Into Uncharted Ladakh – Turtuk, a Balti Village

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Embraced by the majestic peaks of the Karakoram mountain range and hugging the bank of the Shyok River, Turtuk unfolds as a captivating hamlet in the far northern Himalayan region of India, Ladakh, that boasts a unique culture and tradition.
Turtuk is India’s last outpost at Thang, and also serves as one of the gateways to the Siachen Glacier, after which Pakistan-controlled Gilgit-Baltistan begins.
Although the rest of Ladakh is a cold and barren desert, Turtuk is all about lush greenery all around.
It is interesting to note that the village remained out of bounds till 2010, which is now accessible by visitors.

Turtuk Village

What makes Turtuk unique is it’s rich history & tradition!
Turtuk is one of the largest of five Balti- populated villages under Indian control in Ladakh. This village was actually a part of Baltistan region, Pakistan until 1971. This village was claimed by Pakistan after the British ended the rule in the 1947 Indo-Pakistan war. It remained like that for the next 24 years till 1971, when India gained control of the village again.
Unlike the rest of the Ladakh population, people here use Balti language as their ways of communication.
The local cuisine is influenced by Balti and Pakistani cuisines, making it distinct from what one would find elsewhere in India.
Major Attractions/Sightseeing
● Turtuk Waterfall Trek
● Balti Heritage House & Museum
● Ruins of Brokpa Fort
● A 16th century Mosque

Apart from these, one can plan day trips to some exotic nearby villages –
1. Diskit – home to one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh – Diskit Monastery – which dates back to 14th century. This monastery features an impressive statue of Maitreya Buddha that towers over 100 feet tall!
2. Hunder – One of the main attractions is its sand dunes, which are unique to this region. One can experience these sand dunes through camel rides or desert safaris. Bactrian camels, also known as double-humped camels, are native to this region
3. Sumur – home to Samstanling Monastery
4. Panamik – known for its sulfuric hot springs that are believed to have medicinal properties

Turtuk Village
Turtuk Village

How To Reach?
One can hire a car or rent a bike or car from Leh (approxly 205 kms) to explore the place.
The Leh bus station also offers regular services to Turtuk, however it can be uncomfortable as buses might be crowded and also services can be interrupted at times due to weather conditions.
Turtuk offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Ladakh while enjoying breathtaking scenery, delicious local delicacies and warm hospitality. It’s worth visiting because it has a cultural amalgamation of Pakistan and India. So, pack your bags and get ready to dive into the mystic land of the Baltis- Turtuk is awaiting!

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