Ladakh Stay: Sleep Amid Towering Mountains and Apricot Orchards in Nubra Valley

Silk Route Cottages is the perfect base to explore the stunning region.  
Silk Route cottages Nubra Ladakh
Nap under the giant apricot trees (left) that dot the property, curl up with a book in your cottage (top right), or hang out with Whiskey (bottom right). Photos: Kamakshi Ayyar

The vastness of Ladakh’s Nubra Valley can give even the most seasoned travellers a bit of an existential crisis. Its hulking mountains and endless skies have a tendency to make you feel very small. Stare into the distance for a while, and before long, you’ll begin to question your place in the Universe.

It’s the kind of expanse that calls for the comfort of a wagging tail and a hot bowl of thukpa, which is exactly what awaits guests at the charming Silk Route Cottages in the village of Sumur, about a 5hr-drive from Leh.

Spread over about four acres, and dotted with apricot trees, Silk Route Cottages is the ideal base for travellers looking to explore Nubra Valley. The resort is named for its location on the old Silk Road trading route from China to Turkey. It has simple, clean bamboo cottages to rest weary bones after a long day of travelling along the valley’s bumpy roads. Solar panels ensure there is hot water for a few hours in the morning and evening, and a large vegetable garden supplies fresh produce for the buffet of Indian and Continental dishes served in the common dining room. Best of all (for a dog lover) is Whiskey, the resident four-footed heartbreaker, who is always ready for a belly rub.

Hunder Nubra Ladakh

The Hunder Dunes, which are popular with tourists, are about an hour away from Sumur village. Photo: Kamakshi Ayyar

As with most places in Ladakh, it’s best to be outdoors. We picked sweet, bright orange apricots right off the trees, enjoyed pots of hot chai while watching the clouds change shape by the minute, and planned on stargazing, but it was too cloudy that day. I spent most of my time enamoured by the giant sunflowers in the garden, chasing Whiskey, and keeping my eyes peeled for elegant orange hoopoes flitting around the cottages.

Some of Nubra’s most popular sites are conveniently located just an hour or two away from the property, making for great day trips. Make a pit stop on the hour-long drive to Hunder sand dunes, at Diskit Monastery, to admire the massive golden Buddha statue that watches over the valley. Then explore the dunes from atop a Bactrian camel, while trying to make sense of the fact that you’re in a sandy desert surrounded by snow-covered mountains.

For a more therapeutic outing, visit the Panamik hot springs, about an hour’s drive away. These aren’t natural pools, but small streams whose waters are piped into bathrooms. For about ₹30, you can have a bucket-bath in the hot, mineral-rich, waters. End the day with a leisurely meal at Silk Route Cottages, and watch the surrounding mountains glow luminously in the moonlight.

Rooms at the Silk Route Cottages are simple, clean, and equipped with extra blankets to stay warm in the chilly Ladakhi nights. Photo: Kamakshi Ayyar

The Guide

Getting There Silk Route is in the town of Sumur, in the Nubra Valley of Jammu and Kashmir. It is about 120km/5hr away from Leh, which has the closest airport. Travellers have to cross Khardung La, the highest motorable road in the world, to enter the valley. The road is winding and still being built in parts, and with the highest point at about 18,000 feet above sea level, it’s easy to feel a little lightheaded along the way. Allow for some extra travel time as the road is difficult to navigate and stops are inevitable.

Accommodation There are 19 bamboo cottages, spread across about 4 acres. The rooms are simple, with attached bathrooms. Running hot water is available for a few hours, twice a day. Tea, coffee, and snacks can be ordered to the room, but meals are served buffet-style in the main dining hall. The hotel is open from the first week of May to mid-October. (09999119435; doubles from ₹6,000 including all meals.)

 

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    Kamakshi Ayyar is a former member of NGT India's digital team. She is partial to places by the sea and desserts in all forms. When she isn't raving about food, she's usually rambling on about the latest cosmic mysteries. She tweets as @kamakshi138.

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