Nubra Valley, Ladakh - Everything You Should Know
One of the most beautiful parts of the moonscapes of Ladakh, Nubra Valley is a deep cut gorge created by the combined effects of Shyok and Nubra (Siachen) rivers. A high altitude cold desert, Nubra Valley is actually an extension of the Tibetan Plateau (Qing-Zang Plateau) that starts in China and extends up to Ladakh. This valley in the plateau separates the Ladakh Range from the Karakoram Range.
But more than anything, Nubra Valley is the most beautiful region in all of Ladakh. Home to wonders like the Diskit Monastery,Hunder Sand Dunes, Samstanling Gompa, Yarab Tso Lake, and the villages of Turtuk and Panamik.
Located about 160 km from Leh, the capital of Ladakh, Nubra Valley is a great attraction to all those who come here. The gateway to the upper reaches of the country, especially Siachen, Nubra Valley has an oasis of a town in the heart, Diskit, making a great place to stop you and reflect at the beauty around.
And while you are at it, take a short detour to the famous white sand dunes of Hunder. The shapes and forms that these dunes take during different times of the year mesmerize every visitor who comes here. To make it further interesting, there are the double-humped Bactrian Camels, offering rides through the dunes.
And when it turns dusky, head to the Diskit Monastery and visit the towering statue of Maitreya Buddha which looks over the entire valley and blesses it for another day to come.
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Brown hills, green patches, and a green river flowing right by everything, Nubra Valley is a bucket list item for every traveller and adventurer. There are a few facts and highlight of the place that everyone needs to know. A few of them are as follows.
- Best time to visit: Now because the way to Nubra Valley passes through the mighty Khardung La, the highest motorable civilian all weather pass, Nubra is accessible throughout the year. But for the best experience, April to June, and September to October are the best time to visit Ladakh as there are no rains or snowfall at this time of the year.
- Altitude: Average altitude of the valley is 10,000ft or 3,048 m above sea level.
- Distance Between Leh and Nubra Valley: When taking the conventional route through Khardung La, the total distance between Leh and Nubra Valley is 160 km, and while travelling from the unconventional road of Wari La, it becomes approximate of 150 km
- Permits: Because of the sensitivity of the areas around Nubra Valley, foreign nationals and NRIs need to acquire a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to gain entry into the valley. Similarly, for Indian Nationals, an Inner Line Permit is required for entry. While you can acquire the Inner Line Permit from the DM Office in Leh (in person), a PAP has to be obtained through a registered travel agent.
How to Reach From Leh
The beautiful Nubra Valley is accessible only from the city of Leh, and this can be done in two ways. For both the routes to be taken, one has to arrive in Leh to begin the journey, before deciding which way to go. One is the conventional route that takes you over the top of the world, while the other unconventional route is quiet and serene to no end.
Route 1: Leh to Nubra Valley via Khardung La
The conventional route that is preferred by almost everyone who comes to Ladakh trip, the Leh to Nubra road via Khardung La takes you over what is known to be the highest motorable civilian all weather pass. Standing at the height of 18,380 ft above sea level, the Khardung La Pass has played a significant role in Ladakh’s popularity and has provided an ease of travel and commute.
Practically important to the army stationed in Siachen, Khardung La once was an important part of the Caravan trade route that led to Kashgar in central Asia and was traversed by thousands of horses and camels once. The descendants of those are what travellers come to see in Nubra, especially the Bactrian Camels.
Starting from Leh, you will first arrive at Phyang, home to the famous 16th century Phyang Gompa (monastery), located about 16 km from Leh. Moving on from here and riding amidst tall mountains, you will gain a lot of height in a short span of time, but will not realize as there are hardly any effects on that on the body.
You submit a copy of the permits at South Pullu before the top of Khardung La, where a signboard tells you how high you are. Here, the views are just breathtaking, especially the view of the entire Indus Valley.
Next, you arrive at the Khardung La Village, that gave this place its name, followed by North Pullu where you show your permits again. After Khardung La Village, you would have already arrived in the valley, but you keep continue your Leh-Ladakh road trip to Khalsar, where the road bifurcates. The right road leads to Sumur, Panamik and Warshi, while the left one takes you to Diskit and Turtuk. Both the roads are scenic till no end and give you the best of views of the valley as you ride.
