Did You Know About The 140-Year-Old Museum In Turtuk, Ladakh?

The Museum in Turtuk aims to safeguard the long-standing Baltic culture in India
A Balti woman carrying her son
A Balti woman carrying her sonStorm Is Me / Shutterstock.com

Located in India's extreme north, Turtuk is a small village along the twisting Shyok River that goes through the Nubra Valley, surrounded by the towering Karakoram mountains. Although still among lesser-known places in Ladakh, the Turtuk area is an important location as it's the last outpost of India in the north before reaching the LoC, about 15 km away, where Pakistan administered Gilgit-Baltistan begins.

Turtuk was also part of the ancient Silk Route, and its Muslim inhabitants belong to the Balti people, now spread on both sides of the LoC in the Baltistan region. The Balti people are an ethnic group residing in India and Pakistan's Karakoram and Himalaya regions. In order to commemorate their culture, the Balti people sought to erect a museum in Balti style to preserve their cultural artefacts for future generations to see.

Inside the Museum

The Balti Heritage House and Museum is a 140-year-old plain white building constructed in the classic Balti style. A family runs the museum, and is actually someone's house built into a museum. Belonging to the Ashoor family, the house was constructed in the 19th century, but the idea of setting up a museum inside came much later.

The museum displays traditional clothes, including winter clothing made mostly of wool and some made of sheepskin and fur, that are very old, some dating back to almost 400 years, and have been passed down through generations. The museum is also home to various pots and old cooking vessels that now serve as artefacts.

The museum itself is considered a Balti architectural marvel. It is a combination of wooden and stone carvings.

Turtuk village, Ladakh
Turtuk village, LadakhShutterstock

About Turtuk Village

Turtuk village has much to offer visitors, from exploring picturesque narrow lanes to witnessing the remains of a centuries-old settlement in the nearby Yagbo Ancient Village. The village is adorned with beautiful gardens and traditional stone houses. The Turtuk Waterfall is also a popular spot that can be reached after a short hike to the small lake beside the waterfalls. The Monastery of Diskit is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley, offering panoramic views of the valley and housing a 32-meter-tall statue of Maitreya Buddha.

Getting There

To reach Turtuk, visitors can fly to Leh from Delhi on one of many domestic airlines that serve the route. From there, a private cab can be booked from the Leh taxi stand to reach Turtuk, which is 203 km away. The Balti Heritage House and Museum is located on the Farol side of Turtuk and can be reached on foot.

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