Surreal Beauty & Calming Reflections of Nubra Valley, Ladakh

posted in: Asia, India, Jammu & Kashmir, Nature | 63

If you are in Leh, the one thing that most people recommend that you do is take an overnight trip to Nubra valley. Before I hit Ladakh, that is exactly what a lot of people told me to do. Given its popularity, ScoutMyTrip too, added it to our 12-day itinerary and thus, this thrilling traveler of yours ended up discovering a land of surreal beauty and calming reflections – Nubra Valley.

Nubra Valley, Ladakh
Nubra Valley, Ladakh

Sounds pretty mysterious when I add those descriptors but well, that is honestly, how I would term my journey and stay at Nubra Valley. This part of the journey was just after our epic Highest Blogger Meet at Khardung La and it is the promised part that I skipped in my previous post on Pangong Tso. Nubra Valley was not just about our stay at Hunder but the entire journey that we took from Khardung La to reach here and back. It was possibly the most peaceful part of the journey where we seem to have escaped any major incidents. This section was so surreal that I felt as if I were watching a movie on one of the travel channels like National Geographic. Hey! What they show on that channel is real and trust me on this for I saw it with my own eyes!!! Now get ready to see it for yourself –

About Nubra Valley

Located along the Northern border of India, a little below the famed Siachen glacier, is the Nubra Valley. With a tributary of Indus – Shyok river as its lifeline, this valley is quite unlike the valleys that one has heard of. Green in some parts but a cold desert in many others and a little rocky in some, Nubra Valley surprised me with its textures and colors. This was an important place in the yesteryears for it was one of the key places that lay along the historic silk route.

IMG_2972The diverse landscape of Nubra Valley
The diverse landscape of Nubra Valley

There are three key places or towns in Nubra Valley include Diskit, Hunder and Turtuk. Of these, we managed to just drive through Diskit and stay in Hunder.

The disappearing snow capped mountains of Khardung La

The snow capped mountains at Khardung La
The snow capped mountains at Khardung La                                                                                Photo taken by Abhinav Singh

Our highest blogger meet at Khardung La gave us an experience of snow capped mountains and green valleys of the Tsolding Buddha Park where we were treated to some hot Maggi and an interesting 2-hour discussion with OYO Rooms and ScoutMyTrip. A meet that was quite pleasantly and rudely disturbed by the Yaks who insisted on crossing over at the appointed hour. Bloggers being bloggers had to take that break to capture it all in their lenses – including me (unapologetically)

Yak crossing at Tsolding Buddha park
Yaks crossing at Tsolding Buddha park

Done with our meet, we split into two factions – one that went back to Leh and the other that continued on to Nubra Valley. The snow capped mountains and the melting snow gave way to a completely different landscape – a total antithesis of the white and green that we were experiencing so far.

Barren mountains and calming reflections

The changing landscape as we drove towards Nubra Valley
The changing landscape as we drove towards Nubra Valley

A few kilometers away from Khardung La actually, made me turn back constantly in the car –  to reassure myself that there were indeed some snow capped mountains that we had crossed. The entire landscape suddenly was rocky with some streams flowing around here and there. Patches of blooms would  just appear to interrupt the otherwise, sandy yet artistic landscape.

The surreal beauty of the barren mountains
The surreal beauty of the barren mountains

There is a certain beauty in these barren mountains that you are bound to gasp over. It seems surreal and even more for me when I captured the most amazing reflections on the water that we passed by. Be it just the calm beauty of those barren mountains or the stunning beasts that they shelter.

The calming reflections of Nubra Valley
The calming reflections of Nubra Valley
At Nubra Valley
At Nubra Valley

Diskit Monastery in Nubra Valley

Diskit Monastery in Nubra Valley, Ladakh
Diskit Monastery in Nubra Valley, Ladakh

Our first stop (not counting the photo stops) was at the Diskit monastery. The monastery atop a hill looked quite impressive and naturally, so given that it was the largest one in Nubra Valley. I had heard that the place had a very impressive prayer hall, a Maitreya Buddha statue within and some unusual Buddhist guardian statues within. Sadly, time was short and I could not really explore the place to discover these on my own. However, we did visit another of its landmarks – another Maitreya Buddha statue and this one, was really gigantic.

