A traditional Village house in the Suru Valley near Panikhar. And of course you can also see the ugly new construction on the left side. These traditional Houses were made of stone and mud and helped keep warm in the frigid weather.
And towering in the background is the Himalayan giant Nun, 7000m+ on the main Great Himalayan Range. A Triangular behemoth which Towers over this part of the Suru Valley. And April is a great time to be there as lots of snow in the Mountains.
Suru Valley and Zanskar as well offer dramatic scenery as they are bound by the Great Himalayan Range itself on one side and the Zanskar Range where as all the other Valleys of Ladakh are either between the Zanskar Range and the Ladakh Range or between the Ladakh Range and the Karakoram Range.
Since the Great Himalayan Range is the main watershed it also gets the maximum Snowfall in this Region and especially the Peaks on the Suru side. Most areas in Ladakh get scanty snowfall but Drass and Suru, especially the Peaks get a great amount of snowfall. And bring a good 750 m below the Leh region in altitude its much greener as well. A true gem infact of the Great Himalayan Range.
Many of us have travelled to Ladakh. Many of us more than a few times. But there are parts of Ladakh which still remain offbeat and dont really feature in any "Ladakh" usually. To put it in simple terms as per the current status these are the main Valleys that make up Ladakh :
1. The Indus Valley
2. The Nubra Valley
3. The Drass Valley
4. The Suru Valley
5. The Zanskar Valley
The Indus Valley and the Nubra Valley are the most visited and for some people this is Ladakh. They simply forget or aren't even aware of the other 3 and the wild beauty they hold. Of course the Zanskar Valley gets some attention due to a wretched Winter Trek. However Drass and Suru which can stand up on their own to any place in the Mountains anywhere. Especially the mind blowing Suru Valley.
Here is a Video from yesterday of us descending from the Umba La which connects Suru and Drass Valley. In the Video you see below Drass town and the mountains on the LOC including the Tiger Hill. And you see some other Mountains around such give you an idea of the wild beauty this place holds. And this is also the coldest inhabited part of India. More on the coldest part of Drass Valley itself later.
A beautiful Mosque in Drass.
Besides being famous for being "The Second Coldest Inhabited Place in the World" (I often wonder where they came up with this stupidity ; it could well be the coldest inhabited place in India, which I would agree with) it also holds a unique place in the Geographically of Ladakh. Traditionally Dras was known as Hembabs with the word "Hem" meaning the same as it does in "Him" of the Himalayas. Basically a place which gets a lot of snow as this area got the most snow in the whole region.
And also Hembabs is also the place with the most influence of Kacheeyul, which is the traditional Tibetan/ Ladakhi word for Kashmir. And a number of Kashmiris have traditionally come over here and settled here.
And most interestingly the language spoken in Drass is Shina unlike the Purigi version of Balti spoken in Kargil and Suru Valley. The same language is spoken in the Gurez Valley in Kashmir as well. Shina is a one of the major languages of Gilgit Baltistan as well with 40% of the population supposedly speak Shina.
For most people this is just a cold place in way to Leh. But this place holds much more than that.