An unknown land, beyond Nubra Valley, but with some best view offered, is the promised land between two hostile neighbors, India & Pakistan.
This is none other than Turtuk, an amazing little hamlet, with one side Baltistan and another side the gorgeous flowing Shyok river.
Turtuk village is a remote destination with the settlement of hardly 4000 people in the village, and it is said to be the northernmost, last village in India.
Although Turtuk village is mostly predominated by Muslims, there are few Gompas here overlooking the majestic river.
It is secluded, not only due to the government, but it’s geographical coverage. It is a very military-controlled, sensitive area, as it is the last Indian outpost before Pakistan in Leh, Ladakh.
We have all heard the tales of the Indo-Pakistan war of separation, where one land got divided into two, India and Pakistan.
The best part about this remote location is, they have maintained their own culture, their own space, far away from the chaotic busy life.
Away from the hustle and bustle and connectivity from major areas.
Turtuk the last village is an elope, a mystery, with no wifi, no connection, no food joints. A place that is still behind time, with people of the village speaking Urdu & Balti that have an old Tibetan sound.
From the top of the village Turtuk Leh, well-known but unexplained claim that the snow-clad peaks of Mt. K2 can be visible. Although it requires the weather to be clean and clear.
Source: rajeevrajagopalan – Under Creative Commons license
The friendliness of the people is remarkable, it is such that when the first tourist arrived at this place in 2010, a small farming family gave him a basket of apricot. shimmering silk scarves and performed their folk dance.
Source: rajeevrajagopalan – Under Creative Commons license
This pretty Turtuk village is at a height of 3000mt, and it is far acceptable to tourists compared to the surrounding ranges.
The place is a gateway to Siachen Glacier, considering the importance of the location for tourists.
A journey that covers about 205 km from Leh to this last village Turtuk Nubra Valley.
You will also witness a beautiful, massive, and huge suspension bridge over the pristine clear Shoyk river. This will take you down towards the river bed.
The exquisiteness of this place Turtuk Ladakh is still divine and untouched. There is no comparison of the beauty here compared to the rest of the villages in Ladakh.
Compared to other places in Ladakh travel, Turtuk Ladakh is lower in altitude that sets at a height of about 3000m.
In summer it turns out to be very hot so that villages have made use of the rock surrounding. This is basically the natural stone cooling storage, to store butter, meat, and other things.
Culture in Turtuk
Baltistan was a different kingdom, far beyond the era of the war. It was ruled by the Yagbo dynasty, a Central Asian empire from Turkistan during the 800 to 1800 AD.
Just like Ladakh, Baltistan was dominated by Buddhism culture up till the 13th century.
Until Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani came into the limelight. He was an Irani poet, and bring about the culture of Islam by preachings.
Slowly the culture evolved and settlement occurred in Turtuk Leh, and this is the reason one can spot beautiful gompas in a Muslim region.
The visitors often get lovable treatment from the locals, no matter how strict or sensitive the area is. Appreciation to the “stillness of time” at this spot, you will be shocked to see how they still carry the old good charm.
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Best time to visit Turtuk, Nubra Valley
Being a high desert land, Turtuk Leh never experiences snowfall. In winter the place gets extremely cold, while in summer which is the peak season, the climate is extremely good and cheerful.
The month from April to September is the summer season, you will enjoy this weather, and thus making it the ideal time to visit this location.
Although it is a deserted land, the night is freezing cold with a temperature below zero degrees even in summers.
There are not many tourists that visit Turtuk, it is often empty, isolated, and the beauty is left untouched. This makes it one big reason for people to visit the beauty of the place in any season.
In summer, the valley, the village, gompas, and the shyok river simply are easy to access, witness, and enjoy the shades of Leh Ladakh travel in India.
How to Reach
Route: Leh via Khardung la Pass > Diskit > Hunder > Turtuk
This route covers a distance of around 205km from Leh to Turtuk Nubra Valley. It is an ideal route to reach this destination where you will cover not just the jaw-dropping views, but the heart-wrenching cuts and curves, a twist of the route.
