Ep 5 Hunder to Sumur to Siachen Base Camp, Nubra Valley | Ladakh
Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. Right now, I am at Hunder village in Ladakh's Nubra Valley. I am standing at a high road and showing you the sand dunes below.
It is right in front of you! Sand dunes are a huge tourist attraction of Nubra Valley. I've seen tourists planning their journey to Nubra Valley very carefully. Once they start from Leh, they prefer to spend their first night in Hunder. Maximum tourists do so. From Hunder they go to Turtuk and return to Hunder.
After that, they go either to Pangong. Or to the other side of Nubra Valley, where we are headed as well. Many tourists plan their itinerary like this. As for our current plan, we will go to Diskit to visit the monastery. Then we will go to Sumur via Khalsar. Later on, we will also visit Panamik.
In Sumur, we'll get to visit a Museum and in Khalsar, we'll visit a hot spring. That's our plan. We will spend the night in Sumur and visit Pangong tomorrow. The place where I'm standing, I'm having a 360-degree view of the mountains.
All these mountains have zero greenery on them. There isn't a single tree or shrub on these mountains. The only greenery visible is in the valley down below.
Right next to the desert. I also feel that Nubra Valley has slightly more greenery than Leh. This is a good viewpoint here. Now, we will move on to Diskit. As we started for the monastery from the Diskit market....
...after travelling some distance, I observed that the monastery is.... ...located at a great height. So, in order to reach the monastery, we've climbed a mountain. Let me tell you that the monastery is on top of this mountain. The Diskit monastery is the largest and oldest monastery in the area.
It is said that this monastery is 600-years-old though we'll know more details later. We can also see the statue of 'Maitreya Buddha' at a height in the distance. Also known as the 'Future Buddha.' Let us go up to the monastery.
I am breathless now! So far, I've counted 170 steps. Now, there are 10 more steps left. It means that from the parking, it is 180 steps to reach the monastery.
So, we're here! As soon as we reached the temple premises, I went inside to have darshan. Right now, I am standing outside the temple. Photography and videography isn't allowed inside. So, I am standing outside and telling you in detail about this place. We have with us the Lama ji, to tell us about this place in detail. Let me share the details as per what I've understood & you can fill in the details.
One, we had a darshan of Mahakaal inside. There were two statues, one with 32 hands and the other with 16. I had a darshan of another statue with Mahakaal written under it. In this statue, he had a skull in his hands.
Yes! Please explain beyond this point. A group of invaders came here about 400 years ago, in order to loot the monastery. To loot! Yes, to loot the temple. They broke down the temple door and forcibly entered the premises.
After looting the temple, they left a knife stuck into the floor of the temple. While doing that, the invader's clothes also got stuck into the floor. So, when he got up, and stepped back... ..he also got stuck, right! After that, the invader succumbed to his own fear and died on the spot.
His body was thrown out from here. Next morning, at the time of aarti, the body was seen back inside the temple. We've heard that this happened twice or thrice. Then, his head and hands were chopped and offered to the Mahakaal. It is called 'Mahakala' or 'Mahakaal'? Mahakaal! Mahakaal! Yes! Alright! Who were the invaders? It was a group of soldiers or invaders from Mongolia.
Alright! Yes! The name of their leader was something like "Subojungar". Alright! Yes! Which sect of Buddhism does this monastery follow? It follows the Gelugpa sect. Buddhism has total how many sects? Total 4. The four are Sakya, Nyingma, Kagyu and Gelug. This monastery is under the Gelugpa sect. Thank you for sharing this information with us.
I want to know now, just for my knowledge, since we have gained height... ...what is the minimum temperature during the winter season? The minimum temperature here goes down to minus 25 degrees. But that is occasionally, not always! So, is the monastery closed or open during that time? No, the monastery remains open. Do you get tourists during winter? Not many tourists come here during winter but locals do visit. Okay Sir! Thank you! Thank you! Juley! Till 5 minutes ago, we were there.
After travelling 700-800 meters, we've now reached the stature of 'Maitreya Buddha.' We've parked our car. Now, it won't take us even five minutes to reach the statue.