Check our full guide on Leh-Ladakh bike trip which will help you on your journey.
Route 2: Leh to Nubra via Wari La
The less taken and the rather unconventional way to go to Nubra from Leh leads you through another one of the highest roads in the country, Wari La. Nested at a height of 17,427 ft above sea level, Wari La Pass is not for the faint-hearted. With steep sections and hard to conquer surfaces, Wari La becomes totally impassable in the winters.
Starting from Leh, you take the Manali Leh Highway to reach Karu which is about 35 km away. A totally magnificent location in Upshi that no one will miss while coming from Manali to Leh highway, due to the multitude of colors that paint the region. From here, a sign will show you the route to Wari La, which, to say the least, is not everyone’s cup of tea.
On your Manali to Leh bike trip you are going to ride on the roughest roads of ladakh, that are a challenge for both you and the vehicle, until you reach the small town of Agham, from where you get a continuous, quiet, and a serene stretch of road until you arrive at Khalsar, which is the beginning of Nubra Valley.
Places to Visit and Things to Do in Nubra Valley
Here are a few experiences that are must-haves while on a visit to Nubra Valley:
1) Diskit Monastery
The Diskit, or Deskit Monastery is largest and the oldest Gompa in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh. Built in the 14th century, the monastery is mostly known for its beautiful architecture and its amazing placement atop a hill, overlooking the town of Diskit, and the entire Nubra Valley.
Inside the monastery, there is a statue of Cho Rinpoche (Crowned Buddha), a large drum and many depictions of the guardian deities of Buddhism, alongside a large fresco of Tashilhunpo Monastery of Tibet. The most famous feature, however, is the 32 m tall statue of Maitreya Buddha in the monastery grounds.
2) Maitreya Budda
The image of the future incarnation of Buddha, the founder of Buddhist belief, the depiction has a significant place in the Nubra Valley. The 32 m tall statue of Maitreya Buddha located on the top of a hill inside the grounds of Diskit Monastery is one of the most impressive things in the valley.
The statue looks over the entire valley while facing west towards Pakistan. Declared Sacred by the 14th Dalai Lama himself, the statue was made with 3 thoughts in mind; protection of Diskit, avoid further wars with Pakistan, and to promote peace in the world.
3) Camel Safari at Hunder Sand Dunes
In one of the highest deserts in the world, you can find one of the most unique sights in the world; the double-humped camels. Called by many to be camels with backrests, riding one of those is a memorable experience that brings people here from afar.
And adding to that charm is the magic of white sand dunes of Hunder amidst the beautiful rugged mountains, snow-capped peaks, orchards of apricots, and the quiet River Siachen flowing by. The rocking and wobbling movement of the camel will be a fun experience as the beauty around captures your mind and soul.
4) Quad Biking at Hunder Sand Dunes
Similar to the experience of riding the camels on the sand dunes of Hunder, but a little more adrenaline spiking, you can also enjoy the experience of riding an ATV or a quad bike on the small mounds. Feel the air rushing past you as you ride over and down the ever-changing but ever magical dunes of Hunder.
The feel of all the rocky terrain, mixed with the excitement of doing it at one of the highest regions in the world is exhilarating in itself, and is definitely a must have experience.
Don't miss out to check the adventurous activities to do in Ladakh.
5) Samstanling Gompa, Sumur
Located in the gem of a small village, Sumur, the Samstanling Monastery is one of the most-visited monasteries in Ladakh which is a beauty personified in the most simple manner. The setting of the monastery is in the midst of beautiful mountains, scenic greens, and under a blue sky, making the gold, red and white Gompa shine out differently from its surroundings. The best part, however, is the adventure that entails in reaching it, which requires a 45 minute trek from Sumur to reach the monastery.
6) Yarab Tso Lake
Another gem in the Sumur Village, the Yarab Tso Lake is located at a small distance of about 15 km from the capital, Diskit. Requiring a hike to reach, the beauty of the lake is something that captivates visitors with its simplistic beauty and peaceful surroundings.
