Nubra Valley (ལྡུམ་ར), Ladakh – The Valley of Flowers

Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley (Tibetan: ལྡུམ་ར; Wylie: ldum ra; English: Nubra), often called as ‘the valley of flowers’, Nubra is generally considered as the most beautiful part of Leh district. It is an open valley, 3 to 5kms wide and about 205kms long, if we include the mountains, and not just the valley Nubra Valley is approx. 115kms wide. Like rest of the Ladakh region, Nubra Valley is a high altitude cold desert with rare precipitation and scant vegetation except along river beds. The average Nubra valley altitude is about 10,000 ft. i.e. 3048 meters above the sea level. You can approach Nubra Valley via Khardung La pass starting from Leh town, distance between Leh to Nubra valley is approx. 140kms.

Diskit is the main village, you can stay at one of the many guest houses located within private residences. Foreign tourists often rate these guest houses better than hotels in the Indian plains, mainly because of personalized service. There are major monasteries in Diskit and Sumur.

The Nubra valley is actually made up of two smaller river valleys, those of the Nubra and Shyok rivers, above as well as below the confluence (sangam) of these rivers. The soil at this sangam is sandy and is also famous as the Ladakh Desert Location among many, thus unfit for agriculture, despite the abundance of water (which is rare in desert). The Shyok River cuts through the valley. The Saser sub-range of the Himalayas is drained on the east and west by the Shyok and Nubra rivers.

This part of Ladakh is really a desert location, hits you when you get to Hunder. There are sand dunes, and yes camels – in fact, the famous double-humped Bactrian Camels.

Weather in Nubra Valley:

Nubra’s climate is not as harsh as that of the rest of Leh. That’s because its main village, Diskit is at 9,950 ft. from sea level, almost 2000 feet lower than Leh. Its other major village, Hunder, too, is at a mere 10,300’. And yet, the mean elevation of the inhabited portions of this valley is 12,760’. As a result, winter temperatures are never worse than -3°C during the day and -15°C at night. Summer temperatures go up to 28°C during the day and 15°C at night.

Precipitation is almost as low as in central Ladakh. In both regions almost all the available water comes down from mountains when the snow melts.

Attractions in Nubra Valley

Siachen is Nubra’s best known landmark. The hot water springs in Panamik are a close second. The valley is famous for its apricot orchads. Indeed, Nubra means ‘green’. The ibex and the gurhal (hibiscus) live here, so do a few snow leopards.

Nubra ValleyThe Bactrian camels: These shaggy camels were the main pack animals of the caravans. Hunder in Nubra Valley is the only place in India where Bactrian double humped camels live. The Bactrian camel has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped dromedary camel. Nowadays, you can enjoy a double-humped camel ride in Hunder.

How to get there

There are Public buses, if you are looking to reach Diskit in Nubra valley. However, most tourists prefer to travel by taxi. If you can traveling Leh in bike than you can easily take the ride to Nubra Valley. Some other tourists prefer to trek from Leh to Nubra.

The Route from Leh to Nubra

Leave Leh town, Ganglas is 9 km ahead. There used to be a Police check post here and you have to register a few details if needed. Another 16 km later (25kms from Leh) is South Pullu. In earlier days when trekking is the only way to reach Nubra, this used to be the southern camp for travelers. The Khardung La is another 14 km ahead. This is the highest motorable pass in the world at an altitude of 18,300ft. (5602m). Khardung La is in total 39 kms from Leh town.

At the pass you are likely to find snow throughout the year. There is a small Hindu temple which is built and maintained by Indian Army. The mountains you will see are the Zanskar range in the south and the Saser massif in the north. Nubra lies beyond the pass.  Some 14 km later is North Pullu, where the northern camp for travelers used to be.

