Turtuk: The last undiscovered place in Leh-Ladakh

A few years ago, Leh-Ladakh was a place that only the hardiest and most adventurous of tourists visited. It’s harsh terrain and weather deterred many a prospective visitor and it was generally the road trip enthusiasts, with their trusty Royal Enfields, who ventured deep into this cold desert. But times have changed now and with the popularity of Ladakh as a tourist destination seeing a steady incline, people are frequenting this region in numbers larger than ever seen before. As expected, the once serene and unexplored region has now been thoroughly traversed and almost every town, village, and lake has been documented by the thousands who visit ever year. This is an issue for those of us who like to travel to unexplored and un-commercialised destinations. But fret not, there are still a few hidden gems in this beautiful part of the country and one of them is the town of Turtuk.

Turtuk Shyok RIver

Turtuk is a beautiful village in the Nubra Valley of Leh district that lies on the banks of the Shyok river and boasts of greenery the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else in the region. The abundance of flora in this region, especially the apricot trees, exists because it lies at a lower altitude as compared to the rest of Nubra Valley.

Turtuk has remained unexplored for so long  because tourists were first granted permission to visit it a little over 2 years ago. A small history lesson helps explain the reason behind this: Turtuk was part of Baltistan and then became a part of Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947. It was after the war of 1971 that India reclaimed this region once again and since its proximity to the LOC in Kashmir, the prevalent tensions between the two countries prevented any possibility of tourists in the area. Now however, people are finally being permitted to visit this beautiful place which also happens to be the northernmost village in India and the only place in the country where the Balti culture is still prevalent.

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The people of Turtuk are extremely hospitable and love interacting with visitors. You can stay in one of the homestays in the village or one of the few camping sites around it. Turtuk is one of the last unexplored places in Leh-Ladakh and is undoubtedly the best place to go if you want to escape the tourist crowd and witness a sight that not a lot of people have had the privilege of seeing.

Best time to visit Turtuk:

Turtuk greenery

The winter months from December to March usher in cold weather and snowfall is a common occurrence.

It starts to get warmer in April, and May to September is the best time to visit this quaint village. But regardless of when you go here, you won’t find too many travelers and you can enjoy the stunning views of Shyok River and the Nubra Valley in peace.

Reaching Turtuk:

Turtuk Shyok River

Turtuk is located at a distance of 220 kms from Leh and as with everywhere in Ladakh, the easiest way to reach it is if you’re riding a bike. The journey will take you through the towns of Khardung and Diskit (shared taxis ply till here). Beyond Diskit, you have to take public buses which are infrequent and time-consuming. The road from Diskit to Turtuk goes past the mesmerising sand dunes of Hunder and then it goes alongside the River Shyok (“The River of Death”) which has the clearest turquoise blue waters you’ll ever see.

(Also Read: The most beautiful lakes in Ladakh)

If you’re planning a trip to Leh-Ladakh and are worried about travelling, you can always rent a bike from Wheelstreet. We offer bikes in excellent condition which have been prepared for such a long journey at the most attractive rates you’ll find. You can even rent the Royal Enfield Himalayan which was specially designed for the terrain you will encounter here. Visit our website – Wheelstreet to known more. Happy Exploring!

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