Sham Valley – Nature, Monasteries and More | Ladakh – 2012

51

The Journey so far-

Day 2 | Leh – Sham Valley – Leh

It was 6.30 AM when I woke up and realized that thankfully, all three of us slept well with no signs of AMS at all. As I looked out of the window, to my surprise there had been a mild snowfall at night with lawns and gardens wearing thin white sheet of snow. There were still dark clouds in the sky but cold was bearable. Plan was to leave by 8 AM for Sham Valley tour and we all were ready by 7.30 AM. These were good signs as none of us was lazy waking up and equally excited to explore the heaven. By the way, water was bone chilling in the washroom but we still managed or rather had to manage 😉 … I called up Rigzin and asked him about whereabouts and he told us that he is on the way. Within 10 minutes he was nocking at the door which meant we would be having breakfast on the way, may be Nimmu.

Rays of Light, Straight from Heaven… Rays of Light, Straight from Heaven...

Filled with fervour, we jumped into the car by 8.15 AM and were off to Sham Valley which includes Alchi, Likir, Basgo, Zanskar and Indus Confluence at Nimmu, Magnetic Hills, Gurudwara Pather Sahib… Gosh, a long list but they all are very much close to each other, about 160 KMs of drive for the complete tour and back to Leh. Weather had cleared up a bit and there was sunshine but still dark clouds were scattered in the sky. We headed west along NH-1 i.e. Srinagar – Leh Highway At Phyang diversion the taxi union guys stopped us and asked Rigzin to present the slip from the union. However, Rigzin had not taken it yet and had plans for taking it today for the rest of the tour. Somehow, he managed them and also told that last day the ADC came at 5.30 PM in the evening 😯 , thank god we left early. Anyways, we were running on the smooth tarmac with diversions in between where work was in progress.

Magnetic Hills

Vistas were just majestic with some super views of Stok Kangri range and the Indus Valley View from view point was purely awesome. Soon we reached Magnetic Hills, about 30 KMs from Leh at an altitude of 11000 Feet approximately. Magnetics Hills, a phenomena that defies gravity. It is believed that the Magnetic Hills have magnetic properties so strong to pull cars towards it. Rigzin put the car in the marked box and placed it in neutral gear and voila!! the car started climbing. People say it is nothing but an optical illusion, we could not judge it because the car was actually going upwards in the direction of Magnetic hills. May be a ball will be useful to judge the situation. If the ball also goes towards the hills then certainly there is nothing but an illusion that projects a descending road as ascending road 🙂 … We had some photos and were off towards Nimmu.

Indus Valley View… Indus Valley View...
Magnetic Hill… Phenomena that defies Gravity… Magnetic Hill... Phenomena that defies Gravity...

Soon after Magnetics Hills comes the point called Sindhu Darshan, where you can see Indus river in full glory between the hills and soon after comes the Zanskar and Indus River Confluence just before Nimmu Village. We checked it and decided to visit it on the way back near the shores, where a complex is being developed, guess for tourists only. We reached Nimmu and decided to have breakfast at a shop on the road.  Puri Chole and Allo Samosa was available to our surprise and we quickly ordered them along with Tea. They tasted great and we had smiles on our face because expectations was nothing more than average food to fill the tummies 🙂 … All this for just Rs 50, we could not believe it but that is Ladakh for you… We headed towards Alchi and on the way saw the longest Mani Wall (about 600 Mtrs) just at the exit of Nimmu Village.

Sindhu Darshan… River Indus flowing through mighty Himalayas… Sindhu Darshan... River Indus flowing through mighty Himalayas...
A Light Play… Nimmu Village… A Light Play... Nimmu Village...
Nimmu Village… Nimmu Village...
Alchi Monastery

Apricot tress were blooming in pure colours in the whole valley and it was delight to see them. Roads were in bad state where ever it was affected by flash floods of 2010. We reached Basgo where these trees were in fully glory, looked majestic and we decided to visit the ruins of Basgo Palace on the return. Time to head straight to Alchi leaving behind the diversion of Likir Monastery as well. At  Sasapol, there comes a bridge named by Alchi bridge from where you take left and goes towards Alchi village. About 65 KMs from west of `Leh and about 3100 Mtrs of altitude, Alchi Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries of Leh and have monuments and scriptures dated as old as 10th century. We bought the oil and light to be offered in the monastery and headed down to monastery which was so calm and peaceful. Really enjoyed our time in the monastery with mild snowfall making it more delightful. The time spent brought me more close to Buddhism and sense of peace it offers to one’s soul, remarkable!! You can walk down to Indus River as well from the back of the monastery and spend sometime along the river. There are camps “Sumtseg Camps” run by Alchi monastery where you can stay as well.

