Nubra Valley, the Valley of Flowers and Desert
Trip Start Aug 08, 2011
1Trip End Aug 28, 2011
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At times road sides and mountains near the road had small wild flowers with colours of white, yellow, purple. We passed small villages. Ladakhi vilages have chortens and small monasteries with prayer wheels. After we crossed South Pallu, a village and an army base, we could see that the snow covered peaks wer coming closer. We were climbing towards the Kahrdung La Pass, the heighest motorable pass (18, 362ft) in the world. We could see snowcapped peaks from handshaking distance. We saw a glacier coming down the slopes of the left of the mountains
Road condition was getting bad. It is a Herculeon task for the Border Road Organization (Himank) to maintain roads of Ladakh and more so at passes. All human habitats were left far behind. Bare mountains of dizzining heights were all around us.
And at last we saw Khardung La Pass (18, 362ft), the heighest motorable point in the world was coming closer. We reached the pass and banners put up by Border Road Organization (BRO) greeted us to Khardungla pass. There were many vehicles in parking lot. There were tourists from across the world looking at awe the scenery around Khardung La. One cafataria claimed with bold letters as the World's Heighest Cafataria.
As we were getting out of our Toyota Qualis, Nasir warned us to exhert less and slowly as rarefied air will make us seriously breathless. We saw army had made arrangements for free medical aids and was serving complimentary tea and coffee to shivering tourists. I went into frenzy of clicking photos. Going from one side of the raod to other was labourias and I was panting for oxygen. Here at Khardung La oxygen molecules were 48% less than oxygen at sea level.
We began our descent for Nubra Valley
Now were into Nubra Valley, crisscrossed by the winding channels of the Shyok and Nubra Rivers. Views from the road of the deep into the gorge of the Shyok River is mind blowing. At the first glance, the valley seems perched and dry. But Nubra Valley is the prime farming land by Ladakhi standard. We saw orchards of apples and appricots. There were barley fields where women we harvesting and also saw the orange berries grown in abundance.
Our first halt was at Diskit. Sprawling over the floodplains on the south bank of the Shyok River, Diskit is the main town of the Nubra Valley, having the seat of goverment here. We went to the Diskit Gompa, the main attraction here. Winding road or the dirt track took us at the bottom of the steps that would take us to the Gompa. From the bottom of the steps we could see huge Maitreya statue and as we climbed to the main prayer hall, we saw equally large drum. upstair is a dramatic look out. The second chamber has Effigies of demonic protectors
Now we were heading for Hundar. Beyond Diskit, the hihway passed through a wide area of rolling sand dunes before reaching the sprawl of farm houses and and scrabby trees. We reached the desert by foot crossing a small strem. There were tourists going on camal back riding. Camels are of Bactrian (two humped) origin. What we saw were the tamed ones. But left behind from the days of Silk Route there are still some shaggy Bactrian camels in the sand dunes of the Nubra Valley.
Views around the sand dunes was picturesque. We went across the road, to following a crude trail to two crumbling Buddhist temples and to the ruins of a vast compound of pilgrims' quarters. . one must climb to the fort at the top of the ridge to get an inspirartional views but I warn all that the exposed scramble up here is not for the fainthearted.
Later in the afternoon we left along the same route for Sumur, located on the far side of the valley. A dramatic gorge runs north along the Nubra River and crossing the river, we reached Sumur, the largest village here. We searched out Sumur Camp where we had our booking for the night
All around mountains had snow capped peaks. Apples and appricots were hanging from trees and there were plenty of colourful wild as well seasonal flowers. It was dinner time and we walked to dinning hall. Most of the guests had assembled and majority of the guests were from Europe. We enjoyed small talks with some German tourists while dinning.
Next morning when we woke up and came out of the hut, we saw great view of sunrise over snowcapped peaks and storm clouds was gathering around the high peaks. After breakfast, we started back but not before we saw startling Samesteling Monastery. It was a comapartively new monastery but well decorated and well kept.
Now we were climbing again for Khardung La pass. Weather was rapidly deteriorating. Drops of rain were coming down
Rest of the drive to Leh was uneventful though we passed spectacular mountain sceneries.