What a beautiful statue of Maitreya Buddha ji. Sitting posture! 106 feet tall! And on top of the mountain! It is difficult to express this amazing view in words! Let us stay here for 5-10 minutes. Then we will go to Panamik via Sumur. On the way, I also want to visit the Sangam of the Nubra and Shyok rivers.
We will see whether it is the roadside or farther from the main road. Whether we are able to visit the Sangam or not would be clear once we reach there. Just as we were getting down after visiting the statue, I saw this complex. I learned that this complex has housing facility for tourists. The tariff is different for double or triple-occupancy rooms.
Starting tariff is Rs 1500 and it goes upto Rs 2000. I just saw the room and found it to be comfortable. If you want to spend the night in Diskit, you can explore this option. They also have a restaurant next to this complex. Electricity is a problem here as well. There is electricity between 6 PM and 11 PM, then it is dark everywhere.
Though solar light is an option but not daily. Let us move on. While on our way to Panamik, we saw another location with sand dunes. And I've noticed that they are also operating ATVs here.
We got down from our car and now we are looking at the ATVs. There you can see an ATV being operated. I have asked them about the charges for an ATV ride. They told me the charges are Rs 1000 for one person and Rs 1500 for two.
The instructor accompanies the rider. We've reached near the sand dunes of Sumur. We have the Nubra river right in front of us. But how will we reach there is a major question! Because I can see a watery swamp between us and the river.
So, it would be difficult to reach the river. The next best option is to go back. It would be better to watch the Nubra river while travelling over the sand dunes. Let us go from this side. Wow! It is fun to walk on the sand dunes. I've walked up to this point.
Now, all I see around me are sand dunes. What a view! These are not very large in size. But still, offer a beautiful view from where I am standing. I will get sand in my shoes. Nevertheless, it is alright! So, here I am on the top of the dune.
Very nice! Who must've got this great idea of putting a bench here! Nice! Wonderful! Right now, there is no other tourists except for us in this place. There are only two foreigner tourists, in the distance, and us. We've finally reached near the Nubra river. The 1-KM walk that we did to reach here was totally worth it! The river flowing in front of us is called Nubra and it originates in Siachen. The Shyok river also originates in another part of Siachen. Standing here, it feels good to watch the Nubra river and feel its current.
Since the path ahead is closed off, the river will take a turn here. And right here, it will meet the Shyok river. So, Nubra drains into Shyok. Yesterday, we saw Shyok river in Turtuk too, from where it will further go to PoK. Eventually, it will drain into the Arabian Sea after flowing through Pakistan.
I wanted to see this Sangam of two river with my own eyes. I also wanted to look at the Sangam from a higher vantage point. But that couldn't be possible here. But we can take aerial shots of this Sangam and show it to you as well. For today's night stay in Sumur, we've booked accommodation here.
This is the room. Nice, spacious room! This was the only spacious room, rest of the rooms were smaller in comparison. The tariff they have charged us is Rs 2000 including breakfast. Otherwise, the tariff here is in the range of Rs 2500. They have quoted lesser tariff because of shortage of tourists.
Look at that apple tree. I had seen apple trees in Hunder as well. Apple in Ladakh.
Today's episode is shorter. Tomorrow we are planning to visit the Siachen base camp. So, I'm thinking of clubbing it with today's journey and making a single episode. So, now I am going to say bye to you here. Tomorrow, while returning from Siachen base camp, we will come via Panamik.
To Sumur! And the day after, we'll go to Pangong. Our Pangong journey got postponed by a day. No problem! Bye bye for now! We will meet tomorrow. Good morning! Right now, we are in the Sumur village of Nubra Valley. I am standing at a crossroads and showing you the view around. This is the road from which we came in yesterday.
We travelled from Hunder via Khalsar, to reach here. Today, we are going to the Siachen base camp. Those are the mountains in the distance. The clouds covering the mountains on this side are looking so beautiful! Very nice! Right now, the time is 8.15 am. On our journey to the Siachen base camp, we'll try to take minimal halts. And we will share every moment of this journey with you.
Come! We've travelled for 39 KM from Sumur. We've now reached the Sasoma Bridge. We are sharing this view with you while standing near a beautiful stream! This view is amazing! We left Panamik 18 KM back. We didn't stop our car on this journey. Wherever we saw nice views, we slowed down, but didn't get down from the car. Now, let us go near the water stream.
