Adventures of Shyok Village Route | Ladakh – 2012

46

The Journey so far…

Day 6 | Tangste – Shyok Village – Nubra Valley

I woke up early in the morning with lots of excitement inside, imagining the adventures of the route from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso via Shyok Village which we planned to cover today. Got myself ready, asked other to woke up and by 7 AM we were all set to go downstairs for the breakfast. We had to leave early because there was a possibility that we might come back in case the route is closed somewhere, which meant tracking back all the way to Chang La and then to Leh. The lady had cooked nice omelette and paranthas which we gulped within no time. All set, prayers to god, off we went into the unknown…

Rigzin stopped at police checkpost of Tangste where we submitted the permits to go ahead. Durbuk is a place from where you need to take a right (if coming from Pangong Tso), so that you move towards Shyok Village and further to Pangong Tso. The left turn follows the route to Chang La from where wither you can go to Leh or Nubra Valley from Shakti – Wari La route which is quite longer than the Shyok village route for Nubra Valley. There is almost a difference of 70 KMs between the Wari La route and Shyok Village route, meaning about 3.5-4 Hrs less of travel. We were ready to take the chance but mind you both these route are extremely isolated and help on these routes would be very difficult to get in case of any eventuality plus the Shyok Village route is in tatters and almost impossible to cross in months of July and August when snow melts rapidly. You literally have to cross the deadly Shyok river at times as it runs so close to the roads… We were ready to take that gamble and fingers crossed we were into the unknown territory soon including the local Rigzin 😉 …

Yakmik Changla Guest House at Tangste…
Yakmik Changla Guest House at Tangste
Police Checkpost at Tangste…
Police Checkpost at Tangste

Rigzin was quite slow upfront as we moved deeper and deeper into the unknown terrain. The vistas were magnificent, a bit different than what we had been seeing within Changthang for the last three days. The views were like paintings done by a world class artist using all his favourite colors 🙂 … At once, we were running close to Shyok river and soon we gained tremendous altitude. It was getting a bit scary and then we had a quite large bump to cross, even large for a Scorpio that it touched the foot base. Slowly, Rigzin negotiated it and we were almost like at the top, ogling at the great Himalayan peaks on the other side of the valley almost from the eye levels. We stopped there for a while but since, sun was rising from that end, could not capture it in the camera though we took lots of picture of ourselves. No one was behind us, no one was ahead of us, we were alone again… Soon we reached a beautiful Shyok Village, no words can describe the beauty and even the pictures below do not do any justice at all… A camper told us that few landslides were cleared last night and if we drive cautiously we will be able to pass through the route into Nubra Valley. It was a sigh of relief and we had full faith in Rigzin to get us through… There is a route that goes near Shyok village to Daulat Beig Oldie (DBO), a military base, which is the easternmost point of the Karakoram Range and about 9 KMs short of Aksai Chin Line of Actual Control between China and India. The temparatures goes below as low as –30 degree celcius here and also DBO is considered to be the Northernmost built up area in India after Siachen Glacier military bases.

Leading towards Shyok Village…
Leading towards Shyok Village
Threesome at Top of the World…
Top of the World near Shyok Village
The Shyok Village…
The Shyok Village
The Shyok Village.. Right Turn Goes to DBO…
The Shyok Village where the right turn goes to DBO

We continued and there came a point where I could not resist to stop amidst the rocks. It was super fun sitting there taking pictures and seeing the courage of Rigzin who kept us laughing wit his jokes. We were told by that villager there is a GREF hut from where we can inquire about the conditions ahead because there are lots of rocks present on this route right on the road. The Captain there said they had clared the road upto end last night itself, warned us to be cautious and go ahead… It was such a photogenic point that it looked as if a rock had been placed right there to take the pictures only. Good opportunity for Himanshu to get some nice matrimonial snaps 😉 … As we moved, ahead the road deteriorated badly, as if we were running on a river bed, it was indeed a river bed only. Extremely bad and dangerous, and yes the Shyok river was flowing right aside. At places we had to move out, clear the rocks in front, make our way and then move ahead. Finally, there was water all over the road, a part of river was flowing on the road itself 🙂 … This was the adventure, we never knew what lied ahead for us. We got out, check the level of water as Rigzin planned the exit path, I took the position to get some pictures out of it … We managed but guess it punctured the rear tyre. We kept moving ahead since there was still OK type air pressure in it.

