Located to the north-east of Leh (about 150 km away from the capital), Nubra valley is nothing short of a jewel in the crown that is Ladakh.Cradled between some of the most daunting mountain ranges, this lush tuft of land offers a stark relief from the perennial harsh weather of the region. A one of a kind high altitude cold DESERT (yes that’s right), it is known for its wide variety of fruits and nuts that magically grow in such hostile conditions.
Apart from its functional characteristic of separating Ladakh from the Karakoram ranges, the valley also formed part of an ancient trade route (also called the Silk Road) that linked the North Indian plains with several Central Asian cities before China sealed its borders. This area is now known famously as the Karakoram pass and connects the Nubra Valley with Xinjiang in China. While on the west the valley extends into Pakistan, on the northern front, it gives way to the famous Siachen glacier, the world’s second longest glacier outside the Polar Regions. Also known as the world’s highest battlefield, this is where the Indian and Pakistani armies engaged in some of their most dangerous and crucial conflicts. A museum dedicated to the Indian army’s endurance in these long-standing feuds stands proudly on the Leh-Srinagar highway.
In spite of being relatively hospitable climate-wise, this far-flung Shangri-la is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is the bravest-hearted who attempt to cross the intimidating Khardung-la (aka the highest motor-able road in the world) to reach here. These courageous explorers have to traverse their way through some of the most treacherous passes on the Ladakh Range, being rewarded with an excellent view of Leh and the Indus, along with the Zanskar Range and even the Great Karakoram in return. Nothing short of a full-blown feast for the eyes, the visual pleasure doesn’t end here. It is on the way down from Khardung-la, that one sees mountains sweeping from all sides, forming an amphitheater of shattered rock, and the moment you start spotting yaks chewing away to happiness is when you know you’re in Nubra!
Nubra valley is actually a generalization of two valleys: The Shayok, through which the Shayok river runs and yours truly Nubra, with its Nubra river. No ordinary rivers for sure, they’re the clearest, bluest pools of endless water that one will ever witness. The road running parallel to Nubra River ends up at the Siachen glacier whereas the river itself joins the Shyok near Diskit, and flows into Pakistan to merge into the mighty Indus.
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