Khalsar is the first village in valley. It is an hour’s drive from Khardung La and 95 km from Leh. From here you can trek to Sakti. The river you will see is the Shyok and the picturesque village that can be seen is Tsati. Khalsar has inexpensive and basic hotels and eating places. A while after khalsar the road bifurcates – Diskit and Hunder are to the left (northwest) and Tirit, Sumur and Panamik to the right (north).
You can also stay in economy tents at the Samling campsite. The Samstaling monastery owns the site.

The road from Diskit to Hunder runs along River Shyok.

The Tirit-Panamik route follows the course of the Nubra River instead. The area is picturesque and the order in which the villages appear is: Tirit, Lukung, Teggar, Sumur and Panamik.

Best time to visit Nubra Valley

The road to Nubra is open only from June to September, which happens to be the best season, too.

Places to visit in Nubra Valley

Apart from the landscape, Nubra’s biggest attraction is its wildlife, notable the Bactrian double-humped camel. The important places in Nubra are:

The Shyok Valley

Diskit

Located at an altitude of 9,950ft from sea level, the scenery leading to Diskit is spectacular. The village itself is on the sharply sloping left bank of the Shyok River. From here you can look across the point where River Shyok merges with River Nubra. Diskit is the administrative headquarters of Nubra.

The village has a 17th century gompa on a rocky spur above the village, and several apricot trees. There is a crust of soda on the surface of the plain. This is collected and sold. Some believe that there is a link between these deposits and the hot-water springs of Panamik.

There are several shops and a few basic to middling guest houses and eating places in Diskit, in the village and near the gompa.

Hunder

Hunder is located at an altitude of 10,300ft from sea level, Hunder is an enjoyable seven-kilometer walk, through sand dunes, from Diskit. These dunes change their shape every time there is a strong wind. Hunder is by far the more scenic of the two, because of a profusion of apricot orchards, the pretty Hunder stream. The village has been built on the left bank of river Shyok. The river gets split into a number of channels, one of which is almost 100m wide in September/October. These channels add to the beauty of the place.

The Nubra Valley

Nubra ValleyLet us return to Khalsar and go to the other side of the river from there (i.e. eastwards). Mane is across the river from Diskit. It is north of the point where the Shyok and Nubra rivers merge. There are many large rocks with engravings on them in this area. The figures engraved include the usual humans and animals (ibexes, goats and deer). However, the engravings in Tirit, which is even further to north, are very rewarding; because these are not just line drawings and because the themes go beyond the commonplace. These are on a rock on the left bank of River Nubra. Two of the three deities carved can still be seen, with most of their details intact. Other rocks at Tirit have animals and humans engraved on them, but again with a difference. The ibexes’ horns are more elaborated; in one figure they are shown fighting.

If you travel further north of Tirit you will reach Sumur.

Sumur

This beautiful village is on the left bank of River Nubra, just above its junction with River Shyok. It, too, is on the Leh-Yarkand caravan route. It is north of Tirit and Diskit. Sumur and Tegar are around 2.5km, each from the Sumur Gompa.

Panamik

Situated at an altitude of 10,840ft, Panamik, traditionally used to be an important halting place on the summer route between Leh and Yarkand. It was the last major village before the traveler went into the Karakoram and Kun Lu mountains. Caravans and individual travelers would have to walk for twelve days before they reached the next village.

Hot water springs: Panamik has two famous hot water springs, at the exits of which the water is at 167°F (75°C). People from all over the district visit these springs for their supposed curative qualities. These scalding waters are said to cure rheumatism and syphilis.


photo credit: sebip! via photopin (license)
photo credit: asim chaudhuri via photopin (license)

Get Amazing Stories

Get great contents delivered straight to your inbox everyday, just a click away, Sign Up Now.
Name
Email address
Tagged In: , , , , , , ,
Nubra Valley (ལྡུམ་ར), Ladakh – The Valley of Flowers
Nubra Valley, known as ‘the valley of flowers’. Hunder in Nubra is famous for Bactrian double-hump camels, hot water springs in Panamik are a close second.
Leh Ladakh Travel Guides