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Shyok Valley Road
After a few hours on the road we came across the Shyok River flowing parallel to the road. The surroundings became dusty and sandy and it seemed like we came far away from the familiar rocky terrain of Ladakh. I was spell-bound with views of huge mountains of sand and rock with the Shyok river flowing in the valley.
Turtuk VillageTurtuk village one of the farthest points on the Indian map, was in Pakistan till it was recaptured in 1972. Unseen by tourists till very recently, it is a virgin destination of peace loving people, allowing for great interaction with a tribal community of Ladakh. Move on from Buddhists, Turtuk brings to you the local tribe of Balti Muslims. The language changed from Ladakhi to Balti & so did the features – from the more ‘chinky’ looks to the wide eyed, rosy cheeked Pakistani-Muslim looks.Climbing over rocks, hopping across mini streams & waterfalls, crossing down a hanging bridge & walking through vast expanse of farmlands, we trekked through the village to witness the most vibrant colours, locals, children & sceneries of Turtuk.Dotted with apricot trees, the Turtuk village is divided by a small brook into two villages – Yool & Farool, one a Shia & the other a Sunni village, coexisting in perfect harmony. We visited the 300 year old mosque, strolled around the polo ground, spotted the Indian & Pakistani bunkers far far away on the mountain tops & even got a glimpse of the K2 peak as we ambled along.Despite being in one of the corners of the country, Turtuk had schools & children were seen rushing around for their classes – not before flashing a radiant smile & agreeing to pose for every tourist passing by. The children were a delight to photograph – their smiles, possibly even sweeter than the apricots!Apart from apricots, Turtuk is famous for buckwheat that is locally grown. After savouring some buckwheat dosas for breakfast, we started our journey back to Leh, on the way stopping at the Diskit monastery famous for its impressive 106 feet tall, tastefully & colourfully painted statue of Maitreya Buddha facing down the Shyok river towards Pakistan.