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Nubra Valley: The Valley of Flowers in Ladakh

Nubra Valley: The Valley of Flowers in Ladakh

It was a late evening in Leh and we thought of renting a bike for our next day ride to Hemis Monastery, to add some more thrill to our Leh Ladakh road trip. Without the second thought, we reached a bike shop and the first question bike lender asked us was – Are you going to take the bike to the Valley of flowers! We looked at each other and the quick open mouth response was, what are you saying? Are you kidding, the valley of flowers in Ladakh? Where is this and how can we reach there? He gave smile, handed the bike and left us with all the questions unanswered. The keenness was on our head and we started exploring more from the locals. After no answer, we surfed about it further on the internet and found that he was referring to the none other than the famous Nubra Valley.Nubra Valley - The Valley of Flowers in Ladakh, India

But the question was why is this barren cold desert at 10,000 feet known as Valley of Flowers? And the answer is because the name Nubra originated from the word Ldumra which itself means Valley of flowers. So, after taking the inner line permit, visiting Hemis monastery and the local attractions like Leh Palace and other Palaces of Ladakh, we left on the second day from Leh to the Nubra valley.

Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley is one of the sub-districts of Ladakh and lies 116 kilometers from Leh. It is located on the North East side and has Diskit Village as its headquarters. The valley can be reached from Leh by crossing the highest motorable road and the Khardung La lying at an 18,380 feet altitude, in just 5-6 hours.

Dunes at Hunder in Nubra Valley

The route for Nubra Valley:

Leh – South Pullu- KahardongLa (40 km) – North Pullu (15 km)- Khalsar (40 km) – Diskit (22 km) – Hunder (12 km)

The Nubra valley was once the important part of the traditional silk route and now it is well known by the famous Siachen Glacier. It is a sensitive and border zone and has been opened to the public only in 2010.

As, we crossed the snow-capped peaks of Khardongla and moved towards North Pullu, the shades and artistic landscapes of valley left us stunned. The landscapes of Nubra valley are truly bewitching. There are huge barren shaded mountains, dozing valleys, and partially inhabited borderlands with the musical Shyok River (a tributary of Indus River) flowing in between the desert.  Roads are unnoticeable from a distance and some are even unmarked on the Google map. The clouds float in the deep blue sky giving the whole valley a miraculous look.

Nubra Valley

The distant hamlets in between the valley have beautiful patchwork fields of polar, barley, mustard, and pea; along the river and in between houses giving the green and yellow shading to the barren valley. There are apricot and almond plantations too, which during the bloom might leave the valley truly vibrant and magical. In fact, it is one of the greenest valleys of Ladakh and is also known as the Food Bowl of Ladakh.

There are plenty of mud and stone houses, with few pukka houses in the in-between village. The stupas, monasteries, Mani stone walls, and Tibetan flags reflect the typical Tibetan Buddhist culture. The people of Nubra valley have distinct Ladakhi features and are quite humble and friendly.

Best time to Visit Nubra Valley

Nubra valley usually closes down from November to April. The peak tourist seasons are May to August. Whereas in September and October, there are fewer tourists but the chill starts biting the valley.

Expected Temperature

In summers i.e. from May to July – temperature varies between 8 to 20 degree Celsius whereas August is considered to be the monsoon season, so rains can bring the temperature really down too. Despite days being hotter, nights are bit cooler and pleasant in the valley.

Winters in Nubra valley are really cold and dry. They last from November till April and the temperature vary between -4 to -24 degree Celsius.

Charms of the Nubra Valley

  1. Diskit Village

Diskit is the administrative center of Nubra valley and lies 116 km from Leh on the Shyok River. As we approached the Diskit village, the vibes of Tibetan culture and serenity in the wild engulfed us. The village seemed like a commercial hub of the whole valley. The village is well known for its dramatically positioned 15th century Diskit Monastery and 32 meters tall Maitreya Buddha statue.

Diskit Monastery, Nubra Valley
Diskit Monastery, Nubra Valley

Diskit Monastery can be reached by driving or by walking along the Mani stones and white chortens. But we preferred driving only, as we were in short of time and it was too hot. Entrance Fee: Rs 30/- and timings are from 7am-1pm and from 2 pm -7 pm.

Maitreya Buddha Statue, Nubra Valley
Maitreya Buddha Statue, Nubra Valley

The 32-meter high statue, placed on the hillock is a standing glory and the perfect example of skilled craftsmanship. The Maitreya Buddha statue faces down the Shyok River, facing towards the Pakistan. The statue is a symbol of protection of Diskit Village, prevention of further war with Pakistan and to promote the world peace.

Close to the monastery is also Lachung temple, the oldest temple of Nubra Valley.

  1. Reflections of the Nubra Valley

Just as we left further towards the Hunder Village, there was something more holding or captivating than the barren landscapes and wide valleys. And it was the reflections of these majestic peaks with the clouds hovering in the deep blue sky and wild horses gazing around.

