While at Leh Ladakh - my dear driver was very keen on showing me the Turtuk Village “Sir Ji, Turtuk village was taken over from Pakistan by the Indian Army in the 1971 war, it is something we show to all travellers who come here" he mentioned with intensity as we moved along the rocky high ground of the valley. I could see children playing on the side of the road and woman carrying manure and wood on their back at a distance. It was a fascinating village with zig zag bylanes and water flowing into open canals from the nearby streams. I became friends with an old man called Khan Chacha who was my guide for the day.
He took me to his house made out of stones and iron canopies. Then we walked to see the village library and a fascinating museum. This museum had swords, guns and bows and arrows. According to the legend, it used to be a vantage point for the Pakistan army and they used it as a “chavni.” until the owner Sumeer Khan won it back from the Pakistanis and converted it into a museum. I then prayed in the local mosque which was incidentally called the Jama Masjid by the locals. Khan Chacha was fascinated by my stories of Bollywood and that I had worked with Shah Rukh Khan.
We meandered to the local Mukhtar Restaurant for a meal of rice and chicken which was just for Rs 100. Khan Chacha took my address in Delhi and my phone number. "I will see you soon in Delhi sir, it will me very nice to meet you again.” with a shake of the hand, I bid him farewell and headed off to my base camp. My tent was ready and so was my dinner of dal, cabbage and rice. The quality of the food in this region is not very good, but one must eat to recoup all the lost energy. Next morning, I was woken up by the local tent boy who served me tea and asked if I wanted some hot water for a bath. To which I duly declined and I mean a cold water bath is what I was looking for to wake me up and get the blood circulation going.
It was back in my jeep again as we headed towards the Nubra Valley where I took a dump in the open amongst thorn bushes and wild cattle to give me company. Believe me, this was the most arduous call of nature I have undertaken. It reminded me of my childhood days in Welham Boys when we all went camping and had to go out into the jungle to take a crap.
With my stomach still gurgling, I went back to my jeep. In an hour or so, we reached the Panamik Hot Spring. This spring is known for its medicinal properties. I took off my clothes and jumped right in, then after a few minutes of playing, about two ladies entered and saw me take a royal bath. To my horror, I realised that I was having my medicinal bath in the woman’s section of the spring but by now it was too late. I continued my bath nonchalantly as if unaware of my circumstances. I realised that I had been misdirected by the arrows and signs on the wall. Never the less, it felt good and I settled down for lunch slightly later all bathed up and which comprised of vegetable MOMOs with chutney and tea which I merrily chafed with the locals. This region is mainly vegetarian and the other thing that is difficult to find are cigarettes, you can only get them in the local army shops and nowhere else.
Originally posted on TikkusTravelthon.in