Turtuk lies 85km beyond Hundar in the Shyok Valley, and was the highlight of my stay in the region.
The journey to get there is nothing but breathtaking, be prepared to endlessly stop and soak up the scenes as they unfold before you. The road valley narrows into a canyon and continues down a desolate valley, hemmed in by stark, barren slopes with no sign of habitation at all.
You then reach Turtuk, an oasis amidst the arid mountains, surrounded by rish cultivated fields and apricot orchards.
The village is set above the road, and is accessible from a footbridge at the far end.
The views from the village are amazing, the mountains act as a perfect backdrop to the terraced fields in the foreground. You can wander around the leafy village alleys, past orchards and farms, old houses, new dwellings being built, it is truly a wonderful experience.
The whole region is virgin territory, unspoiled yet by tourism (and please keep this secret to yourself, just you and me…)
The friendliness of the locals was also equally amazing, from children singing to me to one man using a water tap telling me (in great English) just how happy everyone was in the village. He didn’t stop smiling, neither did I, I knew I had come across a very special place and I was in no hurry to return to civilisation.
Once part of Pakistan, Turtuk has only been open to tourists since 2010, and came under Indian administration during the 1971 war between the two countries.
The settlement is just 15km from the Pakistan border and is part of Baltistan. Most inhabitants are Muslims, some with relatives living across the border.
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