That day, we were to visit Nubra valley.
Nubra is situated at around 150 k.ms, away from Leh, and the valley separates Ladakh and Karakoram Himalayan ranges. The valley is formed by the meeting of Shyok river (a tributary of Indus River) and Siachen river. Nubra is located at an altitude of about 10000 feet above MSL, and the main access to the valley is through Khardung La (Pass), at a height of a little over 18000 feet above MSL, the highest motorable road in the world. I understand that in Tibetan language La means Pass. The several-kilo-meters-long Hunder sand dunes, a little beyond Diskit town is a popular tourist destination. The bacterial camel (with two humps on its back) rides are very popular among the tourists. They charge Rs.200 for a fifteen-minute ride.
The entire drive along the hills to Khardung La and then to Nubra was very exciting, passing through some of the amazing canyon formations in the valley, Shyok River flowing at a distance at the bottom of the hills. (We promptly remembered the Grand Canyon in the State of Arizona in the USA and the Colorado River, beneath.)
There is an imposing monastery on the top of a hill at Diskit, the main town of Nubra valley; the 32-meter tall statue of Maitreya Buddha Statue on top of the monastery could be seen from long distances. We couldn’t visit the hot springs located Panamik, at a distance of about 2-hour drive from Nubra. The Indo-Pakistan border along the Shyok River at Balti (of Gilgit-Baltistan) is not very far from Nubra.
The road to Nubra up the hills is fairly well maintained except a 25-30 km stretch which was under rebuilding. But that short stretch of road nearly broke our back, and that answered for our declining to visit the hot spring the next day.
We were to stay to in a tent along the river bed, with only some minimum facility at Desert Himalaya Camp. So, we were really thrilled at the idea; at least, this was the first ever time we were supposed to be staying in a tent, overnight. When we reached the tents, we were completely bowled over by the elegance of the tents, the comforts inside, the ambience, the surroundings, the quietness, the silent dark night, the star-studded sky during the night, the fabulous food and to cap it all, the campfire at night – all in a remote and desolate place. We thoroughly enjoyed the place. For whatever reason, the Camp gave me and my wife a Luxury tent, and the stay was very pleasurable. I only felt, probably, we should have spent at least 2 to 3 days here, using it as an occasion for a retreat – no phones, no internet, no contact with people, and all to ourselves. We found a number of Westerners camping at the place. I heard that the normal tariff for the rent is in the range of Rs.7300 to 8000 a day – definitely, not a place for Aam Aadmis.
The next day morning, we left the place reluctantly, back to Leh. I had some low-back pain for the rest of the day. With rest and medication, it became alright, and I was ready for the next most adventurous trip to Pangong. In the evening, I roamed around the market, scouting to buy some Thanka painting and decorative wall hangings that were believed to bring luck to homes.
... to be continued
... Await the final part...visit to Pangong...blue, salt water lake