  1. Sand Dunes, Bactrian Camels, Seabuckthorn forests and Silhouette shots of Nubra Valley

Just a few kilometers ahead, we saw another astounding face of the valley. The barren landscapes were taken away by the Rocky Mountains on one side and grayish white sand dunes on another extending in kilometers till Village Hunder. The patterns of these sand dunes seemed bizarre and ever-changing. So, Hunder is all about the white cold desert. And if there is desert there have to be camels too. But what is so special about these camels?

Sand Dunes at Nubra Valley
Sand Dunes at Nubra Valley

In Hunder, there are double-humped Bactrian camels, which apart from here are only found in Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. These camels can be seen in the dunes between 9 am -12 pm; 3 pm -7 pm or grazing in the nearby sea buckthorn forests. The Bactrian camels including their children are tagged for reference and tourism purpose. One can opt for Safari on these during the mentioned hours by just paying Rs.300/- per person.  We didn’t feel like going ahead with it as we were more interested in admiring the valley and taking the silhouette images.

Double Humped Bactrian Camel, Nubra Valley
Double Humped Bactrian Camel, Nubra Valley
  1. Mani stone walls of Hunder Village

At village Hunder, there is a small roadside monastery known as Chamba. Just from there opposite of the Gompa, runs along Mani stone wall extending to the hills. Follow it clockwise and you will run to the watchtower on the height giving some terrific views.

Mani Stone wall at Hunder Village, Nubra Valley
Mani Stone wall at Hunder Village
  1. The last Village – Turtuk

Turtuk, predominantly a Muslim Village lies 90 km ahead from Hunder and is the last outpost in India. The roads to Turtuk are well paved and it can be done as a day trip. The village is virgin and an apt place to interact with the Balti community of Ladakh.

Turtuk Village, Nubra Valley
Turtuk Village, Nubra Valley (Source: BBC.com)

Accommodation at Nubra Valley

There are multiple home stays, guest houses, camps and resorts at Diskit and Hunder for the stay. We opt to stay at Hunder with Apple Cottage resort. The resort had multiple tents among the apple orchards. Remember to negotiate, the pricing for these cottages varies with season.

Apple Cottage Resort, Hunder Village in Nubra Valley
Apple Cottage Resort, Hunder Village

Points to Remember while traveling to Nubra Valley

  1. Inner Line permit is required for traveling to Nubra Valley. Click the link to read about it.
  2. Days are really hot in the valley but evenings are still cooler. So, one needs a thin jacket for the evenings.
  3. Remember to cross the Mani stones always in the clockwise direction.
  4. Try to visit Pangong Tso, after Nubra Valley as it helps in better acclimatization.
  5. Follow the paths carefully while diversion from Khalsar; otherwise, you may enter the army bases as we did by mistake.
  6. Carry enough cash as there are no ATM’s.
  7. Only postpaid BSNL connections work in the Nubra Valley.

Note:  Apart from this, there are few more accessible areas and places to visit in Nubra Valley like Sumur, Hot springs at Panamik, Yarab Tso, Samstanling Monastery, Zamskhang Palace, and Terisha Tso.

 



42 thoughts on “Nubra Valley: The Valley of Flowers in Ladakh”

  • The Nubra Valley region is indeed one of the most panoramic regions probably in the world. The landscapes are so ethereal and look out of the world. Must indeed have been a blissful experience getting lost in this amazing beauty. I love the look of the Bactrian Camels too, they look so cute.

  • Wow! This looks like an amazing trip that I would love to do! Such beautiful landscape all around. Thanks for sharing a great post, I’ve saved it for future travel planning!

  • Nubra Valley sows its unique beauty. Though some parts of its valley are dry, the whole landscape is still admirable.
    It reminds me a place in ala-Game of Throne scene.

  • How great that you found out about this valley from the bike lender, and his reticence to give much detail allowed you to research and discover for yourself. The photos really showcase the landscape, the little villages and religious monuments, utterly beautiful.

  • Wow,the landscape is so striking and intense, love the snow on the hills and the monasteries clinging to the hills. So beautiful to witness I’m sure.

  • Those views of the mountains in the Nubra Valley are amazing. I would have loved to taken the trip to the Valley of the Flowers just to see the views of the mountains surrounding you in the valley near the lakes. Those temples too, wow such beauty and color

  • I think it is absolutely incredible to find a monumental statue like the Maitreya Buddha Statue set amongst such barren landscapes and wide valleys. Love the symbol of protection, the prevention of further war and to promote world peace, something every town and city should practise.

  • At first glimpse, one might think this is a harsh and unforgiving land, but apparently, many are making a living from it, and it certainly has a stunning landscape. Really enjoyed seeing your photos!