At the Maitreya Buddha statue in Diskit
At the Maitreya Buddha statue in Diskit

This 32 feet statue dominated the sky and faced the Shyok river. The Jhampa statue is a recent addition to this old monastery and was constructed in 2010 with all the donations that the place got. The statue is said to be a symbol of world peace and specifically, aims at preventing a clash with Pakistan. Hence, it has been built to face the country. It is said to bring peace and protection to the Nubra Valley below.

Jhampa statue of Maitreya Buddha at Diskit, Nubra Valley
Jhampa statue of Maitreya Buddha at Diskit, Nubra Valley

The day being clear, I got multiple shots of this statue from every possible angle. It might sound crazy but each angle gave me a something new to admire in this statue. Like the side view showcases a building with window.- I wonder if you caught that at the first glance 😉

The windows along the side of Maitreya Buddha at Diskit, Nubra Valley
The windows along the side of Maitreya Buddha at Diskit, Nubra Valley

The Sand dunes of Nubra Valley

The cold desert at Nubra Valley
The cold desert at Nubra Valley

If barren mountains were not a distinct enough landscape, you suddenly, encounter sand dunes. The cold desert of Ladakh made its appearance in Nubra valley in the most bizarre manner as we left Diskit monastery to continue on to Hunder, Gone were the rocky formations and all you could see were miles of free flowing, ever-shifting sand dunes. It was as if nature was showcasing its best all in one place.

The sand dunes of Nubra Valley
The sand dunes of Nubra Valley

Meeting the cutest camels at Nubra Valley

Where there are dunes, there have to be camels. And not just any camels, but the cutest ones with double humps. The Bactrian camels of Nubra Valley stole my heart, especially this guy as he stared back at me in the eye to say – “Yo there! What are you upto?”.

The Bactrian camel at Nubra Valley
The Bactrian camel at Nubra Valley

Sadly these camels are all tagged for tourist activities which include camel riding. Even the babies are strung along. Thankfully, no one is allowed to ride them. This part of the Nubra valley was crowded owing to these activities. A few of the bloggers wandered off from the crowd to get more of those dunes but the rest of us returned back to our charming OYO property in Hunder.

Tourists enjoying their camel ride at Nubra Valley
Tourists enjoying their camel ride at Nubra Valley

Our Stay at Nubra Valley

The OYO Rooms at Hunder, Nubra Valley
The OYO Rooms at Hunder

OYO Rooms had one of the most charming properties here for us to experience. With a stream that flowed through the property and little cottages around it, the resort itself was a haven. While our evening was spent with crazy jokes and Sam giving his maiden performance for this trip, the morning was a different story. Waking up to chirping birds and the sound of a flowing stream is enough to put you on a high for the rest of the day. And that is exactly, what happened with me.

The surreal, contrasting beauty of Nubra Valley
The surreal, contrasting beauty of Nubra Valley

Next morning as we set forth for Pangong Tso, we could not but admire the parting views of Nubra Valley. Typically, this kind of beauty would make my senses go on an overdrive but on the contrary, I felt very calm. I think it is the varied landscapes and they all converging together that made this place so surreal, while the Shyok river and its reflections are what made it calming. And possibly, these contrasts are what makes Nubra Valley so appealing for anyone who visits Leh.

Nubra Valley

Getting here

  • You can either fly into Leh or drive in from Delhi as we did on this road trip.
  • Nubra valley is 150 kms from Leh and can be reached by car or a taxi. To hire these, you can get in touch with any of the tourist agents in Leh. Alternately, your hotel too, can help arrange for it.

Travel Tips

  • One needs an Inner Line Permit to visit Nubra Valley.
  • It is better to spend a day in Leh acclimatizing to the altitude before you head to Nubra Valley. This is to avoid AMS as you climb atop Khardung La. Staying in Nubra Valley will further assist your acclimatization as this is at a lower altitude.
  • Ensure that you book your hotel or tent well in advance as these places are often quite full during the season – June to September.
  • The entrance fees for Diskit monastery is INR 30 and you can visit it anytime between 7 am-1pm & 2-7 pm

P.S: I experienced Nubra Valley as a part of the Highest Blogger Meet organized by ScoutMyTrip and OYO Rooms




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63 Responses

  1. quirkywanderer

    The pictures are worthy of being postcards. Beautiful captures. Truly!! The camels are way too cute! 🙂 What a delightful post this is. The dunes actually look like how they show on travel shows.

