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To the north-west of Leh lies the Shyok Valley, beyond the formidable Khardung La. At an elevation of 10,500ft, Shyok valley is close to the Nubra Valley and Kardung La is the gateway to the Shyok Valley. It is the Valley of Shyok River which originates from the Rimo glaciers. A tributary of the Indus River, Shyok River widens at the confluence with the Nubra River. Shyok River is also known as the river of death, probably because the alignment of the River is very unusual.

The ‘Nubra Valley’ comprised of the Shayok and Nubra river valleys. A generalisation for two valleys, the main Nubra valley is situated in the northern part and the valley bifurcate to the north-west through Shyok River is known as Shyok Valley. The sharp left turn after Khalsar leads to Diskit and Hundar, continuing through the Shyok Valley till the last visitable village, Turtuk.

The non locals must carry an Inner Line Permit from the DC office in Leh to enter Nubra and Shyok Valleys. Apple, mulberry, walnut and apricot are cultivated in the lower area of the valley which is highly fertile. You can visit Khalsar village which stays enchanting all year round.

After crossing Shyok riverhead ahead of Khalsar, take the road splitting west to visit villages along the Shyok Valley, famous for its double-humped Bactrian camels. The Shyok Valley has three villages you can visit, Diskit, Hunder and the last being the Balti village of Turtuk.

Key Facts

  • Region : Shyok Valley, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
  • Ideal Duration For Shyok Valley: 2 days
  • Difficulty : Easy – Moderate
  • Altitude: 10,500ft
  • Trip Starting Point : Leh
  • Nearest Airport : Leh Airport and Srinagar Airport
  • Category: Scenic, Cold Desert, Camel Safari

How to Reach

Shyok Valley is reached by a road from Leh across the Khardung La. After crossing Khardung village you will reach beside the Shyok River. Shyok village can be reached by taking a road which crosses the river and heading south east. You must continue straight for 2 Km to reach Khalsar. The Shayok Valley starts from west of Khalsar towards Baltistan with its last visitable village Turtuk which is 12 km from the Line of Control.

You can take bus from Leh to Diskit and Sumur but services are not regular. It is advisable to hire a taxi from the Leh taxi stand. Rates are fixed.

Best Time to Visit

However the road to Shyok valley is open year-round, summer is the best time to visit. It’s also more comfortable when weather is perfect with green fields. Nubra festivals are celebrated in September in different villages which include folk dances and music. The best time to explore Shyok Valley is between months of July and September.

Where to Stay

Desert Camps and guest houses are available in Diskit, Hunder and Turtuk. These guest houses set up under a state-government sponsored incentive scheme. The tariff ranges from ₹800-1,500.

Tourist Attractions of Shyok Valley

Diskit: The first and largest village of the Shyok Valley is Diskit which is famous for its Tibetan style Monastery. It is the oldest and largest monastery in Nubra Valley and hosts about 70 monks. Linked by wooden steps, the Monastery is built on many levels. You can also visit the long statue of Maitreya Buddhra facing the Shyok River which is 106 ft long and situated in the top of the hill.

Diskit is also famous for its 2 Day Diskit Gustor festival which is celebrated annually in October-November. This festival comprises of masked dance performances.

Hunder: Diskit is more an administrative centre than attractive place for tourist. 7Km ahead of Diskit, lies Hunder village which is heaven of serenity. This heaven comprises of low white houses, running water channels, luminous green fields, and sand dunes created by Shyok. Hundar is Ladakh’s only place where you can find double-humped, long-chastised, wonderful Bactrian camels.

Turtuk: One of the youngest regions in India’s history and captured during 1971 Bangladesh war, Turtuk is last visitable village in the Shyok Valley which is 79 km from Hunder. This village opened for tourists in 2010. This village remains culturally a part of Baltistan. Turtuk village has the Balti as well as Ladakhi speaking entire Muslim population.

Reasons to Visit Shyok Valley

  • Diskit Monastery and 106 feet long statue of the Maitreya Buddha facing the Shyok River.
  • Diskit Gustor Festival
  • Green fields and Sand dunes of Hunder
  • Double-humped Bactrian camels
  • Visit Turtuk, one of the youngest village in India’s history

Tips For Travelling In Shyok Valley

  • Acclimatise yourself and aware of Altitude Sickness.
  • Do not expect lavish stay arrangements here as these villages are remote places.
  • Keep yourself with sufficient cash as you don’t find any ATM once you leave Leh town.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol.
  • Carry extra copies of the permit as you would need to submit them at different check posts.

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The Himalayan Odyssey


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