As you ascend out of Leh, drive past the Indus valley and over the Khardungla pass (18,379 feet), you are rewarded with some of the most stunning landscapes of the trans Himalayan region, even more remote and spectacular as you descend into the captivating Nubra valley. Visitors are enthralled, and there is a photo-op at every turn, with panoramic mountain views, picture perfect villages, hidden lakes and monasteries, often perched high on rugged cliffs. Characterised by the Shyok and Nubra rivers, the valley sits at about 10,000 feet and enjoys lots of sunshine in the summer months, inviting visitors from April to October. Wedged between Pakistan, Tibet, China and the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Nubra valley connects India to the southern branch of the old Silk Route from China, through the Karakoram pass. Another route, and not as frequently used to reach Nubra is through Warila pass, extremely picturesque and much quieter than the Khardungla route.
Nubra valley has several small villages, Diskit, Hunder, Panamik, Sumur and Charasa, which are like green oases in the otherwise high-altitude desert of Ladakh. In the tiny hamlet of Teggar (Kyagar), lies Lchang Nang – a tranquil piece of heaven set amidst an orchard of elm, apricot, and apple trees.
From the use of solar energy, minimal use of plastic and keeping 25 acres of grazing land intact that now thrives as a scrub habitat to using mud and willow as building materials, and local excursions which allow you to see at close quarters the challenging lives of the people of the valley,...
From the use of solar energy, minimal use of plastic and keeping 25 acres of grazing land intact that now thrives as a scrub habitat to using mud and willow as building materials, and local excursions which allow you to see at close quarters the challenging lives of the people of the valley, a stay at the retreat is a lesson in sustainable hospitality and slow travel.
Know Your Host
Lchang Nang is owned by a local family, the Kalons who have lived in the region for generations. It is a role model for sustainable hospitality in the valley. The team is warm, friendly, hospitable and trained to deliver an exceptional experience. The Lchang Nang experience begins when the guests...
Lchang Nang is owned by a local family, the Kalons who have lived in the region for generations. It is a role model for sustainable hospitality in the valley. The team is warm, friendly, hospitable and trained to deliver an exceptional experience. The Lchang Nang experience begins when the guests are greeted with a fresh glass of sea buckthorn juice, known to mitigate the effects of high-altitude sickness. You are then taken on a tour of the property to be acquainted with the landscape, understand house rules and guest preferences, and learn about the activities that await you. Rigzin, the owner host, an engineer by profession, has a deep respect for the village he is from and intimately knows the landscape, the hills, river valleys and villages of Nubra. Lchang Nang has been an experiment, his first tryst with hospitality, and in learning about the land and his people, he is committed to creating value.
Translated as a ‘House of Trees’, Lchang Nang is a boutique hotel with 17 cottages, constructed in Ladakh’s signature architectural style using local poplar trees, stones, and mud, which is best suited to the changing seasons and temperatures of this region. The property’s concept balances the past and present, and addresses the future in a sustainable manner; a commitment to the past by honouring traditional Ladakhi cultural elements, and a vision of a better future through sustainable and eco-friendly practises that form part of everyday operations.
The Retreat stands away from the Siachen (Land of Wild Roses), ensconced between three mountains – the Karakoram ranges, the Himalayan range and the Saltoro Ridge – a sight that will fill you with awe and peace in equal measure.
Each cottage of the Lchang Nang Retreat has a space of its own with features like sit-outs leading from the suites into the gardens with views of the surrounding mountains. Designed to accommodate couples as well as families, the rooms are categorised as Nomad King, Tranquil Twin and Family cottages. There are enough twin rooms, hence perfect for friends and families travelling together. Large, sunny rooms have a signature style that is comfortable, uncluttered with a pleasing sense of colour. The Nomad King rooms are spacious with king-sized beds and a sunbed. Each room has enough space to accommodate a third bed for easy triple occupancy. The rooms are heated by energy efficient electric panels even in the bathrooms, effective till early November when the Retreat closes for winter.
The use of solar passive architecture allows the use of sun's heat and light to power space. You can see this in the dining room which is warm and well lit, and small details on the walls reflecting Ladakh’s favourite embellishments of floating clouds. The Kalon’s proudly showcase Ladakhi food and local flavours, though simple continental fare and cuisine from other parts of India is also served. The dining room also serves as a café that can be accessed through the day for snacks, tea and coffee. Amidst the orchard of trees, the tea stations called Wonderland and Ladakhi Kitchen are a favourite with guests to relax with a piping hot tea in hand and watch the clear blue skies and high rugged mountains in the distance.
Lchang Nang is a wonderful place to unplug and relax close to nature, lounge in the sunny library or easy rambles in the village. Yoga sessions, twice a day, are held in the Sunroom and wellness therapies for rejuvenation are available.
The Tea Stations Wonderland and Ladakhi Kitchen, the former a throwback to Alice’s escapes in wonderland, and the latter a museum of Ladakhi object d’art from the Kalon kitchen are places to relax over endless cups of tea or juice served complimentary through your waking hours. In season, workshops are conducted in making jams, dried snacks and oil from the apricot orchard. Lchang Nang is the only property in the Nubra valley to have a Fireside Bar, with music and a campfire to warm you on cool nights.
