Nubra Valley Travel Guide: Places To See and Things To Do In Nubra Valley (2021)
Nubra Valley Travel Guide
Nubra Valley is known to be the orchard and a jewel in Ladakh. The beautiful valley is located in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located 140 km from Leh and is visited by thousands of tourists every year. Nubra Valley is one of the most beautiful parts of the moonscapes of Ladakh. It is a high altitude and extremely cold desert. Nubra Valley is an extension of the Tibetan plateau known as Qing-Zang Plateau that starts in China and extends to Ladakh from the Karakoram Range.
An interesting fact about Nubra valley is that it is located on the ancient Silk Route, the valley has Shyok and Nubra rivers flowing through it and some beautiful monasteries. The valley is home to wonders like the Diskit Monastery, Hunder Sand Dunes, Samstanling Gompa, Yarab Tso Lake, and the villages of Turtuk and Panamik. This valley is home to many rivers and monasteries that add to the beauty of the place. Many famous monasteries have historical importance in this valley. The whole region is currently under military supervision because the road further leads to the Siachen base camp. Siachen base camp is the highest battlefield in the world. All foreign nationals need to get a protected area permit, and Indian travelers going to this place need to obtain an Inner Line Permit to enter the beautiful Nubra valley. You need to hand over the photocopies of your travel permits to the soldiers in the Khardung La pass.
Most tourists travel to Nubra Valley from Leh through Khardung La pass. It is a place to be visited once in a lifetime. The tourists can enjoy the unique Bactrian camel rides. These are unique camels found only in this area with two humps. You can also see the local shrub known as Hippophae shrub, popularly known as Leh Berry. The beauty of the place is awakening and extremely meditative. You will enjoy the beautiful landscape with brown hills, green patches, and meadows with horses and pashmina sheep grazing like in the movies, and a green river flowing. Nubra Valley is a bucket list item for every traveler and adventurer.
Best Time to Visit Nubra Valley
April to June and September, October are the best months to visit Nubra Valley. However, every season has its charm in this town that invites you to visit at any time of the year. You cannot visit Nubra Valley between October and March because the Khardungla pass closes during these months. Khardung La pass is the gateway to Nubra Valley.
The place receives heavy snowfall during the winters and hence it is closed for tourist visits during the winters. As the summer starts, when the snow starts to melt, you will start seeing the greenery and flowers all around which makes the place look like heaven. You can enjoy Camel riding in this beautiful valley. The weather is cold even in the summer months and is considered the ideal time to spend in the lap of the Himalayas.
There is a huge rush of tourists to Nubra Valley from April to May and the temperature is pleasant compared to other parts of the country where it is brazenly hot.
Additionally, it is perfect to visit for the adventure seekers to visit during these months as it is easy to trek to other nearby areas during these months. You can decide when you want to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city and want to stay and rejuvenate your cluttered mind in the lap of the Himalayas. It is a cold desert in the missile of brown mountains and an entirely different landscape from the rest of the country.
Places To See and Things To Do In Nubra Valley
Have a Look:
1. Bactrian Camel Safari
Nubra Valley is very famous for the Bactrian Camels in the area. These are not the usual camels seen in various areas in Rajasthan. They differ in the fact that they have a double hump on their back. Bactrian Camel Trekking or Caravan with camels has been famous in Ladakh since the Seventeenth century until the partition of the country was done in the year 1947. Camel Safari is also known as Camel traveling is predominantly evident in Nubra Area from Hundar up to the Diskit. Bactrian camels, along with dual humps, are also recognized as the ‘Real Camel’. The offspring of those camels were used for riding and transportation on the ‘Silk Route’ in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Now the entire legacy has been converted into a tourist experience where the tourists enjoy riding these unique camels with 2 humps. These camels are known as Hundur Camels. These humps, contrary to popular belief, are designed to store fat and not water. Bactrian camels are classified as herbivores. They prefer vegetation that is prickly, dry, salty, and/or bitter. However, when food is scarce, they will eat bones and various types of animal flesh.
There are many travel agencies providing deals to travel in the area and enjoy Safari for long and short distances. It is an amazing and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy this kind of unique safari in the cold mountainous Nubra Valley. The best time to enjoy the Bactrian camel ride in Nubra Valley is from July to September. These Hundur camels have a capacity of carrying 2-3 people at a time.
