Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Day 3 & 4: Nubra Valley Through Khardung La

Recalling my drawing book as a kid. Drawing of a landscape always meant mountains in the background, trees at the foothills and a river - something that I am sure all of us have drawn at least once in our life. It became a reality on this trip. It was as if the image came alive from my drawing book. As I am writing this, selecting pictures that do justice to what the eyes saw is very tough. It happened on the Day 3 of our Leh trip.
Straight out of the drawing book - 1
Straight out of the drawing book -2
Another aspect that you would notice is small structures made by stacking of stones along the road, water bodies and many a times in middle of nowhere. In Budhism, this means a combination of concentrating on a task and the act of striking a balance between self and nature. According to various other theories, these are made as offerings to the almighty by travelers for safer passage and a good fortune, some suggest that each stone is a wish or represent a family member and much more such sayings.
This is what we left behind in Nubra!
Day 3 for us was approximately a 170 km ride from Leh to Nubra Valley. This was an overnighter requiring a night halt stay at one of the camps in Nubra valley. To be witnessed were the mighty Khardung La, Diskit Monastery, Hundar Sand dunes, double humped camels, Shyok river and the of course the Nubra valley.

Somewhere between Leh and Nubra
En route was a ride that I will remember for a long time. Here goes...

Our driver recommended to us that due to less oxygen, the Khardung La needs to be crossed as soon as possible and that we would be stopping here on our way back. But fate had something else planned for us. The moment we reached Khardung La, there was a huge traffic jam which took more than an hour to clear. Thus giving an opportunity for us to sneak around. It was snowing and the traffic conditions were getting worse with tires skidding all around. Just managed to take a few shots. (and some more on our way back to Leh).
Khardung a - on the way to Nubra
Khardung La - on the way back to Leh
Khardung La - one more
Who's that?
Next  we saw a never ending landscape comprising hills, rivers and treeline. Soon (not really) the landscape started to change and we reached the Hunder sand dunes. This is a mini desert with amazing views. One can also enjoy a ride on double humped camels.
On the way to Hunder dunes
Sand Dunes from the cold desert of Nubra Valley
In search of something
Found it
Double humped camels
Up, close and personal
Some scenic views @ Hunder dunes
By this time, it was 5:30 pm and we headed directly to our camp in Nubra Valley. Our camp was very close to nature surrounded by hills, water bodies and dense vegetation. In spite of located at such a remote location, the camp was very well organized and maintained. We had a lavish dinner buffet before we crashed for the day.
View of the camp we stayed in
On the next day (Day 4), we started after the breakfast and headed directly for the Diskit Monastery. The monastery was also visible from the Hunder sand dunes. There is a huge Buddha statue visible from a distance and the Monastery is located on the adjacent hill.
Diskit Gompa
Statue of Jampa (Maitreya) Buddha
Inside the Monastery
Statue of the Dieties
View from the Statue of Jampa (Maitreya) Buddha platform

More views from the Monastery
Spinning these prayer wheels bring good luck
Another view from the Gompa
We traced back the same route we took for Nubra and reached a spot to try our hand at the quad bike. Unlike as it seemed, the ride was great fun. This was the place where the training scene of "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" starring Farhan Akhtar was shot.
Add caption
We decided to discover another spot by just stopping our car along the bank of Shyok river and went for an excursion in the icy water.
Shyok River
We reached the hotel in the evening and started preparing for the next overnighter Day 5 & 6 to Pangong Tso.

Day 5 & 6 coming soon.

Note: This route requires permit

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