Ladakh – Trip to Nubra Valley
As I said
in the previous blog, after many years of unsuccessful planning, finally I got the chance to go to Ladakh. Read Ladakh – Heaven on Earth to know about all that and initial days in Ladakh.
This was our day 3 in Leh. It was 8:30 am on the clock. Our car was galloping on beautiful Leh road. We had left for Nubra Valley after having breakfast. To reach Nubra Valley from Leh one must cross the Khardungla Pass, which is at an altitude of 14000 kilometers. You are not recommended to stay on Khardungala Pass for longer hours because there is less oxygen and your body does not adaptable to that environment. But you can stay there for a short period to eat something in the restaurant established at Khardungla pass. Nubra is an inhabited area form a tri-armed valley cut by the Nubra and Shyok rivers. Its Tibetan name Ldumra means “the valley of flowers”. The Shyok River meets the Nubra or Siachen River to form a large valley that separates the Ladakh and Karakoram Ranges. The Shyok river is a tributary of the Indus river. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 ft. above sea level.
The entire path was filled with the beauty of snow-capped mountains. Whichever way I looked, the beauty of nature was enchanting the mind. There are two checkpoints on the way to Nubra, South Pullu & North Pullu. One must take the necessary permit to go to Nubra. Our car was going over the zigzag hilly paths. The road was very well maintained and we reached South Pullu in no time, looking at the beautiful mesmerizing scenic views. We checked our permit and went ahead. There is a distance of 40 km between South Pullu and North Pullu. This 40 km road is quite bad, rather say that there is no road. Now we were slowly going on the height and its effect on the weather was also visible. The weather had become quite cold which was feeling very clear. The whole way, the driver was driving very careful by avoiding the stones which were scattered here and there. It was evident that the landslide had taken place the previous night itself.
After 2.5 hours of driving, we reached Khardungla Pass. We stayed there for 10 minutes. Stored some memories and then set out for the journey ahead. At Khardungla Pass, you will see our proudly waving tricolor. Do not forget to salute. You will feel great. The path ahead was further deteriorated. Small waterfalls were flowing due to which the road had broken. There were stones scattered in the middle of the road and huge potholes were made, so we had to drive the car by avoiding them otherwise these will made a good amount of damage to the car. This route was quite painful and exhausting. Many people were also traveling by bicycle and motorcycle and it was clear from their faces that how difficult it was to drive. On the way, I saw a small temple and I asked the driver to stop the car. The temple built on a small island in the middle of the river surrounded by mountains was looking beautiful and very peaceful. It was providing much peace which is very much needed to calm the mind after this exhausting journey. We stopped there for a while before proceeding further.
After 1 hour of journey, we reached North Pullu. On reaching North Pullu, we put the car on the side and stopped to take rest. There was a river flowing along the road, so thought to take a breather on its side. The water in the river seemed as if it had come straight out of the freezer. A herd of yaks was grazing on the banks of the river. The beauty of that place cannot be described in words, it could just be felt. After 30 minutes of rest, we proceeded from there.
Now our next destination was to stay for lunch. The road was now quite maintained, and the car was running at a good speed. There was a series of mountains touching the sky on both sides of the road, and the land covered with greenery, and by gardens of flowers. The Shyok River was in full swing. Army vehicles convoy were also passing by. That captivating view cannot be written, you can feel it because some things are just for living, not for reading and writing. The patterns made on the mountains make you realize their strong presence. The mountain ranges colored in different colors make you realize much effort nature put to make the world. Driving sometimes through the mountain range and sometimes a plain we reached our lunch destination where we can also enjoy riding the ATV bikes. The lunch was simple but very good. Riding a bike on rent has its own fun. But handling the ATV is an easy task. She gallops as soon as the accelerator turns.
