Valley of flowers in the Trans-Himalayas: Panikhar, Suru Valley
Located at a distance of 26 km from the village of Sankoo, Panikhar is the next village along the way in the Suru Valley. The roads from Sankoo to the village of Panikhar are well maintained and have barely any pot holes as compared to the roads beyond Panikhar which are terrible.
As you pass through from Sankoo towards Panikahar the journey is very beautiful with the Suru river running all along the road and plenty of small plants and shrubs all along the road on either side and the mighty Trans-Himalayas on either side of the road with their snow-capped peaks making the drive a nature lovers’ dream come true.
On entering the village of Panikhar, travellers are greeted with snow covered mountain peaks, pink cheeked smiling children and plenty of greenery all around the village. The older children from the village are very shy and will either run away or hide their face the minute they notice you looking at them. The younger children can be seen playing around the village while their mothers and grand-mothers go about doing their daily chores.
The village of Panikhar is one of the lesser developed villages in Suru valley and this is evident from the fact that the village has electricity only for eight to ten hours in the evenings during the summer and most of the houses just have very basic amenities in the form of just a single light bulb.
Only a handful of houses in Panikhar have a TV. The houses in the village are made of stone walls and have huge rocks placed on top of the mud roofing. Fire wood is also kept on the roof to dry during the summer months.
The houses in the village don’t even have a water pipe connection, there are a handful of water taps centrally located in the village. Panikhar has a couple of home run shops that sell very basic amenities. The village has a primary school with just a couple of teachers handling the children of all age groups.
Once the children grow older they have to travel all the way to the higher secondary school in Sankoo and most of the children make the journey to the school by foot since they can’t even afford the cost of the local government bus, such is the level of poverty in the village of Panikhar.
During the summer months the area around Panikhar is converted into a valley that is full of colorful flowers with an incredible variety of alpine flora blossom. This makes Panikhar a hit with the photographers who plan on making a quick stop at the village but end up spending at-least an hour cilking pictures of the various flowers in the area.
Panikhar is the base for making mountaineering expeditions to the various Himalayan peaks that are surrounding this valley. From the nearby hills one can get a beautiful panoramic view of all the peaks in the Nun – Kun mass. Panikhar is also a convenient base for the famous Trans- Himalayan traverse between Ladakh and the Kashmir Valley.
Among the local attractions around the village the most important ones are the architectural beauty of the two mosques at Taisuru, the village located a short walk away from Panikhar across the valley.
Accommodation in the village is limited to home stays and guest houses, where most of the villagers rent out their spare room or store room to travellers during season time in summer. These guest houses only offer a room and mattresses to sleep and a hot tandoor to keep travellers warm in the nights. Eating options are again limited to home meals that are served by the guest house owners. No dhabas or restaurants exist in the village.
Panikhar is a village surely worth stopping at while driving through Suru valley, the village might look like just another village in the valley but Panikhar surely has plenty to offer for all kinds of travellers, from the adventure junkies who are keen on climbing the high Trans-Himalayan peaks to the photographers who can spend hours clicking pictures of the beautiful flowers.