Magical Colors of Ladakh… Magical Colors of Ladakh...
Alchi Bridge at Sasapol… Alchi Bridge at Sasapol...
Blooming Apricot Flowers… Blooming Apricot Flowers...
Om Mani Padme Hum… Om Mani Padme Hum...
Prayer Wheels at Alchi… Prayer Wheels at Alchi...
Likir Monastery

After taking some pictures of the complex we headed back to parking place where we had some biscuits and tea. Weather was cold as there was still mild snowfall kissing us, elevating the feeling to further extent. It was time to head to Likir Monastery As you go back towards Leh crossing the bridge at Sasapol, about 10 KMs later you will see a diversion towards left going to Likir monastery. About 52 KMs from Leh, Likir Monastery was built in 11th century and was again re-built in 18th century and houses a 25 feet Lord gold covered Buddha Statue. It was tough to climb the stairs with un-acclimatized body but we managed. Wind was so cold on terrace but views every penny worth the effort from the top. I was running after a bird but could not capture it in camera 🙁 … So, giving up after loss of breath I decided to sit near by statue of Buddha. I was amused to see the models created with butter which do not melt. Locales say those who have created it had powers in their hands that is why these models does not melt. Amazing Art!! Time to leave towards Basgo Palace.

Likir Monastery… A Distant View… Likir Monastery... A Distant View...
Gold Covered 25 Feet High Lord Buddha Statue… Gold Covered 25 Feet High Lord Buddha Statue...
Colors inside Likir…
Colors inside Likir...
Colors inside Likir…
Colors inside Likir...
Likir Monastery Complex… Likir Monastery Complex...
Ahh…A View from Likir Terrace… Ahh...A View from Likir Terrace...
Lord Buddha…
Lord Buddha...
Basgo Palace

As we were going through towards Basgo, there comes a stretch straight as an arrow, which looks beautiful and many advertisements have been shot around this place. We also could not stop us and decided to shoot some pictures and enjoy the place. It was fultoo fun with running around, sitting on road, lying on it and what not ;)… I got some amazing shots of the trip at this place. Soon we reached Basgo Palace where again seeing the stairs, I was like “Ahh.. Not again!!”. But, slowly, slowly explored the place as no one was around, even the monastery was closed. Some shots of movie “Dil Se” was also shot here. Basgo Palace rather ruins of Basgo Palace, is about 40 KMs from Leh and approximately 500 years old built for Namgyal rulers. We left the place, distributed some Poppins to children in the village and headed to Nimmu for lunch. At Nimmu, this time we ordered  veg. chowmein and thukpa plus momos. It was nice, tasty and fresh!! Rs 170 for four was all that we paid.

Felt great sitting on the highway to heaven… Felt great sitting on the highway to heaven...
Runway to Heaven…. Runway to Heaven...
Runway to Heaven… Again… Runway to Heaven... Again...
The Ruins of Basgo Palace… Ruins of Basgo Palace...
The Ruins of Basgo Palace… The Ruins of Basgo Palace...
The Ruins of Basgo Palace… The Ruins of Basgo Palace...
Colors of Peace in Ladakh… Colors of Peace in Ladakh...
Confluence at Nimmu and Gurudwara Pather Sahib

After a satisfying lunch and then we headed to the shores of confluence (Indus and Zanskar River confluence). The road to the shore is under construction and was very bad for the last 100 Mtrs or so, such bad that Scorpio was bruised at moment. Enjoyed there for about half an hour, sat besides the shores and felt so close to nature. We bypassed the Magnetics hills and reached Gurudwara Pather Sahib in no time. Gurudwara Pather Sahib about 22 KMs from Leh and at an altitude of 3600 Mtrs, was constructed in memory of Guru Nanak Dev ji. It is right on the Srinagar – Leh Highway and is said that this sacred stone/boulder refused to move in road construction operations even by huge machines/bulldozers etc. due to holy blessings/touch of Guru Nana Dev ji. Read here to know the complete story about Gurudwara Pather Sahib. After offering the prayers, taking prasad we moved back towards Leh and reach back to hotel by 5.30 PM. It was an amazing day with full of lovely religious experience and natural sightseeing. If you are in Leh then probably do not miss a tour to Sham Valley 🙂

