By Ghulam Mehdi
Tourism means travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. It means traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes (WTO, 1995). So the purpose of this definition exactly meaningful for those foreign as well as national tourist who wish to travel Turtuk area without challenging this definition Sustainable tourism is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems.(WTO,1995).
The main villages in Balti Yul are Changmar, Bogdang, Turtuk, Tyakshi and Thang. The land is irrigated and fertile, producing wheat, barley, peas, and a variety of fruits and nuts, including apples, walnuts, apricots and even a few almond trees. The inhabitants are Balti, who speak Balti, and are Sunni, Ahlehadis and Sufia Nurbakhshi.
Taxi is available for tourists regularly from Leh, which takes the people through Khardungla, Diskit, Hunder, Skuru, Bogdang and then Chulunkha before reaching Turtuk.
Alternatively roads to Turtuk via Shyok are also open during summer, when the snow has melted. The trip takes around 6 to 8 hours because of the difficult nature of the Khardungla, world highest motor–able road. Non-locals require an Inner Line Permit (obtainable in DC office, Leh town) to enter Turtuk.
The best time to visit Turtuk is from April on-wards till the end of October. The weather is relatively warm and friendly as compared to other parts of Leh. It’s relatively humid till the end of October.
The raining season in Turtuk area normally start last week of July and continues till the end of August. Any time between July and August is the perfect time to travel to Turtuk.
In Turtuk area’s Balti culture, customs, tradition, costume and Balti cuisines are the biggest attractions for visitors.
Some places to visit are Turtuk Khar at Turtuk, Silmo Restaurant at Turtuk, Buddhist Monastery at Farool Turtuk, Home-Stay at every corner of Turtuk, Amir Kabir Mosque at Tyakshi and many other interesting places. The oldest Mosque at Yul (Turtuk) was built in traditional Balti style around 300 years ago and it offers a captivating views of Balti Culture.
The Turtuk area has a population of around 4291 people (Census, 2001). Out of the five rural settlements, Bogdang and Thang are Nurbakhshi dominated villages and other three villages have a mixed population, but majority of them are Nurbakhshi. The dominance of the Nurbakhshi in each village is due to mass conversion to Islam.
Literary meaning of the names of the Villages are;
1) Turtuk means Duktuk or stay in a particular place.
2) Tyakshi means Styakse or upper reaches.
3) Bogdang means Brogrdang means depends on Nallah.
4) Thang means plain land.
5) Chulunkha means Chu lung Kha or near stream water.
The number of tourists coming to Leh has increased many times over the past few years. But the big question is, how many of them visit Turtuk.
The author is a researcher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.