2. Panamik Village
Of first and foremost, things, travelers need to get a permit to reach the village in the Nubra Valley. Panamik village is located close to Siachen Glacier and around 140 km from Leh. Panamik village is famous for the hot Sulphur springs located here. It is a very popular destination and absolute bliss to be at. The water in the Sulphur springs is believed to have medicinal properties and these hot springs are located 10,442 feet above sea-level. The permits to travel to Panamik village can be obtained easily from the District Magistrate’s office. The famous Enka monastery is also located in the Panamik Village and is visited by many people. It is also a popular trek and very famous among adventure seekers. This village is also famous for Bactrian camels as mentioned above and the Pashmina goats. The wools from these goats are used to make beautiful Pashmina clothes including shawls, stalls, and other dressing materials. The landscape is extremely beautiful and captivating.
Among all these things the most beautiful feature is the presence of snowcapped mountains and the green meadows in the area. The place is exceptionally beautiful during the months of fall i.e September and October when the leaves on the trees change color and turn yellow with a tinge of red. Every little thing about this place is captivating. You can also get your hands on some of the exclusive handicrafts from the village and can indulge in shopping for some beautiful Pashmina shawls, Kashmiri carpets, woolen socks, dried fruits like apricots, walnuts, dried and fresh apples, and some exquisite Kashmiri or Tibetan artifacts. You will need to arrange your transport to reach and travel in this area as the public transport is not very reliable and regular.
3. Yarab Tso
Yarab Tso also known as Tso yarab is a very high altitude and holy river in Nubra Valley. The lake is located in the beautiful Sumur village and is surrounded by majestic snowcapped mountains and green meadows. This is the soul-quenching place to be and enjoy your time with your friends and family. It is even better to spend time alone to do some soul searching at the place while enjoying your presence in the middle of nature. Yarab Tso has located 15 km from Diksit village, and it is a very beautiful place to be at. You can reach this lake by trekking for a little distance, and you can reach here by hiking uphill for about 20 minutes. It is considered holy and is considered revered by the locals.
It is not allowed or advised to wash your feet in the lake. You are also not allowed to swim in this lake. You can enjoy the beautiful view while sitting by the rocks. It is bliss to breathe in the unpolluted mountain air, relishing the sight of colorful prayer flags fluttering around the crystal-clear water. It is beautiful and brings relief and calmness to the already cluttered mind living a city life.
4. Diksit Monastery
Diksit Monastery is located in the Diksit village and it is a very popular tourist spot in Nubra Valley. It is visited by many tourists and is extremely popular among the locals too. It is also one of the oldest monasteries in the area. This place is famous among the Tibetans as it belongs to Gelugpa which is called the yellow hat sector of Tibetan Buddhism. Diksit Monastery is also known as Gompa Monastery. The monastery was founded by Changzeb Tserab Zaongpo, the disciple of Tsong Khapa who the founder of Gelukpa.
You will have to walk a little treachery path and some steps on the rocky stairs towards the hilltop. This rocky path will lead you to the prayer hall adorned by the statue of Maitreya Buddha. There are huge drums and several images of fierce guardian deities in the complex. The place is calming and meditative with a good landscape and the aura of the place is very calming. Because of the river Shyok flowing at the foothills and rich green vegetation in the vicinity, Diksit has been named “The orchard of Ladakh”.
Diksit monastery also has a school which is run in collaboration with an NGO named “The Tibet support group”. This is a free school that also provides computer facilities and also teaches the Tibetan kids science in the English language. The Monastery is renowned for its festival “Dosmoche” or the festival of the scapegoat. In the festival, the monks perform the mask dances expressing the power of Goodness over evil. It is said that this dance form eradicates bad luck. They also make murals from dough that is displayed during this festival. The idea is to usher in peace and the clothes of the idols are also changed during this time. But the sad part is that no one from outside is generally able to visit the area during the festival. There is heavy snowfall in the area during the festival that makes it impossible for the tourists to visit during this period.
You can also visit the Lachung temple nearby that is believed to be the oldest in Nubra Valley and has a large idol of Tsong Khapa. There also is Hundur Monastery as mentioned above located on the main road near the bridge.
5. Samstanling Monastery
This is a land of Buddhists and hence the several monasteries. There are many large and small monasteries in the area, and this is also one of the famous ones. Samstanling monastery is located in the Sumlur village in Nubra Valley and was founded by Lama Tsultim Nima around 140 years ago. This monastery also has historical importance. It is considered to be an important Buddhist shrine. On the way and around the monastery the landscape is extremely beautiful with rich flora and fauna. There are yellow-red trees, vibrant and colorful prayer flags that add to the beauty of the place. There are also berry bushes and golden-grey mountains that look extremely beautiful and are bliss to see and visit.