A 20 minute hike away from the Panamic village, the lake is considered to be holy by the people residing, not just in the village, but by everyone across the valley. The waters are crystal clear, and you can see to the bottom of the not so deep lake, with it reflecting the mountains around, making the whole setting mesmerizing.
7) Turtuk Village
A famous name in the minds of people who remember the 1971 struggle between India and Pakistan, Turtuk lies in the Baltistan region. Predominantly Muslim, Turtuk is India’s last village before Pakistan controlled Baltistan region begins. Opened to tourists in the year 2010, Turtuk has a few gompas, a royal house, and a few homestays for tourists to come and witness the real Balti culture.
The northernmost village where non-Indians are allowed, the village of Panamik is nested pretty close to the Siachen Glacier. Known for its sulfur-rich hot springs, special permits are needed to arrive at this village located at a height of 10,442 ft above sea level.
8) Panamik Village
Apart from, the village of Panamik is also the home to 250-year old gompa, known as the Ensa Monastery. Shopping is another great thing to be enjoyed, as you can get Pashmina Shawls, woollen socks, and dry fruits of amazing quality at really great prices.
Hotels in Nubra Valley:
1) Hotel Sten-Del
Located in the town of Diskit, the hotel Stendel has a habit of becoming a traveler’s favourite with it's 22 spacious and tastefully decorated rooms. Another great thing about the hotel is the open dining space on the lawn, where you can eat the delicious food made in their multi-cuisine restaurant.
2) StepInn Nubra Valley
Located on the banks of the River Siachen, the StepInn Nubra Valley is a guesthouse with a multitude of great services to offer. Sprawling gardens and attractive amenities are what await the travelers at this guesthouse in the quaint village of Sumur.
3) Lchang Nang Retreat
The name of this resort means “the house of trees”, and that is the perfect description of this amazing place. Nestled amidst orchards of Apricot, Elm, and Apple, the resort is fully solar powered and eco-friendly. The quiet resort is flanked by Siachen River on its western boundary.
4) Hotel Real Siachen
With a magical view of the valley, this guesthouse in the city of Diskit is surrounded by sprawling gardens on all sides. Rather tastefully decorated, Hotel Real Siachen is known for being unique and stylish, and with an amazing price tag that makes it even more attractive to all tourists.
5) Hotel Grand Nubra
Fully equipped great rooms inside and a quiet and isolated location outside, the hotel Grand Nubra has amazing features like a terrace and great gardens. And to add more value to the entire place, there is also a children’s playground and a bridal suite, to suit everyone’s need in one place.
6) Hotel Yarab TSO Nubra
In the village of Tegar, this Hotel is located on the banks of the Siachen River. You will find 13 rooms here including 2 suites, and a horde of other important features like wifi, parking, room service, and amongst all this, the love and warmth of Ladakhi Hospitality.
7) Hotel Lhas Thang
Being located in the town of Diskit has given its own charm to the Hotel Lhas Thang. An ideal destination for all the travelers coming into the region of Ladakh, Nubra is a beauty that is best captured from the window of your room in the Hotel Lhas Thang.
8) Heritage Thongsal
Heritage Thongsal is a luxury tented camp accommodation in the heart of Nubra Valley. Finding its perfect place in the village of Tirith Sumoor, the camp is very well equipped with what can be used to define luxury. There are 24 luxury tents available on double and triple sharing basis, decorated with local made wooden furniture, and with the attached facilities of Bathroom and toilet.
9) The Wooden Nest - Nubra
A luxury wooden cottage stay experience, right in the heart of Hunder Village, the Wooden Nest provides a quiet and serene stay experience. Enjoy running hot and cold water, a spacious verandah, modern bath fittings, classy interiors, and a proximity to the most beautiful stretch of land, the Hunder Sand Dunes.
