.
The Nubra Valley, like most of Ladakh, is a high-altitude cold desert with an elevation of around 10,000 feet above sea level. The region comprises two rivers- the Shoyok and the Nubra. The Nubra River meets the Shoyok River to form this incredible Y-shaped valley. On the way to Nubra Valley from Leh, falls the Khardung La Mountain pass which is considered to be one of the highest motorable roads in the world. Descending into the valley is tricky only for the first few kilometers. Soon, one would surprisingly enter a comparatively green landscape with beautiful white peeks in the background.
There are various small villages located along the valley, which divides into two at Khalsar- towns like Panamik and Sumur lie on the side of the Nubra river whereas Diskit and Hunder on the side of the Shoyok River. My final destination for the day was Hunder, so I took a left turn from Khalsar towards the Shoyok river region and reached Diskit.
Diskit is the administrative center of the Nubra Valley. It is almost a 6-hour ride away from Leh if the weather is favorable, otherwise, it can even take 10-12 hours. Fortunately, I reached Diskit in 6 hours. Because of its rich green vegetation, Diskit is referred to as ‘The Orchid of Ladakh’. Apart from the eye-catching landscape, Diskit is famous for housing the largest monastery in the Nubra Valley- the Diskit Monastery and the 32-meter tall statue of the Maitreya Buddha.
My first stop in the region was the famous monastery, climbing which, I got a chance to catch the panoramic view of the landscape all around and the tall Maitreya Buddha statue on the opposite hill. Next, I headed to the landmark of the valley i.e. the majestic Maitreya Buddha statue. Visible from a distance as soon as one enters the Diskit region, it is a 10-minute ride from the Diskit Monastery. The grandeur of the statue can only be felt once we reach the top. Words can’t describe how huge, beautiful, bright, and colorful it was.
After stopping by these famous sites, I headed straight to Hunder, which is 9 km ahead of Diskit. Hunder is all about the white desert and the famous double-humped camel, making it an alluring site for tourists. It is probably the only place in India where my camera could capture the snow-peaked mountains and the cold dunes at the very same time. The best and the most exciting experience in Hunder was the camel ride for Rs 200 and the ATP ride in Khalsar for Rs 1200. By taking these rides, I came across some of the most picturesque locations of the region.
I spend the night star gazing and camping in Hunder. The next morning, I woke up to chilly weather and one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life. After having breakfast, we started our journey for Panamik, which is on the Nubra River side of the valley. It is 65 km away from Hunder. Even though I was sad to leave such a heavenly place, I could feel a pinch of excitement running down my spine on the thought that what the other places in the Nubra Valley will be like.
PANAMIK AND SUMUR
On the way to Panamik, we made a stop in Sumur which is famous for the Samstanling Monastery. We also stopped at the Panamik Hot Spring, which a few kilometers before the main town. After making these small stops, I finally reached Panamik, which is famous for its hot springs. We stopped by Yarab Lake for lunch. The ink-blue sky, the sound of the gushing water of the serene lake, the snow-clad mountains, and the entire landscape, provided an unreal view for the lunch.
Words cannot describe how tranquil and unruffled the whole valley was. There was something magical in the air there, something that can take all the stress out of your body and transform it into positivity really quick, something that can make you discover your inner peace, something that lets you meet your soul and something that you should never miss on. Nubra Valley, for me, was the personified version of peace and serenity. Simply the name of the place brings a big smile to my face; such is the influence of this exceptional beauty.