I have been lucky to get a chance to travel to Leh many times and being an explorer I have always been visiting new places. While I visited Manali earlier, I used to be curious to know how would things look after crossing Rohtang and this curiosity led to visiting Leh by crossing Rohtang. I got into similar state when I visited Leh and used to think how would things look after crossing Khardung La and the result of this was Nubra Valley.
I spent lot of time online trying to see things virtually and found two major things which helped me make my mind to visit Nubra. The first being below time-lapse of Diskit Monastery and second being the last Indian village named Turtuk which we took back from Pakistan in 1971. Per wikipedia It is the last major village where tourist activity is allowed before the Line of Control (LOC). This already sounds thrilling and thus the plan was made. The only challenge remaining was to convince by fellow hiking pals to add this to our schedule which they always agree to. 😛
Due to overwhelming tourism, it is no more difficult to find anything in Leh now-a-days and people are very supportive. Bike rentals are available everywhere however there are few Bike rental places which are well known. Also it is important to make a note that every bike rental place will quote a standard price per day but you can surely negotiate and bargain for better.
The most common bike for such terrain and roads is Royal Enfield and it is recommended to test drive the bike before renting. Also you can opt for 350cc for single rider and 500c with a pillion rider. Be sure to check the tyre conditions and smoothness of clutch and break. If the clutch is hard then the chances of clutch wire breaking is common. In anyway carrying a spare clutch wire as well as additional fuel in mandatory as you won’t find any help on the way. Also you can get a self declaration certificate in any nearby Photocopy (Xerox) shops wherein you need to mention the number of people traveling in your group and this maybe required at many Military check-posts on the way. Not to mention that Helmet,Jacket, Hand Gloves and good shoes are must else you are in soup.
I do not want to make this a very informative post but will leave rest on your logic and naturally if you do everything as per instruction then there is no thrill. Down the memory lane eventually what we do remember is the ‘Adventure’ and that won’t come unless you unleash yourself and do things differently.
As you start from Leh, the climb towards Khardung La is very beautiful and gradually you would start seeing Leh as a remote place with birds eye view. Just before you reach the actual Khardung Pass, you can simply halt and get an immersing view of highest Peak in the region. Yes that is Stok Kangri, one of the most difficult peaks to climb. As you reach Khardung La, the temperature suddenly drops due to altitude and chilling wind from both the direction will make you go numb. Considering this as your first milestone and actual fun begins from here.
The Khardung La pass comes between South and North Pullu and roads descent further. After you cross the north pullu, the terrain changes and as you reach Khardung village the whole canvas starts shifting, Nubra valley is all about unstoppable chain of mountains and terrains and till the end of your eyesight you will see nothing but beautiful landmass going ups and downs and with many colours of earth in different shades.
As you keep going ahead the Shyok River flows towards your right deep down the valley and the water is crystal clear transparent. Another awesomeness awaits you as you reach Khalsar where you have an approx 3KM of table land and straight road which makes you zoom across. Unfortunately one of the RE in our group had clutch wire broken due to heavy usage and I managed to barely ride it on 2nd gear due to inability of changing the gear (this is the adventure and adrenaline I was talking about)
Once you cross Khalsar, the terrain further changes to what actually Nubra is known for which is Sand Dunes. At times it appears as white snow surrounding you from two sides and you keep going forward. Towards your right is a never ending gorge where clear water of Shyok keeps flowing along. You will also notice lots of military vehicles plying due to border importance and sensitivity in the region.
It is recommended to halt in between and watch the far spread canvas and panorama and take a deep breath enjoying the view along with clear skies. Mesmerizing!
As you keep moving forward you can see a statue getting shaped far at your sight and as you reach near, it keeps getting bigger in size. This is the Diskit Gompa. An astonishing huge statue sitting between the mountains and makes you feel minuscule. The monastery has lot of history to it and is definitely worth visiting and knowing the glorious spiritual past of Sino-Tibetan culture.
As you keep moving forward, you would reach Hunder which is famous for its Sand Dunes. You would start noticing two humped camels which are unique in this region. This is a famous tourist spot as people enjoy camel rides in the dunes. Hunder has abundance of lodging options and there are many near-to-nature stay facility available. For nature lovers who like to spend time in peace and tranquility, this is the place to be.
Overall, It is one of the must visit places in lifetime and you would never forget the time spent here. The memories will remain for lifetime and will keep encouraging you to ask for more.