Its challenging path from Khardung La pass, which was the highest motorable pass can give you chills.
You will witness beautiful gompas, snow-clad mountains, green terrain, barren land, bluish water across the route. This journey will take about 7 to 8 hours depending upon the number of breaks you take.
It is going to be a treat to your eye. Certainly, the journey is even more exciting than the destination.
If you don’t have a private vehicle, you can hire a taxi and cab that is available from Leh. the route is quite adventurous, so brace yourself before you embark upon the journey of remoteness, high altitude, and views worth watching.
Where to Stay
Homestay & Guest houses
You will never find a single problem of accommodating yourself at Turtuk. With a few
options like Guesthouses and homestays the location has everything for everyone.
While living in homestays, you will definitely have a great experience because of the friendliness of the people. The range is pretty affordable, it fits in every budget, including the food that is offered.
These guest houses and homestay offers an impeccable view from the window. You will feel like you are connected to nature in a certain way. With an amazing star gazing at night, under the sky.
If you are a travel geek who wishes to explore and experience new things. Camping and tent stay can genuinely be an ideal option to stay at Turtuk Leh.
There are amazing camping opportunities in Turtuk, you will have a great time star gazing under the sky.
In the peak season during summer, campings are quite common and you need to have an experience of that at least once in your lifetime.
You can not expect modern amenities or facilities here in Turtuk Nubra Valley, but definitely moderate facilities are provided, Including good condition linen, washroom & proper food too.
Do not consider this trip as a luxurious one, here your preference should be more of exploring like a local Ladakhi.
Where to Eat
You will probably see yourself eating at a food joint or at homestays, guest houses, and camp which you’ve preferred for a one night stay.
The authentic flavor of this spot, Turtuk, lies in the hands of the locals that cook it.
When in homestays, they offer some amazing and unique food, with the flavorsome taste of Ladakh and Tibet. But majorly the cuisine that dominates this place is Balti cuisine.
While the presentation of the food will be decorated with tons of apricot and apples. It is what makes the food texture, look, and taste immensely mesmerizing.
Basically one can say that apricot and walnut are the major ingredients that they put it in, in almost every cuisine.
Cuisines to try
You will be in love with the food offered here, it is definitely far different than what you have at other places in the Ladakh region.
Dishes that you must taste when in Turtuk Leh are Zan with Tsamig, Kissir with Grangtur, Brakoo & Muskat.
These dishes will leave you speechless, blended with walnut, yogurt, almond, fruits, and buckwheat.
The richness in the flavors, the friendliness of the Turtuk Ladakh people, everything just adds to the greatness of this trip, which you will remember for years to come.
Things to do in Turtuk Nubra Valley
Source: rajeevrajagopalan – Under Creative Commons license
1: Apricot and Walnut farms
Turtuk Leh, being the last northernmost village in Ladakh has managed to become the largest apricot producing village in the whole Ladakh region.
It is quite evident, as you can see their major ingredient in any cuisine is apricot.
Through this, you will see the oasis of green patch throughout the village, as it is the extensive labor work around the year for villagers as harvesting.
Visiting Turtuk and not experiencing their grand apricot and walnut farm will be a wasted trip. The incredibility of the locals is such that they will offer you to have some without you asking.
This is not merely because the production of apricot and walnut is in plenty. Locals of Turtuk Ladakh respect tourism and the tourists and they feel blessed to have visitors to witness the place, as the place is very remote.
You will definitely have a great time spent in between the apricot & walnut farms, having some, while plucking a few too. All this adds to the crazy activities to do in Turtuk Leh.
2: Natural Cold Storage
Another very popular spot to visit in this last village is Natural cold storage. The interesting thing about this place is, all villagers keep their perishable product in hollows which are naturally cold, thus named as “natural cold storage”
It is an underground glacial stream, that keeps the room children throughout the year, thus stocking perishable seems to be a lot easy.