Confluence of Zanskar and Indus Rivers… Confluence of Zanskar and Indus Rivers...
Signboard… Gurudwara Pather Sahib… Signboard... Gurudwara Pather Sahib...
Heavenly View of Stok Kangri Range… Heavenly View of Stok Kangri Range...
Burning Colors of an Evening in Ladakh… Burning Colors of an Evening in Ladakh...
Leh Palace and Tsemo… A Distant View… Leh Palace and Tsemo... A Distant View...
A Sunset at Stok Kanngri… A Sunset at Stok Kanngri...

After bidding adieus to Rigzin for the day and taking some rest at hotel, we started strolling in Leh market but with torchlight this time in hand ;)… Discovered Lamayuru restaurant and ate extremely tasty dinner of Dal Fry, Paneer, Biryani and for the first time Chapatis 😀 … We were searching for this place since yesterday and finally not even a minute bit of disappointment. Taste, Service, People… all very fine, so Lamayuru restaurant is highly recommended place to dine-in if you are in Ladakh. After walking back to hotel, as usual had a glass full of ORS before going to sleep and since Tejas was also complaining about some headache gave him one glass as well. After that, we slept in no time with beautiful dreams due to a day full of activity… Next day was a big day as we had to leave for a 5-6 day tour in remote Changthang region of Ladakh…

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 ...

51 Comments

  1. Great blog dheeraj bhai, if we start early from kargil, say 7 a.m. can we do sham valley, ex cluding likir and alchi, and up to chilling and reach leh before sunset.

  2. SOHAM KUNDU on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    As we are reaching Leh from Kargil in a Himachal Registration Cab, so we can’t visit Alchi, Likir on road. Probably we can visit the other places like Basgo Palace, Nimo, Magnetic Hill, Gurudwara etc etc. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

    So, how much time it will take only for Leh- Alchi- Likr- Leh trip on the next day with a Leh Reg Cab?

    • Soham, you are correct in your understanding. Alchi and Likir fall off the route hence you cannot visit them in outside ladakh taxi as per rules. Unless you are too much into monasteries, it isn’t necessary to come all the way back for Alchi and Likir I will say 🙂 🙂 … Still, you want, it will take up half your day for sure.

  3. Hey Dheeraj ,
    In your most common itinerary , You have mentioned of this sham valley /rest day right ?
    How long does this sham valley excursion take ?

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  9. swapnil k on

    Hello dheeraj sir,

    Does way to khardungla pass stay closed after 12:00 hr? I mean is it operational in one direction only?

    Also I read somewhere it stay closed on Monday?

    Is it true?

    • Hi Swapnil,

      Road is not closed but traffic from both sides of Khardung La is allowed to proceed only before 2 PM. After that, I think only in special cases they allow traffic to proceed ahead, though I am not 100% sure about it. It is closed on Monday for maintenance but that is not applicable for season time when snow is not present on the road. So, do not worry about that since you are traveling in season time 🙂

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

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  14. Dheeraj, As always this is content-full…

    Gr8 images and to the point description…

    Readers, I like to read devil-blogs bt I've decided to mail Dheeraj everytime I'd plan for a north trip… Keep em busy in his passion 😛

    Loved this.

    • Hi Kedar,

      You are so very much welcome anytime brother and thanks alot for liking the article so much. But, do stay tuned for more, as it is just a warm up of Ladakh journey 😀 … There is so much more to come in the coming weeks. Just due to so much official work, it is hard to find time on weekdays to write, so bear with me for the slow pace 🙂 …

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  15. Heavenly indeed. It's such a treat to even see these superb pictures from that side. I first hear Om Mani Padme Hum when I visited Nepal in 2005. I could listen to that all day long. Honest.

    • Thanks alot and Yes, indeed when one goes to Ladakh then he/she must visit this beautiful and spiritual Sham Valley. A different feeling and experience altogether. The words are just magical "Om Mani Padme Hum".

