A remote world. The most silent of all the silences. Unbelievably fresh air. These are just some of the things one will experience on a visit to the lovely little village of Diskit. Sparsely populated by just over a thousand people, Diskit is located in the Nubra region in the Leh district in Jammu and Kashmir. It lies 118 kilometres from Leh on the banks of river Shyok. A popular place among the tourists, it is one of the major towns of Nubra region. A wondrous site with ancient monasteries, rocky hills standing in majestic grandeur, lovely grasslands, pristine valleys and cold deserts, Diskit is an unblemished paradise on the face of the earth. Littered with apricot plantations, this region is located just off Khalsar and has many guest houses and hotels for accommodation. We take a look at the five places in Diskit that will take your breath away.
1. Diskit Gompa
An ancient structure perched high on a precipitous pin-prick, this 350-year-old Diskit Monastery is the oldest and the second largest monastery of the Nubra region after Thiksey monastery. The path to this gompa can be a lovely experience with elongated stones stacked and engraved with Buddhist mantras and prayers and the whitewashed dome-shaped monuments or chortens which house Buddhist relics are seen along the way. The air is filled with the chanting of monks, crash of cymbals and boom of horns early in the morning. Walking through the narrow paths of this monastery gives one a glimpse into the nature of the ascetic lives of the monks here. Views from the back of the monastery of the encompassing areas are mesmerizing to say the least.
2. Shyok Valley
A heavenly spot formed by the Shyok river that originates from the Rimo glaciers, Shyok Valley is located in close proximity to Nubra Valley. One of the tributaries of the Indus river, Shyok river is also rather ominously referred to as the “river of death” due to the treacherous path it presents to its visitors. The valley is accessible from the Khardung La Pass, which is the highest motorable road in the world. The majestic mountains tower around the valley trapping the glaciated river and a scatter of coniferous trees within giving a most enchanting view.
3. Nubra Valley
150 kilometres north of Leh, the Shyok River merges with the Siachan River to form a huge tri-armed valley called the Nubra Valley. Originally called “Ldumra” or the valley of flowers, this huge expanse separates the Karakoram range from the Ladakh mountain range. With the Siachen Glacier located to its north, the Sasser Pass and the infamous Karakoram Pass adorn it from the northwest and connect Nubra with the Xinjiang or Uyghur region of China, acclaimed for the silk route. The unbelievable beauty of the cold desert of Nubra mustn’t be put into mere words but rather should be experienced. A trip just to see this paradise will be worth the time and effort. Tourists from outside India are required to obtain a permit before entering the Nubra Valley region.
4. Khardung La / Pass
The highest mountain pass in the world at heart-stopping elevation of 17582 feet (5359 metres), Khardung La or Khardung Pass acts as the entrance to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. It was built in 1976 and since its opening to public vehicles in 1988, the Pass has seen many bike and automobile expeditions. A historically significant site, it was and still remains a major trade route between India and Central Asia. Lying 39 kilometres away from Leh, a visit to Khardung Pass is a must to truly experience the jaw-dropping scale at which nature presents itself and the never-ending ways of humans as we learn to live in its grandeur.
5. Hunder Sand Dunes
Sandwiched between Hunder and Diskit is the bed of Hunder Sand Dunes. Standing out from the nearby areas, this vast patch of land covered entirely with white sand at an elevation of more than 5000 metres is a bewildering sight. A high altitude desert with vast mesmerizing expanse of sand dunes and scattered Bactrian camels, the wonderland of Hunder is located 160 kilometres from Leh and has to be accessed from the Khardung Pass. Arid and desolate, the dunes of Hundur are a spectacular sight but it is the Hundur village that attracts as much attention with its lush greenery and a great number of horticulture products cultivated here like apricots, walnuts, almonds etc. One can find the medicinal plant, sea-buckthorn, also called as ‘Leh Berry’, in copious amounts here. Also located here is one of the oldest monasteries of the Nubra Valley, Hundur gompa, lying in close proximity to the Diskit Monastery.
Forming the scalp of India, Diskit is one of the northernmost regions of the country after which access is restricted either due to security purposes or land disputes. A dispute between three countries over the ownership of the lovely Himalayan regions has been going on since decades but this hasn’t dulled the wondrousness of the sites in Jammu and Kashmir. As resplendent as ever, these lovely sights provide a memorable vacation.
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