Would you dare for a high jump… Shyok River…
Would you dare for a high jump into Shyok River
Enjoying Water on the Rocks…
Dheeraj Sharma and Friends Sitting near Shyok River
Enjoying Water on the Rocks…
Dheeraj Sharma and Friends Sitting near Shyok River
Trying for a Perfect Pose…
Dheeraj Sharma sitting near Shyok River
Painted Symmetrically…
Painted Symmetrically Somewhere in Nubra Valley
Yes, You Are Right… The Roads on Shyok Village Route…
The Roads on Shyok Village Route
The Roads on Shyok Village Route
The Roads on Shyok Village Route
The Roads on Shyok Village Route
Oops… Roads Getting Better on Shyok Village Route…
Roads on Shyok Village Route
Roads on Shyok Village Route
Roads on Shyok Village Route
Shyok River on Roads… The Inspection Time…
Shyok River on Roads... The Inspection Time
Shyok River on Roads… Making Your Own Way…
Shyok River on Roads... Making Your Own Way
Driving Through the Overflown Shyok River…
Driving Through the Overflown Shyok River
Shyok River on Roads… One More Obstacle Ahead…
Shyok River on Roads... One More Obstacle Ahead

One could also see Sand Dunes on this route as well, as you see in Hunder. The route was so fascinating and unpredictable as we stopped aside a huge Sand Dune which we decided to scale. Slowly, gasping for the breath we were at the top and I cannot explain how it felt. River flowing in front of you, you are right at the top of a big hump of sand, everywhere you see is barren landscape, even the snow clad peaks of mountains… What a cocktail of natural beauty and we could not have asked more from the route :). But, there was still plenty of things left for us on this route running aside the Aqua coloured Shyok River. We met few Nepalis who were camping right there amidst a wide piece of land near the river. I distributed chocolates and Poppins among the children as Rigzin had a word with them in their local language. They used to stay here only for the last two seasons living here working on as labours for maintaining the roads in this part of Ladakh. Imagine, the life in winters for them, most likely they used to trek back to Leh or some other place in winters but two years in such barren land is shocking to imagine 😯

The Shyok River… Flowing at a Lovely Pace…
Shyok River
Ahhh… The Black Queen
Scorpio on Shyok Village Route
Scaling a Sand Dune at Shyok Village Route…
Dheeraj Sharma, Scaling a Sand Dune on Shyok Route
On Top of a Sand Dune at Shyok Village Route…
Dheeraj Sharma, On Top of a Sand Dune on Shyok Route

As we moved ahead, there was a very rough road full of sharp rocks, negotiating which Rigzin pushed the car on the dirt track and one wrong move, VOILA!! We were stuck in the sand!! 😀 … Badly!!  It is in a situation like this when you feel how isolated the route was and if it had been more ugly then it meant trekking back miles to get some help… We were all alone on our own and the funny part was Rigzin had taken out the shovel from the car before the start of the trip only, which meant pulling out sand had to be done with hands only… The fun begins now of removing all the sands below the rear wheel by hand and gathering stones, placing them beneath the wheels and a hard push. The cars moves 1 feet ahead 😥 … It was about 12-15 feet from the road and first attempt had exhausted us but our Spirits were very high still… One more cycle of placing the jack, removing the sand beneath, placing the rocks, a hard push with throttle and we inch ahead a few more feet… Hats off to the stamina of Rigzin as we were only playing a supporting role and he did all the hard work and finally after 7th attempt, we were back on road, hugged each other with joy!!

Lovely Weather enroute Nubra Valley from Shyok Village…
Lovely Weather enroute Nubra Valley from Shyok Village
A Wrong Turn… A Test of Skills…
Stuck in Sands on Shyok Village Route
Stuck in Sands… We Gotta Problem…
Stuck in Sands on Shyok Village Route
Stuck in Sands… One Cycle of Effort…
Stuck in Sands on Shyok Village Route

We took out some dry fruits, food whatever we had in our bags, offered first to Rigzin and the precious water as we stopped ahead aside of Shyok River… We got stuck majorly due to the low air pressure in the tier or perhaps we were unlucky enough. As we gathered back the breath sitting aside the river and gulping the ice cold water, I realized how serene and calm was the whole aura around us. It was a great feeling but we didn’t know that it was not over yet. As we moved ahead, there came an extremely bad section on the road with around a 200 feet fall on one side and active landslide on the other, as Rigzin jumped out of the car removed the rock in front and moved ahead a bit. Then, I jumped out of the car to provide guidance and let him concentrate on the road as rocks were falling from above (happened twice) and I was clearing in front. But, glad we got out in one single piece… It was tough and heart pumping moment. The hardest part was we could not accelrate as well because of loose big rocks beneath which did not let car to get the required grip. Thankfully, it was done and again we were laughing at ourselves, thinking was it worth the risk… Well, some questions do not have any answers in Adventure!!!

