A lot of people visit Sham Valley unknowingly when they visit Ladakh but I felt there is a need to formally introduce this beautiful place near Leh to all of you. Continuing on my efforts for building up the most comprehensive travel guide of Leh Ladakh, in this very article I will try to explain the places of interest in Sham Valley Ladakh. In the last article, we have already covered the places to see or visit nearby Leh.
Sham Valley 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 and requires about 160 km of drive for the complete tour and back to Leh in a day.
Sham Valley Ladakh – Travel Guide
Let’s look at all these places one by one in this complete guide of Sham Valley in Ladakh. You can do the trip in any order like reaching the farthest point/place that is Alchi first and then visiting all while backtracking or start from the first place which comes that is Gurudwara Pather Sahib and keeps on visiting one by one to explore all these places.
If you are short on time and do not have a dedicated day to visit Sham Valley, you can also plan a trip in the second half after traveling back to Leh from Nubra Valley.
Gurudwara Pather Sahib
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 believed 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 Nanak Dev ji. When traveling from Leh to Srinagar, it is the first point in Sham Valley tour.
Read here to know the complete story about Gurudwara Pather Sahib. After offering the prayers, taking prasad you can move ahead to Magnetic Hills as next stop on the tour of Sham Valley.
Magnetic Hills, is located about 30 KMs from Leh at an altitude of 11000 Feet approximately at Srinagar Leh Highway. Magnetics Hills, a phenomena that defies gravity. It is believed that the Magnetic Hills have magnetic properties so strong to pull cars towards it. We 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 🙂 …
Well, you can read more at the wiki link here which call it as Gravity Hill and states “The slope of gravity hills is an optical illusion, although sites are often accompanied by claims that magnetic or even supernatural forces are at work. The most important factor contributing to the illusion is a completely or mostly obstructed horizon; without a horizon, judging the slope of a surface is difficult as a reliable reference is missing.”
Confluence of Zanskar and Indus Rivers + Chilling
As you move ahead from Magnetic Hills in Sham Valley, just before Nimmu Village, there comes a famous confluence of two rivers Indus River coming from Tibet (left) and Zanskar River coming from Zanskar Valley (right). Zanskar River is known for its famous Chadar Trek.
Chadar Trek is done in peak winters when the Zanskar river freezes and people trek over it to reach Padum Village in Zanskar Valley from Leh because of heavy snowfall. Now, there is a tourist spot that has been created along the shores of the confluence where you can spend some relaxing time along the two rivers.
There is a beautiful road that runs just along Zanskar River which you can ride upto Chilling Village, if you have some time and loves riding lonely and peaceful road. Chilling is about 25 odd KMs from the Confluence and a nice place to visit, plus you will have ample of spots where you can lay aside river shore and feel the raw nature all for yourself.
Generally, alot of people do rafting in Zanskar river from Chilling to Nimmu. There is also a road which is under construction that will eventually lead to Padum Village from chilling running along Zanskar river. Once the road will complete it will render full year connectivity of Zanskar Valley to Leh Ladakh and the Chadar trek might get obsolete in such a case. However, as of now the only way to travel to Zanskar Valley from Leh is by Chadar trek in winters.
When you head towards Basgo, on the way you can also see the longest Mani Wall (about 600 Mtrs) just at the exit of Nimmu Village.
Basgo Palace rather ruins of Basgo Palace, is about 40 KMs from Leh and is approximately 500 years old, built for Namgyal rulers. Basgo Palace now houses a monastery as well and is a nice place to visit. Some shots of the movie “Dil Se” was also shot here.
As you will go towards Likir diversion from Basgo Palace, 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 the road, lying on it and what not ;)… I got some amazing shots of the trip at this place. I bet this is the most famous place in Sham Valley 🙂 🙂
It is time to head to Likir Monastery As you go Move towards Sasapol, about 10 KMs before you will see a diversion towards right going to Likir monastery. About 52 KMs from Leh, Likir Monastery was built in 11th century and was again rebuilt in the 18th century and houses a 25 feet Lord gold covered Buddha Statue.
It is a bit tough to climb the stairs with the un-acclimatized body for me :). Views from the terrace are every penny worth the effort. You will be 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 Alchi Monastery.
Colors inside Likir…
Colors inside Likir…
As you come back to Srinagar – Leh Highway from Likir Monastery, you need to take right and go towards Sasapol about 10-12 KMs ahead. 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.
You can buy a bottle of oil and light to be offered in the monastery and headed down to the monastery which is so calm and peaceful. The time spent will bring you more close to Buddhism if you are into it 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. A lot of people flying directly to Leh, prefer staying at Alchi to get their body acclimatized and then move to Leh next day while going through the Sham Valley tour.
A day visit to Sham Valley will be a mixture of lovely religious experience and natural sightseeing for you and I feel if you are in Leh – Ladakh then probably you do not want to miss a tour to Sham Valley :)… If you still have got some questions, I will be happy to answer them in the comments section of this article.
In case you have been to these places and have more information to be shared with fellow travellers, please do share it with all of us in the comments section of the article.