Turtuk: Explore the Lost Village of Indo-Pakistan Border
SAGA OF INDIA’s SCENIC FRONTIER
What’s secluded is off-beat;
What’s off-beat is unexplored;
What’s unexplored is intriguing;
What’s intriguing is simply UNMISSABLE….
In this Blogpost, we bring you easy to miss, untouched destination, tucked amidst the Himalayas in Nubra Valley and on India’s frontline.
Welcome to Turtuk!
“Hidden & sandwiched hamlet on India’s Border based on the banks River Shyok”
Existing in “solace of solitude” it’s only in 2010 when locals of this frontier land decided to open its door to the tourists.
SLICE OF HISTORY
This, high altitude desert that is inaccessible, far-flung and offbeat is surrounded by Himalayas (Karakoram Ranges) and was once a part of the Baltistani Empire & a gateway to the prominent Silk Route.
In the days of yore it was ruled by kings belonging to Yangbo Dynasty a Central Asian empire.
It was a Buddhist region till 13th Century, however the demographics of area altered with arrival of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani, an Iranian poet and prominent Islam scholar.
Today, you can see the traces of this amazing confluence due to cultural intermingling at Turtuk Mosque where Swastikas, Buddhist patterns and Iranian designs all converge in its designing. One can also watch many Gompas in this predominantly Muslim area.
Major languages spoken and understood here include Ladakhi, Urdu and Balti.
INDIAN INTEGRATION SAGA
Turtuk was a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir until 1971.
It was Braveheart Major Chewang Rinchen & his troops who placed Turtuk under Indian command and later Indian Army left no stone unturned to bring reforms by promoting growth and prosperity in the region thereby winning loyalty, trust and support of locals.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
June till September are the best months of the year to visit Turtuk. Turtuk being a high desert experiences NO RAINFALL. The peak summer month is JULY and the coldest winter month is JANUARY.
Turtuk is a protected area which means to enter if you’re a foreigner you will need Ladakh Protected Area Permit and Inner Line Permit if you’re an Indian, ILP’s can be easily procured.
Turtuk is accessible only by road from Leh due to absence of any Railway Station / Airport and yes the terrain is treacherous to maneuver.
The journey takes 6 Hours to complete. One can reach there by private taxis, self-drive taxis or bi-weekly buses (Twice in a week)
MUST VISIT PLACES IN TURTUK
Seriously? On the mountain???
Yesssss…. The convergence of Shyok River and local nallah has created the white slit termed by locals as their very own beach, which entices the tourists. Don’t forget to visit this unique geological landform.
2. HELLO K2 @ TURTUK MONASTERY
Hike from the gorgeous fields all the way up to the monastery perched atop. Once there, relax and enjoy the gorgeous views of Turtuk Village below.
From verandah of monastery SAY HI to one of the mightiest peak Mt K2
3. NANGCHUNG OR NATURAL COLD STORAGES
Stone bunkers with cracks and holes that allow cold air to pass through where locals stock the perishable foods, and they remain fresh.
Presence of underground glacial water stream keeps the stock fresh due to icy cold water underneath and anything stored remains fresh and pure.
Nature’s Refrigerators Indeed…
4. BALTI MUSEUM & HERITAGE HOME
Learn about Balti Culture, Dynasty and artifacts at Balti Museum and then enter the narrow by lanes of Turtuk Village to reach Balti Heritage Home to see the artifacts more than 400 years old. Hospitable hosts welcome and interpret every nuance about their Baltic roots lineage and the narrative behind every artifact.
5. THANG BORDER POST
Located 10 kms from Turtuk this is northernmost village of Turtuk. The actual border is just 2kms away, but one can clearly see the Line Of Control border fencing. The Entry to this area is restricted for security reasons.
6. APRICOT & WALNUT SHOPPING
Apricots are indigenously manufactured in surplus. Visit Apricot farms and purchase the apricot by-products like apricot seeds, oil, jam, juice, and several varieties of organic dried apricots. Apart from apricots, Turtuk is also Ladakh's greatest walnut-producing village.
7. TURTUK MOSQUE
Visit to the village's beautiful mosque. The ancient mosque was built in the Middle Ages and has been repaired multiple times since then. The mosque's wooden pillars and ceiling are covered in beautiful carvings and decorations.
“That which is hard to endure is sweet to remember” endure the challenging trek and treat your eyes to the gorgeous view of Waterfall from top. It feels surreal, as if the waterfall is embracing the mountain.
Sight the majestic K-2, the world's second-highest peak from the waterfall.
(Subject to clear weather)
9. BROKPA FORT
Catch insights about Yangbo Dynasty, at this 5000 year old fort located on the banks of River Shyok.
STAY AT TURTUK
Turtuk is dotted with plenty of accommodation options in terms of guesthouses and homestays. Homestays is a perfect option to closely experience indigenous lifestyle while relishing local hospitality. One may also opt for tented accommodation in camps. Fall asleep under the maze of starlit sky.
Treat yourself with authentic local Balti delicacies at many food joints and taste the local cuisines like the unmissable.
1. Brakoo & Muskat
Buckwheat dumplings with ground walnut sauce, almonds, and spices
2. Zan with Tsamig
Delicious buckwheat cake that is steamed to perfection and served with a side salad and yoghurt.
3. Kissir with Grangtur
Buckwheat pancakes served with greens on side.
- Since Turtuk is located on India’s frontline, expect HEAVY PRESENCE OF INDIAN ARMY, who are always willing to assist you in case of any exigency.
- CHARGE YOUR DEVICES when there’s electricity, as electricity supply at Turtuk is only for few hours.
- STAY HYDRATED as cold weather may trick you into believing that you are not thirsty, but dehydration at high altitude can be bad. So, keep sipping on H20 frequently.
- STOCK ON SUFFICIENT CASH as Cellphone network is weak and UPI Payments may not work, additionally there are few ATM’s there.
- STOCK ON EXTRA FUEL as even the nearest petrol pump may run out of fuel anytime.
- DO STAY at local house to enjoy warm Turtuki Hospitality.
Nature's craftsmanship and sweeping vistas of the landscape amidst snowcapped peaks will certainly take your breath away at Turtuk & leave you mesmerized for more!!!!
| Complied By
Prof. Shree Patki