The terrain to Turtuk is a swirly mountain road that descends into a valley abruptly. From then on, the road is dotted with sea buckthorn bushes in full bloom with pale, shiny yellow fruits. Turtuk is lush with vegetation. Agriculture is in its full splendor during the summer months with a local variety of wheat in full bloom. Patches of vegetables including cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, carrots, and greens are cultivated and stored for the long and hard winter. Apricot trees border every house's fencing and are pregnant with ripe, yellow-orange fruits. Shake one and more than a handful of these fruits rain down in soft thuds. Apple trees are in plenty while walnut trees sport green, unripe fruits. The locals would dry up the mature fruits to wield crispy walnuts.
The mighty Sahyok River roars past Turtuk, the only thing in the village that is noisy and brash. Sahyok's waters are further augmented by the countless little streams originating from the (melting of) Himalayas glaciers. One such gushing glacier-stream cuts across Turtuk, dividing the village into two. “There are about 600 families in total, 300 on either side of the river,”, a local, tells. Life in the village is rather tranquil and for a population of 600 families, it's oddly free of the bustle.
Staying here has its own charm and gala to happen. Imagine the sound of chirping birds, and green views with sky dating mountains right across the windows.
At NotOnMap house you will feel just like home and a home in this village of 600 families is a must thing to do.
All the rooms are airy and spacious. There are 2 clean sharing bathrooms. In addition, there is a lively communal sitting area and a rooftop whose 360-degree panoramic view is among the best you’ll find in this small quintiles village.
The food is served in a community-style kitchen where everyone gathers around and eats their food.
Balti food is something you shouldn't shy away from, the local bread, apricot Jam is something to crave for. Don’t ask for fancy food as we love our guest’s who appreciate our host families. Remember; to see the best of a place, live as the locals do.
It can be extremely pleasurable to walk around this picturesque village. The village is traditionally divided into three areas -
Chutang - the lower portion of the village, located along the bank of the Shyok river. Most families living in the other two areas of Turtuk move down to Chutang during the winter season.
Yul - the oldest area of the village. Home to the older of the two mosques located in Turtuk.
Farol - the area where most NotOnMap Houses and the old monastery are located. Located across the bridge from Yul.
The residents of Yul and Chutang are primarily Suni and Muwahhid('Wahabi') Muslims, while those residing in Farol are mostly Sufis.
ABOUT THE HOST-
The community here has culturally evolved and is predominantly a Muslim region.
So much so, that one spots beautiful Gompas in this predominantly Muslim region. In fact, Turtuk’s Mosque reflects the symbolism of a delicate combination of Swastikas, Buddhist patterns, and Iranian designs.
Here, the residents are extremely friendly and cherish the visitors of their lands. But, no matter how uncertain they might be of governments and politics, one thing is for certain – most credit development of the region to budding tourism.
PLACES TO VISIT/ AROUND THE STAY-
Turtuk is located at a distance of 220 km 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 mesmerizing 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.