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The gateway to the Zanskar Valley, Suru Valley is a lush green valley in Ladakh with fabulous snow-capped mountains. This valley is the greenest valley of the Greater Himalayas due to the Suru River which flows through this valley and keeps it surprisingly green despite of its altitude of over 3000m. Suru Valley extends from Kargil town to Panikhar and then upto the foot of the Pensi La watershed where the Suru River rises.

Its composite population of about 30,000 are mainly of Tibeto-Darad descent who converted from Buddhism to Islam around the 16th century. One of the most agriculturally productive regions in all of Ladakh, two crops are harvested in this region every year.

Popular attractions include Nun and Kun Peaks, Phokar rock carvings, Suru River, Parkachik Glacier, Panikhar and Parkachik villages. With the arrival of spring, the valley gets carpeted with the verdure of blooming apple, mulberry and apricot trees.

Key Facts

  • Region : Suru Valley, Kargil, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
  • Ideal Duration For Suru Valley: 4 Days (without Zanskar Valley)
  • Difficulty : Easy – Moderate
  • Highest Altitude:3,724m
  • Trip Starting Point : Kargil
  • Nearest Airport : Leh Airport and Srinagar Airport
  • Category: Scenic, Offbeat

How to Reach

Suru valley is located in the far west of Ladakh which can be reached through Kargil.

Suru Valley is well-connected with Leh by road via Kargil. Sankoo, Panikhar and Parkachik are the major villages of the Suru Valley. There are many buses from Kargil every morning towards these villages.

You have to have your vehicle if you want to travel beyond Parkachik.  A Bi-weekly bus service link the area of Rangdum and Padum to each other. You can also try to get lift by trucks run between Kargil and Padum who offer a lift in the cabin at the price of a bus ticket.

Best Time to Visit

Winter in Suru Valley starts in November and ends in May when temperature can drop as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius. Summer in Suru Valle offers the much needed relief from the harsh winter. June to September is the best time to visit Suru Valley.

Where to Stay

In terms of accommodation, the Suru Valley has camps and tents near the Rangdum monastery as well as J & K Tourist Bungalows at several Suru locations. Sankoo, Panikhar and Parakachik have tourist bungalows which can be book at the Tourist reception Centre in Kargil. There are several homestays in these villages.

Tourist Attractions of Suru Valley

Sankoo – A typical mountain village with a small market, primary school, and houses with greater views, Sankoo is located 40 km away from Kargil. It is a popular picnic spot for the tourists where you can explore the lust plantations and wild roses.

Main reason to travel to Sankoo is the visit a small village near it called Kartse Khar which is famous for 7-meter rock carved statue of the Maitreya Buddhha. This is considered as the tallest statue of the Buddha after the Bamiyan in Afghanistan as the local claims.

Panikhar and Nun Kun Peaks – Located in the central part of the valley and an hour drive from Sankoo village, Panikhar offers the base for the mountaineering excursions. You can get a view of the entire Nun Kun peaks.

Parkachik, last village of the Suru Valley – Parkachik is also a popular night halt for trucks and cars on their way from Kargil to the Zanskar valley. You can trek up to Parkachik La, at a height of around 3800 m. The top of the hills presented you with the views of both the Nun-Kun peaks and the entire route you have travelled the previous day.

Rangdum – Rangdum is surrounded by the grandiose hills on one side and rocky mountains on the other. It is one of the most isolated parts of the Suru valley and famous for 18th century Buddhist monastery “Rangdum” which is home to around 40 monks.

Reasons to Visit Suru Valley

If you are interesting in backpacking, Suru valley is among the best places in the Himalayas for some backpacking. Villages are connected by publics transport and distance between places are not much in Ladakh.

Mountains are everywhere and you can have also the view of lush greenery. Since Suru Valley is the gateway to the Zanskar Valley, you can travel to the Zanskar valley.

Life in Suru Valley

When we go deeper into the Suru valley, we will feel a sense of remoteness. You can see the enigma of life getting tougher but simpler. Sankoo being close to the Kargil had its advantages which reflected in their houses. Local bricks are used to made houses and these houses have highly stylised textures. Every house has bright coloured window and door frames with cute little flower pots on the windows.

Houses become simpler when you go further down. Mostly houses are built of stones, just stacked one over the other.

Tips For Travelling In Suru Valley

  • Acclimatise yourself and aware of Altitude Sickness.
  • Do not expect lavish stay arrangements here as these villages are remote places.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol.

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The Himalayan Odyssey

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