Land of Baltic People, Shyok Valley, and Khardungla | Guide to explore Turtuk

Please read part one, two and three before reading this blog

Part 1: Packing for an epic Leh and, Ladakh trip (opens in a new tab)
Part 2: Manali to Leh Roadtrip (opens in a new tab)
Part 3: Exploring Leh, the touristy way (opens in a new tab)
Part 4: Land of Baltic People, Turtuk (opens in a new tab)
Part 5:
Nubra – The Cold Desert of India (opens in a new tab)
Part 6: Coming soon


Say Julley, when you are happy.
Say Julley, when you are meeting people.
Say Julley, when you are welcoming someone.
Say Julley, to thank someone.
Say Julley when you are mesmerized.
Say Julley, to wish – good night and good morning.

Julley is a magical word, sometimes a sentence or a story. It is used by locals of Ladakh, Buddhists, and the people of Himachal. So, whenever you meet any one of them then say Julley! 🙂

Last night, we booked a shared taxi with a couple. At 8:30 AM IST, we had breakfast at Punjabi Tadka. The breakfast was fresh and hot, we would have eaten an extra paratha but we had a long journey ahead through high mountain passes so we avoided it. There was traffic in Leh city but once we crossed the city to drive up on mountains, the drive was smooth. The roads were in good condition with the most amazing views.

Spectacular view of snow-capped mountains from the road.
We drove through those roads to reach Khardungla

En route to Khardungla pass, we learned a few things about our co-travelers and driver bhaiya. We were fortunate to travel with an ex-army (driver bhaiya who loves driving on these roads ), a guy(Tony) from the Indian navy, and a girl(Vinni) who works in Mumbai and visited Leh to participate in a high altitude 30 km run.

Curious tourist at the famous Khardungla pass.

Important: Due to lack of oxygen, some people might face difficulty in breathing. In this case, go back to the car and take a rest. If you still don’t feel fine then inform your friends and driver(being localities, he will be able to guide you). Also, please read the guidelines to deal with AMS.

Khardungla pass located at an altitude of 18,379 ft (5602 m) above sea level is the second highest motorable road. This famous high mountain pass milestone was flooded with people waiting for selfies. Within a few minutes, we left the idea of waiting near the milestone for a photo and walked on the road for a few minutes. Walking a few steps was equivalent to jogging a kilometer. I wondered about the fitness level required for the high-altitude run.

As we crossed Khardungla, the condition of the road deteriorated due to ongoing road construction. At the construction site, workers were working hard under the rays of the scorching Sun and in presence of a lot of dust. Because of them, our journey is effortless and memorable in the mountains. Kudos to them!

We had taken a nap in the car. We had given a copy of the permits to driver bhaiya and he got it verified at the check post. We drove on the most gorgeous and picturesque roads of Nubra valley to reach Turtuk.

k Shyok Valley

Bhaiya decided to meet his friends and we had taken a random stop at the Siachen Warriors memorial. It was not a part of the itinerary but we head out of the car to see the valley. All of us rented electric bicycles and explored the place. Living indoors in extreme weather of the valley was a thought miles away, I could hardly process the idea of going out in glaciers and fighting for the country. The warriors of our country are born with tremendous courage.

Flying high tricolor at the hall of fame can give goosebumps to any tourist. A warrior also showcased the devices, stories, and life of the Siachen warriors.

First ride on an electric bicycle, that too with such views!
Siachen warriors.
Our warriors!

Driver bhaiya drove carefully on narrow roads, keeping an eye on the scree slopes and mountains with gravels. The mountains in Nubra valley are prone to landslides especially if it’s windy. It is always better to travel with a proficient driver who drove hundred times on the same route. Also, he was well informed about storms and recent landslides. If you are driving on your own then take extra precautions on this route.

A green patch and village amidst the desert

It was near dusk the sky was growing magical, and the stiff breeze blew through hairs and took away intolerable heat. We drove on mountain roads to reach Turtuk, a small village located on the bank of the Shyok river and home to the Baltic people. Bhaiya parked the car near the bridge as we waited for a message from the host.

The view from the famous green bridge of Turtuk.

We had wholesome food in dinner and had a good night sleep. On waking up, we head out to explore Turtuk!

Dinner at Appricot Guest House
Reaching Turtuk

We walked near the bridge and the river, little kids were dressed up, and offered fryums. As we walked a few more steps, a little girl also offered us the same.
Then we realized it was Eid! The villagers were in joyful mood.

The window of our room

What to do in Turtuk?

  • Get to know about the Yagbo dynasty at the Yuthok museum.
  • Natural cold storage of the village.
  • Go hiking to a hidden waterfall with the help of a local guide.
  • Buy dehydrated apricots and other local food items.
  • With the permission of locals, pluck apricots.
  • Go for a morning stroll in the village.
  • Hike to the monastery to see an aerial view of Turtuk.
  • Visit Thang village near LOC.
  • Take a walk along the river.
  • Spot K-2 from the monastery.
The museum

The young prince of the Turtuk is a knowledgeable and kind person, we spent around an hour talking about the history of this place and its people. He is available at the vacation home to share stories and details of the palace.

With the young prince of Turtuk.
House-made up of stones, wood, and cement.

Important things for the Turtuk trip?

Turtuk is a small village where you will see a different culture, people, and lifestyle. The people of Turtuk are very friendly and kind, and one should follow a few things in Turtuk.

  • You can click anything you want but please take permission before clicking pictures of locals and kids.
  • Don’t play loud music while walking in the village.
  • The people of Turtuk are conservative in nature and respect the local culture.
  • Don’t wash anything in the water running across the village as the water is used for drinking and cooking purposes.
  • Ask for permission before entering any house.
Curious kids are greeting tourists from a window.

Where to stay and eat in Turtuk?

A cafe near the bridge

We wanted to stay with locals, but most homestays are converted into guest houses. For Turtuk, our co-travelers have made a booking at Appricot Villa so we haven’t put any effort into finding a place to stay. The rooms were decent and the host was very helpful. The cost of accommodation including food was INR 2000/- for a couple. Also, this fare varies with the tourist season.

Some other options are Turtuk Holiday Resort, Hotel Duktuk, and Ashoor Guest House.


For us, food was included in the package. Most of the accommodations provide a farm-to-table experience so no need to worry. Otherwise, you can eat at a café located near the bridge.

Best time to visit Turtuk?

During our morning walk.

You can visit Turtuk anytime between May to October which is also tourist season. Plan in June to see the village full of apricots. During winters, Turtuk is inaccessible on some days due to heavy snowfall at Khardungla pass.

Published by Shilpa Mandara

Exploring heavenly earth :)

3 thoughts on “Land of Baltic People, Shyok Valley, and Khardungla | Guide to explore Turtuk

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