In the Balti language, a cold house is said to be “nangchung” which are basically stone bunkers, that are designed with spaces and gaps, allowing cold air to flow in through it.
This results in the good, perishable being cooler than the temperature outside.
This natural refrigerator is a lot helpful especially at the time of the summer. In the summer, the temperature is very hot, resulting in perishable and other products to rot and stink.
Thus stocking perishable becomes quick and simple with this natural cold storage in Turtuk Nubra Valley.
3: Polo Ground
Source: rajeevrajagopalan – Under Creative Commons license
Polo is a great game, especially loved by the younger generation. But what’s unique about the historic polo ground of Turtuk Ladakh?
It is a 16th-century polo ground build in a traditional way. The game of polo was played vastly in the cultural region of Baltistan.
Turtuk shares the same passion and interest of Polo just like the rest of the valley. If you visit at a time when you are lucky, you might see a villager playing a game on the ground.
If you are even luckier, you might get a chance to play your heart out in the ground, because the villagers are pretty friendly.
4: Brokpa Fort
You will feel like you’re time traveling to the past as you witness Brokpa fort, which gives you a feel of the Yagbo royalty and how they lived.
Brokpas are basically said to be the nomadic tribe of the Ladakh India region. The forts that are built by the Brokpa tribes are still found, in the same condition as it was dated back to 500 years.
5: Water Mill
A simple, iconic, and greek styled water mill will remind you of the old good times of the destination. It will give you the idea of how the local people lived back then in a remote location.
This water mill is pretty unique, and it is the same as it was earlier. Witnesses the yesteryear while visiting this particular mill at Turtuk Ladakh.
6: Mosque, Balti Heritage House, Monastery
Source: enygmatic – Under Creative Commons license
We all have a typical image of mosques in our head, but this mosque is nowhere near to the image you have about a mosque, this is surreal, different, and unique in its own way.
It has got great wood carving on the ceiling, with a mixture of different cultures. The Turtuk’s mosque will reflect important cultures in its appearance, with the Buddhist pattern and the Iranis design in it.
The mosque is a sight to behold, with wood carvings of the medieval time as believed. It has been renovated as and when to keep it intact, fresh and pure.
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Trekking to a waterfall, at the northernmost last village in India? Sounds like a dream isn’t it? This trek will take you to height and show you some breathtaking sights.
Towards the origin of the waterfall lies the spot where your heart will start pumping, but your soul will soak fresh air.
The view from the top can’t be described in words, it is like you see something that can only be felt.
If clear skies and good weather is when you visit this destination, one can even spot the K-2 second highest peak in the world.
This miraculous place and the mighty twist and edges will leave you speechless. However, this is an ideal spot for adventure seekers, who have got the only intention to behold challenges.
It is a three hours climb probably, all the more depends upon your speed and how well you have the stamina to climb.
At some point, you will see yourself literally hugging the mountain, as the roads are way too narrow.
8: Old school
School is all the same, you may say, but not the one we are talking about here. There is an old school in Tyakshi village which is near Turtuk, it is pretty unique with the history that depicts it.
It was built by Pakistan before the war occurred and when there was no separation. However, after the 1971 war, India took control of the location, and now it is run by India.
It was operated for about 8 years by Pakistani, until the war and then came under the control of India.
9: India Pakistan Border
Earlier from 1947 to 1971, Turtuk was under Pakistani occupation. Later, after the war of Indo-Pakistan, which held in 1971, the place was annexed back to India.
Probably these are the tales you will hear when you visit this place and talk to the local villages, especially senior citizens. These tales will make you want to witness the Indo Pakistan border and it is a must to visit spot indeed.
You will see the border while on a visit to Turtuk, although the border is sealed and strict control is maintained.
But one thing is sure, now the place has been a lot calmer since Turtuk became accessible to tourists in the year 2010.
