Turtuk: Immersing in History and Culture of India’s Last Village

Ladakh, the land of high passes, rugged terrain, and serene monasteries, is undoubtedly one of the most captivating destinations in India. While it has no dearth of breathtaking landscapes and awe-inspiring attractions, there’s one hidden gem that remains relatively unknown to most travelers – the charming Turtuk Village. Situated in the Nubra Valley, Turtuk is a small hamlet that offers an offbeat and authentic Ladakhi experience, unlike any other place in the region.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the captivating world of Turtuk and explore its history, culture, and natural beauty. From the village’s remote location to its unique customs and traditions, we’ll unravel the many mysteries that make Turtuk a must-visit destination for any traveler seeking a truly immersive experience.

Location and Access

Located about 205 km from the city of Leh, Turtuk is a remote village that sits on the banks of the Shyok River, a tributary of the Indus River. To get to Turtuk, one must first travel to Leh, the capital of Ladakh, and then embark on a scenic journey to Nubra Valley. The journey takes around 6-7 hours, and the road passes through some of the highest motorable passes in the world, such as Khardung La and the Chang La.

Once in Nubra Valley, Turtuk is just 90 km away from the town of Diskit. The road to Turtuk is relatively smooth and passes through some stunning landscapes, including rocky mountains, lush green valleys, and vast sand dunes. The last leg of the journey to Turtuk involves crossing a narrow wooden bridge over the Shyok River, which can be a bit intimidating for some travelers.

History and Culture

Turtuk has a fascinating history that sets it apart from other villages in Ladakh. Until 1971, Turtuk was a part of Baltistan, a region that is now a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. After the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, Turtuk was annexed by the Indian army, and the village has since remained a part of India.

The village’s unique history is reflected in its culture and customs, which bear a striking resemblance to those of Baltistan. The people of Turtuk are predominantly Muslim, and their way of life is deeply influenced by their Balti heritage. The village has a distinct language, Balti, which is different from the Ladakhi language spoken in other parts of Ladakh.

Turtuk is also known for its apricot orchards, which are a significant source of income for the villagers. The apricots grown in Turtuk are famous for their sweetness and are used to make a variety of local delicacies, including apricot jam and apricot oil.

Places to Visit in Turtuk

Despite its small size, Turtuk has no shortage of attractions for travelers to explore. Here are some of the must-visit places in the village:

  1. Royal Palace: The royal palace in Turtuk is a historic monument that dates back to the 16th century. The palace, which is made of stone and wood, has a distinctive architecture that reflects a blend of Balti and Tibetan styles.
  2. Mosque: Turtuk has a beautiful mosque, which is one of the largest and oldest in the region. The mosque has a unique design that reflects the local Balti architecture and is adorned with intricate wood carvings and paintings.
  3. Thang Village: Thang is a small village that is located about 2 kilometers from Turtuk and is known for its stunning natural beauty. The village is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lush green fields, and gurgling streams. It’s a popular spot for trekking and camping, and travelers can experience the local way of life by staying in homestays in the village.
  1. Yagbo Gompa: Yagbo Gompa is a small monastery that is located on a hilltop overlooking Turtuk. The monastery, which is believed to have been built in the 16th century, has a peaceful and serene atmosphere and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
  2. Turtuk Waterfall: The Turtuk Waterfall is a picturesque waterfall that is located about 4 kilometers from the village. The waterfall is a popular spot for picnics and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  3. Cultural Exchange: One of the most unique experiences that travelers can have in Turtuk is to engage in a cultural exchange with the locals. The people of Turtuk are known for their hospitality and are always willing to share their customs and traditions with visitors. Travelers can learn about the local way of life, try their hand at traditional crafts, and sample local delicacies.

Best Time to Visit Turtuk

The best time to visit Turtuk is during the summer months, from May to September, when the weather is mild and pleasant. During this time, the village is in full bloom, and the surrounding landscapes are lush and green. However, travelers should be prepared for occasional rain and thunderstorms during this time.

During the winter months, from October to March, the village is covered in snow, and the temperatures can drop to sub-zero levels. While the snow-covered landscape is beautiful, travel during this time can be challenging due to the harsh weather conditions.

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FAQs About Turtuk village

Q: Where is Turtuk village located?

A: Turtuk village is located in the Leh district of Ladakh, India. It is situated close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and is the northernmost village of India.

Q: What is unique about Turtuk village?

A: Turtuk village is unique because of its location and culture. The village was under the control of Pakistan until 1971 and was later captured by the Indian Army during the Indo-Pak war. As a result, the village has a blend of Indian and Pakistani cultures and traditions. It is also known for its apricot orchards, breathtaking landscape, and friendly locals.

Q: How can I reach Turtuk village?

A: Turtuk village is located around 205 kilometers from Leh and can be reached by road. You can hire a taxi from Leh or take a shared taxi to Diskit and then change to another shared taxi to Turtuk. The journey takes around 7-8 hours.

Q: Do I need any special permit to visit Turtuk village?

A: Yes, visitors to Turtuk village need to obtain a special permit called the Inner Line Permit (ILP) as the village is located near the Line of Control. The permit can be obtained online or from designated offices in Leh.

Q: What are some popular tourist attractions in Turtuk village?

A: Some popular tourist attractions in Turtuk village include the Turtuk Waterfall, Yabgo Khar (the palace of the king of Turtuk), and the Balti Heritage Museum. The village is also known for its scenic beauty, apricot orchards, and friendly locals.

Q: What is the best time to visit Turtuk village?

A: The best time to visit Turtuk village is from May to September, when the weather is pleasant and the roads are open. It is advisable to avoid visiting the village during the winter months as the roads are often blocked due to heavy snowfall.


Turtuk is a hidden gem in the Himalayas that offers a unique and authentic Ladakhi experience. With its rich history, distinct culture, and stunning natural beauty, Turtuk is a must-visit destination for any traveler seeking a truly immersive experience. From exploring historic monuments to engaging in cultural exchanges with the locals, there’s something for everyone in Turtuk. So, pack your bags, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey to this enchanting village in Ladakh.

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