And check the water current closely. This water here is coming straight from the Siachen glacier. If you notice, there is water coming from inside the mountain.
And it is flowing in the form of a stream! Dorje Bhai! Hello brother! Hello, Dorje Bhai! Hello, hello! Come down! We left Sumur at 8 am today. We travelled for 2.5 hours. We also crossed the Warshi village about half an hour ago. Warshi is the last village on this side of the Indian border. The road beyond this ends up at the base camp. We've stopped our car to show you a beautiful view of the Nubra river.
This terrain is totally different. No doubt about it. It feels good to stand by the river. I have been travelling for the past one and a half hour now. I haven't noticed a single tourist vehicle coming in from the opposite direction. This place isn't very popular yet because...
....not many people are aware that Siachen base camp is now open to tourists. Let us move on! We've reached the base camp of Siachen glacier. Do you see that hut in the distance? We've parked our car behind it. From there, we've walked to reach this point. Let me show you the glacier first.
Do you know what is so special about this glacier? It is the longest glacier of India. And the second-longest glacier of the world. What is the total length of the glacier? 76 KM.
If we keep North Pole and South Pole aside,... ...there is no other freshwater source in the world as big as this. This map here highlights Jammu-Kashmir, Ladakh, Aksai Chin, and PoK. It must be understood that if India hadn't taken control of the Siachen glacier...
...Aksai Chin and PoK could have been easily connected. Then, our two enemies could have collaborated against us on Ladakh side. Therefore, its imperative for India to maintain control over the Siachen glacier. This map helps us understand this clearly. The altitude of this glacier is said to be 5753 m. Right upto its highest peak. Going further, I will share some interesting facts about this glacier and...
...also some unknown facts about this place. So many brave soldiers have laid down their lives at Siachen while protecting... ...India's sovereignty. The names of all those martyrs are recorded here at this memorial. You can see the names are recorded with serial numbering. Their name, rank, and selection year have been recorded here. Siachen is not a usual army post.
Guarding the borders of India in Siachen is such a humongous task... ...that it can't be expressed in words. Earlier, I was talking to an officer here and he told me that... ..the average posting duration at Siachen glacier is not more than 2-3 months. Daily life in Siachen means encountering a number of practical problems. Your blood freezes at an altitude of 22,000 feet.
Breathing becomes laborious. Speaking from personal experience, when I visited the Khardung La Pass... ...my body's oxygen level was 74. While I was standing at a place, which had greenery around.
But here, if you go beyond this small piece of land, there would be zero greenery. When soldiers start towards the glacier from here, at the time of posting... ...they don't go by some helicopter that drops them straight at 22,000 feet height. They trek to the glacier, while acclimatizing themselves gradually. Like, right now, we are at an altitude of 12,500 feet. The jawans come here, do their duty and then leave after 2-3 months. My salute to each one of them.
Very, very difficult to be guiding Indian borders at such a high altitude! There is one more fact mentioned here. On 13th April, 1984, the Indian Army launched its Operation Meghdoot here. That Operation was meant for Indian Army to establish its control on Siachen. Prior to that, the Indian Army had no presence at the glacier. Let us now go to that side too. After that, I will give you more detailed information about it.
Jai Ho! The access points for tourists are available only within this half KM radius. They can click photographs. They can realise how difficult life is in this part of the country. And they can also pay their respect to the brave Indian soldiers. Also, they can remember the soldiers' sacrifices. After Independence in 1947, India and Pakistan signed the Karachi agreement.
The agreement had no clarity regarding Siachen. In absence of any clarity, the two sides couldn't agree on where to draw the LoC. Therefore, a Ceasefire line was drawn instead. Later on, the two countries signed Shimla Agreement with no dialogue on Siachen.
No discussion was held regarding which side would control the Siachen glacier. One of the reasons could be that none of the sides was serious about Siachen. During late '70s, an Indian mountaineer, I forget his name, saw a Pakistani map... ...showing Siachen as its part. After that, Indian government became aware that Pakistan was issuing.... ...permits or licenses to the European mountaineers... ...to encourage them to trek through Siachen right upto the Karakoram Range. In 1984, India established control over Siachen through its Operation Meghdoot. You can also look at the dresses needed to survive at such a high altitude.
