Nubra Valley – A place that tops in must-visit place when you go to Leh Ladak trip. It is a perfect definition of serenity. This fascinating and remote region is notable for India’s connection. The connection to the southern branch of the ancient Silk Road trade route from China, via the Karakorum Pass. This comprehensive guide to the things to do in Nubra valley, Ladakh will help you plan your trip there.
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About Nubra Valley:
Tourism is strictly regulated here, the reason for being a sensitive border area. Moreover, some places were banned until less than a decade ago. This all adds up to the destination’s remarkable character. And, the widespread presence of the Indian army against the arid landscape makes it unique
It is located in the northernmost part of Ladakh, at an altitude of just over 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet) above sea level. Between the mighty Karakoram and Ladakh mountain ranges; about 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of Leh via the Khardung La pass.
The region consists of two valleys, Nubra and Shyok. Ironically, rivers of the same name create both these regions. These rivers originate from the Siachen glacier, on both sides of the Karakoram mountain range. The Nubra River merges with the Shyok River near Diskit (the seat of the Nubra Valley).In addition to Diskit, the popular destinations Hunder, Turtuk, and Tyakshi are located along the Shyok River, which joins the Indus River in Pakistan. Along the Nubra River are Sumur, Tigger, Panamik, and Warshi.
Little is known about the history of the area. The one before the construction of the Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Diskit in 1420. However, many ruins of the fortress indicate that the Nubra valley was divided and presided over by local chiefs. Villagers claim that the Diskit monastery is located on the premises of an old fort.
Religion entered the Nubra valley from neighboring Tibet in the 8th century when the Tibetan Empire was expanding. Unlike previous rock inscriptions in other parts of Ladakh, the inscriptions found in the Nubra valley are all in Tibetan.
Ladakh, including the Nubra valley, was wedged between the powerful Kashmir and Tibet. It became a separate union territory of the Indians in October 2019. All the decades of struggle have stopped Ladakh’s economic development. Tourism has offered the region an opportunity to recover. To facilitate this, parts of Ladakh were reopened by the Indian government in 1974. However, the Nubra Valley was prohibited until 1994. And, no one was allowed to visit Turtuk until 2010 because tourists were not allowed past Panamik and Hunder in the Nubra valley.
Things to do in Nubra Valley, Ladakh
The Nubra valley, at the “cultural crossroads” of Tibet and Central Asia, is a fascinating meeting place for two religions: Buddhism and Islam. The main destinations and tourist attractions can be covered in three days, although there are hiking and camping options for those wishing to stay longer.
1. Buddhist Monasteries:
To familiarize yourself with the Buddhist heritage of the Nubra valley, visit its prominent Buddhist monasteries. Diskit monastery, Lachung Temple, and Hundur monastery are popular amongst others. If you are ready to get up early and arrive at dawn, you can capture the evocative daily prayers of the monks accompanied by a melody of songs, horns, and dishes. Climb further behind the monastery to enjoy the magnificent view of the Shyok valley below.
For an unforgettable experience, try attending the annual 2-day Diskit Gustor Monastery Festival in October, where monks perform masked balls. Another highlight of Diskit is the historic 100-foot-tall must-see statue of the Maitreya Buddha, who watches over the valley. Dalai Lama launched this new edition in 2010.
You will find other Buddhist monasteries around Hunder, Sumur, and Panamik. Chamba Gompa in Hunder features an impressive golden Maitreya Buddha statue, vivid frescoes, and interesting Buddhist sites scattered around it. In the 19th century, the Samstanling monastery near Sumur was built. Moreover, it is beautifully decorated inside with paintings and tapestries.
From Panamik, it is worth visiting the little-known Ensa monastery across the Nubra River, where an elderly monk lives in solitude. The monastery has a curious imprint in one of its prayer rooms, belonging to a monk named Dachompa Nyima Gungpa. And, it was his religious fabric which gave him the power to fly. The ancient and distant monastery of Yarma Gonbo is further on, towards Warshi, and tourists can now access it.
2. Visit Panamik Village:
Panamik is popular for its natural source of therapeutic sulfur with hot water. This can ease aches and pains. Also, it offers a beautiful panoramic view.
The suggestive village of Tigger (also called Tegar or Tigre), between Sumur and Panamik, becomes a tourist place. It is the home of Zimskhang Gompa, the ruins of a palace that belonged to a local chief. Further, there are forts and palace ruins in Charasa nearby.
3. Camel Safari:
On the dunes between Diskit and Hunder, a sunset ride on a Bactrian camel is emblematic. A large flood clearing a dense sea buckthorn forest created this barren expanse in 1929. The windswept the sand across the valley and deposited it there. And, it is also possible to ride a camel in Sumur. Although, the dunes are less impressive.
4. Explore the culture and history:
Book a day to visit the Balti Muslim villages beyond Hunder, with their very different landscapes and culture. In other words, the Balti Heritage Museum in Turtuk offers a taste of local history. You can also meet the “king” of Turtuk, Yabgo Mohammad Khan Kacho, descendant of the Yabgo dynasty that ruled Baltistan for 2000 years. It still occupies the old palace and has converted part of it into a museum to show the memories of the dynasty.
Another attraction in Turtuk is the ancient wooden mosques that have stood the test of time. While you’re there, have dinner with authentic Balti cuisine at the Balti kitchen near the Maha Guest House or Balti Farm at the Turtuk Holiday Resort.
5. Siachen Glacier:
In October 2019, the Indian government announced that tourists can now visit the Siachen glacier-the world’s highest battlefield. At 15,000 feet above sea level, only those who feel fit enough to face the ends of the glacier will be able to get at the top! Although the Siachen glacier is now open to tourists, it is still regulated by the Indian army and requires permits.
6. River Rafting:
You can enjoy the river rafting experience in the Zanskar river where the flow of water is very rapid. It crosses through various villages in getting with smooth up and down motion making it a better experience.
So, pack your bags and leave for Nubra valley adventurous activities await. While exploring Nubra Valley, why not visit other places in Ladakh