If you are looking for a hospital or medical center, medical store in Turtuk Nubra Valley, you will find one at Chutang., near the village It is a public health center which will be a great use if there is an emergency or health issues,
In fact, Bogdang, a place near Turtuk also has a hospital if ever needed during your journey to the village. All the more it is always advisable to carry a medical kit on your journey to Leh Ladakh tourism.
The fluctuations of altitude change, mountain sickness are very common amongst tourists, so you cant always look for a medical shop in an emergency.
Mobile Connectivity and Internet
Being at a remote location in Turtuk village, you need not have to think of internet connection or even mobile networks for that matter at Turtuk Ladakh. It is possible to get a network, but not on a regular basis.
The villagers have made a whole new world in themselves and they are not connected through any means with the world. This is a great example of no connectivity to the world outside the village.
So if you are genuinely planning to keep your family, friends back at home updated, provide them a plan of your Ladakh itinerary. However, there is a “friends cafe” in Turtuk, which has some ways to provide you internet.
Although Ladakh has good BSNL as well as Airtel connection, the isolation and remoteness of the village don’t give you much of a chance to call or use the internet.
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Petrol Pump & ATM
While on your route from KhardungLa to Diskit & Hunder, towards the last village Turtuk, you get a petrol pump option available only at Diskit.
So before you embark upon a journey from Leh, it is better that you fuel your petrol fully.
Do not rely on Diskit petrol availability, as it is intermittently stocked. The ideal way is to carry some extra petrol along with you.
You will find a few local shops selling petrol, so do not think it is best to buy from them, as the quality is very low. It is good only when you have no other option than this.
Useful Information about Turtuk
Permits for Turtuk
As the place is sensitive, there are lots of armies around, so the movement in the village is pretty restricted, and not given full freedom.
In such instances, Indians, as well as foreigners, have to show a permit to enter Turtuk. It can be obtained online from the official website, or it can be gained through the DC office in Leh.
It cost hardly a few bucks that also include the cost for the environment, for Red cross duns and around 20 rupees per day per person for Indians.
Total it is about 420 Rupees only, and the permit for Indian is said to be ILP Inner line permit.
For a foreigner, the permit is different, as said to be protected area permits. Although, it is best not to rely on the internet to collect permits, visit the DC office of Leh, and get one.
Also ensure that you have taken multiple copies of the permit, as there are many places that will seek a permit in Leh Ladakh tourism. So do not rely only on the original one.
Tips to visit Turtuk
- Electricity in Turtuk is available during a particular slot of time, which is probably around 7 pm to 11 PM. Hence it is best to keep your phone charged fully, before embarking upon the journey.
- BSNL and postpaid connection work, but very rare in Turtuk, so make sure you have informed your family earlier.
- Turtuk has recently opened for tourists, which is why it is important to respect the locals as they are very unfamiliar about the outside world. It is best if you dress modestly, do wear full clothes and it is advisable for both men and women.
- Turtuk area is still sensitive, although now it is calm, army people will be seen almost everywhere, so if you have any trouble, you can definitely seek help from them.
- It is essentially important to hydrate yourself regularly, so do carry your own bottle and some snacks along.
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The Last Village Of India: Turtuk, a must to visit!
Like the Leh Ladakh region, Turtuk is indeed one of the most beautiful places with all the beauty, scenic views, routes that are breathtaking.
It will give you an experience of the old charm of Baltistan, their warm, lovable hospitality will please you and make you feel like you are at your home.
The past, its sweetness, unique flavors, and the sensitivity,y of the spot, all sums up to make this place an ideal destination to visit. Although it is remote, it is an enigma in itself.
If you doneLadakh tourism recently and want to share your crazy adventurous experience with us, do not forget to drop your stories in the comment section.
We would love to know your side of the story of this beautiful Turyuk village.
After reading this article, do you wish to explore Turtuk and Ladakh?
IF yes, what is the most interesting part about the Turtuk village you liked the most?
Drop your views in the comment section. We will be waiting to hear it from you.