Ladakh, The land of high passes. Once a trekking destination for the West but as the gates opened up and development came in, Ladakh has now become a planned travel destination for everyone. Every year hundreds and thousands of the tourists visit Ladakh but how many can claim to touch its soul? For the majority of these tourists, the word Ladakh resonates with Pangong Tso and Khardung La. The Irony is, 90% of the travelers who come to Ladakh only end up visiting 10% of Ladakh. Yes! Pareto principle is that skewed here.
Rich in culture and heritage, Ladakh’s history and landscapes are a delight to any traveler. The breath-taking vast panoramic views and unexplored Buddhist villages are perfect destinations for someone who is looking for an offbeat Himalayan experience.
This Land of monks is home to many ancient monasteries or Gompas that have been hidden for centuries. All these monasteries have a unique story to tell. They have been the most revered institutions that have existed for centuries, instrumental in filling the gaps in the Buddhist education infrastructure, providing monks (Lamas) with knowledge on spirituality and science, and helping these communities prepare for a better future.
One such Gompa stands tall in the valley of Siachen. This 13th century-old monastery was founded by Lama Pirang Raschen is located towards the right bank of Siachen River. In the year 2010, H.H. Dalai Lama visited the place to inaugurate a Phobrang (Palace of his Holiness). It is said that the mountains at the backside of the Gompa contain many mysteries. Many faithful visitors pay a visit to discover the sacred omens in these mountains. Only the faithful can see them.
How to reach there
Yarma Gompa is located in the Nubra region of Ladakh. It is located at a distance of 173 km from Leh towards Siachen Glacier. One has to cross the famous Khardungla Pass to reach Yarma Gompa. It is advised to take a local guide as the roads do get confusing in these mountains. There are homestays available in Panamik village where one can stay a night and also experience the other wonders of the region.
Ensa Monastery (Gompa) is another revered monastery perched on the mountain top across the Siachen river. One can experience an amazing viewing from the village of Panamik. This 400-year-old Gompa is famous for Buddhist murals and was an important learning center for nearby villages.
Another monastery that cannot be missed on the Panamik – Siachen route is the monastery of Samstaling. This beautiful monastery is located in the heart of a small town called Sumur. Located on a small hill, the place presents a panoramic view of the entire Siachen region. A small hike passing through Leh-berry plantation takes you to the Gompa. There is a bonus for early risers- the chance to attend the morning prayers with monks. These prayers sessions will transcend you into the realms of peace and spirituality.
The Siachen glacier route is announced to open for the tourists from this year. The mountaineering enthusiasts may now visit the glacier up to a certain point. But that is not the only experience the route offers. The first thing to encounter after Sumur is Panamik, which is known for its hot springs. Ladakh like other Himalayan regions has many hot spring spots and this is as mystical as any of them.
The fables tell us that if you are spiritual enough, you can actually see the Potala Palace of Tibet in the magical Yarab Tso Lake. Tourists are unaware of the existence of this wonderful gem of Ladakh. The only way to reach the lake is trekking for an hour from Sumur. As this is a holy lake so it would always make sense to have a local with you.
Warshi is the last village on the newly opened Siachen route. The village is home to one family who has lived there for three generations. A home-stay was set up in the village by Mountain Homestays in the year 2018. The village is situated very closed to the Siachen river and provides tremendous views of the Siachen Valley. Travelers can also stop here to enjoy an authentic Ladakhi lunch on a day trip from Hunder.
Where to stay?
To visit the Warshi village, once can stay either at the homestay at the village itself or spend night in villages closer to Warshi such as Changlung and Sasoma. Mountain Homestays have setup comfortable homestays in both these villages without modern amenities.
- On this route there is an irregular, phone connectivity. The available networks are BSNL post-paid and Reliance Jio, but do not expect any reliable and constant connection.
- The road till Sumur is in good condition. It is a bumpy ride post that. A 4×4 SUV is recommended especially if you are visiting the place in the winter months.
- The toilets at Warshi and Changlung are conventional Ladakhi dry toilets. Due to the scarcity of water resources, the natives practice a system of a dry toilet which is sustainable and eco-friendly. We recommend you not to press upon the requirement of wet toilets.
The homestays serve authentic Ladakhi food. It is delicious, hygienic and the best the region can offer.