The Aqua Colors of Shyok River…
The Aqua Colors of Shyok River
Deadly Live Landslide Zone… Watching the Rocks Come Down…
Deadly Live Landslide Zone on Shyok Village Route
Deadly Live Landslide Zone… Clearing the Rocks and Rushing Back…
Deadly Live Landslide Zone on Shyok Village Route
Himanshu… In Bollywod Style…
Himanshu... In Bollywod Style...

As we by passed that rough section, soon we were on the tarred freshly laid road again. We stopped to wash our hands again and get a final feel of the remote adventure. Meanwhile, an Army convoy came in and stopped by us. The young Captain came out, asked us where were are going and we said we are not going rather coming from Shyok Village!! 😯 … He was in a shock state and asked again, and then realized yes we had come from there. He told us that they do not cross that active landslide section and told us that we were brave enough to do that. He told us that they wait before that landslide section for their platoon that was coming from DBO (Daulat Beig Oldie). The other trucks will drop them before that section from where the party will come walking to the other side. Again, we had nice chat with the charming guy about our adventure and how they used to sustain in such harsh conditions as finally he congratulated us for the adventure we had and off we went back to road… By then the air pressure in the rear wheel had gone down considerably forcing us for a change in tyre. It felt nothing what we had gone through before, so within few minutes we changed it and were back on road to reach Agham Village to enter the known territory of Nubra Valley. Agham is the village in Nubra Valley from where one road leads to Wari La Pass and the other leads to Shyok Village from where we were coming…

Just a Flat Tyre…
Flat Tyre on Shyok Village Route...
Just a Flat Tyre…
Flat Tyre on Shyok Village Route...
Running All The Way into Nubra Valley…
Running All The Way into Nubra Valley
Agham Village… Left – Shyok Village, Right – Wari La Pass
Agham Village... Left - Shyok Village, Right - Wari La Pass

The Journey ahead…

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You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

46 Comments

  1. Vikas Singh on

    We know whachu talking about! We took the same route but during off season.

    Take a look – bit.ly/Ladakh2016

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  3. Siddhartha Gautam on

    hi everybody………just back from ladakh trip and covered agham to shyok on RE classic 500…..GROUND 0 condition………..pl dont take this route as the pics displayed are very good than the actual condition of the road as of 7 june 2013…………road till agham from khalsar is very good but the moment you take the left turn for shyok village the real fun starts…..bumpy ride till first 14 kms but easy…..then there is a landslide zone and we were the group of 3 bikers and all the bikes needed to be lifted to climb an almost 90 degree cliff of rouhjly 10 feet…..after crossing that river stones are all over the place and no track of road for further 5 kms ……and all of a sudden you see shyok rver right in front of you with a Z type of crossing…….first one is shallower with 2 feet deep but huge and loosely packed stones on the river bed that dont allow the essy negotiation and took a huge toll on bike chasis…….2nd river crossing is a bit deeper with 3 feet to 3.5 feet deep but smooth at bed…….but this shallow track is only 8 feet wide and if you loose the track by mistake with the flow you get urself into 5-6 feet deep zone…….sounds normal but scary in reality…….after river crossing next 5 kms again bumpy but dirt track there……..and then you find the tarmac road till shyok and further to durbuk……but lot of water crossings in the middle but managable………we were at agham 1:30 PM and shyok at around 7:30 PM…

    • Siddhartha, thank you so very much brother for this timely update and whoaaa… what an adventurous ride. In that landslide zone, I was running ahead as there was stones coming down, clearing those stones so that our car moves. It was indeed scary that time but you know now how it feels…. Yes, the route is not something to be taken easily, that is why never recommend to people especially with family. When you are actually there it looks like a crazy decision. Also, if something goes wrong, you are into big trouble and on your own!!

      If possible, try and share your Himalayan Travel Tale or experience with us at DoW – Himalayan Travel Community. It will help many others find the information in structured way and would be more useful to all travellers.

