Road to Nubra Valley over Khardung La

Our next destination was Nubra Valley, a valley that lies 115 km from Leh and is popular for its cold desert at an elevation of over 10,000 feet. Can you imagine a desert at an elevation of 10000 feet! But the desert is bustling with activities. Tourists enjoy walk on sand dunes, take rides on double hump camel safari and what not!

But how to go there! The most challenging mountain pass Khardung La which acclaimed as the world’s highest mountain pass comes on the way to Nubra Valley. Khardung La is mere 40 km from Leh.

Khardung La is on the TOP OF THE WORLD! Doesn’t that sound exciting? How about a drive over that! And how would it feel to stop there for a while, take pictures with the signage that claims it to be on the top of the world and then entering into the Nubra Valley! Adventurous, isn’t it?

At the Top of The World!

At the Top of The World!

Khardung La is the highest motorable road in the world at an elevation of 18380 feet. It is the gateway to Nubra Valley and Siachen and is in the Karakoram mountain range.

The much awaited journey of us to ‘Khardung La’ started early in the morning of 15th July 2014. It was a pleasant drive for first few kilometers (around 20-25 KM), then started the rocky mountain roads. A blue signage on the barren mountain road attracted our attention. We stopped the car.

Traditional Silk Route

Traditional Silk Route

The signage was put by the Tourism Development Authority, Leh to indicate that this was the pony track of the traditional silk route (a trade route) between Punjab and towns of Central Asia in the 17th century. I looked around but nothing remains of the past caravan route. The blue signage of tourism authority is the instant source of information for the travelers on this road. Thus we witnessed the track of glorious past.

Khardung La Top

Khardung La Top

To be on the top of the world you are really expected to experience lesser oxygen. So do not stay longer on the top and don’t overstress the body.   After reaching at Khardung La we followed all these basic rules.  Aahhh! It’s a tremendous feeling, a joy of being on the top and accomplishing it. But it is certainly a place where everyone can go and experience the same. All other tales of difficulties about Khardung La that buzz around are nothing but hype!

We too took the Photo with Khardung La Summit Signage

We too with the Khardung La Top Signage!

Like many other high altitude passes, the army has its presence at Khardung La too and here they have a small souvenir shop where hot tea are served to the travelers. There also locates a temple. It’s obvious. God can’t leave us alone at that height!

Ganesh Temple at Khardung La

Temple at Khardung La

Standing on the top of the world, if you ask, is this the limit? You will be replied soon. A signage will tell you SKY IS THE LIMIT.

Signage at Khardung La

Signage at Khardung La

We were told that weather is very unpredictable and highly unstable and can change surprisingly fast at Khardung La.  It may leave travelers trapped for hours or even days, but nothing like that happened to us, except heavy downpour on our way back on the following day.

We started descending from Khardung La. By now ‘Rahman’, the driver of our car became familiar with me. As I pointed the camera, he stopped the car. I came out to click. A small lake surrounded by the mountains just below the Khardung La looked so beautiful.

A Lake below the Khardung La Top

A Lake below the Khardung La Top

We set off again. Soon we passed the village Khardung. It is a tiny green village surrounded by barren mountains.  A drive of another 40 minutes or so and we met the river Shyok, a tributary of river Indus. The water of river Shyok looked muddy. Our journey continued by the bank of river Shyok.

Khardung Village

Khardung Village

Muddy water of Shyok River

Muddy water of Shyok River

Road to Panamik

Road to Panamik

We reached a point from where the road diverts to the village Panamik and Diskit. We decided to go to Panamik first. The road to Panamik also goes to Siachen Glacier. After driving few meters, we crossed a bridge over the river Shyok on the road to Siachen Glacier and continued our journey to the village Panamik.

A bridge on the river Shyok

A bridge on the river Shyok

Panamik village of Nubra Valley is known for its hot spring water. The path not very well marked and not many travelers visit there, our driver was little confused about the track. However, with the help of locals we arrived at the hot spring.

