Hunder is located 150 kilometers North of Leh, 7 km from Diskit which is very popular among tourist for it’s Buddhist monasteries and also called as ‘the desert in the sky’. Hunder’s average elevation is 10,000 feet and it’s a little village in which the Shyok River matches Nubra River. Hunder sand dunes are determined by the ancient silk route, after a major trade route on earth.
Nowadays it’s among the most tactical points situated near the Siachen Glacier, the world greatest and incredibly chilly battle ground between India and Pakistan. Entry beyond Hunder village was closed by Indian Army till 2010 , after that Turtuk was opened for Indians as well as for foreign tourists but line permission has to be taken by foreign tourists. Before opening of Turtuk in 2010, Hunder was really difficult to access by the tourists in India. Totally different landscape can be seen as we move away to Turtuk beyond Hunder which can not be found in whole Ladakh.
Hunder was once capital of former Nubra kingdom and many ruined building are also found there including forts and palaces. Hunder is quite renowned for it’s cold desert, sand dunes and Bactrian camel, which are known for having two humps in contrast to the camels in other parts of the world. This small and isolated village is very popular among the adventure seekers in the valley.
Popular among the campers to acclimate to higher altitudes. Hunder is roughly 160 km away from city of Leh and travelers have to travel through the world’s highest motorable pass “Khardung La Pass”, to reach this beautiful and remote village.
Things to do in Hunder :
- Camping in cold desert: Hunder is isolated village amidst the cold desert. It is very popular among campers to indulge in nature, waking up in lap of Nubra valley and enjoy a night or two in tents. Facilities are very limited but a comfortable stay is given to travelers at any cost. Hunder which sits like an oasis in desert offers a breathtaking view and leave travelers awestruck with the beauty of a cold desert. Enjoy stay at camps provided by private travel agencies and enjoy bonfire and small parties organized by them to add a story in diary of your trip.
- Camel safari : Hunder is popular for camel rides in high altitude region. The camel safari is done on Bactrian camel, which has two humps unlike other camels in the world. In ancient times this Bactrian camel was the only mode of transportation and widely used for trade via famous Silk route. One should take joyride on this camel in cold desert and sand dunes to witness the beauty and charm of the area. Sand dunes makes this place beautiful and striking. Double humped camels are seen everywhere gazing from the cold desert till Diskit.Timings of the safari is 9:00 AM to 12 Noon and 03:00 PM to 06:00 PM.
- Stay in Guest house or Homestay : Luxurious hotels or guests houses will not be found in region due unavailability of resources through out the year as winters are very harsh, homestays and guest houses at reasonable prices are found in Hunder. Homestays are very popular among travelers to enjoy local culture and cuisine. Well maintained guest house are advisable for people who prefer comfortable stay.
- Visit to Hunder monastery : Hunder monastery or commonly known as Hunder Gompa is a major tourist attractions in Hunder village. The worship flags and humming of the mantras make this a spectacular place to visit. It is located near Diskit monastery and Lachung Temple, situated just below the main road, near the bridge making it a must visit place in Hunder. Travelers often searching for solitude and serenity rest here for meditation.
- Visit to Buddhist temples: There are two very famous Buddhist temples in Hunder : the red temple (Lhakhang Marpo) and white temple (Lhakhang Karpo). Situated between Hunder and Diskit, these two temples are must visit to witness Tibetan and Ladakhi Architecture. The material used in these temples give them white and red color hence they are named white temple and red temple by local people.
- Explore ruins of Hunder : Hunder was once capital of Nubra kingdom due to which there are several ruined buildings, including the ruins of the King’s palace also known as Langchen Khar meaning Elephant Palace due to it’s architecture and size. At the top of the hill there is a famous fort, which is known as Gula. Entry is not possible inside the Palace but one can explore the ruins of the old Kingdom.
- There are very limited restaurant and food joints outside the guest house and homestay so leave after having a proper meal.
- Carry enough cash as there are very few ATMs in the region.
- If you are planning to stay in a camp carry torches, extra winter clothes and insect repellents.
- Only postpaid mobile networks works in the region usually BSNL so keep handy a spare sim card of BSNL for contacting your family members.
How to reach Hunder :
To visit the Hunder Sand Dunes, vacationers can hire a taxi or lease motorcycle from Leh, that will require about 4-6 hours and can travel through Khardung La Pass (40 KMs), Khardung Village (34 KMs), Khalsar (23 KMs) and also Diskit (19 KMs). Adventure hunting travelers traveling rather from Pangong Tso to Nubra Valley through Shyok (160km) and through Wari La (236km). Before visiting Hunder Sand Dunes, one should fill their oil tanks as there are barely any petrol pumps outside that.
Leh is also well connected with airways and one can take flight either from Srinagar or Delhi to Leh.
Best time to visit Hunder:
Winters are quite harsh in Ladakh so best time to visit Hunder is during the summer months when roads are also opened for tourists. Months from June to September are considered summer months so one must plan accordingly. Hotels and restaurants will be closed down as well in winters but homestays will be open but as the weather is unpredictable and harsh one should visit in summer months only.