    • Rahul Samaddar on

      Dear Sidhhartha…

      Was the river too deep in these two crossing. What about the ECU of the Classic 500…..a bit of water inside and they say that the electrical will malfunctions? Did you take out the ECU and then Manually pulled it in the crossing? Or was any modifications made ?? Btw I am trying to get through this route this June…. may be……your points will really help a lot.

      Thanks and Regards
      Rahul

    • PARTHA DHAR on

      Just came back from Ladakh last week. Thanks a lot to DoW for providing all information required for this trip. We took this route from Nubra to Pangong via Shyok as I did not want to cross Khardungla and Changla and spend n extra day. I got an excellent driver by name Karma Sonam( contact 9419215110, 9906991011) who is not only an expert driver but also a great travel companion, guide and a very good human being. He has been quite familiar with the Shyok route and he agreed to take us through the route. We traveled on 24th May, 2015 and Karma confirmed that there will not be any water on the road. The route is one of the most scenic routes in Ladakh with beautiful blue Shyok river beside you for most of the journey. It is also a journey of a lifetime as you will be driving on the river bed in may places. As it seemed the road got destroyed in landslide in a few places (and there has not been any attempt to repair it for quite sometime). Karma has been quite familiar with the detour. But remember we saw only one car in 4 hour ride to Durbuk.
      It is a journey worth taking if you are adventurous and travelling in summer and have a very confident driver like Karma. I actually traveled with my parents (80 and 70 year old), my sister, wife and son( 12 years old).

      • Thank you Partha for updating the road condition and highlighting the desolation of the route. Glad you were able to do that route and yes, completely agree that it is one of the most scenic routes in Ladakh espcially around Shyok village. I have updated the driver list with your review.

      • Hello Partha,
        Thanks for the review. Can Karma help us in finding cheap accommodation in and around Leh? Do you have any idea about it?

        • Most of the drivers does help in finding small guest houses. You can tell them your preferences and most of these guys in Ladakh are geniune and does not work like agents or take commissions, they genuinely help

      • Ankit Soni on

        He called me and was very apologetic about his lack of judgement to tag us with other untrustworthy drunk driver. We should downgrade him and should give home one more chance to prove himself.Thanks for your quick response.

    • Vimal Patel on

      I just did that magnificent route in Nissan Micra. Drove from Pune to Pangong. The best I enjoyed was dthe drive along the Shyok from Agham…terrific and magnificent…

      • Thanks for the update Vimal, well, you did it in time. The part of route has started being submerged now in the late hours of the day. Soon it will be submerged in Shyok river in few days for the season.

  4. awesome yaar . . . but how much time will it take from nubra valley to pangong via shyok village.. and we are plannig to take force traveller . . ! is that car capable of doing this ?

    • Ayaz, as you can see and might have read this is one of the most isolated places in Ladakh and even local taxi drivers fear to drive there. Time taken about a=be approaximately 6-7 Hrs from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso via Shyok Village but if you are stuck then you are all alone in this terrain. It also depend if the route is open or not because generally it closes every year due to landslides starting June.

      • Siddhartha Gautam on

        hi dheeraj…….you are very right as in starting june the road for approx 15 kms is terrible with 5 kms almost impossoble due to landslide and two river crossings……..but hats off to you that you managed to take some real good shots of the route……..

  5. dheeraj bhai wt a fantastic adventure u hv …. BTW wt is the actual distence of bad patch??? between shyok and agham?

    • Vikas, thanks alot. The distance of the bad patch is about 4 – 5 KMs and there are couple of such patches but mangeable. The scariest one is about 600 – 700 Mtrs or may be a KM only.

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  7. Dheeraj – Quite an adventure! and some smashing images there! As a photography enthusiast, I was wondering how much of SD card memory would be good on a 5 day trip to Ladakh? I have 32 GB at my disposal right now, do you think that should take care of the trip if I were to go ballistic clicking pictures? and how about batteries? At Nubra – at the hotel/guest how will it be possible to re-charge O/N?
    Cheers
    SG

    • Thanks alot SG. Yes, it was one of the great adventure of my entire Travel. 32 GB is more than enough sir,I had just 16 GB and came back with 12-13 about 2.5K pics of which discarded almost 50%. So, 5k in 5 days seems large number to take stats into account 😀 … Anyways, I feel should be enough. I used to carry two with me. Most places do have electricity including Nubra Valley. Only at Pangong Tso, you will not get electricity else everywhere you are staying.

      I hope this helps. Let me know incase you need more info. or have any queries or doubts.

