At the age of 25, when you want to explore so many thrilling things but you can’t find anyone who wants to do them with you… don’t lose heart. Just do it… do it with YOU!! For the last 3 years I so desperately wanted to visit the most beautiful place in India, Nubra Valley, a stunning enclave surrounded by rugged mountains north of Leh, Ladakh’s capital. It’s cut by the river Shyok, part of Indus, which, unfettered by borders, flows from Tibet, through India, to Pakistan, before meeting with the Arabian Sea.
To help you get your bearings a little more Ladakh is situated in one of the most awe-inspiring parts of the Indian Himalayas, nestled between Pakistan, Tibet and China. It also made up part of the famous Silk Route which is on the Jetset Bunny Top 100 Travel Adventures Bucket List.
So I decided to gift myself a solo trip (though it was a group tour, I was alone in the group) on my 2nd work anniversary. I registered myself with a company called Invincible NGO who mainly organize trekking and adventure tours at fair rates and off I went to my dream destination: Leh, Ladakh.
Ladakh is a district in Jammu and Kashmir which is known for its remote mountain beauty and the culture and history are closely related to Tibet. Here the main attractions for tourists are Leh city itself, Pangonk lake, Khardung La pass, Diskit monastery and NUBRA VALLEY.
Fun Fact: Since April 2017 tourists are required to get an Inner Line Permit to visit the valley.
I was on the 8th day of my trip when we finally headed towards the place I was most excited to visit… NUBRA VALLEY. We left around 10am from Leh city on a bus. As we started our journey and we were going higher into the mountains the view of Leh city became more and more mesmerizing. The road is very rough and between the mountains, maintenance often becomes an issue because of the landslides.
We reached Khardung village in the Shyok Valley at around 1pm as this is the only way to get to Nubra Valley. You have to take a police permit on the North pole and the South pole to cross the Khardung La. Khardung La is the highest motorable road in India at 18,379ft above sea level and so breathing becomes difficult due to lack of oxygen. This is also the last stop where you can get BSNL or Airtel postpaid signals, only the army has network connectivity after this point.
We didn’t spend too long here as we decided to explore Khardung properly on our return journey. After crossing the South pole we had our lunch (which was packed before we left Leh city) at this amazing place. Having lunch between the mountains and near to a small river with such beautiful views was an unexpected surprise.
The water was so cold that my hands almost froze after touching it just for a second, anyway as for my lunch, let’s just say my soul was more satisfied than my stomach. After a pretty relaxing lunch break we resumed our journey. We reached Diskit Monastery around 4pm, also known as Diskit Gompa.
This is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It was a nice 1 hour break where we clicked photos and enjoyed the view.
Gujarati is one community from India that travels a lot. We could see 80% Gujaratis in every tourist place and this gives me the feeling of being at home while on a vacation. (Jetset Bunny regular contributor Nancy is… you guessed it… Gujarati).
Around 6pm we reached Nubra Valley. Nubra Valley has many small villages sitting around 10,000ft above sea level.
First stop in Nubra Valley was to see the sand dunes. Yes!! Sand dunes in Nubra Valley thanks to the small rivers which have over time become dunes.
This was so much fun, we played cricket and a few childhood games. You can also take a camel ride here.
I opted for some alone time next to a small lake where I listened to songs and enjoyed some quality time with myself, putting the ‘solo’ into my solo trip. Here I witnessed the most amazing sunset of my life. Golden rays of sun made the valleys even more beautiful. My phone couldn’t capture a proper photo but I have saved the image in my heart forever.
Nubra is such a remote place and electricity is available for only 2 hours a day, from 8pm to 10pm. During this time we had our dinner and our tour guide briefed us about the next day’s plan. We decided to make a bonfire and get to know the group more, after the power gets cut. One of my tour mates was an amazing flute player and he played the flute as we sang songs.
Gujaratis carry Garba (a traditional Gujarati dance form) wherever they go. A pure Gujarati can play Garba whenever and wherever. In -1℃ under the beautiful stars we played Garba until 1am at night. We had 2 JBL bluetooth speakers which we connected with one of the mobiles. We charged them well in advance so that any power cut cannot stop us from having fun.
On the 9th day I awoke to another beautiful morning. We were all so relaxed and fresh from within. We got ready, had our breakfast and set off on the return trip back to Leh city. This time we were going to stop at Khardung La and enjoy the beautiful mountains at the top.
The journey to Khardung was so satisfying that we were not talking or interacting, rather we were playing old songs and simply taking in the scenery. The Shyok river, the white sand, the green mountains and the snowy mountain peaks are captured in my memory for a lifetime.
Khardung La is quite narrow and a popular attraction for tourists to visit so this makes the route crowded and often loaded with traffic. But the waiting and the chaotic traffic was worth it once we saw the view. We had to pass through a long queue just to get our picture taken at the top. The wind at the top was so strong and the mountains being covered with snow doubled up the thrill.
The air gets thinner at the top which makes breathing difficult. One of our friends had to use an oxygen cylinder due to shortness of breath. It is advised to carry the cylinder and know how to use it if you are traveling by yourself; in case of a tour, the instructor will carry one by default. Also it’s worth noting that the Army is available at every risky point to help the tourists.
So Nubra Valley has been ticked off my Bucket List but I can never get satisfied with traveling because every time I visit a place, I get to know about some other place and then I end up making my bucket list longer not shorter.
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