After spending time for a while, we left for our next stop, which was Diskit Monastery. In Diskit Monastery, there is a very big statue of Future Buddha. That statue makes its strong presence felt from a distance. And as soon as you reach, you are just lost in it. Surrounded by mountains, that statue makes its presence felt even to the mountains. Where the statue of Future Buddha is made, it is called Chamba. Just as Shanti Stupa is the identity of Leh, Future Buddha is the identity of Diskit. Wherever you are, you are in the shelter of the Future Buddha. Then we head towards our camp, Desert Himalaya, which was just 10 minutes away. Desert Himalaya was spread over a large area. It had been 6 years since the camp was formed but work was still going on there. There was a river that flows along with the camp. But between the camp and the river, there is a wide range of trees. We checked in at our camp by 3.15 pm. After taking some necessary rest, we left for Sand Dunes at 4:30 pm.
Ladakh will be the only place in the world where you can see the river, sand desert, greenery, mountains, and snow all in one place. We saw double hump Mongolian camels in Sand Dunes. You can take a ride of camel, take photos in traditional Ladakhi dress, and also do archery. A stream of water also flows through the sand dunes, which supplies water for the people living there. The water was absolutely chilled. You get quite relaxed by putting feet in it. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, and a small cold water stream in the center, make a beautiful view. Enjoy the sunset but make sure you do not spoil your health due to cold winds. After spending a good time in Sand Dunes, we returned to our camp. My friend’s health deteriorated as soon as he came back to the camp. Because of which he had to be taken to the hospital. This was the effect of cold. Desert Himalaya dinner was quite good. There you can get live pasta prepared by the chef which was very tasty. The night was clouded, and it was raining lightly. Now it was time to sleep.
It was the fourth day. I woke up at 6 in the morning because we had to leave at 8.30. After getting ready, I set out to visit the camp. While traveling, I reached a small stream of water flowing along with the camp. A recliner chair was placed there. So I made up my mind to sit there for a while. Feeling quite peaceful sitting there in the cool breeze. The sun started to shine on the mountain range behind the camp, due to which the snow on the mountain was shining. After sitting there for some time, I went back to the tent. My friend was feeling well from the previous day. We packed our luggage, put the luggage in the car, and went for breakfast. Breakfast was fine. By the time we came back for breakfast, the rest of the group had also come. Today it was a bit hotter than the previous day. The journey started well because the way was good. There was no problem. The weather was good and the car was going at its own pace.
After the 1.5 hours journey, we took our first break along the banks of a river. There were mountains all around. The river was flowing through the middle and there was greenery on the banks of the river. Was quite a tranquil panoramic view. At the same, there was a restaurant that had a light snack arrangement. We left that place after 30 minutes.
Then we crossed the North Pullu once again and stopped at that temple built in the middle of the river and spent about 1 hour. This time there were more people, including some foreigners. Today, a large group of yaks was grazing there. There was a feeling of peace. At the same, the white statue of Buddha was built on a small island that was in the middle of the river. The next stop was Khardungla Top. Stayed there and enjoyed Thupka, a Ladakhi cuisine. Today was no colder than yesterday, but a relaxed breeze was blowing. Today it was found that there is also a Shiva temple on Khardungla top. Visited and took blessings and then proceeded on the journey ahead. My friend’s health was now getting worse again. After 2 hours journey, we came to the hotel. My friend was ill, so decided to spend the rest of the day in the hotel. By the evening, his health became worse. Many people can earn money in life, but only a few can earn humans. Although our tour manager was arranging a cab for us, but the owner of Wisdom Retreat said that she will take us to the hospital by her own car. On reaching the hospital, we came to know that my friend had AMS problem. More people came to the hospital suffering from this problem and their condition was looking much worse. We got my friend checked by the doctor, got medicine, and then came back to the hotel. The owner of Wisdom Retreat did not need to do all this, but it shows how good a person she really was. After coming back, my friend decided that he would go back to Delhi the next morning. He made preparations to return and after talking to our tour manager also booked a cab to go to the airport.
To know about what happens next, read last blog of this series Ladakh – Pangong Lake and Rafting at Zanskar