Known for its orchards, Beautiful sceneries, Bactrian camels and monasteries; Nubra Valley is the northernmost part of Jammu and Kashmir. Situated about 150 km from Leh, Nubra Valley is known as the Orchard of Ladakh and was originally called Ldumra which meant the valley of flowers. Surrounded by snowcapped Himalayan ranges, Nubra valley lies sandwiched between Tibet and Kashmir. The view of the valley is picturesque and breathtaking. During winter, the whole valley looks like landscape of the moon (reason for calling Moonland) and in summer full of greenery. To reach Nubra valley, you will have to cross the awe-inspiring Khardung La, the highest motorable pass in the world. Winding channels of the Shyok and Nubra Rivers crisscross the wide and flat Nubra valley. From a distance, the valley seems parched and dry. However, the valley mainly consists of prime farm land. No wonder then that the valley has earned the sobriquet Orchard of Ladakh. It is not just scenic natural beauty of Nubra which attracts tourists. The valley is predominantly Buddhist and boasts of several centres of Buddhist learning. Ensa, Samstemling, Diskit and Hunder monastery are famous Buddhist monasteries. The cold desert between Diskit and Hundur are another attraction for tourists. Tourists throng the cold desert to watch the sand dunes and for joyrides on the Bactrian camels. Native to the steppes of central Asia, the Bactrian camel has two humps, in contrast to the single-humped camels found in Rajasthan and other parts of India. The Bactrian camels, found only in Hunder, were the main mode of transport when Ladakh was an important stopover on the ancient trade routes with Central Asia. Bactrian camels are a pointer to the regions importance since ancient times. A major stopover on the ancient Silk Route, Nubra is still important as it is a major trade centre for woolen textiles made of Pashmina wool and horticultural crops. Locals produce fruits like apples, walnuts, apricots, almonds and staple crops like wheat, barley, etc.
Best Time To Visit Nubra Valley
June Minimum Temperature (8) Maximum Temperature (20).
July Minimum Temperature (8) Maximum Temperature (20).
August Minimum Temperature (3) Maximum Temperature (12).
Renowned for its curative hot springs, Panamik is situated close to Siachen glacier, the highest battlefield in the world. About 150 km from Leh, Panamik in the Nubra valley is known for its hot water spring. Panamik is also important as it is the northernmost part of India where foreigners are allowed. The Panamik hot water spring is situated at an elevation of 10442 ft above sea level. The spring water contains high amount of sulphur and it is believed best for curing rheumatism and other ailments. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains, the green valley of Panamik is a sight to behold. The village stands on the banks of Nubra River. The scenic beauty, sulphur springs and the proximity to Siachen glacier make it a must visit destination. Panamik is the last civilian settlement before Siachen base camp (where no civilians are allowed). Panamik is also famous for its Bactrian camels and Pashmina goats. Native to the steppes of central Asia, the Bactrian camel has two humps, in contrast to the single-humped camels found in Rajasthan and other parts of India. The Bactrian camels were the main mode of transport when Ladakh was an important stopover on the ancient trade routes with Central Asia. Wool from the Pashmina goats are used to weave the famous Pashmina Shawl. Panamik is also the base for trek to Ensa Gompa. The 250-year-old Ensa gompa is popular for Buddhist murals and scriptures. The gompa overlooks snowcapped mountains and the Nubra Valley. Despite the fact that Panamik doesn’t have any star hotels or resorts, the village is very popular with honeymooners.
Beautiful but remote, Hunder village sits like an oasis in the middle of cold desert in Nubra valley of Jammu and Kashmir. Seven km from Diskit which is known for its Buddhist monastery, Nubra has acquired fame for its sand dunes, the cold desert that surrounds it, Bactrian camels and its breath-taking natural beauty. Situated close the Siachen glacier and Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir in north India, entry beyond Hunder village is barred as the area ahead is controlled by the Indian Army. Hunder is approximately 160 km from Leh and one has to cross Khardung La, the world’s highest motorable pass to reach the remote village. The high altitude desert, with rolling expanse of sand dunes and barren landscape is the USP of Hunder village. The cold desert and sand dunes seem enigma to scores of tourists who come to visit the spectacle. Bactrian camels are another attraction. Native to the steppes of central Asia, the Bactrian camel has two humps, in contrast to the single-humped camels found in Rajasthan and other parts of India. The Bactrian camels were the main mode of transport when Ladakh was an important stopover on the ancient trade routes with Central Asia. Joyrides on the Bactrian camel through the sand dunes is a must do for the tourists who visit Hunder. Camel safari takes around two hours. Hunder is also the place where you can find forests of sea-buckthorn, a medicinal plant rich in bio-molecules, vitamins and nutritive properties and popularly known as ‘Leh Berry’. Though the area surrounding Hunder is arid and desolate, the village, however, is a vast expanse of green and abounds with cultivable land. Horticulture products, including, apricots, walnuts, almonds, apples and various fruits and flowers, from Nubra are much sought after. Because of its remote location, tourist facilities are limited in Hunder. However, the village is popular with campers. The tented accommodations maintained by private operators are not low in comforts. Hunder is also famous for its Buddhist monastery known as Hundur gompa situated close to the Diskit monastery. It is one of the oldest monasteries of Nubra valley. Festival of Hundur is a chance to see the ancient culture of Hunder people. It is celebrated jointly with Diskit monastery every year. Display of Cham dance and traditional arts and sports are the highpoint of the festival.
Also known as Diskit/ Diskit Gompa, this is the oldest and largest monastery in Nubra valley, belonging to Gelugpa (yellow hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery was founded by Changzeb Tserab Zaongpo, the disciple of Tsong Khapa who was the founder of Gelukpa. As you will step on the rocky stairs towards the hill top, it would lead you to the prayer hall adorned by the statue of Maitreya Buddha, huge drums and several images of fierce guardian deities. Because of the river Shyok flowing at the foot hills and rich green vegetation in the vicinity, Diksit has been named as "The orchard of Ladakh". Diksit monastery also has a school which is run in collaboration with an NGO named "The Tibet support group". The school provides computer facilities and also teaches the Tibetan kids science in English language. The Monastery is renowned for its festival "Dosmoche" or the festival of scape goat. 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. Apart from this, images made from dough are also thrown out to usher peace and the clothes of the idols are also changed during this time. The festival is organized during February and usually its only the people of Nubra valley who attend it because the heavy snowfall that results in a cut off of the region with other places. And to embrace Buddhism a bit more you can visit Lachung temple nearby, believed to be the oldest in Nubra and has a large idol of Tsong Khapa.
Yarab Tso Sumur
This holy lake is often referred as "the hidden lake", perhaps because it is isolated and one needs to hike uphill for about fifteen to twenty minutes to reach the lake. Yarab Tso lake is located near Sumur village and approximately 15 Km from Diskit village. The route is pretty rough, but the magnificent landscape more than makes up for it.
Samstanling Monastery is in Sumlur village and was founded by Lama Tsultim Nima, 140 years ago. The monastery houses 50 monks and this is the main monastery of the region. On the way and around the monastery the landscape is enchanted with the yellow-red trees, vibrant and colourful prayer flags, berry bushes, golden-grey mountains reaching out to cuddle the pristine blue skyline. The monastery has two assembly, both of which have spectacular murals and paintings of Buddha, Dharma chakra, the four heavenly kings, guardians and lots of other aspects of Buddhism. The guest house in the monastery is the resident of the 7 year old incarnation of Lama Bakula Rinpoche, who is a great visionary.
Maitreya Buddha (Future Buddha)
Near the Diskit monastery stands a 32 meter tall statue of Maitreya Buddha 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 H. H. 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.