I told you already that Pakistan had started sending its military to Siachen. This happened during late '70s and early '80s. At that time, Pakistan also placed an order for dresses with a European company. Dresses were needed to survive high altitudes. While the Indian Army was negotiating with that company on an order...
...those dresses had been delivered to Pakistan. Right then, Indian Army and Government decided to take control at Siachen. After several unsuccessful attempts, there was one successful attempt.... ...Indian Army was able to place its flag at Siachen & establish control. Do you know the name of the highest post in Siachen? Bana Post! It was Naib Subedar Bana Singh whose team placed India's flag there. I've read it somewhere that he & his team had to stay hungry for 3 days. He carried out this attack during the day at a time...
... when most of the attacks happened during the night. So, this was an unusual attack carried out on a difficult terrain. Ever since that Operation, it has been India that controls Siachen. The Indian Army guards those posts. I am at the Gallery, which has some photographs and text information. These bullet points give you an idea about how the events unfolded. These photos tell you that Siachen's altitude is at an 80-85 degree incline.
This is the tough incline over which the Bana Post was conquered. Here, I've also come to know of a temple named after "OP Baba Ji." We just visited the temple from inside. Let me share with you the information written inside & what I've understood.
It is said that OP Babaji was a soldier sent to the Malone post. That post is a part of the extreme end of the Northern glacier. At that post, he faced the enemy alone! And also conquered the post! But nobody knew his whereabouts after that. It is believed that OP Babaji guards the Siachen glacier. He is also believed to keep an eye on the enemy.
Every Army unit, on its way to the glacier, first seeks Babaji's blessings here. Inside the temple, there is a bed for OP Babaji, which is maintained regularly. There is also an almirah and a harmonium, which belonged to him. Everyone believes that OP Babaji is still present among us & guards the border. It is believed that he visits here on the 25th of every month & stays on for 7 days.
After that, he returns to his post. He keeps an eye on the whole Siachen glacier. It is written here that on the 7 days, when he isn't present on the glacier... ...those days, the Army becomes extra cautious since OP Babaji isn't there. That is what everyone here believes.
Very nice! We will now walk down from here. I think we've walked about a kilometer so far. We will have lunch at the cafeteria. And then start our return journey! Since the suspension bridge is moving, it is fun to walk on it. It is feeling good to be here.
Very nice! I have ordered fried rice for myself. And maggi as well, which is on its way. Fried rice is okay in taste! See, I am eating fried rice and maggi, sitting at the base camp of Siachen! I will have to keep my expectations under control as far as taste is concerned. It is enough that I got this to eat here. If there had been no lunch here, we would have had to stay hungry till dinner time.
Overall taste is ok! There is a shop here selling Siachen souvenirs. Let us go inside and see if we can buy something. I've found out the rates of some of the objects, like this Siachen Warrior tracksuit. It would cost Rs 1200, with a jacket and pajamas. I've bought this T-shirt for myself.
For Rs 450. They also have a collection of jackets. And caps too! And these lovely mugs! The cost of a pair of these shoes is Rs 1600. Siachen Warriors! It is looking good, right? Siachen! It is good! It is a matter of enjoyment in itself.
That I am eating lunch at a cafeteria beyond which there is no village, etc. It is the last village, not village, that was left behind, but last cafe of India. Isn't it great! We are watching the glacier while enjoying the taste of maggi here. It is hot! The time is 5.45 PM. We've stopped our car here to enjoy this peaceful view. The sun is shining on this side.
And there are clouds there, in the front. This is the Nubra river, which I had showed you earlier. Let me share with you the lesson that I learned on this journey. You must leave early in the morning, when you come to visit Siachen base camp. Don't leave at or after noon. If you leave at 6 or 6.30 AM, you can return by 2 or 2.30 PM.
Or maximum by 3 PM. When the sun is high enough in the sky, its warmth starts melting the glacier. And the river starts overflowing on to the road, like this! The water is flowing across the road. We saw water flowing across the road at, at least, 6-7 places since we started back.
