After a hectic day crossing the World’s highest motorable road, waking up early in quaint village of Diskit in Nubra Valley was a tough ask. I woke up around 6.30 am to a cloudy sky overlooking the ‘Photang’ Buddha statue of the Diskit monastery. Our group met up at around 7 am and headed towards north to the last Indian village, Turtuk. This village came under Indian control only in the early 1970s. Turtuk, the northernmost village of India was home to few hundred families of Baltic origin, and was previously ruled by the kings of Chorbat dynasty of Central Asia. Surprising we met one of the descendants.
The Drive :
The drive to Turtuk was through a highly secured military area and photography was prohibited in most parts of the 90 km distance along the Shyok river. It was very cloudy and had started drizzling as soon as we crossed the village of Hunder. At the check post we came across some army personnel who was excited after looking at our number plated- UP-65 (Varanasi) and UP-70 (Allahabad). He belonged to Bhadohi which was in close proximity to Allahabad. We crossed a few villages with scarce. After driving 30 km, a traffic jam halted our progress. As I walked ahead, I saw a Bofors tank stuck in a very narrow stretch of road. The sheer size of the gun had send chills across our spines. They are supposed to fire upto a distance of 35-40 km. Isn’t that cool!! The gigantic Russian made truck carrying the gun had had wheels taller than me. After the block cleared we reached Turtuk at around 12 pm and headed straight to an eatery for brunch. Maggie and tea was order and we had to take of all our wet gear to dry them. I went out and met some locals who were very friendly and interacted happily. They happily posed for some photographs and selfies. I was excited to see a functioning primary health centre in this remote village. Villagers were very optimistic about development of tourism.
Exploring the Museum:
We headed to the museum through the village trail. The local children guided us all the way. The 400 year old ‘museum’ as told by the locals was once a palace of king of Yakbo dynasty which later had become an army garrison during war period. Now the descendent of the Chorbat dynasty stays in a part of the house and a room had been converted in to a museum for tourists. We entered the museum after waiting for 15 minutes in the drizzling rain. The host greeted us and requested us to sit. Kacho Mohammad Khan, in his early sixties was using a unique walking stick which had a distinctive snake shaped head with stone studded on it. He explained the flow chart of the Kingdom painted on the wall, history of the dynasty, wars and the present scenarios. He also showed us through some old antiques preserved in that room. At last I keenly asked him why was he so passionate and interested in the history of this dynasty while a majority of the people in Turtuk were not even aware of the presence of a museum in their village. He laughed and pointed out his name on the wall. He was one of the descendants of the Yabgo Chhorbat dynasty. We took pictures with the King and headed out. It was 2.30 pm. While returning back to our bike we explored a wooden bridge and streams passing along the village. The kids guiding us all the way were extremely happily when I gave them chocolates from a local shop. We bid good bye to “Northernmost village of India”.
The return journey was uneventful except the Royal Enfield DS slamming a road side rock wall in a steep bend. Thankfully no one was hurt. We returned back to Diskit hotel and relaxed in the evening.