  2. Priyanka Singh

    No doubt you beautifully captured the reflections and calmness of Nubra that justifying the mentioned title. More of the above I love the ‘Dude’, camel with spikes. he has such an innocent face.

  3. Parul Thakur

    The pictures are lovely Ami. I got back to Bangalore this weekend after a road trip in Ladakh. We stayed at Turtuk and it was also out of the world. If I get to go next time, Hunder it will be.

    • Ami

      Thanks Parul. I saw your video of the wild horse running along. I can so visualize that. Well done with that.

  4. Vistara Tours

    By seeing the pictures on your blog i can imagine the beauty of this place. Leh ladakh is amazing place like a wonder.

  5. Renu Jinturkar

    Hi Ami..l am simply speechless. I just want do a solo backpacking in that surreal yet incredibly beautiful place. I want to walk next to the patches of blooms and see the snow capped mountains. I want to go to that lake, see the mirror reflection and sit there with an empty mind. This place is definitely on my “must visit” travel destinations list. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Ami

      Thank you Renu. This place is just so mesmerizing and beautiful and am pretty sure you are going to love it when you do get there.

  6. Kirat

    Inspiring picture gallery. I never visited in Leh Ladakh yet but i can stop myself to visit Nubra valley at least once. Which is the best time to visit there?

  7. asoulwindow

    You shared some really well clicked pictures here. The way to Nubra Valley from Leh is gorgeous. No wonder we ended up making so many pit stops. An early morning walk in the villages of Hundar is so therapeutic. Wish we spent more time here.

  8. Edith Rodriguez

    The scenery in your pictures is amazing! What a great place to explore and take in nature. Seems you had the place almost to yourself. That’s always a plus when traveling! Awesome you got to enjoy the beauty of this place.

  9. Doreen Pendgracs

    My goodness, Ami! I think this post on the Nubra Valley might be my most favourite yet! It is so breathtaking and so surreal. Thx for sharing.

  10. Tania Mukherjee

    I know what you mean, Nubra can’t be described in words. When I visited Nubra I felt the same. I can’t believe sand and snow is literally existing at the same point! I felt weird, it was nothing like the rest of India!

    • Ami

      Indeed, very unique and definitely something I recommend to people. Glad you too experienced the same.

  11. Abigail Sinsona

    I have to comment you on your photos. The photos you took of Nubra Valley are incredible. It seems like I could spend an entire day just taking photos of it!

  12. SindhuMurthy

    How lovely Ami! I am falling in love with Nubra Valley all over again after reading your post. I must admit, you have nailed the art of capturing reflections 🙂

  13. Neha Verma

    Wow..thanks for the wonderful virtual tour Ami. The pictures themselves are speaking volumes about the beauty of Nubra valley. And that particular one with the horse and it’s reflection – that’s my favorite..captured with perfection!

  14. Sandy N Vyjay

    The Nubra valley looks really out of the world. The beautiful landscapes are really the kind of stuffs you see in those surreal dreams that you sometimes have. The sand dunes look like poetry etched by nature. Love the look of the camels, they look so innocent and vulnerable.

    • Ami

      Everything about this place is stunning and I am so glad to have been able to capture some of it. Thanks for stopping by guys.

  15. Mike

    I cannot say enough about your photography! Some of your shots were truly breathtaking! The reflection of the mountains on the water, or the horse drinking. You truly have an eye for your shots! Keep it up!

    • Ami

      Thank you Mike. Glad you enjoyed the place through these shots. Trust me, the place is even more amazing.

  16. Suruchi Mittal

    Your this post and pictures brought back so many memories of my own trip to Ladakh. The valley is simply mind blowing and how the snow capped mountains are taken over by sand dunes is just amazing. The double hunped camels are really cute. Even we were sad seeing them tagged

    • Ami

      I am pretty sure you must have been nostalgic as I am always when I see another post on Ladakh. The place is just magical

  17. deepti

    Me and my friends always very exited to visit different-different places in India. Recently We had been visit a new place in ladakh and we have plane to visit this. You inform very deeply about Ladakh thanks to inform it.

  18. tanvi

    I never visit in Ladakh, but according to your blog its looks very Beautiful. I want to see this place at least once.

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