Like it is happening at these two spots, which are about 200 m apart. You can see it from here. In fact, that is a lot of water flowing there. While coming to the base camp, we didn't see water crossing like this even once. But now, on our return journey, we have seen this happening in 7-8 places.
On way to Panamik, we took a turn for Murgi waterfall, about 2 KM back. Basically, we took a right turn and entered the village. On the way, I saw water flowing over the road surface but... ...we kept going on for five kilometers and now we've reached a place from where... ...we can see the Murgi waterfall. Where is the fall? Right there, on top of the mountain.
Talking of the aerial distance, it must be at least 2 to 2.25 KM. But we can't go till there because the approach road is closed. Water from the waterfall has spread right up till here. See this! The water has collected here.
How will go across it? Let us walk for some distance. But we won't be able to see the fall still. Now, we can at least see closely the water flowing down from the fall. He tells me that taking our car through this terrain will spoil the car's wheel alignment. Second thing, we might still be able to reach the other side...
...but returning would be difficult because of the rising water level. This is due to the rising water levels over the past few months, as discussed. Anyways, let me share the view with you, along with the the aerial view. Today is the last day when I can watch the Nubra river. Tomorrow, this river won't be visible.
Tomorrow, we are going to visit Pangong. Very nice! The current is faster on that side. We will spend 10-15 minutes more here.
Then, we'll move on. We've climbed 400 meters from the Panamik village to visit this hot spring. I've reached near the spring and there is some information written here.
The main thing is that the hot water spring has a higher sulfur content. This fact makes the spring water medicinally beneficial. Let us go inside.
Where is the path? I should go from here? I met some ladies down there who told me there are two springs here. This is one of them. They are collecting the water in a tank below. One of the springs cures knee pain and the other cures skin infection.
Let us go there and see it. The water is piping hot. See, this is the second source of hot water here.
This spring is highly beneficial for those having skin-related problems. Now, I cannot go up because the path is slippery and the way is not defined. We can watch it from here and if you pay close attention,...
...you will see the water is so hot that I can see smoke rising from it. This tells me that the source isn't that far It must be hardly 5 to 7 meters from here. We've had an interesting day so far! Now the day is about end, Ever since this morning, we've been enjoying one scenic view after the other. Today's journey has been the best journey so far in this Ladakh trip. In terms of view and in terms of the overall weather that we enjoyed today. Very nice! Let us go down now.
Then, we'll plan further because we missed visiting the lake today. The time is 7.20 pm and it will be dark in another 5-10 minutes. By the way, the lake is near Sumur, which is Once we reach Sumur, it is at a walking distance before we reach the lake, So, we won't be able to visit the lake today. Now, let's go down and plan the rest of our day, including where we'll spend the night The momos are here. Let us eat it with some chutney.
Nice! These might not be fresh but reheated, but still taste is good! The good thing is that it comes with this tomato-onion chutney with coriander. They have added green leaves to the momo stuffing, which I don't know what is. Overall nice! Good! Now, here is our plan for tomorrow. We will travel for 21 KM to reach Sumur. Right now, I am double minded about where to spend the night tomorrow.
We had earlier booked in the Kesar Guest House I liked that property but electricity was an issue. There is no electricity supply after 11 PM . It is a problem that persists everywhere in Nubra Valley. Those with solar panels or generator can make alternate arrangements.
Now I travel with a lot of batteries in my luggage. We need to keep them charged for the next days' shooting. As of now, we have no batteries left. Total batteries exhausted. We couldn't charge them properly yesterday as well. I am going to contact them and ask if their generator problem is resolved. If that would be done, we will go there.
If not, then we'll see. I will also try to visit a few places and identify those as an alternative. All this survey could take us about half an hour to complete. And it is already 7.40 PM. Whichever place we select, it would be 9 or 9.15 PM before we settle down.
Anyways, I will say bye to you here. Tomorrow, we will meet again as we visit the Pangong Lake. We've been hearing about this lake for many years, in news, vlogs, videos, etc. Tomorrow, we will see it with out own eyes. I will say bye-bye to you here now.
We will meet again soon! In the next episode, you will see our journey to the Pangong Lake. Alright then! Do tell me your views about today's episode. Bye bye! Thanks for your time!