  • Absolutely stunning, I love the way how you described yor experience. I often don’t plan everything ahead of time because often locals would introduce us to some hidden charm just like the guy at the bike rentals did to you.

  • OMG, I cannot believe these landscapes. They look like something off of the postcard. I’ve never heard of this place would definitely would love to check it out. Thanks for including all the tips, I hate when I need cash and don’t have it.

  • Wow, love your pics. Although India doesn’t really strike me as a destination overall, Ladakh is very high up on my wish list to visit in the near future.

  • Ladakh is in my mind for a long and keeping this wish in back of my mind very often I come across some posts which compel me to take a Ladakh trip as soon as possible. And this is one such post. This lovely writeup along with amazing pictures is compelling me to plan for Ladakh trip as soon as possible. Nubra Valley looks astonishing and any one will like to visit this after seeing this post.

  • Looks like a fantastic place to visit! I love the contrast of the open fields against the rolling mountains in the background! Diskit Village also looks like a great place to visit! From the picture it kind of looks like this village just pops up out of the middle of nowhere! So for it to be such a great hub and full of culture is great!

  • This looks like an incredible area to explore! It’s so beautiful and rugged looking. As a cyclist, I know this would be challenging, but what a place to spend some time exploring on a bicycle! Thanks for putting up this totally inspiring post, and enabling me to add another destination to my wishlist!

  • What fantastic scenery! Truly breathtaking, and that is without the handsome camel walking around. I love the Buddha statue in the Nubra Valley, so vibrant. I’ll bet you took dozens of photos. I know I would.

  • You had me at wild horses and camels 🙂 The Nubra Valley looks like an amazing outdoor adventure. The nature shots are unreal! How interesting that you have to negotiate the price of your tent.

  • Your pictures are so gorgeous! I specially liked the second one & double hump camel. The place looks very surreal. Never knew bout Valley of flowers there.

    I have never been there but don’t think there’s something more beautiful in India than it.

  • This place just can’t go wrong!
    Dunes, Bactrian camels, and those reflections!
    This area has been eluding me for a while. I need an extensive coverage of the whole valley!
    Loved that silhouette pic of people on camels against the bright mountain.

  • I’ve always loved seeing the Buddha statues that are so toweringly huge. But I think I would definitely want to see the valley of flowers and witness the sheer beauty of the place you were in. The landscape is so open and vast. It’s gorgeous.

  • Wow! Nubra Valley looks amazing! That’s so neat that you heard about an unexpected spot when you went to rent bikes. Such a fun way to discover a place! I’d love to explore the mountains and lakes and the colorful Maitreya Buddha Statue is beautiful too!

  • Wow, those valleys are amazing. I would love to go hiking here for a couple of weeks and just explore. I also want to see a camel running around in the wild. I also want to get out of touristy India.

  • What a stunning trip! I love it when new destinations almost fall into your lap like that – it’s almost like fate 🙂 Also, the more I see of India’s wonderfully varied landscapes, the more convinced I am that I need to visit. Thank you for this thoughtful writeup!

  • Well it sounds like I should visit towards the end of the season. That’s when we like to visit busy places. Good thing for me you took the time to write this great article because I feel like I just took a mini trip there!

  • If there is a place on this I earth, I want to visit, that is Laddhakh. And your post makes me think why am I taking long to visit Ladakh? So far I have seen photos of Ladakh and Diskit Monastery and Turtuk Village are on top of my Ladakh bucket list. Looks like you enjoyed your trip.

  • The Nubra Valley looks so incredible and seems like the perfect place for an adventure. I was totally wondering when the best time of the year to go would be and then you covered it! Thanks for that. A 32-meter high statue of Buddha seems pretty breathtaking. I’ve never see any Buddha statue that large but I hope to change that soon. The landscapes are truly stunning and that shot of the reflection is perfect! I would totally do the safari to see the Bactrian camels too…seems like it would be such a cool experience! And it’s such a good thing to know that prices are usually negotiable!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • The Nubra Valley looks absolutely stunning. I love all of the mountain views and reflections. Thanks for the great functional tips as well. I hate when I rely on an ATM and find myself out of luck in a destination. Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow! The landscape looks absolutely surreal! Your pictures speak for itself how splendid Nubra Valley is! When you mentioned the ‘valley of flowers’, I was thinking about the valley covered with beautiful flowers but even the flowerless view is just spectacular!

  • Wow, those mountains are made for exploring. You got some amazing reflections on those lakes. I assume during the spring these mountains have amazing flowers. I would love to get to ride a double hummed camel (Is that even allowed?)

  • So fascinating! I always thought double-humped camels were myth since I’ve only seen single humped ones in Morocco. But this shows that you learn something knew everyday. If you’ve ever ridden a camel, you’d know that its not the most comfortable of experiences so I think you made a good decision capturing those sillhouetted images against that one-of-a-kind landscape.

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