The hot spring of Panamik though not spectacular, but like all other wonders of Ladakh, this little hot spring also situates at an elevation over 10000 feet. The hot springs from Barren Mountain are channelized through two canals and collected in a reservoir which is enclosed as bathing area. Hot spring contains sulfur and high concentration of various minerals. Sulfur has been used medicinally since ancient time and therefore bathing in the water of hot spring are considered to be therapeutic.

Photos of Panamik Hot Spring

Hot Water Spring on the barren mountain

Hot Spring on the barren mountain

Channel carrying Hot spring water

Channel carrying Hot spring water

Bubbling Hot spring

Bubbling Hot spring

Minerals of Hot water spring laden all over

Sedimentation of Minerals from Hot spring

Sulfur of Hot Spring

Sulfur from Hot Spring

Our next visit in Nubra valley was Sumur village. The main attraction of this village is Samstanling Monastery. It is a 150 years old monastery though not looked so.  Wide red steps led us from entry gate to the front space of the monastery. I stepped inside the inner sanctum and immediately felt its antiquity.

Photos of Samstanling Monastery

Entry Gate of Samtangling Monastery

Entry Gate of Samstanling Monastery

Wide red steps to the Monastery

Wide red steps to the Monastery

The Samtangling Monastery

The Samstanling Monastery

Inner Sanctum of 150 years old  Monastery

Inner Sanctum of 150 years old Monastery

Lamas' Room in the Monastery

Lamas’ Room in the Monastery

It was about 2 pm when we completed the visit of Samstanling Monastery. We planned our night stay at Diskit, a popular village of Nubra valley among the tourist. It was not too far and we headed towards it.

I will come back soon with a post on Sand Dunes of Hunder and Diskit Monastery in Nubra Valley. Till then-



  • Padmini says:

    Hi Anupam,

    Just stumbled upon this blog through alltop. Loved reading through your post. The pics are amazing. Samstanling Monastery looks very tranquil and beautiful. I hope to travel to Leh someday myself. Natural beauty at its most pristine.

    Keep up your travelogue, and keep the beautiful pics coming :)

  • Nandan Jha says:


    So now you have crossed the Rohtang Pass and now on the other elite side of travellers. I read in one of the posts that Army/Govt-Org uses the natural hot spring to heat things or something like that. I do not remember, for what purpose they were doing this.

    The monastery looks so spick and span. Wow. I wonder how they keep it this way.

    Thank you for sharing and keeping us along, on to Diskit now.

    • Yes Nandan, crossed the Khardung La! I have seen nothing like that near Panamik Hot Spring spot. So I have no knowledge about it. The Samstanling Monastery is very beautiful. I saw allmost all the monasteries in Ladakh are well maintained. May be maintenance is not that affected as it is a complete rain shadow region.

      Thank you for liking the post, Nandan. Yes now to Diskit and Hunder.

  • Baldev swami says:

    Dear Anupam,
    very nice travelogue, it is very intersting as well as informatic, I have read your post from very begining, I have enjoyed it lot.
    Waiting for your next post,
    Thanks and regards,
    Baldev swami
    himachal pardesh


    truly a Top of the World adventure trip. Then one dose not expect anything less than that from Anupam
    Chakraborty! Did you travel by road,–car? Jeep? How? Who maintains these places–monastery, Lamas . rooms etc. Look like 5 Star places.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Dear Anupam, it is another “anupam” post indeed! Your travelogue is more like of a historian ….! The entire series may compel wiki…. to approach you for a seasoned writing. Great buddy! Photography & compilations are too good.

    Keep traveling

  • Uday Baxi says:

    Dear Anupam

    I think yours is the best blog/post of Leh and its monasteries. Well-compiled and beautifully photographed. By sharing your memories, you have really provided best information about the locality.

    Please keep it up and keep sharing…


  • Very picturesque but rugged landscap. Hoping to visit Leh and places around. Thanks for the pictures.

  • Santanu says:

    Dear Anupam,
    Nice reporting and excellent photos. Please keep on travelling and enlightening us.

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