Click here, to check out the best hotels in Ladakh
Camps in Nubra Valley
1) Nubra Ethnic Camp
A luxury camp in the middle of Hunder Sand Dunes, this place is the epitome of luxury in Nubra Valley. Spacious tents, private bathrooms, running hot water and a private verandah. The best part is the location in the middle of the village, meaning you can set out and explore the village in any direction that you go.
2) Mystique Meadows Camp
Situated in the quiet village of Sumur in Nubra Valley, the camp has 18 swiss cottages, 5 Mongolian Yurt Tents, and 4 rooms, all of which have attached washrooms with running hot water. Another great feature of this place is that the kitchen has its own organic kitchen garden, and serves cuisines from around the world.
3) Apple Nubra Cottage
With 20 swiss tents ready at the visitors service, the place is well known for being essentially pet-friendly. So if you are escaping, take your pet with you as well. Located on the banks of the Shyok River, the camp even has a separate hall for dining, where they serve local food, giving you a taste of the local’s love.
4) Cold Desert Camp
With a rather spacious approach toward camping, the Cold Desert Camp is run by brothers who have been in the industry for 10 years. Essentially famous for providing international standards, the camp has 15 swiss tents with proper furniture, attached washrooms, and running hot water.
The camp also has power back-up, oxygen cylinder, provision for campfire and a lot more to dazzle.
5) Valley Flower Camp
One of the best campsites in Nubra valley, Valley Flower Camp is located on the foothills of the Himalayas in the Nubra Valley, in the village of Sumur. The view of the snowy mountains and the immense greenery around will surely make you fall in love with this place.
With 15 tents on the premises, the camp provides ample parking space, free wifi, TV in the dining space, a special Gujarati Cook, and campfire on request.
6) Royal Deluxe Camp
As the name suggests, get ready for a royal experience at the Royal Deluxe Camp. Spread in an acre of area, the place is as green as it gets, with orchards of apricots surrounding it, and the crystal clear water of the river flowing past it. The campsite has 32 swiss tents, spread across the area, with properly constructed washrooms attached to them.
7) Double Humped Camp Hunder
The perfect mingling of wilderness with the beauty of the valley, the Double Humped Camp, Hunder is a majestic place to stay while in Nubra. Enjoying a breathtaking view of the rugged mountains around, the campsite has 10 deluxe swiss tents and a chef who takes care of all the needs of the guests arriving, making sure everyone leaves with a smile.
8) Desert Himalaya Resort
Tucked between the beautiful Karakoram and Ladakh Mountain Ranges, this campsite is spread in about 6 acres of unparalleled greenery. Blessed with a natural spring of crystal clear water, the resort grows all of its vegetables on the premises, and provides the guests with facilities for Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Badminton, Cycling, Archery, Kite Flying, And Croquet.
9) Nubra Organic Retreat
Spread in acres of land, the Nubra Organic Retreat has 20 swiss tents with deluxe attached washrooms, with all of their doors opening up to the view of snow-capped Himalayas. Tastefully decorated with minute details in mind, the place is set at a perfect balance of man-made and natural.
Facilities here include restaurant, nature shop, power backup, running hot and cold water, laundry, wifi and emergency medical services.
10) K2 Luxury Camp
With 25 swiss tents, well-maintained area, modern amenities, hot and cold running water, and a spacious kitchen and dining area, the camp is a unique place to enjoy the beauty of Nubra and at the same time, enjoy the stay at the camps. You will get a projector for a movie screening, intercom and satellite television along with a flaming bonfire under a starry night sky.
Other Essential Info about Nubra Valley
- Mobile Connectivity
Due to the remoteness, permit problems, and inaccessibility, mobile networks in the entirety of Ladakh are a questionable thing. The most prevalent one is BSNL while the others are mostly non-existent. For Nubra, mobile networks disappear as soon as you leave Leh, and come back when you enter Diskit/Hunder only.
- Medical Facilities
As such, there are no major medical facilities in Nubra Valley and the nearest hospitals are in Leh. There are 2 major hospitals in Leh, that are Dr P Wangchuk and the government funded SNM hospital.
Nubra Valley does not have any ATMs, so it is recommended that you carry your cash from Leh itself.
