Like any travel lover, Ladakh has always been one of my favourite places to go to. Despite of the many times I have been to the land of Lamas, I always happen to end up on a road or a village or a lake that I have never been to before and I realise exactly why this land beckons me. I visit Ladakh every year, sometimes exploring its rugged roads with my metal horse, crossing all the high passes. riding in between those arid mountains from sunrise to sunset; sometimes as a trekker, climbing different peaks to satisfy my thirst for high summits (while the Stok- Kangri almost gave me AMS, I survived -35 degrees on the Chadar trek after jumping in the frozen river) and sometimes, as a backpacker, I have hitch-hiked around and across Ladakh, I have camped at every possible place and I have had experiences many things that a tourist never will. While the place remains the same, every experience is unique in its own way and after all the unique experience I have had, my heart dwells with one, i.e. the experience of isolation in the Nubra valley.
Nubra Valley (Pic Credits: Amrutesh)
After crossing Khardungla pass and experiencing the soft touch of snow as it fell on my numb hands, I drifted away towards Nubra valley. After crossing rocky roads and beaten dirt tracks (which gave me a very rad feel by the way), I finally reached Nubra and in an instance, my heart smiled. Okay now, how to say something about this place that does justice to its grandeur. This deeply cut dessert valley with its small scattered oasis villages stole my heart and my breath. The scree landscape and harsh cold, lay as a stark contrast to the constant ribbon like river that runs through the valley and soon as I stepped foot on its arid sand, I decided to stay for at least a week. I took a bed at Diskit for a night, and walked until Hunder to see the sand dunes and the double-humped camels. After slipping and sliding in the soft sand, I hitchhiked my way back to Diskit and went to a peaceful monastery. I spent the entire evening, looking at the brown-purple mountains, the rich sky, and the drifting clouds. But, I was sure that this valley has much more than what meets the eyes. I decided to explore the quiet, quaint and less commercial villages of the valley. With every passing day, I found myself hitch-hiking or walking towards different villages to travel un-traveled lands and seek unique experiences. After going through villages of Sumur and Panamic (which surprisingly had hardly any tourists even during the peak season) my heart found solace in Tur-Tuk.
People in Hundar
Lying on the banks of Shyok river, Tur- Tuk is the last human establishment in India towards the Indo-Pakistan border. The village is highly secluded, sensitive and military dominant as just 10 km away, lies the LOC; giving you the chills already? I won’t be surprised if your answer is a yes. The village which is a gateway for the Siachen Glacier was opened for general public in 2010 and hence, remains a hidden jewel in Ladakh’s crown of to-go places. To write about Tur-Tuk feels like exposing a well-kept secret, a mystic land most people don’t know exists yet it leaves an impact that needs to be shared and experienced. Knowing I was so close to the LOC and on the route to the Siachen Glacier, gave me goosebumps and yet, there serenity made me calm and ignorant to the hustle of the world outside the village. I spend 2 nights engrossed in poetry and had the experience of a lifetime.
So, if you find yourself in Ladakh, take out some time from your busy itinerary and explore the unexplored because how else will you become a part of the untold?