North of Leh, locked between the Ladakh range and the lofty Karakoram Mountains, lies Nubra- two scenic river valleys and their spectacular confluence. A region part green part rocky and barren like much of Ladakh, and part, rather surprisingly, a desert. You have sand dunes here as well as double humped camels. You have a cold desert right in Himalayas!!
Reached by crossing the Ladakh range over the Khardung La pass (5602m/18380ft), Nubra has much to offer a tourist. There is the pass to start with, the dramatic ascent and the breathtaking panoramic view from the top. And then there is the amazing view of the vast sandy confluence of the Nubra and Shyok rivers. Nubra’s villages – Diskit, Hunder, Sumur, Panamik to name few are just like everywhere else in Ladakh, surrounded by greenery, charming little oasis amidst star, arid landscape. There are Gompas too and even a hot spring.
You need a minimum of two days to tour Nubra but you can easily spend a week here. Since the roads are really good ( apart from South pallu to North Pallu ), getting to Nubra is a pleasant ride from Leh. You can also opt for trekking and Mountain Biking as a means of getting here. A typical Nubra tour takes visitors to Diskit and Hunder in the shyok valley and since 2010 as far as Turtuk and to Sumur- Tegar and Panamik in the valley of Nubra river. Climbing down from Khardung La Pass, the road from Leh descends to vast stretch of sand, the rivers meet, bifurcating just before a bridge. The branch turning left leads to Diskit while the one continuing north over the bridge takes you to Sumur- Tegar and Panamik.
Army camps assisted by local police are located at North Polu and South Polu to regulate traffic in case of snowfall or maintainence work being done on the road. It is advisable to check the traffic regulation on the road from Police/ administration before starting the journey.
The Nubra valley is on a lower altitude than Leh and comparatively warmer. Diskit serves as the administrative headquarter of the Nubra block. A picturesque monastery, situated east of the town is the most recognizable feature of Diskit. A few kilometers away is Hunder, which also has a historical monastery. The distance between the two places is full of sand dunes which provide a spectacle at dusk and dawn when the sun and shade play patterns. The region is also famous for double humped camel rides. Through the sand dunes of Nubra, the river Shyok flows gently providing plenty of greenery on its banks. On the other side of Shyok river are the villages of Sumur and Panamik. Sumur also has a monastery while Panamik is famous for hot springs.