Valleys in Ladakh

Nubra Valley South of Leh and snuggling between the Karakoram and the Ladakh ranges lies Nubra, comprising the Shayok valley and the valley of the Nubra river. The two rivers between them manage to keep the region green with dense sea buckthorn growing in abundance on the slopes.

Nubra, which means 'green' is the lowest of all the valleys in Ladakh, varying between 3048m at Hundar and 3231m at Panamik. You reach Nubra crossing over KHARDONGLA pass 5600m, considered to be the highest motorable pass of the world.

The Nubra valley has opened for Foreign Tourists in 1994 by the Govt. of India to expand tourists opportunities in ladakh region. The valley is on the trade route from leh to Khangar via Samsar and Karakoram passed. Apart from unparraled trekking opportunities. The valley have serval Buddhist Gompas Diskit Gompa is 350 years old and is situated on the highest point near the village in which there are about 120 Resident Buddhist Monks.

Best Time to Visit Nubra Valley:
Nubra Valley Tour : Nubra Valley can be visited only during the summer months from mid of May till August. The Nubra valley itself lies at a lower elevation than the Leh which makes it fertile unlike most of the areas in Ladakh. In the valley, grains and fruits like peaches are being cultivated and grown here

Zanskar Valley The Zanskar region is a small and isolated Buddhist land wedged between the main Himalayas and the Zanskar range. The main valley is approximately 300 kms long and is ringed by mountains. Zanskar comprises a tri-armed valley system lying between the Great Himalayan Range and the Zanskar mountain; The three arms radiate star-like towards the west, north and south from a wide central expanse where the region's two principal drainage's meet to form the main Zanskar River. It is mainly along the course of this valley system that the region's 10,000 strong, mainly Buddhists population lives. Spread over an estimated geographical area of 5000 sq. kms. High rise, mountains and deep gorges surround Zanskar.

Access to it is therefore over one of the high passes. The most important are the Pensi La connecting Zanskar with the Suru valley in the West, the Umasi La with the Chenab Valley in the South and the Shingo La with Lahaul in the East. This makes for very spectacular trekking country.

Just as Lahaul & Spiti, Zanskar Valley presents the World with Buddhist monasteries, mountain passes, glaciers and breathtaking landscape. This region can be visited by involving in Trekking.

Drass Valley The town of Dras is located in a relatively flat and open space. It has extensive willow groves along the river. In summer this town presents a pleasant look while in winter it discovered under a thick blanket of snow. Dras experiences the lowest temperatures in the valley and with its altitude of3,300 m, this town is said to be the second coldest inhabited place in Asia. The mercury may drop to as low as 40 degrees Celsius below freezing point. Often the small huts are covered by snow and communication with the outside world is cut off.

The Dras Valley is an enchanting valley formed by the Dras River which rises in the Machoi glacier near the famous Zozila Pass. The river is joined in its course by many other rivers and streams flowing in from snowfields in the nearby mountains.

Drass (3230 m), 60 km west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar, is a small township lying in the centre of the valley of the same name. It has become famous as the second coldest inhabited place in the world by virtue of the intense cold that descends upon the valley along with repeated snowfalls during winters. Winter temperature is sometimes known to plummet to less than minus 40 degrees. Drass is a convenient base for a 3-day long trek to Suru valley across the sub-range separating the two valleys. This trek passes through some of the most beautiful upland villages and flower sprinkled meadows on both sides of the 4500 mts high Umbala pass, which falls enroute. The trek to the holy cave of Amarnath in neighboring Kashmir, which stars from Minamarg below Zojila, takes 3 days and involves crossing of 5200 mts high pass. Drass also offers numerous shorter treks and hikes to the upland villages.

Suru Valley The average elevation of the Suru valley is 3,000 m. Winters are very severe and heavy and frequent snowfalls occur, though the Suru Valley does not become as inhospitable as the Dras Valley. The cold season begins around mid-November and usually continues till May. During this period, most of the valley is covered with a thick layer of snow. The Suru Valley is formed by the catchments of the Suru River, which rises from the Panzella glacier. On its way to the confluence with the Indus River at Nurla it is joined by numerous tributaries, including the Dras River which flows into the Suru River at Kharul.

The general topography is as rugged and mountainous as most of Ladakh. However, the Suru Valley is relatively more fertile. It extends from the Panzella glacier to south of Kargil town, where the Suru River merges with the Botkul River rising from the Botkul glacier.

Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the people of this valley as the valley is blessed with a relatively longer summer which begins in May. The main crops raised by the people of Suru Valley are wheat, barley and millets. Improved varieties of wheat have recently been introduced. This has helped to increase the production of cereals. Some of the vegetables grown here are turnip, radish, peas and black peas. Grapes, apricots and melons are produced in fairly large quantities at Darchik and Garkoon along the lower course of the Indus through Ladakh. These find a ready market in Kargil. Liquor is made from grapes.

Padum Valley Padum the capital of the ancient kingdom of Zanskar, Padum (3505 m) is the present day administrative headquarters of the region. With a population of nearly 1500, Padum can be described as the most populous settlement of Zanskar, otherwise a very scarcely inhabited valley. Incidentally, it is only in Padum that there is a community of Muslims constituting nearly half the township's population, its origin in the area dating from mid 17th century. Lately, Padum has become a famous as a major trekking base and a popular tourist destination.

Several places of tourist interest in the vicinity of the township can be visited in the course of entertaining walks. The nearest monument is a set of ancient rock carving on a huge boulder near the river bank, just below the old township. These dates from the 8th century and provide epigraphic evidence that the region was under the influence of North Indian Buddhism since ancient times. The Starrimo Monastery with about 30 resident monks clings to a tree-covered ridge above the old town. Across the expanse of cultivation lies the old village of Pibiting, dominated by its picturesque hilltop monastery, a superb manifestation of stupa architecture.

Zangla Valley Lying deep in the northern arm of Zanskar at the end of the 35 km. Long rough road from Padum, Zangla was being ruled by a titular king till his death a few years back. The old castle now in ruins except from a small chappel, occupies a hill, overlooking the desertic valley below. Nearby is the old Nunnery worth a visit for the austere life style of the small monastic community of nuns. An old monastery situated in the nearby village of Tsa-zar has exquisite frescos that should be missed. The village lies mid-way between Stongdey and Zangla. Zangla is the nodal point on the popular Padum-Strongdey-Zangla-Karsha-Padum round trip, which covers most of the cultural sites of Zanskar. The old rope suspension bridge spanning the tumultuous Zanskar near Zangla- a rare feat of folk engineering - is no more in use, but still visible. The river is now crossed by a temporary footbridge for approaching the left bank along which the trail to Karsha follows. Zangla is also the take-off point for the Padum-Markha valley treks.

Markha Valley Markha valley, the classic trekking route takes you through some of the most beautiful villages, were you can explore the traditional life style of LADAKH, the crumbling forts and the Buddhist gompas scattered throughout. The meandering Markha River is our guide; we follow it through groves of apricot, willow, popular & Himalayan oak trees and gaze up at the cathedral-like structures perched on the cliffs which tower above us. Along the way, we are likely to spot wildlife such as deer, blue sheep and ibex serenely grazing in the valley. Monasteries hold 'pujas' or prayer ceremonies in the mornings and evenings, prayer flags are strung up on high peaks, monks wander the trails and villagers bring offerings to the Gompas.