The hot spring village in Ladakh: Panamik, Nubra Valley
Famous for its sulphur hot springs, Panamik is a village that is nestled very close to the Siachen glacier, the highest battle field in the world. Located around 150 km from the town of Leh, the village of Panamik in Nubra Valley attracts travellers from all over the world who come to take a dip in the hot sulphur springs of the village.
To reach the village of Panamik in Nubra Valley, travellers need a permit which can be easily obtained from the District Magistrate’s office for a minimum of four travellers. The best option if travelling in a group is to hire a taxi from the town of. The taxi fare is fixed by the Leh taxi union and is based on the type of vehicle and the duration of one’s stay.
For solo or budget travellers who can’t afford to hire a taxi there are two options, the first option is to board a local government bus from the Leh bus station to the village of Panamik. The bus leaves early in the morning on Mondays and Wednesdays and returns back to Leh the following day. It is advisable to confirm the timing of the bus a day in advance. This bus is a regular local bus so expect it to be over crowded with people sitting and standing everywhere. The bus takes around eight hours to reach Panamik.
The other option is to contact one of the many travel agencies in Leh. Most of the travel agencies have a shared Jeep that leave for different villages in Nubra Valley daily. This is a better option since the ride is a lot more comfortable and takes a lot lesser time as compared to the bus.
Panamik is the northern most part of the country up-to which foreign travellers are permitted to travel in India. The hot water sulphur springs in the village of Panamik are situated at an altitude of around 10,442 feet above sea-level. These hot springs have high amount of sulphur in them and it is believed to have medicinal properties which can cure rheumatism and other ailments. Locals from neighboring villages in Nubra flock to the hot springs on a regular basis for a dip in the hot water.
There is an entry fee of Rs 20/- for tourist into the hot bath complex. This complex has been done up really well with a large pool for the men and women, there are also cubical which have showers and changing rooms. The water is so hot in the pool that it is impossible to be in the water for too long. A dip in the water is recommend for one and all.
The village of Panamik is also the base for the trek to Ensa monastery, which is a 250-year-old Gompa famous for its Buddhist murals. The trek takes around three to four hours, the path which leads to the Gompa takes hikers through boulders strewn in the bed of the river. There is a wooden bridge to cross the Nubra river. The approach to Ensa gompa is pretty pleasant after crossing the bridge, with willow and poplar trees.
Panamik is a good place to buy Pashmina shawls and woolen socks. Dry fruits like walnuts and almonds are sold at a very reasonable price in this village. It is important to keep in mind that there are no ATMs in Nubar Valley, so the only option is to carry enough cash before leaving from Leh.
Accommodation options in Panamik are limited to guest houses and home stays which have pretty basic accommodation and barely any luxury. All the guest houses have hot water from the springs coming through the pipes. Options to eat are limited to the meals that are provided in the guest houses and home stays. No restaurants exist in this village.
The best time to visit Panamik in Nubra Valley is during the summer months from June to September via Khardung La pass, the only gateway into Nubar Valley. A traveller’s permit is needed to visit the village of Panamik.
Visit to Panamik is possible only during summer between June to August. Khardung La pass, the only gateway to Panamik, opens during summer.
Panamik is a must visit village in Nubra Valley since this is the only place in the entire Trans-Himalayan region where a sulphur hot spring is so easily accessible.