A variety of complimentary activities are on offer in the property and surrounding areas, which include daily yoga classes, a nightly campfire, possibilities for stargazing, guided village walks and renting out mountain bikes. Take a cultural immersion walk where you can visit a traditional Ladakhi kitchen maintained by the women’s alliance. Get a glimpse of the local dance as local troupes perform in traditional attire.
Fascinating sights abound all around the Nubra valley: the ancient Ensa Gompa, steeped in myth and history, Yarab Tso (lake), Charasa village walk, Panamik sulphur hot springs, Diskit monastery and its 150 feet high colourful statue of Maitreya and the sand dunes at Hunder and Sumer, where you have the chance to view Bactrian camels, once used by traders for transporting goods from India to China and vice versa.
Intimate hospitality and really getting to know the local culture in Ladakh’s high mountain terrain. It is also perfect for families as well as solo travellers or groups who appreciate the grit of running a retreat in the challenging environs of the mountains.
The retreat is open from May to October.
The way Lchang Nang Retreat’s operations are designed, they ensure that the local communities are involved and hence benefit financially.
No Single Use Plastic: Biodegradable toiletries and amenities are used. Guests enjoy the luxury of drinking pure energy free glacial water, a healthy connection to mother earth that is impossible elsewhere in India. Further, reduction of reliance on single-use plastics down the supply chain is high on the agenda.
Safe Garbage Disposal: Waste is segregated and wet waste is composted and manure used in the organic garden. Cows are fed appropriate leftovers supplemented by alfalfa and willow trimmings. Other waste is segregated for recycling. Guests and staff are encouraged to pick up plastic litter in handmade locally sourced baskets while on village walks.
Water Conservation: The glacial water, which is high in calcium and minerals, is safe for all. Water is channelled through the property in a gravity-fed traditional Ladakhi flood irrigation technique.
Energy Efficiency: Every aspect, from running the property to its architecture and activities, presents the perfect example of sensitive land use, using renewable energy and engaging the community. Lchang Nang Retreat is totally powered by an in-house captive solar power plant. It meets all the energy needs for kitchen appliances and water heaters. Each cottage has its own solar water heater, have been built using solar passive technique; the windows are oriented towards south to trap maximum sun in the winters/early spring/autumn and less sunlight in the summers.
Nature and Biological Diversity Conservation: The Retreat ensures replanting every spring to maintain the habitat.
Local Community Engagement: A gift shop and art gallery promotes art and crafts from the community as well as local produce from Ammalley – an initiative dedicated to Rigzin's mother. Local villagers come and trim verdant foliage such as alfalfa for the winters as fodder for the barren months. Local women are employed for housekeeping and gardening purposes.
Light Footprint Tourism: Most of the produce is sourced from the organic garden and the local village as far as possible; the sea buckthorn juice is from a local women’s collective who sustainably harvest it. The milk from these cows is used in the kitchen and processed into milk, butter and curd. While building the property, locals were hired and sundried mud bricks, stones, and wood were used (no cement was used), all sourced locally.
Sensitive Destination Discovery: Many of the activities like village walks encourage visits to local Ladakhi kitchens with a paid entry. Visits to the monasteries raise awareness about the architecture and cultural significance of these places of worship. Local dance troupes perform in traditional attire at the hotel allowing for preservation of traditions.
Heritage Preservation: Lchang Nang Retreat is the first traditionally built hotel in the region. It helped revive the old sustainable techniques of housing and gave immense confidence and pride to the locals that a commercial project can be undertaken using completely local techniques and skills. Villagers are routinely given a tour of the property to showcase the environment friendly initiatives undertaken. The village youth and children are encouraged to replicate the sustainable practices. A local temple artist was hired to paint Buddhist motifs on the walls and ceilings inspired by age old temple art.
Human Touch: As Lchang Nang Retreat is operational for only six months in a year (the summer months), initially staff retention was a problem. It has recently tied up with properties in other parts of India, where the working seasons complement for sharing resources. This also gives increased exposure to the staff and teaches them how to work in different conditions and handle new situations, thus enriching their existing skillset and boosting self-confidence.
The RARE Sustainability Quotient is a self-audit tool that is used by our hotel partners to measure, document and assess their planet and people friendly practices and is based on the RARE Touchstones.
by sarlanrao on 12/29/2022
There is a game room and clean and neat place surrounded by 3 different mountain ranges. This a off the grid hotel, completely run on solar power. It’s a rustic feel with great ambience and hammocks...
by 684aryanm on 12/21/2022
Thanks a lot to this eco-friendly resort for making our stay super comfortable. Truly a luxurious resort yet earthen! Come here if you want to enrol in true beauty of nature. Would suggest y’all...
by Passenger47784016912 on 12/21/2022
Totally mesmerised by the beauty & ambiance of this place. Came here with family & the staff made our stay super memorable. We enjoyed having picnic in meadows. The food was truly delicious. The...