The monastery has two assembly halls. Both of these halls have murals and paintings of Buddha and Dharma chakra. There are murals of the four heavenly kings, guardians, and lots of other people and artifacts important for Buddhism. The guest house in the monastery is also the home of the 7-year-old incarnation of Lama Bakula Rinpoche, who is a great visionary. There are also 50 monks living in the monastery.
6. Maitreya Buddha
Maitreya Buddha also referred to as the future Buddha and is currently a bodhisattva residing in Tushita heaven who will descend to preach the dharma after the teachings of Gautama buddha have completely decayed from the world. Maitreya is one of the earliest bodhisattvas around whom a cult developed. The details are also mentioned in scriptures from the 3rd century CE. Maitreya Buddha was accepted by all schools of Buddhism and is still the only bodhisattva generally honored by the Theravada tradition.
The word Maitreya is derived from the Sanskrit word “Maitri” which means “Friendliness”. He is represented in painting and sculpture both as a bodhisattva and as a buddha. He is depicted seated in European fashion or with his ankles loosely crossed. It is located near the Diskit monastery. It is a 32-meter-tall statue that is facing towards the Shyok river. This statue has been recently built, with 8 Kg gold which was donated by the head of Gompa and was sanctified by the Dalai Lama on 24th July 2010. It is said that this statue was built to protect the village from wars and to promote world peace.
Places to Stay in Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley is located in a remote area and you will not find many let alone fancy places to stay during your visit. Often known as the cold desert of India, you will see nude mountains and majestic views of the valleys you have ever seen. There are only a few hotels and resorts to stay in Nubra Valley and you can choose a place based on your budget. You can also choose from several homestays at this place that you will enjoy which will give you a comfortable vibe and homely feeling.
Make sure you book the place before visiting during the season because it gets really difficult to find accommodation if you land in the town without any arrangement to stay in summer. Some of the famous hotels to stay in the area are Organic Boutique Hunder Nubra, The Kesar, Goba Guesthouse, Nubra Ethnic Camp, Mystique camps and homes, Sand Dunes view resort.
How to Reach Nubra Valley?
Nubra Valley is located in a corner of the country. But you can reach the valley via different means of transport and the details of which are mentioned in the details below. You can choose from air travel, trains, buses, or taxis to reach this heavenly town in this beautiful valley.
Air Travel to Nubra Valley: The Nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rinpoche airport at Leh at a distance of approximately 73 km from Nubra Valley. It is connected to most of the major cities in India. The local airlines and carriers like Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, Spice Jet, and others have direct flights from Delhi. You can take a taxi to Nubra Valley or jeeps are also available for hire at the airport. To reach Leh, you can also take connecting flights from other local airports in India if a direct flight is not available from your nearest airport. You can hire a taxi from the airport to go to your destination in Nubra Valley or the nearby cities if you are planning to go anywhere else.
Rail Travel to Nubra Valley: The Nearest railway stations are the Jammu railway station which is 620 km from Nubra Valley. Certainly, not very close and a difficult mode to reach Nubra Valley. But if you are coming from faraway places in the country, you can reach Jammu Station and hire a taxi from here. The railhead is connected to most of the major cities in India. Jammu railway station is directly connected to prime cities of the country, including Delhi, Bhatinda, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and Jodhpur via several superfast, express, and mail trains. You can take a taxi or take a shared cab from outside the railway station to reach your destination.
By Road To Nubra Valley: The main road route to Nubra Valley passes through Khardung La pass which is one of the highest motorable roads in India. The alternate route to Nubra is from Wari La to Sakti which is located east of Khardung La. Generally tourists reach Leh via public transport like planes, buses, etc., and hire a taxi from Leh to reach Nubra Valley. Bus services also ply to and from the city of Nubra Valley from nearby places like Jammu Tawi, Srinagar, Leh. However, there are no regular buses that travel on this route and it is very risky to rely on public transport.
Things to Eat in Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley is a comparatively less visited place in the middle of the majestic Himalayas. Most of the places serve north Indian food with limited options and snacks are available all day. A few eating joints are serving lip-smacking food in the area. Most of the hotels and homestays have their in-house kitchens where they prepare food and serve it to their guests. You can always try local food which in this area are majorly small stalls with Maggi and other quick snacks for you to munch on. It is advisable to carry food on your journey here so that so you can eat something when you feel hungry during your treks in the area. There are also many street vendors offering some of the best Tibetan dishes for you to enjoy. If you do not worry about eating outside local food is a must-try. Many small places are serving Thukpa, Momos, and meat. This place will not disappoint you in any possible way.