- Petrol Pumps
There is only one petrol pump in the entirety of Nubra Valley, located in the capital, Diskit. Apart from this hand operated petrol pump, you cannot find any other place for fill-ups in the valley.
- Food Joints
Where the people are very warm and lovingly welcome people into their houses to enjoy a snack or a meal, you can also find a couple of food joints here in Nubra Valley. A few prominent names in Nubra Valley include the Gyantse Restaurant and the Rangyul Guest House.
For completely exploring the valley, you will need to stay here for a duration of at least 3 days.
- Minimum Duration for Visiting Nubra Valley
Frequently Asked Questions
1) How do I get to Nubra Valley?
Nubra Valley is only accessible from the city of Leh and can be reached via one of the two ways. The conventional route takes you from Leh to Khalsar from over the Khardung La Pass, while the other unconventional way is from Srinagar to Leh by road which will takes you over the Wari La’s unpaved and rough roads to finally reach Khalsar.
2) What is there to see in Nubra Valley?
Nubra Valley, in itself, is a beautiful region to witness. A few attractions that you can visit in this vast expanse of a place include
-Hunder Sand Dunes
-Turtuk and Panamik Village
3) Can I return to Leh the same day of the visit to Nubra Valley?
Yes, it is entirely possible to visit Nubra Valley and return the same day. However, it has to come with a few bitter turns. You will only be able to visit Diskit and Hunder and will have to return early keeping in mind that it not advised to drive on the Khardung La Pass with less visibility.
4) Is Nubra Valley worth visiting?
Absolutely. Some of the most charming places to visit in Ladakh actually find their home in Nubra Valley. This includes the hilltop beauty of Diskit Monastery, the green waters of Nubra River (Siachen River), the majesty of Maitreya Buddha, the quiet villages of Turtuk and Panamik, and the white sand dunes of Hunder. But above all this, the best reason to visit Nubra Valley is the warmth of love and welcome nature of the locals that you will get to witness.
5) What are the activities to do in Nubra Valley?
Apart from sightseeing at the many amazing places, villages, and monasteries, you can enjoy a lot of other activities. Here are the names of a few :
-Double Humped Camel Ride
-ATV Ride or Quad Biking
-Enjoy the Local Cultural Dance
-Visit hot springs of the Panamik Village.
-Shopping in Panamik Village
-Night camping on the white sand dunes of Hunder.
6) What are the other attractions near Nubra Valley?
Here are the names of places to visit near Nubra Valley:
-Khardung La Pass
-North and South Pullu
-Phyang (or Fiang) Gompa
- Pangong Tso Lake
7) Is Panamik famous for its hot water springs?
Yes, the village of Panamik is home to sulfur-rich hot water natural springs, and they are located nearby the Siachen Glacier. Apart from these hot water springs, Panamik is also famous for enjoying a shopping spree for Pashmina Shawls and dry fruits. Nearby the village, there is also the famous Ensa Monastery.
8) Is Ldumra the original name of Nubra Valley?
Yes, according to the local scholars of the region, the valley was also called Ldumra in Tibetan. According to the Wyllie Translation of that word, Ldumra means the Valley of Flowers.
9) What are the other things to keep in mind while visiting Nubra Valley?
Yes, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
-Always carry a first aid kit and your own personal medication. There is a high chance that you won’t find both in the remoteness of Ladakh, especially Nubra Valley.
-Keep a torch with extra batteries, and a swiss army knife.
-Keep hydrated as dehydration is the first thing to happen in altitude sickness.
-Carry energy foods like nuts and dry fruits as appetite is usually reduced to the altitude.
-Keep your documents, especially IDs and permits handy and safe as you will be flashing them a lot during the journey.
-Keep a list of important contacts on a paper as mobile batteries die quick in colder environments.
-Carry enough cash as there are not much ATMs in Ladakh and none at all in Nubra.
10) Why is Nubra Valley a famous tourist attraction?
Because it is the perfect blend of many colors and cultures. You will find dusty hills, snow-capped peaks, a clear blue sky, green patches, white sand dunes, emerald-colored river, and colorful monasteries, all in the same place.