We arrived in the Sten Del Hotel at Diskit. The village Diskit is the administrative head quarter of Nubra valley. We booked the hotel in advance and were very happy to see the beautiful garden lawn of this well maintained property. The main attractions of Nubra Valley, viz. the great Sand Dunes of Hunder and the 15th century Diskit Monastery are within a short distance from the Hotel Sten Del.
Sand Dunes in Nubra Valley
Usually deserts occur in low altitude, such as the great Indian Thar Desert. But there is also one high altitude cold desert in India which occurs in the Hunder village of Nubra Valley. A desert with silver sand dunes at an elevation of more than 10000 feet above sea level! Under the stunning blue sky the desert is surrounded by the barren mountains with camels around! These camels are different and very special; they are double humped Bactrian camel. The camels found in Rajasthan and other parts of India are single-humped camels.
A tar road goes very near to the Sand Dunes of Hunder. It is the same ancient silk route which was used to trade between Yarkand, a Central Asian Town and Punjab when Leh was an important stopover. And in this traditional silk route double-humped Bactrian camels were the main mode of transport. This route is however not functional now, and today’s policies of global trade could not yet open this traditional route which has been closed since our independence.
We arrived there. It was beyond our imaginations and dreams to see such a vast bed of silver sands with brown mountains at the backdrop. It is an oasis of its own world. We started walking on it and soon met with a gentle stream that cuts the deserts in between. A wooden pool over the stream led us to the main happening area!
The sand dune offers to its visitors the great Central Asian double-humped camel safari. While other visitors were busy in getting their turn first for the safari, I went close to the camels. They look the same normal camels except those two humps. For the first time I saw those camels. Tourists were comfortably sitting on them with the support of those two humps. Everyone there seemed to be so happy with the joyride that we too decided to go for it. The prices of joyrides vary according to the distance of travel. We took a short ride and had a fantastic experience of riding those double-humped camels on the sand dunes of Hunder.
Central Asian Camel Safari Timing
Morning – 9AM to 12 PM AND Evening – 3PM to 6PM
Some more Photos of Sand Dunes
We saw many apricot plants in Diskit and also one in the lawn of our Hotel Sten Del. Diskit has green vegetation and looked different from other places we have visited so far in Ladakh.
Diskit is famous for its 14th century monastery which is believed to be the largest and oldest monastery in Nubra valley. While my friends opted to play carom board on the lawn of Hotel Sten Del, I decided to visit the monastery alone.
I reached the monastery driving through a rugged and dusty road. Located on the top of a hill overlooking the valley, Diskit Monastery offers a spectacular view of the Nubra Valley.
The approach to the monastery is through a flight of stairs which led me to the prayer hall. Inside the hall, there is a statue of Maitreya Buddha. There is also a Gon-khang, a temple of guardian deities, with the images of fierce deities whose faces are covered by cloths. I was told that to protect the earth from their rages, the faces are covered by clothes and once in a year on a special festive day these covers are removed.
On the opposite hill of Diskit Monastery lies the new landmark of the valley, a 32 meter tall impressive seated statue of Maitreya Buddha. It took four years to complete the statute before its inauguration in the month of July 2010.
You cannot afford to miss this place if you are in Nubra Valley!
Some more photos of Diskit Monastery
Hotel Sten Del – Where I stayed in Diskit
Located near the Diskit Hospital, the Hotel Sten Del is famed for catering well to its guests. Its rooms are spacious and comfortable. Furnishings of the rooms are very good and impressive. Rooms are neat and clean with TV in each. The hotel has a beautiful lobby to sit around and a nice corridor facing the lawn. The restaurant of the hotel served hot foods of our choice though they were little expensive. Most importantly all the attractions in Nubra Valley are within a short distance from the Hotel. We had a nice stay in this hotel and will definitely stay in Hotel Sten Del if I visit Diskit again.
Tariff: The Hotel has two blocks, A and B. The Tariff is Rs.2500/- for double bed in Block A and Rs.1500/- in Block B. I stayed in Room No.202 of Block A.
A word of caution: Electricity runs for limited hours in Diskit. Temperature during the days in the month July remains well above 30°C but the night is cold.
Contacts of the Hotel: Near Diskit Hospital, Diskit, Phone: 01980-220196, 200083, Mobile- +91-94193-48223, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos of Hotel Sten Del
I will come back soon with a post on Pangong Lake. Till then-