Suru Valley is truly the epitome of places no one knows about and yet has everything and then some more to offer! Situated in the Kargil District, Suru Valley is an integral part of the Ladakhi landscape. Though, let me be honest there – it is not on the average traveler’s checklist, for there is no pomp and show associated with the sheer beauty!
When traveling in the region, most people tend to focus on reaching their destinations (such a crime, if you ask me!). If you’re looking for the most unexplored parts of Ladakh and want to go off the beaten path, even more than being in Ladakh – then remember to explore the Suru Valley.
We have compiled a complete travel guide with all the details on how to reach, what to do, maps of the place, etc. which, you can get your hands on here. For now, I want to tell you about the various places to see and feel connected to the beauty of the region.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
About Suru Valley
Suru valley, at an average elevation of 3000 meters, is located from the Kargil town to the Penzi La and forms the western-most part of Ladakh. The mountain tops remain mostly perennially snowcapped, adding to the immense charm of the landscape. It is easy to get lost in the magic of mother nature.
As for the geographical boundaries, this bowl-shaped valley has some stunning settlements including – Sankoo, Panikhar, Parakchik, and Rangdum, which are all an integral part of Suru. The lower part of Suru Valley is strikingly different from the rest of Ladakh – for it is green and lush.
Must Visit Places in Suru Valley Trip
Even though this is an unheard-of valley, usually seen by those zipping from Kargil towards Zanskar – it still has a lot to offer and not much of it has been explored. Here are some of the most beautiful places you’ll love to see!
1. Sankoo Village
This town is located especially 42 KMs from Kargil and has some stunning views of the rocky mountainous range. Often referred to as the Gulmarg of Ladakh, the village is luscious and a must-visit place for everyone. If you don’t want to spend multiple days here – I strongly urge you to at least have a very relaxed (non-time bound) picnic here to truly take in the views and match the rhythm of nature.
The village also has a small market and is believed to have been inhabited since the mid-16th century. Another interesting place to visit here is the “man-shaped forest” – which is always fun to explore.
While the green pastures of Sankoo make it visually delightful, the two tributaries of Suru River – Karste and Nakpochu, truly add to its charm and tranquility. Interestingly, the valley serves as the base of several exciting treks. For example, the 4-day Sankoo-Mulbek trek is among the most sought-after treks in this region.
The tourist Bungalow run by the District Tourism Department is also worthy of a stop if you plan on staying longer.
2. Kartse Khar
This village features a beautiful 20 ft. statue of Buddha, carved in a huge rock in the 7th Century. The statue in itself is breathtaking, with the majestic Buddha carving having one hand raised in the ‘Abhaya mudra’ and the other holding down a Kamandal. The Buddha looks upon the valley with detachment. At the top of the carving, Buddha is flanked by two Gandharvas on either side. A crown of stupas lay over his head.
The Buddha permeates almost everything — the rocks with these statues, the air with the numerous prayer flags fluttering in Himalayan winds, and nature all around! This statue is undeniable proof of the Buddhist influence of the region! Another important point of a visit here is the palace of the Kartse Khar kings – under their reign the statue was built. It sits atop a very rocky hill, almost intimidating, really. However, the view from the top – can’t be described in words. The air is chilly, the valley beneath you and there you are, with no one around but nature in all its glory.
3. Panikhar Village
Truly one of the best bases if you are an adventure enthusiast, for, from Panikhar – you can participate in many mountaineering expeditions to the various peaks surrounding the valley. For example, Tanyol, which is the base for a trek to Mount Nun is situated only 6 km from here. Or, if you’re in a different state of mind then you can climb up a short walk to get to the Sentik Ridge, which is also the base camp on the rim of the ice plateau. Other adventure plans can include a trek for the Nun – Kun view saddle (3810 m) in the Parkachik ridge. Although, I should inform you here that this hike will require over 3 hours of climbing steep verdant slopes overlooking the fertile valley below.
4. Rangdum Village
What do I say about Rangdum and how do I explain the ethereal vibes of this place? Situated at an elevation of 11,998 ft., the isolated location tucked deep in the Suru Valley is a little place called Rangdum. Located midway between Kargil and Padum, the area is about 100 KMs from Kargil and the road is truly terrible (no easy way to put this, sorry!). But, the difficulties on the road are more than made up by the views here. The monastery in Rangdum is small, though beautiful, and lies about 25 KMs from Penzi La pass.
There is a JKTDC bungalow here if you fancy spending some time here (and you must!). If you’re not interested in a government-run play of stay – there’s a bunch of other facilities to explore. However, do keep in mind that this is a far-flung area and phone connections might not work. So, just get there and start exploring!
5. Drang-Drung Glacier
The Drang-Drung Glacier is a mountain glacier near the Penzi La mountain pass. The Drang-Drung Glacier is likely to be the largest glacier in Ladakh other than the Siachen Glacier. After crossing the Penzi-La mountain pass a trek of one day from the road leads to the head of Drang-Drung Glacier. The road is only open to traffic from May–September due to heavy snowfall at Zojila and Pensi La passes, and the best time to visit is July to August.
6. Warwan Valley
The trail of this valley edges with the extraordinary attractiveness of the countryside. This settlement is untouched by the outside world. The best time to visit the region would be in the summer months.
7. Tarsar Lake
Located at stunning heights of 11,000 ft., the Tarsar lake is stunningly beautiful and a must-visit. This luxurious lake offers some stunning scenic views. There is a 32 KM trek from here which will take you places.
There is stunning beauty waiting to be seen at every corner of Suru Valley. This unknown little gem of Ladakh is truly unexplored. However, it offers so much to every traveler of the region. Enjoy! If you have any questions about the trip and how to make the journey to Suru, comment below!
Also, if there are any places in Ladakh you have heard of and we haven’t covered – do let us know – we love exploring and sharing the knowledge with you! Happy exploring.