      Regards
      Dheeraj sharma

    • Thanks alto Rajesh. Glad that you loved them and good to find you here on my blog too 🙂 … Please stay tuned for the up coming but slow running story 🙂

      Regards
      Dheeraj sharma

  16. Hi Dheeraj,

    As I was going through inner line permit…does permit needed for sham valley as well

      • hi dheeraj,

        Thanks for the update…for the sham valley trip how much is the charge for the rented taxi with driver.what kind of taxi is provided as it is a high altitude area??

        • Hello Joyita,

          For the current leh – ladakh taxi union rate list 2012-13 including the contacts of some reliable taxi drivers within Leh – Ladakh, check the link here. You can get about 12-15% of discount by directly getting in touch with drivers and of course, talking in person rather on phone always help in bargaining more.

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

          Regards
          Dheeraj Sharma

  17. Hi Dheeraj

    I was going through this blog…i just loved it and also included in my itenary. i am going this month end to leh and it is group tour through cox and kings.may i know how is the weather thr and do i have to carry heavy woolen garments…heard news that there was a landslide recently…how was the weather when you visited thr… please do let me know exciting places thr.

    • Hi Joyita,

      Do carry at least a pair or two of heavy woolens too because once it gets overcast then it can get quite cold in Ladakh, especially at high altitude passes and lakes. The landslide has been cleared and now road is operational. When I visited it was extremely cold, mostly around or below freezing point with frequent spells of snowfall but that is why it is not called season time in Ladakh 🙂

      I will suggest you go through the places listed in the article here: Most Common Itinerary for Leh – Ladakh.

      I hope this helps. Please let me know in case you have any doubts or queries.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

      • Hi Dheeraj,

        Thanks a lot for the quick update…can u let me know some other interesting places.and i am really apprehensive about the weather…as everyone says that its a gud time to visit thr…thats why i have planned…

        • Hello Joyita,

          I guess you have booked with some tour agency, they might have covered the local sighseeing as well as your trips to Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso. If you have time then you can visit Tso Moriri lake too apart from above mentioned for Sham Valley.

          Regards
          Dheeraj sharma

    • Yeah Bob, there is no other place like Ladakh on earth 😀 … Stay tuned for some more heavenly pictures especially in the coming few days.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  18. wow!!!! What slip did you need? And I loved the Sindhu darshan pics and info..that is so exquisite. Loved the monasteries too…what a journey!

    • Thanks alot Bhavana!! The slip required was for taxi. The taxi guys had to get slip from Taxi Union (tourists shall not other about it) to ensure that they are not operating on their own. So, these check posts are placed at the exit route from Leh, to ensure all taxis carrying tourists have informed about the bookings at Taxi Union office of Leh and had their slip for it.

      And yes, these places are really worth a visit and Alchi, Likir were just too amazing and spiritual places that it was hard to come back from there 🙂

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  19. SANDEEP PANWAR jatde on

    चुम्बकीय पहाड़ी वाले बोर्ड का रंग लगता है कि हर साल बदल देते है, एक झलक पत्थर साहिब की भी दिखा देते या फिर इसके सबसे ऊँचे वाले भाग से एक फोटो लेते जिसके पीछे भी एक अलग दुनिया का वीराना नजर आता है

    • Yes, Sandeep bhai shayad puri tarah se miss ho gayi photo. Pehli baar bahut bheed lagi hui this jo kafi der tak hati nhn saamne se isliye picture nhn le paye. Aur dusri baar jab gaye to bike slip ho gayi and aur mausam bahut kharab ho gaya, isliye nhn le paaye 😥 … Upar tak jaane ki himmat nhn this aur na hum mein se koi exertion ka chance lena chahta tha kyonki second day hi tha aur AMS ka darr tha. But, agali baar zarur 🙂 …

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  20. Tejas lalit on

    Dheeraj pls note srinagar to leh highway is NH1D NOT NH1 ..i have also confirmed this…

  21. Samaresh Biswal on

    nice trip log & pic are superb which lens u use . lucky u visited leh already . for me its a distant dream waiting for a call from hill

    • thanks alot Samaresh. Indeed it was a great trip. I use kit lens 18-55 and 70-300 AFS both of them Nikkors on D3000 body. Learning the skills with each of the trip :)… I wish you too soon visit this heavenly place.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

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