The Nerve-Chilling Shangri-La Adventure at High Altitudes in Leh’s Nubra Valley

The soaring mountains, vast unpopulated landscapes, and vast valleys make much of Ladakh almost impassable. However, since several centuries, the rewarding caravans of spices, wool, cloth, gold, indigo, coral, and opium have managed to make their way through the risky passes between Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Yarkand in China. Today, even the tourist circuit has reached up to the higher altitude where Nubra Valley attracts both locals and foreigners for a nerve-chilling holiday with proper permits. Nubra-Valley-Image-Courtesy-TrekEarth The Topography Marks the Exciting Start Nestled at 10,000 feet in the northeast of Ladakh, Nubra valley is a tri-armed dale featuring extreme landscapes: Cold desert, snowy peaks, riverbeds, and sparse vegetation. The most famous way to reach here in 5-6 hours involves passing through the planet’s highest road from Lehcalled the Khardung La pass. This means the excitement of adventure starts right from the moment you proceed towards the valley. The valley is flanked by the world’s second longest glacier excluding the Polar regions, the Siachen glacier in the north, the Karakoram Pass of Silk route and Sasser Pass in the northwest connecting the valley with Xinjiang in China, and the Shyok river interlacing after meeting the Nubra River to render the area fertile. Attractions and Activities A descent after Khardung La and the exciting 8-hour drive makes you step into the Diskit town, the valley’s chief administrative centre on the rim of Shyok-side deserted region. The main attraction here is the Diskit Monastery on a hilltop, one of the ancient and largest Buddhist sacred places in Ladakh. Just walk up to the monastery among the mani walls of Buddhist prayers and mantras and white chortens housing Buddhist relics. The main attraction here is the high effigy of the Maitreya Buddha. From here, the white sand dunes of Hunder at 10 km await you, which you can reach by enjoy a ride on a rare camel featuring a double hump. The hamlet ideally reflects the majestic hues of the valley. While Diskit is known for its green foliage, Hunder is a white desert. From Hunder, you can enjoy a 90km drive to Turtok on the well-established road shadowing the stunning river valley. Although it is wild, the scattered hamlets reflect the journey from the Buddhist heartland flanking Diskit to Muslim civilization towards Turtok. Known for apricots, the area allows easy strolling even to a small gompa on a low ridge. In the Sumur hamlet with charming houses, the Samstanling Gompa at the foot of barren hills is worth exploring and is accessible through the route full of berry trees and Tibetan prayer flags. Continuing with the ascent, the clear blue lake called Terisha Tso hidden amidst the uneven ridges is quite scenic. Ascend ahead and you will reach Panamik, the end of the Nubra Valley road popular for hot springs. Gompa, another remote monastery amidst the wild. Nestled amidst a spring-fed basin adorned by dwarf willows, the gompa is linked by two thin trails reaching up to the main valley road that is far below, which makes up for a challenging descend. Best Time to Visit May-August    

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