green rivulet again

Day 8 : 16 August 2013 : Part 3 – Hunder to Turtuk

So after having a short break at the Hunder view point, we drive ahead towards Turtuk. It’s already past 1510 and we need to reach quickly since it is still 77 kms ahead and we don’t want to miss the daylight.

Too many stay options at Hunder
Hunder stay

Still 77 Kms to go
77 kms to Turtuk

So we drive ahead, though slowly, absorbing the colours and formations of the nature.

Water, pristine and green… going to merge with muddy Shyok
green rivulet

See what water and wind can do to even the mighty

Soon we cross Pratappur which is an army transit camp for Siachin. The punchline says “Home away from Home”. We didn’t took any pic of the army installations as it could be sensitive. As a goodwill gesture, Army is running a school.

Shikhsarth Aaiye, Sewarth Jaaiye – Come for the Education, Leave for the Service

Buddhism is still prevalent in these areas and so are the Chortens


The road to Thoise is good and fully tarred, though about 1.5 lanes. But when the traffic is like 5 cars in a day one way, who cares!


Crossing some bridges over streams, which are again pristine, soon we cross Thoise.

green rivulet again



Pretty soon enough, we reach Skuru. Skuru seems to be a good place and someday this also will be explored. And why one shouldn’t – you’ve got Shyok river gushing, green water streams, ice capped towering peaks and patches of green vegetation.

River stream near Skuru
Green stream

vistas at Skuru


Distances – halfway from Hunder
halfway from Hunder

One of the many bridges to cross Shyok, on foot
vistas 1

Ice capped peaks around
ice peaked

Driving ahead, we cross Changmar..

Yes, that’s the bus stand. Wonder how many days you’ve to wait before you get a bus. We didn’t crossed any yet!


And we cross yet again a water stream. Water so clean and green that you’d want to take a sip then and there.



The river at times flows on the road, so the highway becomes waterway. Evident from the sand on the road. This is near Chulungkha

sand on road


And then we reach Bogdang Check Post. There are 2-3 cars.. one of them has been criss-crossing us again and again as both stop for photo-ops.

Cheena waiting to submit the ILP…
bogdang CP

While I click this kid
kid at CP

After permit check, we drive ahead. The road is miniscule in comparison to the Shyok. Who’s mighty here?
mighty Shyok

School time!
school time

Vistas change again just when we’re about to reach Chalunka. In fact, what I notice is that wherever there is a water stream/rivulet, people have inhabited that place

Bridge to Chalunka

This is the stream merging in Shyok. Notice the merging of green with muddy.
stream merging with Shyok

Some interesting road ahead
road carved

Road condition is still good

Interesting formations with interesting colours.. and it has a bunker too! In fact all around us, on both sides of the road, we notice bunkers.

formations in colour


And then we take a break.. a loo break.. coupled with a photo-op as Shyok is just besides the road. Ok, you have to walk 300 meters to reach the waters!

river bed

How high it could be? Tony is wondering…
how high it could be

Vistas around…

vistas around 1

vistas around 2


We drive ahead to find water flowing on the road.. and it is crystal clear

stream on road

This is how a bike should cross it… to get a much deserved bath!

bike crossing

And cars in this way… to get a complimentary underbody wash! 🙂

Cheetah crossing


Finally, a banner on top announces that we’ve reached Turtuk



We ask for Turtuk Holiday camp which is very near and park the Cheetah. We ask for Rahamatullah Khan, who is the owner of the camp. He has gone for some work, but the person attending us is his brother, Ataullah Khan. He immediately makes us feel at home, arranges our tents and orders tea and biscuits which arrive in flat 5 minutes!

Tea at Holiday camp


Tea gulped, biscuits bitten.. now what? The time now is 1805 hrs and there is still much amount of daylight available. Right from the cut to Deskit, we had been hearing Shyok gushing. It is still gushing and we can clearly hear. So why not we should explore the riverside? It is hardly 300 mtrs from the camp – Ataullah informs us. Let’s go!

going in alleys


So we explore the alleys of Turtuk in search of the river, guided by the sound. On one side, we can see a green stream merging into the river, but the access is blocked with a dead-end. So we go the other way and reach what is a residential school here, with no boundaries at all. Some boys are playing football in front of the school building some part of which seems to be under construction.

And then behold! We get the glimpse of Shyok River.
Shyok river 1

And then Shyok in it’s full glory!
Shyok River 2

There are huge rocks in the river bed which become visible as the rapids change. These must be level 3 rapids, but with the huge rocks, it’s not safe at all for rafting.
Shyok River 3

Shyok River 4

Shyok River 5


Would we loose a photo-op here? Not at all! So here you go…

The Yayawars

I’ve got guts! 🙂
I've got guts!

Your’s truely

Tony is happy

So is Cheena

Avi the Photographer.. em.. all-rounder!

After spending a good 30 minutes at the river bank, we suddenly remember that we saw that stream with green water. We should explore that too. Let’s go.

Kids busy playing football

Cheena sneaking an opportunity to get in “the frame”
In frame

And so we reach the pristine green stream. It is just alongside the road and there is a bridge built over the same. The road goes to Skardu. This stream is also known as Turtuk Lungpa. This one comes down from the east of Chorbat La (another La??) and flows into the Shyok river at Turtuk.

Turtuk Lungpa 1

Turtuk Lungpa 2

Thinking of getting a dip, but the water is icy cool!

washing face

Washed face

One last shot for the day of the stream..

Turtuk Lungpa 2

And the receding daylight..
Turtuk evening

Coming back to the Holiday camp, we charge our cameras, empty the datacards into the laptop as this would be the lowest that we’d get in entire Ladakh & Spiti. While we’re having another cuppa, we have a chit-chat with the person who was criss-crossing us during the drive from Hunder. He’s from Delhi, settled in the UK and has come visiting along with his wife and daughters on a zip-zap tour organised by some agent. He will be going back to Hunder for night stay before going to Pangong tomorrow.

We have our dinner around 2000 hrs which is comprised of the usual chapatis, dal, rice, salad, mix veg, shahi paneer, salad and pickles, but then we’re having this stuff after 7 days and it feels good! After dinner and post a light chit-chat, we retire for the day.

Tomorrow we’ll go to visit Hunder and stay overnight at Diskit.


Total Distance covered: Approx 83 kms

Total Distance covered during the day: Approx 210 kms

Driving Directions from Hunder to Turtuk: Going straight from Hunder viewpoint, the road going left goes to Hunder village and the sand dunes, while taking straight takes to towards Turtuk. Follow the straight road towards Turtuk and pass by Pratapur/Pratappur, the army settlement. All the while, Shyok river will be giving you company. Drive ahead and pass by Thoise airfield. Without any left or right cut, move ahead with the road and pass by Skuru and Yagulung. Further ahead, turn right with the road and cross Shyok river at Changmar to pass by  Chulungkha and reach Bogdang checkpost. Turn right from the checkpost (straight is army settlement) and circumvent around the settlement to drive ahead with Shyok river on your left. Further ahead, cross the Shyok again so that it is on your right now and pass by Chalunka. Keep on driving further ahead and after about 10kms, you’re greeted by an overhead banner by Karmabhoomi welcoming you to Turtuk. Drive further ahead for about a kilometer and take right in the bylane to arrive at Turtuk Holiday camp (If you reach another bridge over a water crossing, you need to turn back).