      Sorry for the delayed reply.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  8. Good lessons in how to use jacks to get your car out of the sand after it had sunk in! Do you need to mention Shayok specifically in the permit? How much time did it take from Shayok to Agham? Is any permanent improvement in the condition of the road expected or will it continue to be a Jun-driveable road?

    • Thanks alot HVK sir. Nopes, we did not mention Shyok Village on the permits and neither we found any barricade or post which checked for the permits. It took about 5-5.5 Hrs from Tangste including an hour or so wasted in Tyre sunk issue and puncture. And, as far as what I saw there I cannot see Shyok village route be open in months of July and August when water crossing are ferocious due to rapid melting of snow as well as little more rain that Ladakh has started getting now. The whole new road cut through the mountain after 2010 flashfloods are almost on the river bed and if the water level rises in the Shyok river then definitely it is bound to be closed. Also, that continuous landsliding section is just too dangerous even in dry conditions and would be worse in wet conditions.

      So, most like it would remain as upto June drivable for sometime now though they had definite plans to keep it open through out the season.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  9. Wonderful photographs , for us to admire. Awesome account of landslide road crossing. Adventure, yes, thank God everything went well.

    • Thanks alot Pattu and yes, that as one scary moment of the whole trip apart from other following in the posts to come 😀 … Thank God all went well and yes, of course this is what we go there for… some what fun and adventure, a bit deviation from day to day monotonous life and suddenly you feel you are too small in front of mother nature. Thanks for liking the pictures as well…

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  10. shashank m. on

    Hi dhreeraj. I am just glad reading your fabulous time,need little help about current road condition ok or not till udhampur Srinagar highways till Kargil?I am connecting from Delhi from 25th Aug 2012 on bikes.

    • Hi Shashank,

      Yesterday itself, I got a call from one couple who were driving through Srinagar – Kargil and they reported that things are OK to drive though roads are not that good and especially when they inquired about Manali – Leh Highway, the slush conditions between Marhi and Rohtang Pass is pretty bad. They did not face much issues over Zozi La but yes, definitely some rough sections.

      I hope this helps. Let me know incase you need more info. or have any queries or doubts.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  11. Superlike 🙂
    Ekdum zakas!
    Shyok has really fantastic colors man and u captured best of its color!
    I m confused now after reading this one can’t dare to go there alone but picts are really pushing me to visit that route!

    • hi Swapnil,

      Thanks Brother!! But, actually since I last heard the Shyok Village route is all closed due to slides and water over the roads. Not sure, things will improve before late season or early next season on this route as you might be able to predict by the road conditions shown in the pictures 🙂

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  12. Jayashree on

    We are booked from Srinagar – Leh by Xylo next week. Looking at the flood situation, how safe is it to go there?
    We leave srinagar on 12th aug and reach Leh on 13th stopping at Kargil on the way.
    How slippery will the roads be? we are a group of 5 family members ages ranging form 17-50.
    We reach back to srinagar by the same route after a week in Leh, taking in Nubra and pangong.

    Should I go ahead with this trip this time or choose some other alternative, looking at the floods there currently?

    • Hello Jayashree,

      It is not a flood but a flash flood that comes and goes away. These things are part of journey in monsoon time and if you are really worried I will suggest that you postpone it post-monsoons. It is monsoon time and at some parts of Manali – Leh Highway (like before Baralacha La) and Srinagar – Leh Highway (like before Kargil) you might need to face monsoon hassles but once you get closer to Ladakh, then Ladakh being rain shadow region is least affected by monsoon rains, though rains does reach Ladakh now but to minimum and mostly it might remains overcast conditions. There is no thumb rule of certainity about weather conditions but above is generally common pictures seen over last few years except ugly 2010 …

      Generally, for normal landslides, hats off to BRO + GREF guys they clear these roads within a day or two to resume traffic. So, go mentally prepared, if going and have few buffer days for sure.

      I hope this helps. Let me know incase you need more info. or have any queries or doubts.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  13. nitin tyagi on

    India at its best….No one can imagine that these kind of places are in India…..what a place…..

  14. वाह भाई, फ़ोटो के साथ विवरण ने समां बांध दिया है। GREAT DETAIL.

    • Thanks alot Sandeep bhai… Is se zada adventurous road kabhi nhn kiya. First time in life, hum log live landslide mein pather uda uda kar side kar rahe the aur car aage chalti jaa rahi thi. Aaj bhi dil baid jata hai us moment k baare mein soch kar 😀

      Regards
      Dheeraj

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